share this

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Sleep can recharge and heal a person,but why doesn't this always work when you're depressed or suffer from anxiety?

We all know that when you have the flu or a cold you have the urge to sleep a lot. You can’t keep your eyes open and your body feels heavy. A nice snug blanket or duvet to cover yourself and most of the day is spend on the sofa or in bed. We need a lot more sleep when we suffer from an infection or have a fever. Sleeping does much more than giving us time out from our waking hours.
While you are asleep your immune system functions more effectively than when you are awake. People who are working shifts or junior doctors with long and irregular hours suffer more illness and infection than the general population. The lack of sleep does not only affect their ability to concentrate but also reduces the time to recover from potential infections in a hospital.
Sleep is not only important for healing when a person is physically ill but also when a person is suffering from a mental illness. You might have had times when you felt low and you couldn’t get out of bed. You felt so tired. All you wanted to do was sleep. Obviously too much sleep isn’t good for depression, however the average adult needs about 8 to 9 hours of sleep. Adolescents need a lot more because of their development.
Every night we need two types of sleep, 

  • slow wave sleep
  • dream sleep
Dream sleep is also called REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.
During low wave sleep the day to day wear and tear of our bodies tissues is repaired, brain cells are recharged with sugars and the immune system is refreshed.
During the REM sleep our emotional intelligence, thoughts and emotions are healed. REM sleep helps to deactivate stressful thoughts. It is there for understandable that when a person who worries a lot and has difficulties sleeping doesn’t get enough time to recover. They wake up tired and still depressed and or anxious.
As the night goes on we have less slow wave sleep and more REM sleep. When you only sleep a few hours your body and brain doesn’t get enough time to repair, recharge and heal emotionally. The normal sleep pattern is to start the night with sow wave body repair sleep, followed about 90 minutes later with REM sleep for about 10 minutes. As the night goes on we gradually have less slow wave sleep and more REM sleep.

Research has shown that depressed people who worry a lot have their first REM sleep twenty to fifty minutes into the night which can last almost an hour. They can then continue to have longer periods of REM sleep and more and more dreaming until the brain can take no more. They wake up more exhausted than before they went to sleep. No matter how many hours they spend in their bed.
We have an electrical signalling system in our brains, called the orientation response that alerts us to sudden changes in our environment. Under normal circumstances this signal is turned off as soon as we start to dream. This alarm system is not turned off in people who suffer from anxiety. This drains the emotional motivation of a person while they are asleep, leaving little or nothing for their waking hours.
It is essential to have adequate sleep in order to tackle the physical and mental demands of our daily lives and to feel rested and fulfilled in dealing with the emotional features of our lives.   

If you find that you have too much emotional turmoil in your live and feel this is affecting you please go to:

Friday, March 4, 2016

Use the time wise while you're unemployed to sharpen, and get new skills for the future.

Are you one of the many people who have been made redundant or have never had the chance to work? The frustration is going to become even bigger as the new generation of school leavers will try to approach the market. They might be lucky getting low paid jobs because of their age and inexperience. Some employers are keen on inexperienced or foreign workers because they don't know what their rights are, or don't know who to approach when in trouble. But many are happy they have a job to send money home where they might only earn € 100 a week. Nevertheless, you who have been applying for each and every job that might possibly suit your skills and experience still sit at home. Many of you might have barely enough money in the bank to keep up with the mortgage or rent payments or are behind in their payments.

I don't have the answers here as how to get out of the downwards financial spiral, but one thing I can advise you if you haven't done so already: set up an standing order with your mortgage lender for an amount you are able to pay each month. You might have to lower the payments, paying something is always better than nothing. And so is it the other way around on the receiving end. Forget about the other payments you need to make, except for the electricity, your car insurance, and perhaps your medical insurance you can pay them via direct debit, so you can't spend that money.

How much are you worth?

If you have been working at a particular job doing a particular thing for which you didn't need a skill, or you did need a special skill it might be that while you are looking for a new job you might lack in certain skills or you need to update them. Now you're unemployed you have plenty of time to re-new those skills and learn new ones. This is a opportunity to create a new life for yourself. That's not easy and can be a daunting task, especially if you have little or no money to spare, but it is worth to check out the possibility of getting an allowance towards the study costs. Don't be fixed on getting a job or doing a course for the sake of it, or a guidance counselor at the job centre who said that was a perfect match for you. You need to want to do it, think about what you want to get out of the job or course and than I mean not only money. Eighty percent of people who are in employment dislike their job. Now is your chance to get something better.To prepare yourself to get something you really want to do. This means you have to put time, (which you have plenty) effort and money into it. When you do get that allowance for that course don't hesitate to do voluntary work  if the field your studying is new to you. Check if you eligible for a grant.

There is SUSI for the Republic of Ireland.  

Use their Eligibility Reckoner to check whether you may be entitled to a grant. SUSI offers funding to eligible students in approved full-time third-level education in Ireland and also, in some cases, funding for students studying outside the State. We offer support to all types of students, from school leavers to mature students returning to education.

Check the UK Government site for funding in the United Kingdom.

I'm not saying get off your backside and find a job, but I'm saying use the time wise while you're unemployed to sharpen, and get new skills for the future. Don't be afraid to look outside of your comfort zone, there might be something out there you've never heard about and for which you can use your long forgotten skills. Or perhaps you have a skill you didn't know about. So have I recently discovered how easy tile setting is.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Watch the hilarious three part dark comedy Stag

Scotland has a beautiful and wild landscape but it also dangerous. It rains a lot and it can be bitterly cold not only in the winter. Reason the more for the perfect film location. The treacherous and changeable Scottish conditions are unforgiving. Last Saturday evening I watched part one the hilarious three part dark comedy Stag on BBC Two channel.

A group of English men have traveled to the Scottish Highlands for a stag party. The film starts with the brother of the bride, played by Jim Howick is “forgotten” at a crossroad.  When he is finally picked up he is cold and soaking wet. Not a good start for a party.  Shortly after he arrives at the pub the group is driven through the night by their guide. The plan is to go stag hunting. However it has been raining cats and dogs and soon the jeep comes to a sudden stop. The only one way they can continue is to totally strip naked and wade through a flooded road. Shivering from the cold the guide abandons them after he’d mentioned something about stags attacking men and women or men who appear female. From here on the group is on their own. It’s in the middle of the night, they don’t know where they are and they are in danger of running into a full grown stag.

The film gets better and better. BAFTA-nominated writer Jim Field Smith says there are twists upon twists to come in the three on hour episodes. In fact, scripts were not given to actors after their respective characters died and the cast and crew kept secret on the mystery.

Friday, February 26, 2016

What is the difference between getting treatment in a mental hospital and getting counselling in a private practice?

There seems to be a lot of confusion between what a psychiatrist does and what a counselor does. People have heard, seen or read horror stories about mental wards where people are kept and medicated against their will. This can happen in psychiatry and there are still places where the patient is loaded with anti-psychotics. A lot of people tend to wait with seeking help until they have reached the edge of the cliff. When nothing else is left they begin to contemplate talking to their doctor, the doctor at his or her turn will than prescribe medication.  

Electro-convulsive therapy

Electro-convulsive therapy is still used and although patients give their consent, they are often in state of mind that disables them from making a rational decision. In a confused state many people give consent to something they don’t fully comprehend. Patients give consent to treatment that is not of half explained to them.
The use of electricity to treat mental illness started out as an experiment in the 1930s.
ECT involves an electrical current being passed through the brain via electrodes joined to the scalp. The resulting seizure can have significant beneficial effects, according to consultant psychiatrists. However, many mental health campaigners say the forced use of ECT is a human rights abuse and is the source of long-lasting side-effects such as memory loss. A patient must consent to the treatment but if they decide against it that decision can be overridden if two psychiatrists believe it’s in the patient’s best interest.

Working in a nursing home in the early “noughties” there was an older lady who presented herself with severe anxiety.  I spend many hours talking to her and above all keeping her company. She complained of feeling lonely but couldn’t join the other residents in the big living room, her anxiety wouldn’t let her. Her fear was so deeply rooted that she barely able to leave her room. If it wasn’t for the staff bringing her down to the dining room she would have stayed in her room 24/7. One day she revealed to me that she had received electric shocks in a mental hospital. Instead of making her feel better the treatment  became her worst nightmare. Although it was decades ago she’d had the ETC it followed her everywhere in her daily life. Ever since the ETC she had become extremely frightened and even paranoid.  
In the year 2016 I asked myself whether this type of treatment is still Ireland. According to an article in electroshock was still used in 2014 despite promises to make changes in the legislation for not consenting patients by the Minister of State for Disability, Equality, Mental Health and Older People, Kathleen Lynch:

Long waiting lists

In the case of a person waiting too long to seek help for their mental health issues things can rapidly escalate. With the waiting lists long it is understandable that people become desperate and make an unfortunate choice like suicide. I have heard of stories of people being turned away from the A&E for being in the “wrong” department, while they were having a crisis. In England  Nick Clegg a British Liberal Democrats politician will announce the plans to offer patients counseling within weeks of seeing their GP in a pledge to "end the injustice" of long waits for those with mental illness. Under the targets, to be introduced in April 2016, most of those referred by doctors for “talking therapies” should start treatment within six weeks, ministers will say. The maximum waiting time will be 18 weeks – the same as for those waiting for treatment for physical problems, such as hip and knee surgery.

Six weeks on a waiting list is still six weeks too long. And this is when things go as promised it is not a guarantee. I have been on a waiting list for physio-therapy since September 2015. This week (the 23rd of February 2016) I received a letter that my appointment was scheduled for the 9th of March. This is a waiting time of five months. I suffered from sciatica as a result from a tilted pelvis. When the pain became unbearable I took measures in my own hands and booked two private sessions with a local physiotherapist. Further on I put it upon myself to see a chiropractor as the symptoms didn’t get better. I could have waited all this time to get the free treatment but I was in so much pain that it began to affect my mental health. Chronic pain can make a person depressed as well.
There are times you have to take measures in your own hands and stop waiting for help to knock on your door. When your health and sanity is at stake it is time to invest in yourself and forget about the finances. Even if you don’t have much money a few sessions with a therapist could make a big difference. In a few sessions you could already see your situation in a different perspective and it could give you the energy and stamina you need while you on a waiting list for free counseling.

In Ireland the waiting list are much longer than in Britain. For some mysterious reasons fully trained counselors and psychologist are not good enough to work with children, adolescents or adults. /

Emotional pain is worse than physical

Now you might say emotional pain is not the same as physical and I totally agree with you. Severe depression and or anxiety weighs heavier on a person’s shoulder than physical pain. When we have a broken arm other people can relate to this and they can see we have an injury. We are wearing a cast and people around us show empathy. However a mental illness is often a hidden ailment. While the level of suffering is much higher with a mental illness many people still choice not to seek help. The fear of social stigma is one of the reasons why a person might fail to visit a counselor or therapist. Somehow the fear of what others will think of them when they enter therapy. Mis-perceptions about being labelled as awkward, weak, insecure, unsociable and even mad can prevent a person from seeking treatment. Add on top of this the horror stories they have hear about mental hospitals and we have a recipe for disaster.

So what is than the difference between the two? 

Here we have arrived at the question I stated as the title of this article: what is the difference between getting treatment in a mental hospital and getting counseling in a private practice? In a psychiatric hospital a person will be medicated and is kept on a ward. The person will have little or no say in the treatment he or she receives. They will be totally in the “care” of the staff of the hospital often their rights are non- existent and overruled.
On the other hand when a person makes an appointment with a private counselor he/she will be a client and have rights. He/she will be treated as a human being and all conversation will be confidential. The client is in control, (this is the way it should be). It is the client’s choice what to disclose to the counselor/psychologist. Later during a job interview the client is not obliged to disclose he/she or has received therapy.  During counseling or psychotherapy (which is the same) you explore healthier ways of managing the issues that hunt you. This includes the feelings which are associated with them. You graduate as a matter of speech with an array of coping skills that will last you for the rest of your life. These are valuable life skills you can use in many real life situations.

Although it might seem an easy and quick fix to take anti-depressants or any other mental health drugs, it can have negative effects on a person. It could take up to two to eight weeks for a person to notice an improvement in their situation. Besides this there are always side effects. They can cause: hearth problems, Serotonin syndrome, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, hallucinations, depression, delusions, sexual dysfunction, involuntary muscle twitching and others.

Talking therapy is by far the least dangerous treatment a person with mental health issues can get. The thought that some is listening to him/her for the first time can already work positive. After only one session a person can already feel relieved and therefor have the strength and courage to improve their quality of life.
A therapist can help you explore healthy option of dealing with your past and current issues. They teach you coping skills that you can use in different areas of your life, even years after the therapy is finished. They have an ethical responsibility not to share your information with anyone else. If you dare to make the step you're on your way to be one day free from the ghosts that hunt you.