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Showing posts from 2017

BBC Newcastle radio interview

Brits are happier to discuss sex than mental health at work

Today, Time To Change reveal results of a survey of 2000 British workers, which suggests mental health remains one of the last taboos in the workplace.

When asked to select from a list, the topics they would feel comfortable discussing with their colleagues:
30% felt comfortable discussing a relationship break up; 25% money problems 20% dating advice 19% religion 18% sex, while only 13% said mental health, with the topic ranking lowest out of a total of 10 subjects.

One in four of us will experience a mental health problem in any given year and yet Time To Change say these figures show that when it comes to employment the vast majority of people still feel unable to speak openly about their mental health with their line managers and even their close colleagues.

The survey also revealed that over half of the workers said they would support a colleague if they noticed they were struggling with their mental health. However, 37% of these people said they wouldn't know how to.

We are now in t…

Anxiety really sucks

I know I've been quiet of late but I'm back. It's hard to know where to start.

I've had a challenging couple of months and I haven't been well enough to blog. The biggest problem is that I've not been able to talk openly due to the circumstances and that was stressing me out as I've actually needed the support more than ever.

I'm not prepared to go into details but what I will say is I've been the most anxious I have ever been. I wanted to write about my symptoms and just how bad anxiety can be. It's so far from being nervous before a test or interview. Anxiety is completely consuming and there is no escape or relief. If you think about a time when you've been nervous and then imagine that those nervous feelings don't go away, they are with you every minute of the day and keep increasing so that other things in your life also begin to make you feel unsettled, uneasy, worried, jittery, and anxious.

My anxiety has exploded like a firework…

OCD is not an adjective...

Jokes about mental illness are everywhere, but why do people think it is alright to belittle and use it as an endless source of amusement?

This week I have seen OCD made a joke of whilst going into a kitchen and seeing a poster using it to make others keep the kitchen clean and tidy (see vlog below).

I see that jokes about OCD are common, widespread and thought of as acceptable... but it is not a joke, it's a severe mental illness and it's an example of stigma.

I did a quick Google search on OCD tests and memes... this is what I found:

Would we do the same with any other illness or disability?

Not funny is it? Now, I'm not asking everyone to become void of humour but ask that people are more sensitive.

If you are politely asking people to be respectful, clean and tidy, you finish the sentence there.... there is no need to bring a mental illness into it.

I thought it might be useful to give a brief overview of what OCD is in a little vlog.

For more information on OCD, visi…

Self Care Sunday... and not a yoga session in sight!

Now, before you start wondering I'm not saying yoga isn't a great form of relaxation, it is but it just doesn't work for me.

The thing about self-care is that it needs to be unique to you, if you are not interested or forced into things it's not going to have the same impact on lifting your spirits and making you feel better as things that you enjoy would.

So what is self-care?
The Self Care Forum ( defines it as
the actions that individuals take for themselves, on behalf of and with others in order to develop, protect, maintain and improve their health, wellbeing or wellness. When you are well, self-care isn't much of an issue as you have the desire and energy to do things that are enjoyable. For instance, this week has been really busy for me and I have been doing lots of things for other people. To ensure I balance this out I need to take care of myself so I don't become drained. Over the past few days I have tried to get more sleep - …

What to take away from World Mental Health Day

A big thank you to everyone who supported my Tea and Talk event at work today. It didn't go completely to plan, but I am truly grateful to people who shared their experiences and those who donated to the mental health foundation and baked cakes. We made £75 which will help the mental health foundation develop information and tools to help people look after their mental health every day. It could help influence policymakers and advocates for change, in order to transform lives. It can also help to conduct research that will answer questions about mental health and save lives.

I received an email from the Mental Health Foundation this afternoon with the following information:

Depression is now the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide. Figures also show that 2 in 3 of us in the UK have experienced a mental health problem at some point our lives, and that just 13% of us are thriving with high levels of positive mental health.
We need to do more to promote good mental h…

World Mental Health Day - Mental Health in the workplace

The World Federation for Mental Health established World Mental Health Day 25 years ago today. Each year a theme is chosen and this year it's Mental Health in the workplace.

The information pack they produce is packed with statistics and I'm going to talk about a few of them in this post. I've put together a vlog of some of the findings and I also conducted a couple of polls on Twitter.

I think the workplace is changing slowly and becoming more open to supporting staff and being a workplace that cares for wellbeing.

From the research I have conducted and my own experiences, there is still a HUGE amount of stigma and discrimination.

As a Time To Change champion I am passionate about raising awareness and changing the conversation and challenging stigma and discrimination.

I'm really open at work about my mental illness but still feel that people are afraid to engage in anything relating to mental health. There are subtle things that you notice but it is clear that not …

Food, glorious food

It's been a busy week for me, I've been doing loads of research for World Mental Health Day on Tuesday and I've been planning an event at work to mark the occasion. I've also been plagued with a killer migraine so my energy levels have been next to nothing.

Despite this, I've powered through and got on with things. I've also been writing a few quotes for the lovely Jodie with her series of "What it feels like" blog posts for World Mental Health Day (

Since being ill I rarely go out socialising, it's something that makes me quite anxious. I can't drink these days due to all the pills I take for various ailments as well as my depression and I hate being around drunk people. Nevertheless, on Friday I had a family night out with my mum, my sister-in-law and her mam. We went to Boulevard in Newcastle for a night of cabaret and comedy.

We had such a laugh and was exactly what I needed after a busy week, but boy was I g…

Anxiety: The aftermath of doing something new.

It's taken a few weeks to post this as I wanted to get my depression blog posts complete.

I'm new to vlogging and have a lot to learn, however no frills, no editing... this is me.

I was battling with myself whether to post this or not. The blog won.

I shouldn't be afraid of being open about my anxiety.

For me, anxiety is this terrifying fear that something bad is about to happen at any moment. It's not being in control and it's the inability to feel safe and at ease.

Going to London on Friday was a HUGE deal for me. It was the first time I've been away by myself in I don't know how long.

My anxious spirals all end with me dying, it's stupid, completely irrational and really difficult to control.

I'll go into more detail about my anxiety in another post. I just wanted to share this vlog to show you how I'm feeling this morning.... please excuse the sniffing!!!

Natalie x

Understanding Depression - Part Two

Last week I explained what Depression was. This week, it's all about my experience. This has been harder to write than I thought, I'm not going to lie, it's not an easy read and it may be upsetting (I shed a tear or two writing it) but I feel it explains my downward spiral quite honestly. If you are affected by anything you read, please check out my "where to get support" page. It certainly wasn't one big traumatic event that made me ill, it was a build up of lots of little, insignificant things over a long period of time. Whilst I'm open about a lot of things, some things will never be in print.

Before being diagnosed with Depression I would say that I have experienced several low periods in my life, I had mood swings some of which I just couldn't explain. One minute I'd be high as a kite, and the next I'd be crying my heart out. Every time I went to the doctor's over the past 10 years, I was just told it was my hormones. One GP even sug…

Understanding Depression - Part One

Let me be honest with you, before I was diagnosed I knew very little about mental illness. It was one of those things that I didn't need to know about. That's not to say that I was ignorant or I didn't care, it just didn't affect anyone I knew...or so I thought.
We all have days where we feel amazing and can take on the world and achieve anything. We also all have days where you just can't be bothered, a duvet day for instance. That's normal, that's life. It has good days and bad days. 
However, when the bad days start building up like a traffic jam, on a hot day, with no air conditioning, that's when we start to get in trouble. When we are completely stuck with no way out, that's when we start to give up and believe this is the end.
So many people would say "snap out of it", "get over yourself", or "what have you got to be depressed about?". The truth is that anyone can suffer from depression at any point in their lif…

Storytelling - An Introduction

Yesterday, I was given an amazing opportunity to attend Story Camp. It's an event ran by Time To Change and it explores the ways in which we can share our mental health stories.
The one thing I learnt from the event is that my story has power. It has the power to challenge stigma and change mental health conversations. It has the power to reach out to others and give people the strength to open up about their own mental health.
Today I decided to set up this blog and share my thoughts with you all. So here it goes...
I'm Natalie. I'm 36 and last year I had a breakdown. I'll go into details about that separately, I don't want to give it all away in one blog!! I am a Time to Change Champion, a Mind Blue Light Champion and I am involved with Bryony Gordon's Mental Health Mates - running the meet ups in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.
I am not my mental illness, I am a person who lives with Depression, Generalised Anxiety and a Panic Disorder.
So why "Just another fi…