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Helping a loved one cope with a mental health diagnosis

It was seven years ago when the news of a loved one’s recent mental health diagnosis hit me with the shock of an ice-cold wave in winter. I was a recent Toronto transplant just acquainted with university life when one of my favourite people in the whole world called me to tell me the beast we knew of finally had a name and to pardon the silence, as a days-long hospital stay required a communication shutdown. I listened to the details and my heart sank to the curb as I watched the walk sign on Dundas street flash red to signal stop. Years later, this is what I’ve learned about helping a loved one cope with a serious mental health diagnosis.

Bottle your emotions

This is a rarely-prescribed piece of advice, but it is absolutely essential to keep personal emotions in check in order to make space for those of a loved one. When I found out everything this person who I adore had gone through, my heart broke in a way it never had before — and never has since. A family member or friend’s mental health diagnosis, however, is about them. Don’t cry or panic. Be the crutch they need. Express emotions to a third party later if need be.

Listen without judgement

Judging a person never paved the way for open discussion. Let this person lead the conversation. Don’t flinch at their reality. Do encourage them to share whatever they need to. Don’t suggest what they should have done or ask why they didn’t do things differently. Certainly don’t ask why you didn’t know. Many need to process by vocalizing. Be a responsible listener.

Follow up

Your friend will need you the moment someone gets a diagnosis, finishes a hospital stay, a rough week or a change in medication, but don’t just be available during those periods, but during all times – without being invasive or helicoptering, of course. If there’s a relevant book or article to pass on, do so. Asking someone how they’re doing never hurts. Find out first what kind of approach works for this person and show support within that scope so as not to drop the conversation.

Ask the important questions

There’s a sweet spot between prying and playing too polite by not asking enough. Find that zone. For example, asking someone how they’re adjusting to a new medication isn’t self-serving and it brings the conversation to a space where if they want to share more, they will.

Do what the medical professionals can’t

There are things that medical professionals with even the best bedside manner cannot do. Details of a mundane day at the office, for example, could be just the thing to make an otherwise chaotic or emotional day seem normal. During a turbulent time, penning a phone call time into the schedule to chat for even five minutes could be a big deal for someone grappling with a new mental health diagnosis. While doctors did their good work, my purpose was simply to dial the number and shoot the shit for a few minutes. That’s an important job too.

Learn what the disorder isn’t

My person’s mental health condition has a name and I know both what it is and also what it is not. It is not, for example, an eating disorder like one nurse ignorantly assumed. It is not temporary. It is also not a life sentence preventing this firecracker of a human being from being anything less than that. By knowing what a disorder is not, those who provide support reduce the likelihood of uninformed remarks causing harm.

Why do we feel down during the holidays

No matter how much you may love the holiday season — the seasonal hot drinks, the ice skating, the markets, and of course, the holiday itself — it does come with added stresses.

The stress of hosting events, of having to mingle with your coworkers, and of needing to find the perfect gift can be overwhelming. And then there is the lonely factor. For those without partners, every romantic christmas fairytale movie is a stab to the heart. It doesn’t matter how many parties you are invited to or how many people send you holiday cards — December and January can be lonely months with no one to kiss under the mistletoe. Finally, there is the cold weather. The constant grey skies and the fact that it gets dark by 5 p.m. can take it’s toil on the human body. 

So, what do you do when you start to get these feelings? Here are five options that may help:

Take time for yourself: No, this does not mean take time to shop for others or go out with friends. This is serious me time. Go get a manicure or a facial, get your hair done, go for a walk in the snow, or read a book with some hot cocoa. During this time, try not to think about what you still have left for you. Use these few hours to tune in with nature or escape into a good story. Only by taking time for yourself will you be able to manage the rest of the holiday season.

Slow down: Try not to get overwhelmed by that long list of holiday “to-dos”. Make a list, and take everything one day at a time. Try to split your weekend between “holiday days” and “me time”. If you spend your entire weekend shopping, baking, decorating, and going from event to event, come Monday you will be exhausted before you even get to work.

Tap into your feelings: Why do you feel lonely? What are your fears? What is really stressing you out? Sometimes, all of these feelings crash together, making it very difficult to resolve. Take a moment to tap into what you are feeling and determine their origins. Once you know what triggered your stress, you can either avoid it or you can learn to cope with it. Unfortunately, it’s not an easy process. If you need support, ask a friend or close family member to sit down with you and talk it out.

Spend time with loved ones: While you may feel alone at your friend’s party, it’s still important to go. Staying at home, thinking about the feelings you are experiencing, can sometimes aggravate the situation. Pick and choose your moments to mingle. If you aren’t feeling like a full-blown holiday shindig, ask your friends to go get some brunch or see a movie. Do something low key. The important thing is to recognize that you have people in your lives who want to spend time with you — even if it is just one person!

Start something new: This is my personal favourite option. When I’m feeling down, I like to start a project. First of all, it gives my mind something to think about besides the problems plaguing me during the holidays and second of all, it feels really good to try something new. This can be something small like trying yoga or committing to a paint night every month. Choose something that you enjoy or that you’ve always wanted to try. Keep in mind this isn’t a New Year’s resolution. There is no need to choose anything to do with health, fitness, or any sort of physical or mental transformation. Just pick something that you will find fun!

What do you do to conquer the holiday blues?

Dear mental health, I’m sorry

I’m sorry.

I’m just starting to realize how important you are. You’re something that needs to be cared for, something that can’t be ignored. So, for all the times you cried out for help when you weren’t feeling well, and I ignored you, telling you to stop being so sensitive, I’m sorry.  For all the times I tried to hide you and pretend you don’t exist, I’m sorry. All the while, you sneaked into my bones and muscles, waiting to be heard. I get it! Physical pain is easier to listen to. But sometimes, you make it hard to get out of bed. Let’s not forget all those times you wouldn’t let me see my friends or family, because you just didn’t have the energy to converse and socialize.

The past few years have not been kind to me. Between drastic life changes, difficult relationships, and trying to understand my own personhood, I found it hard to be kind to you as well. I failed to listen when you told me how to feel. Pushing away feelings of stress and sadness is just easier for me. It’s only when you come at me with full force that I understand you’re something that I need to look after.

But it’s hard to understand where you’re coming from sometimes. It makes it difficult to talk to people about you for that reason. Are you acting up because it’s my time of month? Are you trying to tell me I have too much on my plate? Sorry, I don’t understand.

I fear my relationships will suffer because of you. If I don’t understand you’re not well, how could my loved ones? Multiple ‘bad days’ can kill the vibe, ruin a positive atmosphere. I’m sorry if I mask what you’re trying to tell me, in an attempt of keeping things light. Fun. I’m sorry that I downplay your sickness as another ‘bad day.’ It’s just easier. We don’t want people being more concerned than they should be, right? I hope you understand.

I’m sorry that we never had the chance to get that close. I’m sorry we don’t keep in touch. To be honest, you’re a little high maintenance. For you to feel better, a lot of actions have to be taken. Therapy is expensive. And yes, my job might be stressful – but it’s what puts money on the table. My friends and family may be difficult to interact with sometimes, but they care about me. It’s difficult to ask me to give up such important parts of my life for your own betterment.  I’m sorry you’re not a priority even though we both know you should be.

But I’ll try harder. The days you don’t feel well, I’ll try to listen. And when other people are talking about their own mental health, I’ll listen then too. When they don’t understand where you’re coming from, I’ll explain it to them. It’s time to start talking about you. Because you’re important. I realize that now.

Single on Valentine’s Day? It’s going to suck

It’s Valentine’s Day. Isn’t that great?

Two months ago I had a boyfriend. This year would have been the first time I celebrate this “holiday” with a partner. As you can imagine, I was already planning the details. How I would act all surprised when he brought me flowers with a small heart-shaped card asking “will you be my valentine.” He would cook a romantic meal that we would eat by candlelight. Afterwards, a little dancing outside under the stars (in my dream, it’s always warm in February). The perfect, romantic, Valentine’s Day.

And then it all went to shit — as it always does around the holidays. Am I right ladies?

Now, I’m single again. Single on Valentine’s Day. It feels slightly akin to this:

But, I’m used to it. I’m used to the numbing reality of being lonely, with only your parents to send you a quick “I love you” e-card and a box of chocolates to make you feel extra special. Imagine the talk in the office: “ooooo, who gave you those heart-shaped cupcakes??!! Who is the special guy/gal? – Oh, it was my mom.”

But, does Valentine’s Day have to be so crappy for single women? All the magazines tell us that it’s totally fine and there are lots of ways to celebrate this holiday without a partner. Let’s run through the options:

I’m going to focus on self-love this Valentine’s Day: What a bunch of bull shit. Do you think that by going out to a pedicure or treating yourself to a glass of wine, you will forget about how single you are? You know what sounds like a fun time? Going to a fancy restaurant and having a luxurious dinner by yourself while watching as all the couples around you kiss and laugh and dance….yes, that sounds lovely. Sure, I can spend a few hundred dollars on a spa day, surrounded by equally single (or retired) women, drinking gross cucumber water and pretending to be happy. But honestly, it’s just a waste of a lot of money. I’d much rather go to the spa on a day where I can enjoy it.

I like the sentiment. The “I don’t need a man to complete me” philosophy is a good one, but on Valentine’s Day, it all goes out the window. Even the strongest of women are entitled to feel crappy as they watch everyone else pair off. No amount of “self-love” can change that.

I’m going to hang out with my single friends: What single friends? As a millennial in my mid 20s, all of my friends have paired off, and all the single ones bat for the other team. Hanging out with them makes me feel even more alone. Don’t get me wrong, hanging out with friends is always the best bet, especially if you are feeling a bit sad, but it’s not always the best solution. Your friend invites you to a dinner party that night and you may be stuck sitting between couple A and couple B, trying to explain why there was no guy….literally no one….you could have brought.

Let’s say, for argument sakes, you have a solid group of single friends, all looking to hang out and forget about this terrible Hallmark holiday. You go out, drink your fill, and spend the next few hours trying to get the cute guy in the corner to give us the time of day. At the end of the night, all you are left with is a splitting headache and a lot of regret.

 

I’m going to find someone online to spend the evening with: Bad idea. Just a really, really bad idea. I don’t know how much clearer I can be. Anyone online on Valentine’s Day is looking to do just one thing — find a desperate and sad woman willing to have a one-night-stand. I’m sorry, but it’s true. This isn’t Hollywood. No one finds their soulmate on Valentine’s Day. Remember ladies: you never know who is behind the screen. And, if you do decide to meet up with someone, it will never be Ryan Gosling.

 

I’m going to spend time with family: Hi mom! I’m back! Thanks for the cupcakes and the card! Yes, I know I shouldn’t be upset I don’t have a date for Valentine’s Day. Yes, I know I deserve better. No, I’m totally fine! Can I have a second helping of mac n’ cheese please?

Seriously though, spending time with family is great. They can be a real comfort when you are feeling down. But, it also emphasizes the fact that, well, you have no where else to be. Unless your family has a tradition of getting together on Valentine’s Day, it’s just a nice reminder that your siblings and friends are all having a romantic evening out and here you are, watching a movie with your mom and dad, pretending everything is normal.

As you can see, the choices are slim. I apologize for my pessimism, but there really is no escaping it. Valentine’s Day is going to suck. Might as well embrace that fact and do it properly — alone, in my pyjamas, with Chinese food and a giant stack of candy, watching A Walk To Remember while clutching a box of Kleenex.

Pro tip: Get to your closest grocery store super early the next day for discount chocolates. It’s really the only positive thing about this stupid holiday. You are welcome.

Will you be single this Valentine’s Day? What will you be doing? Let us know in the comments below!

Woman of the Week: Jennifer Febel

“You are not broken.”

That is Jennifer Febel’s personal, and professional, mantra. When she was 19, Febel was diagnosed with a multitude of mental disorders, including anorexia, bulimia, depression, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, suicidal ideation and self-harm. “In other words: broken,” she says. In fact, one of the many doctors Febel saw on her road to recovery actually used that term to describe her condition.

Those words had a deep impact. For years, Febel thought she had to live with “being broken”. She was given medications and coping options — but nothing helped. Eventually, her anxiety grew until she couldn’t leave the house.

That’s when she took a chance on a wellness coach, who was able to convince her to look past her scepticism and try some alternative mind-body tools. “The most powerful moment from me was when my coach told me “You are not broken”. To have someone say that was profound.”

“After 13 years of struggling and medication and therapy, I was able to come off meds and I never looked back. I was able to feel how I wanted to feel.”

Febel has an incredibly bubbly personality and a genuine smile. Invite her to your party and she may bring her hula hoop and perform an impressive dance routine. Her fast wit and positive outlook on life is contagious — and if she didn’t open up about her past, no one would know how much she struggled.

Her decision to see a wellness coach shaped the rest of her life and inspired her to go into the field herself. Febel is now a certified wellness coach and master hypnotherapist operating out of Bradford, Ont., with clients across Simcoe, York, and the GTHA. Her business, whose name Live Life Unbroken is inspired by her own personal experiences, helps those with phobias, anxiety, depression, trauma, stress, and general wellness goals. She emphasizes that she is not a medical doctor and cannot treat these disorders, but she can help relieve the symptoms.

“Basically, my job is to help people figure out what they actually want and then chart a path to get to it,” she said. “We often know what we don’t want –  I don’t want to be anxious or stressed all the time – my role is to help them find out what they actually want and how to go about getting that.”

How does she do that? Febel likes to think of the mind like a computer, and her job is cognitive tech support.

“Nothing needs to be fixed. Sometimes, over the course of your life, you download a virus. You call in the geek squad — that’s me! Someone who can manoeuvre the system.”

The current medical model sees mental health as a hardware program, Febel says. Instead, she thinks of things like anxiety and depression as software programs that need to be uninstalled. To do that, she uses advanced mind-body tools that are practiced in 38 countries around the world to find out what’s happening at the subconscious level.

“The problem is you don’t know what you don’t know. The problems are at the unconscious level,” she says. While most cognitive behavioural therapy focuses on the “why”, Febel focuses more on the “how” in order to relieve the symptoms of the “virus”. “In my mind, who cares about the why. It just satisfies curiosity. We focus on how the problem is created– then we can change it.”

Febel respects and encourages the skepticism associated with hypnosis and personal coaching. “That was me,” she said. “When I saw my coach I thought it was a hoax.”

“If you want to freak people out at a party, tell them you are a hypnotherapist. You get two reactions –‘ cool, can you hypnotize’ me or ‘I can’t be hypnotized. ‘I see it as my job to educate. Skepticism is the doorway to the wonder of change – just avoid letting it get in your way.”

In addition to one-on-one coaching, Febel runs a number of workshops through Live Life Unbroken, the most popular being a one-day workshop called “Reboot Your Inner Spark.” This course allows participants to tap into their own intuition and learn how to start healing naturally.

Last year, Febel began a new program called “Leadership Alchemy,” which touches upon communication and connections in personal and professional situations, or how Febel describes it, “how to be a true leader in your life.” She is also co-running a women’s wellness weekend where she will be leading some classes on revitalizing your chakras. During that weekend, women will be taught to find balance and centering in their daily lives, as well as participate in other wellness activities like yoga and magnified healing.

In addition to her workshops, Febel is also a regular presenter at a number of conferences and events. She is currently working on a presentation that will encourage women to stop being so nice. “When I’m “nice”, I have no boundaries. I’m doing what everyone else wants,” she says. “It creates “angry nice girls” who on the surface doing well, but on the inside they are angry and sad. Banish [the word nice] from your vocabulary. Be compassionate. Be kind. Nice doesn’t help anyone.”

When Febel isn’t working, she sings with York Harmony Chorus, an award-winning acappella group of over 40 women that sing in four-part harmony. The chorus competes regionally once a year and Febel helps with choreography and PR, as well as performs. “Every week I get to spend a few hours with these wonderful women and that nourishes my life in so many ways.”

Febel is someone who constantly loves to learn and try new things. She works with her own coaches and uses her own mind-body tools on a regular basis, starting each day with a grounding or energy-balancing exercise like tai chi. She loves to curl and is constantly reading or ordering books online. The one book she returns to on a regular basis is Quantum Healing: Exploring the Frontiers of Mind/Body Medicine by Deepak Chopra.

 

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How to return to work after a holiday

Is anyone else struggling this week? It’s hard to return back to work after a holiday or vacation, which is weird since you’d think everyone would be refreshed and ready to put their heads back in their books. You’ve had time to rest, sleep in, watch movies, and binge eat cookies. Isn’t that enough?

Not really. Most people find it really difficult to return to their work responsibilities following a holiday or vacation. Our minds just aren’t ready to process the large influx of emails on our computer or the stress of completing the project left on our desks before the holidays. It’s not time yet! Don’t worry, you can get through it. The first week will be terrible, but here are some tips to help you survive it:

Take it easy: No, this does not mean shirk your responsibilities. It simply means not to set your expectations really high. Try not to plan any big meetings or deadlines for the first few days, or at least until you get to today’s emails. Set mini-goals for yourself and take two to three short breaks throughout the day so that your mind has time to adjust to this new routine.

Don’t feel bad about admitting it’s too much: Your co-workers or boss may be all gung-ho about getting back into their routines, but when they ask you to start a new project or move up a deadline, don’t be afraid to say “I’m still catching up from last week, can I get back to you on Monday?” The first week back will be hell, so be honest with yourself and others. If you take on too much, you will get overwhelmed and start to feel anxious about going to work every day.

Remember you aren’t alone: At the same time, don’t complain to your co-workers how much you hate being back at work and how wonderful your vacation was. Chances are, they don’t want to be in the office either. Don’t pile work up on their desks.

Make sure your workspace is clean: If you are organized and your desk looks fresh and clean, you will feel a bit less anxious about all the work you have to do. It also gives you something else to do in the office wen you need a bit of a brain-break.

Create a new routine: Once you are comfortable and ready, take on a new project or start a new work routine. This will make you a little more excited to be in the office, and light a fire for creativity and productivity. Start your day off slightly differently, whether that’s changing your morning coffee, adding in a few workouts, or simply reading the newspaper — the morning will set the tone for the rest of the day. You can even start having lunch with various co-workers. Think of it like starting a new job. When everything is fresh and inventive, that’s when you work the best. You just need to figure out a way to re-create that feeling.

Plan for the next week: This week was lax, but now it’s time to get back to work. Make sure you are super organized for the following week. Be on time to every meeting, present at every deadline, and on top of all your projects, new or old! Spend some time over the weekend planning your lunches, snacks, and coming up with personal deadlines for your work.

How are you feeling about being back to work? Let us know in the comments below!

Don’t fall prey to the holiday blues

Every morning and evening I log into my computer or cell phone to check my various social media apps. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram — It’s all the same. All I see are messages of despair or people asking others to leave notes of hope and prayer. It seems like everyone is sad this time of year, and I get it.

The holidays tend to make people a little stressed and depressed. It’s a time of reflection and thoughts of the future. And if 2016 was any precedent, the future doesn’t look really bright. That, in combination with the pressure of gift giving, family, and work, it can all get overwhelming.

Women’s Post explains some of the reasons for these holiday blues, and offers a few suggestions to beat them — however, it should be known that the best cure to the December depression is to spend time with those you love, whether that’s family, friends, or your dog.

Fiscal frustrations: This is the biggest factor contributing to holiday blues, especially if you are a parent. No mother or father wants their child to get less than others. And when you have a mom, dad, sister, brother, and then your aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends, and coworkers — it all adds up to big bucks. Stockings alone can add up to a hefty bill. When you are counting your pennies (and even when you aren’t), gifts can get expensive.

Remember that expectations for gift giving are never as high as you think. A simple book, pair of socks, or even homemade cookies will put a smile on someone’s face. If you can’t afford to give everyone gifts, do activities instead.

Inability to be with loved ones: This is by far the hardest thing to deal with during the holidays. If you’ve recently lost a loved one, let me first say that I’m terribly sorry. Whether it’s because you’ve experienced a recent death or are miles away from your family this December. The holidays will be really tough. There is no denying it, and there is no “cure”. If this is the case, the best way to handle it is to call up some good friends and invite yourself over. Don’t feel ashamed to say “hey, I’m a bit lonely this holidays, can we get together sometime for some drinks or coffee? Or would you like to come over for dinner?”

If that’s not possible, try skype or calling those you are missing. Otherwise, do things you find enjoyable. Take yourself out to the spa or to a fancy dinner. Don’t stay at home watching sad movies — unless you find it cathartic. Ultimately, know that there are people out there who love you and care for you. That’s all that matters.

Review of past year: A lot of people start to panic around December when they realize how little they’ve accomplished. It’s almost the new year, and there is still so much to do! You have to cook for Christmas dinner, but also get that gym membership you promised yourself 12 months ago. What about the job you’ve been searching for? All of those unfinished projects? All that weight you wanted to loose?

I’m here to tell you to STOP IT! It’s December, and there is no way to change anything right now. Instead, focus on all the fun you will have this month. Go eat at nice restaurants, visit with friends, and go to a museum. Who cares about the missed opportunities! Take advantage of your holiday. All of your decisions and everything that you’ve done over the past year has accumulated in you being you. And you are amazing!!

 

Above all else, remember that you are a wonderful human being who deserves to have a wonderful holiday season. Try not to sit in the dark and feel sorry for yourself. Get out there and enjoy life. Kick those holiday blues in the butt!

Why it’s important to challenge yourself

Every once in a while I get this sinking feeling — like I’m not doing enough with my life. I go to work, I come home, and then I lie on the couch for a few hours before I go to bed. The next day, I wake up and it starts all over. It makes me think: is this all there is? Shouldn’t I be doing more with my life? Where can I go from here?

This downward spiral can lead to self doubt, anxiety, and fatigue. It prevents you from actually accomplishing your goals, and makes you feel as if the few things you’ve accomplished aren’t good enough. It’s also incredibly hard to switch off those negative thoughts.

The thing is, it’s completely natural to feel like you’re in a rut. A number of things can cause it: a stale relationship, a ho-hum work environment, or it could be things in your personal life that send you over the edge. Everyone experiences it — but it’s what we do after we realize we’re in a rut that matters.

Peg Streep, author of Mastering the Art of Quitting says the human brain is hardwired to work hard and push through despite what’s happening with your life, which may sabotage your happiness and create a cycle of negative energy. This negative energy is what causes the rut. Overthinking, overworking, not taking time for yourself — all of these things make us tired of the lives we’ve worked so hard to create.

So, what to do about it?

When I start to get into this rut, I decide to challenge myself.  I try something different each time. The first time was 30 days of yoga (I suggest You-tubing Yoga with Adriene, who is an absolutely marvellous instructor, especially for beginners). The second was a video challenge, where I had to film myself every day for a month. The third was training to run a 5k. And this time, it’s trying my hand at poetry.

For me, it’s all about setting, and completing attainable goals — it makes you feel accomplished. It’s like creating a to-do list and then crossing items off. Except, instead of “send email to boss” or “do laundry”, these are life goals. At the same time, they are doable. These goals are tough, but are easy enough to complete within a month or so.  A lot of people will try to set a number of goals to accomplish at the same time (eat right, go to gym three times a week, learn a foreign language, etc ). The problem is that a full body and mind transformation takes a lot of time and patience, and if you aren’t ready for that type of commitment, you’ll just end up overwhelmed and discouraged. Go one challenge at a time and you’ll get to that end-goal, I promise you!

It’s also about pushing yourself slightly outside your comfort zone. Now, I’m not suggesting you leap out of a plane to conquer your fear of heights, but rather take small steps to push yourself in creative and impassioned ways. Understanding what keeps you within your comfort zone is equally as important as pushing yourself outside of it.

For me, running a 5k, doing yoga, writing poetry, all of these are things that are small, simple, and personalized to my specific goals — to be healthy and to develop my creativity. I’m not running a marathon. I’m not becoming a published novelist. I’m not establishing a completely zen mentality. I’m changing, slowly and at the right pace for me. At the same time, I’m challenging myself! I’m not an athletic person, nor a particularly creative one, so these goals really do force me to work hard and carve out time for myself.

At the end of the day, I enjoy these ruts. Sure, they are terrible for the first few weeks while you figure out your feelings, but they inspire creativity and give me an opportunity to re-evaluate my life. And with that creativity comes a new mentality.

Suddenly, anything is possible!

How do you deal with your rut? What are the goals you’ve set for yourself? Let us know in the comments below!

Top foods to boost your mood

Feeling down? Your diet could be a factor. Despite the everyday stresses of life, poor eating habits can also contribute to your bad mood. Lack of mental and physical energy is not something you want to deal with while trying to conquer the world. If you’re experiencing a case of the Debby Downer lately, try these mood boosting remedies:

1. Apples

They always say: an apple a day keeps the doctor away! Apples are one of the most valuable remedies for mental depression. The various chemical substances present in this fruit help the synthesis of glutamic acid, which controls the wear and tear of nerve cells. Try eating the apple with honey and milk. This combination makes an effective tonic that helps recharge nerves, gives new energy, and vitalizes the life.

2. Root of asparagus

The root of asparagus is highly nutritious and is used as an herbal medicine for mental disorders. Much like apples, it is a good tonic for the brain and nerves. One or two grams of the powder of the dry root of the plant can be taken once daily.

3. Bananas

There is logic behind the phrase ”going bananas,” you know! Eating bananas facilitates the cross-talk among the brain cells and affects the mood. To prevent recurring minor depression, a banana- a – day therapy will help.

4. Cardamon

Add some cardamon seeds to boiling water along with a teabag. These seeds will add a very pleasant aroma to the tea, which can be used as a medicine in the treatment of depression.

5. Rose Petals

Feel like a queen by infusing half a cup of rose petals in two cups of boiling water. Drink it occasionally, instead of the usual tea and coffee, and get the benefits. If you wish, leave it to cool off, place it in the refrigerator and drink it cool.

6. Cashew nut

The cashew nut is another valuable remedy for general depression and nervous weakness. It is rich in vitamins of the B group, especially thiamine, and is therefore useful in stimulating the appetite and the nervous system.

7. Herb lemon balm

The herb lemon balm has been used successfully in the treatment of mental depression. It alleviates brain fatigue, lifts the heart from depression, and raises the spirits. A cold infusion of the balm taken freely is excellent for its calming influence on the nerves.

8. Peanuts

Peanuts are good sources of trytophan, an essential amino acid which is important for the production of serotonin, one of the key brain chemicals involved in mood regulation. Surprisingly, peanuts may have good affects in lowering depression.

 

Remember: In addition to eating healthy, daily exercise and a positive attitude is also highly important. If you’re experiencing depression and anxiety and are having trouble completing day to day activities, be sure to also visit your doctor for more information on how to improve your mental health.

Good luck!

What do you eat to boost your mood? Tell us in the comments below! 

 

Here’s my story on mental health, what’s yours?

Those who know me can confirm that tears rolling down my face is a strong indication that I was laughing too hard – usually at my own jokes – or someone I care deeply about has fallen flat on their face and I caught the whole thing on my iPhone to blackmail them for the rest of their life. Once I start laughing, it’s hard to stop.

Given these small, well-known facts about me, it’s difficult to imagine that back in January, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. And with Mental Health Awareness Week wrapping up, I want to let it be known that everyone should be aware of their mental health. Here’s my story.

Being only 21 — and South Asian — my mental health struggle is something I’ve had to keep under wraps for the past few months. I identify as a perfectionist. I’m always under pressure to be above average, whether that be with my GPA, the way I showcase myself to family, friends, and even strangers on the subway, to my attempt at balancing my Western and South Asian values in midst of a being born and brought up in North America with strong cultural ties to Bangladesh. I was put on a pedestal since the day I was born and I’ve never forgotten the major mistakes I’ve made in my short two decades.
I started 2016 with a list of usual New Year’s Resolutions. However, a series of unfortunate events began to occur, exposing the fact that I wasn’t as perfect as I let everyone perceive me to be. The emotions I’m so used to bottling up began to surface. I started losing valuable things, failing to maintain and be present in relationships, and traded my smile for frequent, frustrated sighs.

I began losing my drive; something that has kept me going from the moment I had my first goals and aspirations. Waking up became an even greater challenge, the sound of my family and friends’ voices made me agitated, and the thought of being a functioning member of society made me want to shut down and move to Alaska. I fell behind on work and school and began to spend a lot of time in the confines of my bedroom. Breathing alone seemed to have taken more effort.

A week later, I couldn’t take it anymore. One question kept arising: “What’s wrong with me?”

Not having anyone to talk to about it without making me feel like a fragile arts student on the verge of a breakdown, I went to a walk-in clinic one morning. My family doctor has known me for years and I wasn’t prepare to watch her eyebrows shoot up while I told her about how I was feeling. Up until the walk-in doctor walked in and sat down, I kept rehearsing the same sentence. ”I was wondering if you can provide me with a referral to a therapist.”

I repeated that to myself for the 10 minutes I was alone in her office, memorizing what I was going to say, word for word.

“I’m just looking for some information on how to deal with, um, mental health… issues.” I replied when a young woman sat down and asked what she can do for me.

Dammit.

I saw a flash of concern on her face appear and then quickly disappear as she pulled up a website and started asking me a list of questions about my feelings and what’s going on in my life to cause these feelings. I answered them one by one, quickly confirming the doubts I had about possibly having depression and anxiety. After 15-20 minutes of talking, she concluded that I was right.

“Great, so I was wondering if you can provide me with a referral to a therapist.”

The pretty doctor and I shared a couple of nervous laughs and awkward stories about things she would probably tell her family about at dinner that night. She told me about the three month wait to see a therapist and how it may not be possible for me to cope with my emotions until my appointment. To help me cope, she prescribed me with 30 days of anti depressants — without a referral to see a therapist. She didn’t tell me about the side effects, but emphasized that she wanted to see me back in two weeks for a progress report.

I smiled and nodded, sort of relieved there was something that can make me feel better and feel a little more like myself. I went home with my bottle of happy pills that night and told my best friend, a health science and psychology student, what happened. I learned about the side effects and the misdiagnosis that occurred in that office. You aren’t supposed to give someone not struggling with clinical depression anti-depressant pills. She encouraged me not to take them and I promised her I wouldn’t.

Being stubborn — and partially curious — I took the pills for a maximum of three days. They took away the difficulty to breathe, but brought on drowsiness, stomach aches, dizziness, and nausea. I decided it would be easier just to come to term with the occurrences that went on in the past four months and learn to find closure. I never went back to follow up with the doctor after two weeks and she never followed up with me. In addition to occasionally popping pills I could’ve easily sold on the black market to my fellow university students on days where I felt really bad, I adopted a ‘screw that’ attitude and brushed everything off.

While others saw me coming back to my old, confident, slightly arrogant self, I will always see myself as selfish; a thought I’m trying to change. Because I find sometimes the best way to take care of your mental health is to, in fact, be selfish. My uncontrollable need to please people has somewhat improved, but the idea of putting myself first still seems unnecessary and undeserving.

Unfortunately, it’s evident that there are a lot of problems in our health care system. While Mental Health Awareness week is a great initiative, it’s important to provide help when the public becomes aware that their mental health may need some TLC. While I am able to manage my anxiety most days by shaking things off – a tactic I would definitely not recommend — not being able to provide mental health patients with therapists and psychiatrists will most likely lead to a larger amount of problems.

As we speak, there are a sea of lost and helpless men and women who probably don’t even know they are struggling with their mental health. They think they’re stuck in a rut; struggling to wake up in the morning, making their way through their 9-5 jobs while somehow coming home by 5:30-6:00 only to go back to bed again.

We shouldn’t have to ‘deal with it’. We shouldn’t have to hide it. I have come to terms with the fact that anyone and everyone can struggle with mental health illnesses. Even people that laugh at their own jokes.

I’m no longer afraid to admit that I’m having anxiety while I’m typing this very sentence, as I conclude my post and wait as my friends and family click on the link and find out that my ‘bad days’ are far worse than that. And while you will all be aware of this fact when you read this, you should also be aware that there is much more we need to do than just “be aware”. Here is my story. What’s yours?

If you or a loved one may be suffering with mental health illnesses, please visit mentalhealthweek.cmha.ca/ for more information on next steps.