Finding the Balance, Technology & Mental Health

Technology has helped keep many friends, families, schools, organisations & even governments stay connected and be able to function during the COVID19 Pandemic at mostly near pre-pandemic levels & in some cases beyond pre-pandemic levels. However, it is safe to say that even leading up to the pandemic there had been lots to consider about “Finding the Balance” between what is a good amount of technology & what is likely to be a detrimental amount of technology. As tech becomes more & more ingrained and essential in our day to day lives, we must strive to not only find the balance of how we use technology, but also to maintain it as well. This is to protect both our wellbeing, from over straining our eyes with too much screen time, but also as an important but often overlooked, our mental wellbeing too.

So, with that what does “Finding the Balance” mean? Read on to find out what I think is needed to help you in “finding the balance”.

Firstly,

Finding The Balance

This in its most basic of forms means getting back some “you” time, and for those of us in tech this is meant to mean time you regain to spend on other as opposed to any form of continual busy time, which now seems to regularly mean lots of screen time, like doing something tedious like going through your emails/app notifications or for many, app notifications that you have also received as emails 😒 & limiting those incredibly noisy apps (Twitter/Facebook/GitHub/Teams etc) from dragging all of your work and personal time. I say this as “doomscrolling” is not only incredibly simple to do, it is something that your mind can and does just accept you doing and can easily eat hours of your time without you realising.

You may be thinking, how can we do this??

I’d highly recommend making a list of apps that you need notifications from, like calls, texts, WhatsApp/Signal/Telegram, ones where you want notifications from & which notifications from those apps you actually care about and turning off any that you don’t care about & then turning off notifications from all those apps you have, but barely use.

Why, because most of the time we interact with a number of services is when we get a ping that something “may be of interest” which news sites & social media are terrible for, and then get drawn in to the service instead of doing what we actually were meant to be doing. If you haven’t seen it yet, I would 100% recommend that you go and watch The Social Dilemma on Netflix as this will open your eyes to the tactics used by some of the social networks to get you & keep you engaged, which by turning off your notifications you can balance your amount of interaction back in your favour.

Also be willing to sign out of apps like Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Snapchat/LinkedIn/Slack/Teams from your phone or even remove them to further help you find your right balance.

Most mobile operating systems have also in recent years gained the ability to track just how much time you have spent using individual apps & your smartphone in general. I am personally terrible for scrolling Twitter for hours, but that is because there is always something new there, that & I follow an interesting variety of people across many walks of life, but this is time that is quintessentially lost and could be better used.

For those of us with email and have it on our phones, laptops, desktops or tablets, make sure you set up Inbox Rules (Outlook) / Inbox Filters (Gmail) only allowing the most important to land directly into your Inbox & set up some folders for things – I personally make use of an Everything Else folder, with sub folders underneath for each important thing to me, which each have their own rule that rules the mail into a folder.

If you have followed the likes of Dona Sarka (if not I think you should – T | B) she posted this article recently How to make an extra 10-15 hours a week which is a great read & really helps to show what you could achieve if you were to rebalance the scales back into your productive side from time to time.

I would also recommend reading this article Attention Matters More than Time by Josh Duffney (T | B) as it’s an impactful piece as is this one The Digital Declutter which also mirrors some of the points I’ve made above.

Secondly,

Life isn’t just about work, nor is it about tech

Whilst this section is could be seen to be focused towards those of us that we work in the tech sector & have a tendency to eat, drink, breath & sleep technology (I know I do) is becoming as, if not more, important for everyone else who perhaps hadn’t been as deeply ingrained into using tech as frequently as those of us that live, breath and sleep tech.

Find at least 1 good non-tech hobby, preferably 3 or more and spend plenty of time with them. For example, I am an avid Snooker player & have a 6′ x 3′ table of my own (not that I have the right sized place for it) and I spend at least 12 hours a week playing. For me, it is perfect as a wind down from a long meeting or during my lunch break or just for figuring out those really difficult technical / non-technical questions of life.

I’d also recommend buying some interesting sounding books (physical is better, but kindle/audible versions are perfectly suitable too) and commit to reading them. I say this as not only is reading good for expanding your knowledge & vocabulary, but it helps in reducing “screen strain” on your eyes & has also been shown in studies to improve your mental health.

Get active, which means getting out and about (when safe to do so) it does not need to be to the gym, or the swimming pool, or perhaps to go play tennis, but do go and get out the house/flat, out of the town/city you live in and spend some time in the countryside, you know where there is an abundance of real fresh air. There are so many amazingly beautiful places to see around the world, so start planning a list of places to go and visit, in your country as well as places in other countries too. A good travel plan, especially a multi-year one, will give you plenty to look forward to in the months and years ahead! I know my list is growing by the week, with a tour of Scotland & its islands being very high up on my list.

Make sure you Stop living at work !!

Lastly,

Expand your horizon

By this I mean do not just sit in your comfort zones, whether that be from a technological perspective, or whether it is what you listen to whilst getting on with your day (music, podcasts, audiobooks) or what you read or watch or play to relax after your day as there is so much awesome content out there waiting to be consumed.

I recently rekindled my love not only for cooking for myself (after a long day in the office I used to get very lazy with food & cooking for myself) but also baking too which in part was helped by the last season of Great British Bake off & some much needed remote company during the series, especially as there really is nothing better than having a natter with friends whilst watching something you enjoy, and I have signed up to get the Bake off Box to get me baking more regularly again.

When it is safe to, make sure you go & visit somewhere new, whether that be 5 miles down the road in your local area or perhaps somewhere a little further afield like another county, or even country, whether in your nearest geographical region or perhaps even further afield still.

There is plenty out there to see and I’d recommend you check out some of the many Travel Blogs listed in this article Best Travel Blogs From Around The World To Inspire You by Matthew Karsten (T | B) and also check out one that an ex-colleague of mine has started up which is aptly called Get Lost and already shows some amazing parts of Yorkshire & I expect will have many many more in the future too.

2021, especially the first few months in the lead up to spring and also into summer will for many of us be incredibly challenging, but there is light at the end of that tunnel, please use this time to reflect on what you want from your life when the world goes back to a sense of normality post-vaccination and set some realistically achievable goals for what you want to achieve in 2021, like reading more, walking more, eating healthier, and most importantly giving yourself a much needed break from time to time by booking holiday from work & just having a bit of a disconnect even if you don’t end up going anywhere.

Humans are not one-dimensional beings so by ensuring you expand your horizons, you do what you can to make sure life isn’t just about work & tech, this should help you in Finding the Balance.

I’m Ryan ( twitter | blog ) a successful IT Consultant & the founder of mhasl and Mental Health Affects Someone Like Me

Speaking with Don Jones on Listen: Your Mental Health

Back in May I was lucky enough to be invited onto Don Jones’s Podcast called Listen. For those of you that don’t know Don, he is a 20+ year IT Veteran and is well known for leading the way with a Technical Community that I got the chance to be involved in.

You can listen to what we had to say over on his podcast in the link below which you can find links to all the top platforms

Listen: Your Mental Health

I’m Ryan ( twitter | blog ) a successful IT Consultant & the founder of mhasl and Mental Health Affects Someone Like Me

An Intro to the #SwimmingPoolAnalogy – Going for a swim in the Pool of Mental Health

As you can likely tell from the title of this post, I am going to go into the detail of what I think is a novel new way to attempt to describe how various states of mental health can and do affect us all differently.

Firstly I think it is important to get across a very simple, but often overlooked point when it comes to mental heath, and that is that mental health is something that we all have, much like the blood in our veins, the air in our lungs or the bacteria in our guts. But much like those 3 critical things, I would be willing to bet that for the mass majority of the population, i.e. above 80% if not 90%, most will not think about these things until there is a problem that is affecting them. The same can be as easily said for mental health.

So this brings me to an important point. why bring this up and why now? Well the story for this post starts back in July 2019, when I was accepted to speak at Microsoft Ignite, Microsoft’s premier conference about all things related to Microsoft technology. That being said however I wasn’t accepted to talk about Microsoft tech (which I could ramble on about for weeks) but more so about Mental Health as you can read more about in https://blog.kilasuit.org/2019/09/02/speaking-at-microsoft-ignite-2019-but-not-about-tech/ & watch my session at http://ignite.mhasl.me & whilst I have been meaning to get back to writing more about Mental Health, this thread about #UnifiedCutleryTheory https://twitter.com/UmbralReaver/status/1233335355572543488 kicked off the inspiration to get this written.

This post will get a little wordy so a sensible length TL:DR would be as simple as this.

The Swimming Pool Analogy is a method that can be used to describe about a person’s current state of Mental Health and how it is affecting them in a way that is simple for others to conceptualise and more importantly be easier to visualise and then enact upon too.

Once 2 people know and understand the Swimming Pool Analogy they can easily share about how their current state of mental health is affecting them to each other using a very simple to use visual representation to each other without converting the current conversation to one that is completely about mental health.

This is particularly useful in a setting where it may not be comfortable or appropriate to discuss, like in public or within a work setting like a meeting, allowing a further conversation about mental health to be brought up at a more appropriate time.

 

Why A Swimming Pool?

Whilst trying to find a way in which to simplify how to describe how Mental Health can affect each person differently for my presentation at Microsoft Ignite, I went over many a different idea & finally settled on something completely new, the Swimming Pool Analogy.

In general the core goals in coming up with this analogy were to

  • Make it simpler to explain that Mental Illness is a part of Mental Health & that it actually isn’t the biggest part to Mental Health.
  • Help explain that having a Mental Illness doesn’t label someone as being “stuck” and defined by their illness & that illness is only a small part of the wider “pool” that makes up Mental Health as a whole.
  • Help in explaining that anyone can move between differing states of Mental health in any direction, sometimes erratically & violently, other times gradually & slowly.
  • Help in explaining that sometimes movements can be helped with external aids, like therapy or medication, or often just requiring time, patience & most importantly a good support network.
  • The state of one’s mental health can change due to may different factors, much like the ebb and flow of water in a swimming pool.

And it was that last point that truly made me have the light bulb moment of this really could work as an analogy.

Though I do recognise that all of the above is a lot to try an cover with 1 analogy, I feel that this manages to properly cover all the base principles that this analogy is attempting to cover.

The reason why a Swimming Pool is used for this analogy as I believe that most of us would be able to conceptualise & understand what is meant in a much easier manner as an addition to the already available combination of Spoon/Fork/Knife Theories, particularly as visualising energy isn’t a simple thing and is totally subjective to each person, much like the utilisation of fuel in different cars produces different Miles Per Gallon results.

By this I mean that I expect that we can all visualise what the cross section of a swimming pool with 3 or more depths looks like, much like the below, and how at each of the different depths within the swimming pool it can make dealing with all variances of Mental Health, not just Mental Illnesses, in vastly much more different ways.

As you see above within the pool there is a certain total volume of water, but it is only at different stages in the pool do we start to get concerned or struggle to stay afloat and breathe due to the amount of water that is surrounding us, which I think nicely sums up closely to how we then cope with the current state of our mental health. Its also important to point out at this point the above diagram is highly simplified, and that each of the 3 main parts all have various segments to them from the farthest to the left being the most shallow, to the farthest to the right being the deepest part of the pool.

The Shallow End – aka Mental Wellness

This section of the pool is where I would conceptually say a large proportion of the populace either fall within or would believe they fall within. This part of the swimming pool is where you could say that you are mentally doing well, life seems to be going good and you don’t have above average amounts of worry, upset, fear, anxiety etc, keeping you from managing to go about your day to day lives with relative ease.

In fact for many in this part of the pool they may not even have any inclination about the state of their mental health at all, and may even be entirely oblivious to the fact that they too, like every other person on the planet, have mental health, just like we have physical health. Some in this part of the pool unfortunately can be classified as “Mental Health Deniers”, though many change this view when further states of Mental Health, particularly unwellness & illness start to affect either themselves or their closest loved ones.

But it’s important to say that there are percentile segments of this part of the pool, just like all other parts of the pool. So you may be in the 0-10 percentiles where you could be totally oblivious or you could be in the 90-100 percentile parts where you are more than aware of your mental health and what state it is in but that it isn’t drastically effecting you.

If you want another way to conceptually visualise this, then you could also liken this part of the pool to a nice Sunny, cloudless day.

The Middle – aka Mental Unwellness

This section of the pool is where I would conceptually say that there is a large proportion of the populace falls in and whilst some may be either blissfully unaware or completely aware of, I would expect the mass majority in this part of the pool have some base awareness of their own Mental Health.

This part of the swimming pool is where you could say that whilst you are mentally coping, it isn’t all sunny days and rainbows & that things can be tough. For many in this part of the pool there are can often be a mix of good and bad days, each of these having varying levels of above average amounts of worry, upset, fear, anxiety etc, that can keep those in the pool from managing to go about their day to day lives with ease. This is not to say that for many in this part of the pool it is impossible to do so, however it is most probable that those in this part of the pool may need additional forms of support to do so, whether this be medications, reduction & more flexibility in their working lives, therapies & support groups.

For many in this part of the pool they likely are more than aware about the state of their mental health, they may not understand it fully but they, if they have at least admitted and accepted that something may not be quite right, will at least feel less build up of pressure as to why they feel the way that they feel. I generally find that people that fit into this area of the pool are much more likely to have the capability to empathise and sympathise with others in each of the parts of the pool as they are less likely to be oblivious to the fact that they too, like every other person on the planet, have mental health, just like we have physical health. The phrase “lived experience” is incredibly fitting for those in this part of the pool, which is why you are likely to find a higher proportion of those that have suffered with Mental Illness and have managed to recover into this part of the pool will be working in our health services or in online support groups.

But it’s important to say that there are percentile segments of this part of the pool, just like all other parts of the pool. So you may be in the 0-10 percentiles where you could be still be dealing with your mental health but having a really good day, or you could be in the 90-100 percentile parts & really struggling and be having a really bad day. Either way those in this part of the pool are very much more aware of the state of their mental health and also the states of others around them.

If you want another way to conceptually visualise this, then you could liken this part of the pool as an outcast day filled with various amounts of light or dark clouds.

The Deep End – aka Mental Illness

This section of the pool is where I would say that there is a lower proportion of the populace that falls within this part of the pool. This part of the swimming pool is also where many of the misconceptions about mental health have come from, particularly due to incredibly poor historic reporting, particularly onwards from the 1960’s, on various mental illnesses including, but not limited to, schizophrenia, psychosis, multiple personality disorders, eating disorders & even mood disorders like depression & bi-polar disorder.

One of the reasons why I like the Swimming Pool analogy is that when you think that the Deep End of the pool really can have no end to it’s depths, and therefore could have a theoretical lack of “light at the end of the tunnel” that’s when you start to understand a bit more about the feelings that people that are currently dealing with more suicidal thoughts may be experiencing.

However it’s really important to mention that actually even for those at the deepest and darkest depths with their mental health, whether that be due to suicidal thoughts or being on the deepest and darkest levels, can, if given the right levels of support, whether that be via the means of medical, social, housing, or support in the workplace, find it possible to essentially swim back into less deep parts of the pool and therefore metaphorically “see the light” (I recommend you to google/bing Blues Brothers See the Light) which is all we can hope for with those that are really really struggling and that they can with helping hand support pull themselves back up. I personally believe that we each have the power to lend some much needed support to those that are struggling the most, particularly when mental health services internationally are drastically underfunded.

In fact for many in this part of the pool they may be so bogged down with how they are feeling that they may not even have any inclination about the state of their mental health at all, and may even be entirely oblivious to the fact that they too, like every other person on the planet, have mental health, just like we have physical health. This often isn’t because they are unable to see others suffering but more often than not they are struggling to see themselves in a state where they are not suffering at all.

But it’s important to say that there are percentile segments of this part of the pool, just like all other parts of the pool. So you may be in the 0-10 percentiles where you could be totally oblivious or you could be in the 90-100 percentile parts where you are more than aware of your mental health and what state it is in.

If you want another way to conceptually visualise this, then you could liken this part of the pool to a day with torrential rain fall.

 

Are we permanently stuck in one part of the Pool?

Absolutely not! In fact, it is more than possible to start in the shallow end, have something in our lives that drags us all the way though to the deepest and darkest parts of the deep end and then for us with enough time & support manage to metaphorically “swim” back into the shallow end once again. Whilst this is less than common, it isn’t an impossibility and I can only hope that those reading that may be in the deeper ends, can see that there can be light at the deepest depths of the pool and that they can, with time, support and most importantly a little bit of self determination, get back into more manageable parts of the pool.

It is also really worth mentioning that your mental health is meant to go through states of ebbs and flows between the various depths throughout our lives. Whether that be the ending of relationships, friendships/colleagues/romantic, or the loss of a job, home or of loved ones through unfortunate deaths, but it is also just as much supposed to ebb and flow to the more shallow areas too, whether that be through attaining a new home/job, completing the simple tasks at home that you may have put off (like the washing up or piles of clothes that need to get washed) or the addition of new life into our lives whether that be gaining new friends, pets, partners, children or other family members.

How can we describe whereabout in the pool we are?

This one is once you understand it fully, incredibly simple to put into practice & more importantly is incredibly quick in sharing what your current state is.

When someone may feel that they are in the shallow end of the pool they would be able to describe it as if the water level is at most up-to their waists like the below image shows (please excuse my poor design skills) & that there is very little pressure on them to be able to allow their mental health to breathe easily whilst they are going about their day to day lives.

To express that you feel like you are in this part of the pool to someone else, you should try to smile & hold your hand to your waist. Whilst that may to many first seem pretty illogical, as we tend to think that when we are in a good place we are high up / on top of the world and many would think that we should hold our hands above our head. However when you think about it form a mindset of “am I able to breathe right now & how deep am I in being unable to breathe” it makes more sense to try to smile & hold your hand to your waist & will make more sense as we go through the rest of the following areas of the pool.

 

Those in the middle of the pool may feel more “pressure” on their mental health to breathe as easily as those in the shallow end because as the levels of the water in the pool rise, so does the internal panic of being unable to breathe, which can really make living in this part of the pool incredibly tiring. Ask anyone you know that is suffering and just about coping to “keep their heads above water” and I would highly expect that many will tell you that struggling to keep their heads above water is incredibly tiring, and that they may require more periods of downtime, with extended naps, periods where they do very little and need to relax a lot more or may even find that they sleep much much more than usual. They may also find it harder to get up and be fully ready for the day ahead, and as such these are reasonable signs that a loved one is perhaps struggling, even if they do not want to tell you themselves, or even admit it to themselves.

To express that you feel like you are in this part of the pool to someone else, you should try to express some form of low emotion, like a small frown & hold your hand to your neck. This makes the most sense for this part of the pool as many in this part of the pool will be keeping their heads above water, and are either coping ok with it or are struggling with it.

Those in the deep end of the pool are likely to be feeling the most “pressure” on their mental health & may be finding that they are unable to breathe at all. In this part of the pool the internal panic of being unable to breathe is likely at it’s highest, as essentially in this part of the pool it would be equally measured as someone that may be drowning if they were in a Swimming Pool. This can really make living in this part of the pool not just incredibly tiring, just like in the middle part of the pool, but almost unbearable.

To express that you feel like you are in this part of the pool to someone else, you should try to express some form of low emotion, like a small frown & raise your hand above your heard. This makes the most sense for this part of the pool as many in this part of the pool will not be be keeping their heads above water, and are likely really struggling with it.

 

You can further extend each of these responses with a few additional simple actions.

To show that you want to speak about it – nod your head.

To show that you want to speak about it, but not now – nod your head & place your other hand up, holding all 5 fingers up as if to say stop.

To show that you do not want to speak about it, at least not right now – shake your head.

To show that you do not want to speak about it at all – shake your head & place your other hand up, holding all 5 fingers up as if to say stop.

 

It is important that we as friends, colleagues, family members and even strangers, respect each person when they give any of the above signals and let them know that if and when they want to talk to us, that we are here to listen to them.

 

I hope that now you have read this and can take on board how the Swimming Pool Analogy may help you in having discussions with your friends, family, co-workers, and even health professionals have a more open discussion about your mental health, and I hope that you’ll remember It’s #TimeToTalk, But it’s also #TimeToWrite

Please share this post with the following hashtags on Social Media

#SwimmingPoolAnalogy

#MentalHealth

#ItsGoodToTalk

I’m Ryan ( twitter | blog ) a successful IT Consultant & the founder of mhasl and Mental Health Affects Someone Like Me

The Strains that #SleepDeprivation & #SleepDisturbances can take on your #MentalHealth & Physical Health – pt 1

This is the first part in a small series into The Strains that Sleep Deprivation & Sleep Disturbances can take on your Mental Health & Physical Health

We all know the importance of a good nights sleep, and the health benefits this brings us, right? If not then I recommend you have a quick read of this article that explains just a few of the benefits that a good nights sleep can bring you.

Whilst getting a good night sleep is important, this post is however going to focus on the issues that can arise from not getting a good nights sleep, what this can end up bringing you and contains some learnings from my own personal experiences.

Firstly, lets set out some items that this post will cover and their understood definitions, please note there are many links on this article leading to external sites for you to read at your leisure.

Sleep Disturbances

Sleep disturbances encompass disorders of initiating and maintaining sleep (DIMS, insomnia (NHS | Wikipedia), disorders of excessive somnolence (DOES), disorders of sleep–wake schedule, and dysfunctions associated with sleep, sleep stages, or partial arousals (parasomnia).

See https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK401/ for even more information.

Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation, also known as insufficient sleep, is the condition of not having enough sleep. It can be either chronic or acute. The levels of sleep deprivation can vary widely.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep_deprivation for more information.

Secondly, lets set a hypothetical scene, albeit for me an all too common one.

Its early one Thursday morning (pre 6am) and its all to common that for me to see this time of day is due to having been unable to actually drift off to sleep at all. This is something that I’ve personally experienced for well over 12 years now, all in varying different scales & can at times be the scale where it is almost unnoticeable to me, to the other extreme where it effects me constantly for weeks or months at a time in batches.

In the first few years I had completely disregarded it as an issue as it was maybe at it’s worst effecting me once a week for 2-3 weeks at a time and then would disappear for months at a time. I just took it to “be one of those things that just happens sometimes” and thought not a lot more about it, mainly due to a mix of not really wanting to accept that I was suffering, but also that I already knew that I had a busy mind and due to circumstances at the time I was constantly overthinking specific scenarios, and as is common with many that have a difficulty in getting to sleep, the mind starts racing at x10 – x100 speed as soon as your head hits the pillow. This is predominantly caused by stress, and the art of stressing tends to be most prevalent at the end of the day in our wind down stage, prior to actually being able to actually sleep, if you are going through lots of stress, please seek some advise from your GP or via services like this if you are in England – https://beta.nhs.uk/find-a-psychological-therapies-service/?WT.mc_id=MHCampaign_Twitter5

 

However I should not have dismissed it so quickly as this was also around the time in my life that I had come to realise that I was beginning to show and feel the traits of having what could be a very mild but noticeable (at least to me due to my lust to learn more about mental health aliments and illnesses) of what could be indicative of the symptoms of having a case of Bi-Polar disorder. There has been some interesting research done out there on a wider variety of different Mental Health issues that ties sleep disturbances and in more extreme cases, sleep deprivation, to being a potential precursor in developing bi-polar disorder, like what is described in this article over at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3321357/

 

A key point to take from the above linked article

Sleep disturbance is a core symptom of bipolar disorder

This one point, kicked down the door and barriers that I had built up and effectively opened me up to properly investigating my thoughts, & understanding, about my own mental health, especially when it related to both Sleep and Mood regulation and reading this 1 point was essentially the beginning point that lead me down the path of truly understanding that there is actually a higher likelihood that there will be a combination of issues that can be at play at any given time, with there being a higher likelihood of there being a series of stronger compounded symptoms, that can include sleep disturbances / sleep deprivation and there knock on effects into other aspects of Mental Health.

 

I guess the point that I am attempting to make here is that the smallest changes, like a change to sleep pattern, a change in dietary tastes, or just a feeling of a more general change of mood can be enough of a sign from your body that something isn’t quite right from a biochemical sense. The body is actually really good at pointing out these changes to you, because under the hood, every action, and all of their subsequent reactions. are all down to the number of different biochemical reactions that occur within the body, and how these then kick off their chain of events that can include items, like the regulation of our Circadian Rhythm, (more commonly known as the process that provides regulation of our sleep cycles) and our digestive processes. Once you learn a little more about how these work and start to understand how the body controls these different processes within the body, including mood regulation (and how you can in time learn methods to help you further in ways that you can self regulate) and the neurochemistry behind how the body manages to do this, then you can start to learn more about how you can self manage and more importantly self regulate difficult spells as well prior to obtaining any external help, and in a later post I will cover some of the things that have managed to really help me over previous years as I have learnt more and more about them and how they all personally affect me, and with everyone’s biochemistry being slightly different, all mileage of how they can affect you can come down to a number of things including, diet, exercise, stress levels, and countless other things too.

At this point I feel it only right to have to remind you that anything I write, especially in regards to my own personal experience with coping mechanisms and my own management of aliments like what I have written about here, all of these have come from personal experience of living with them over many years,  with what totals to be well over a decade’s worth of personal experience and with all of that experience, items that I have tried and tested, has been based on my own understanding of symptoms and their causes and has been based on many thousands of hours of extensive reading into these topics over this time.

Whilst a number of these areas and my coping mechanisms could end up having some potential for their conclusions that could be loosely tied to some themes that resemble some basic common sense (like not drinking caffeine containing products in the evening), some of them will disprove these ideals, and as such I do not recommend that you blindly follow any of them without doing further research of your own to better understand the processes behind them but also then also be prepared to do something useful about it and therefore then tell yourself that you should investigate further, and actually doing so.

Your investigations should include at least a little bit of basic personal research, however, you should not just rely on this as there is plenty of incorrect information being shared out there and I highly recommend that you should also seek further advice from at least your own GP, and any specialists that they also recommend as well, especially where sleep disturbances/deprivation and bipolar are concerned as your GP / recommended specialists are adequately trained, whereas I am not trained in this area, at least not currently, and whilst this isn’t something in my immediate future, this is something that I would find fascinating and fulfilling going into later life and may end up looking at studying properly in future to end up being trained properly in this area.

 

If you recognise any symptoms of Bi-Polar Disorder, as is listed on the following page, or any other mental health issues/aliments (more to come on my views about differentiating these two and understanding the key differences between them in a future post), then I would seriously suggest that you look to book an appointment with your GP, at the earliest opportunity, and seek proper medical advice regarding your symptoms as soon as you can, as just like physical symptoms, catching mental health issues early vastly increases your ability to be able to both manage them and also more importantly accept that you need to make changes to be able to manage them.

 

If you can try to keep a track of things that start off as being uncommon in occurrence, just in case the frequency in which they occur becomes more regular and more intense and just like psychical health issues like colds, or illnesses, the sooner they are caught the easier they can be managed and in future posts I will cover some of the coping mechanisms I’ve come up with when I have suffered sleep disturbances and deprivation in the past, and like I mentioned in this previous post It’s #TimeToTalk, But it’s also #TimeToWrite, making even small notes down can help you later on in trying to understand patterns in how these differing aliments can affect you, and perhaps more importantly, how you can perhaps get to understand them and in time manage to maintain and control them.

That’s all for Part 1 of this series, and we will bring part 2 to you in the coming weeks

I’m Ryan ( twitter | blog ) a successful IT Consultant & the founder of mhasl and Mental Health Affects Someone Like Me

 

Feb 21st is Mental Health Nurse Appreciation Day!!

Today is Feb 21st and it is Mental Health Nurse Appreciation Day which you can find out more about over at https://mhnursesday.wordpress.com/ and you can have a look at some of the posts being made by following their twitter account https://twitter.com/MHnursesday and also these hashtags

MHNurseDayMHNursesDay, MentalHealthNursesDay

I would also reading this blog https://mentalhealthnurseabby.wordpress.com/2019/02/21/why-mental-health-nursing/ and following Abby https://twitter.com/MHnurseabby and also check out this post https://caras-corner.com/2019/02/21/why-i-became-a-mental-health-nurse/ by https://twitter.com/CaraLisette

If you think you might be interested in a career as a Mental Health Nurse then I would recommend having a read through the below links

https://nationalcareers.service.gov.uk/job-profiles/mental-health-nurse

https://www.healthcareers.nhs.uk/explore-roles/nursing/roles-nursing/mental-health-nurse

https://www.prospects.ac.uk/job-profiles/mental-health-nurse

https://thepintsizedstudentnurse.home.blog/2019/02/21/so-you-want-to-become-a-mental-health-nurse/

 

If you can recommend any further links please drop them in the comments section.

I’m Ryan ( twitter | blog ) a successful IT Consultant & the founder of mhasl and Mental Health Affects Someone Like Me

It’s #TimeToTalk, But it’s also #TimeToWrite

Whilst today Feb 7th is #TimeToTalk Day, a day that symbolises the need for people to talk about their Mental Health, this also raises a perhaps unspoken point around the need to write about mental health as much as it does to talk about it.

Writing about your own mental health can be extremely daunting to begin with, with many questioning where to start, should it be public or private, what level of detail should you go to and other similar questions. However it needn’t be daunting for long and with the following suggestions I think you too can start writing about your own mental health more, even if it is just for simple tracking purposes.

So lets look at how you could make getting started with this, perhaps, a little easier.

Firstly lets look at it whether you should write publicly or privately and the benefits of both

Publicly

Writing Publicly, whether it be a blog post like this, on a site like this, or via Facebook or Twitter, can be hugely beneficial, especially if you have a number of good & supportive people that are following your blogs/posts/tweets as they will likely be open to providing you moral support on the good and the bad days.

When writing Publicly I would recommend starting with something as simple as

Today was a good day #MentalHealth #mhasl #HappyToTalk

or

Today was a bad day #MentalHealth #mhasl #NotHappyToTalk

These are just some simple examples of how simple you can go with this but you can go the other way too and be more detailed instead.

Today was a good day as I was able to control not only my anxiety, but I also felt like I had a happy day overall which is means my management of my depression is getting better.

or perhaps something more like this

Today was horrendous, I had a pretty bad panic attack and since I’ve been unable to stop crying at small things that typically wouldn’t get me upset, like running out of milk so I couldn’t have a much needed comfort bowl of coco pops.

These are good examples of micro-blogging and if you get into the habit of posting these kinds of items in public, over time you’ll find it easier to open up further, when and most importantly, if you feel confident to do so.

However, openly publishing about how your mental health is, is not for everyone, and if you don’t feel comfortable in doing so, then please don’t feel like you have to, especially as no one is going to force you to do so.

Privately

Some people find that writing privately is much easier and also much more beneficial, and whilst this can be for many reasons, typically writing privately is for many the easier initial option, often this is because they don’t have to worry about any potential negative interaction from anyone. If you think that writing privately may be more useful for you then there are a few different ways you can do this and here are some of my own suggestions (comments on other suggestions are welcomed)

You can

  • Get a dairy and write it in there, the benefit of this is that it is there for you to look back on.
  • Send yourself a daily email using the same subject line.
  • Update a daily spreadsheet with a simple rating system of how you felt the day went.
  • If you use Facebook you can actually make a post that is only visible to you. This is something that I used to do quite regularly especially on particularly special dates in the year, like birthday’s / Christmases etc as this allows me to see how whether or not over the years has my Mental Health been improving and how well it has been improving.
  • Post it notes – these are great for jotting down a quick thought and sticking it somewhere like the back of a wardrobe door. Be sure to date them as they can be interesting to come back to in future when tidying up and either reliving the bad days or reliving the good days. If you go with this I’d recommend either using the left door for bad days and right for good days, or using the front for the good and the back for the bad. That way if you are having a bit of a bad day you can go to your door and read through the good times to help cheer you up.

Personally, I do a mix of both Public and Private posts and at varying levels of detail with a much higher proportion of them being private, but when I do post publicly I tend to find that I get support from others, whether that be publicly for others to see or privately via DMs.

If you have any further questions that you think would be good to be added to this post please either comment on this post or you can find me on twitter where you can DM me.

If you are interested in writing here on mhasl then please see this previous post where you can find out more and if you do publish any tweets about mental health please add the #mhasl ( as we are tracking this hashtag)

I’m Ryan ( twitter | blog ) a successful IT Consultant & the founder of mhasl and Mental Health Affects Someone Like Me

An Intro to our new Blogger – Ryan Yates

Over time mhasl will get a number of new bloggers and in this series of blog posts we will briefly introduce you to these new Bloggers.

So without further ado

Who am I?

I am Ryan Yates, I’m in my late 20s and I am an IT Consultant that works at a Software Consultancy firm just outside from Leeds, UK and I am the founder of this blog site.

I set up this site, Mental Health Affects Someone Like Me, because Mental Health does affect someone just like me, and after a lot of thought and some conversations with some of my peers in various areas, I decided upon setting up this blog site with a view to help end the stigma about talking & writing about mental health from all angles. This is part of a much bigger long term goal of mine especially after having  had my own periods of ill mental health and also having had experience in supporting many friends and strangers with dealing with a variety of forms of their own mental health in a non-professional supporting capacity for well over a decade now.

I personally have had a number of periods, all of various lengths, where my mental health has been far from perfect and whilst I will mainly blog about either my own experiences with my own aliments, I will however also blog about some of the hidden sides of supporting others that are going though their own periods of upset with the balances of their mental health.

I also intend to blog a bit about the neuroscience behind differing areas of mental health aliments as I learn more about them in further depth, and how the underlying chemistry behind some of mental health aliments can be potentially better managed.

I however will make it clear I am not a formally trained medical expert and that I will only blog about items that have definitive research behind them, with citations to the research papers where utmost possible.

I’m Ryan ( twitter | blog ) a successful IT Consultant & the founder of mhasl and Mental Health Affects Someone Like Me

 

Mhasl.me and its purpose & long term intent

So what is the Idea behind Mhasl.me?

Mhasl is fundamentally a place where any and all stories around many different aspects of Mental Health can be shared, and as such has a vision to become a centralised platform for bloggers to share their stories and provide an opportunity for them blog here but also provide the opportunity to promote their own personal blogs too. It will also form a directory of other bloggers that but also for them to find others that they can follow as well, which has the resulting knock on effect of growing your network of like-minded bloggers.

However mhasl is behind the scenes a grass-roots movement to connect and showcase that no matter what walk of life you come from, you can have a less than perfect mental health and still be successful in life and this is one of the principle goals of this community for future generations to be able to see that they too can manage to live with their own mental health aliments.

Therefore the purpose behind mhasl is to foster a wide and engaging set of encouraging stories, hints, tips & tricks that can go on to help those manage their own self care and reduce some of the wider and often silent social issues that

The intent is reduce the stigma behind talking & writing about mental health and provide those that may be willing to write/talk the opportunity to do so in a supporting manner,

So if you like writing, and want to be involved in a growing community of bloggers please fill in this following form – Submission of interest in the Mhasl.Me (Mental Health Affects Someone Like Me) blog site

I’m Ryan ( twitter | blog ) a successful IT Consultant & the founder of mhasl and Mental Health Affects Someone Like Me