Monday, 26 September 2016

Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

I happened upon this by accident wandering through the TC;  Waterstones had a display stand by the door, I picked it up thinking 'Gosh that looks like a miserable read'. Somebody saw me eyeing it up and told me it was a must read, that it was a uplifting read about this chap coming through depression told with honest humour. 

I always take a personal in person recommendation; I haven't got the heart to trample on their enthusiasm.  Every decent book I've ever read I've pushed hard on all my friends!  One of the reasons I started my book club, was so I could lord it over my friends and loved ones with my reading list!  

From the off, reading this book, you completely 100% engage with the depression and panic of Matt Haig.  It weighs heavy on him, it's horrible and (worryingly) it came out of nowhere.  He was young, in a decent relationship, living it up in Ibiza, seemingly having the time of his life.  He doesn't report a troubled childhood, abuse, bullying.  Nothing of note, that you could link to this breakdown of his mental health. The other compelling thing about Matt's story, is his desire and will to get well.  He pushes hard, challenges his comfort zones.  Brilliantly he does get well (phew!).  

I've touched on it here on my blog, not massively, for a blogger, I'm private about some things.  In recent years, I have had problems with anxiety, mostly health anxiety.  It's much more than being a bit worried about my health, I have episodes of real panic where I truly believe I have some dreadful disease and that I might not make it to my holidays/Christmas/the weekend!  This panic is real and it's debilitating, having real inner turmoil 'Who will bath the kids if I'm not around' (Mr C has reassured me in the case of my demise he will shower/bathe the kids, but wouldn't commit to more than once fortnightly!). 

Read this book, if you've ever suffered depression, read this book if you know somebody suffering depression or panic/anxiety disorders.  Read this book simply for info.  Any person who reads this will take something away with them.  I've read this twice through, here are a few things that jumped out for me: 

  • If you are scared when there is nothing to be scared of your brain makes things up (p. 91). This would explain all my aches and pains that I internalise as symptoms of ill health. 
  • For anxiety, there aren't any sure fire cures to help calm or settle you. However, the simple practice of 'slowing down' will stop it in it's tracks (p. 193).  It's hard for your brain to run away with itself if you're sitting calmly breathing in (counting to five, making your tum inflate) and out (counting slowly to five).   This is not easy and it's a real skill but once mastered you can stop an episode in it's track before your brain is flooded into panic mode. 
  • Matt gives a list of hints to live well (p. 238), number 15 fits in well with my own personal Christian outlook.  BE KIND  Guessing he means to yourself as well as others.
  • Matt is a right book worm, his reading list is impressive, he is guilty of slipping in the odd book recommendation, he sold me Margaret Atwood's Wilderness Tips (a collection of short stories) (p, 138). 

This book is not preachy or judging, it's an account of what works for one person.  It helped me understand my own mental health and made me realise that mostly it does get better, there is always a light at the end of a tunnel. 

xx Emma-Lou 











Monday, 12 September 2016

doTERRA - Wellness Advocates - Serenity Storm - A review

Lovely Steph Ledigo (@LedigoPR) asked me along to a launch event last week for Serenity Storm Essentials (@Serenity_Storm_).  It was more like a mini workshop looking into essential oils and doTERRA.  Now as it goes I know a bit about essential oils.  My MIL swears by them, and has over the years made me up potions.  These were for driving test angst (actually that isn't a good advert for them, as it took me five goes to pass!) and other emotional type of worries.  In pregnancy, she cooked me up a remedy for hey fever and that worked as well as any antihistamine I ever took. In fact, I've never had hey fever since!  I wonder if the medicated stuff sort of suppressed my natural repellent to pollen and having a break taking alternative medicines helped build natural defences.  Anyhow, I don't claim any know how, or preach on. 

I arrived late (bloody M60) to Ashton's Village Hotel, so crept into a talk that had already started. About 8 seconds in, the only thing I could feel was the 100 mile an hour enthusiasm of Emma Pollitt!  She truly believes in her company, in essential oils, in alternative medicines, in doTERRA.  She is funny, personable and at times very moving in telling her doTERRA story.  I won't retell her story, she'd happily share it with you, without a doubt, it's changed her life and she wants to share it. It's of her own family experience of overcoming very physical health problems, using essential oils to tackle debilitating symptoms, and it is amazing.  But it's not my story and I'd feel uncomfortable talking about that side of alternative medicine.  What is very lovely about Emma, she does one million percent believe in this and she can back it all up with research paper after research paper (the ultimate PubMed Queen).  But her message is clear, she wants you yourself to research it, she doesn't want you to just take her word for it, she wants you to go away, have a think, get online and research alternatives to modern medicine.

From a therapeutic point, a lot can be said for the healing properties of essential oils. Anxiety, stress, depression, nervousness, problems with sleep, focus and concentration, hormonal tension, all these often debilitating stresses can make life pretty tough. essential oils CAN and DO help with these emotional problems, they bring about an inner calmness that allows natural healing to come into play.  I have a huge belief in essential oils for mood enhancement.

I know this from MIL, the oils you might buy on a market or Holland and Barrett, I'm not sure what they contain, but it's not a lot of essential oil, probably just enough to make them smell nice!  I always knew that you had to pay for decent products. doTERRA products aren't cheap (you can get them massively discounted if you sign up for wholesale membership).  But at the same time, they make massive claims that they will increase your wellness and improve your life, and honestly they can back up those claims.  

doTERRA can be a way of life, delving right into a toxic free existence, you could even give up using Fairly liquid, their range is full of alternatives. Or it could be the odd tweak to modern living, a little Oil every now and then to help with a headache, or a stressful life event.  

I'm a nervous driver, I drove this weekend to Nottingham, it's tricky on that Snake Pass! Before leaving, I used some doTERRA peppermint oil, the tiniest amount rubbed onto my wrists (a bottle would last forever), it defo calmed and focused me.  I used it again today at the start of my working day, again, I felt ready to make a good start. Plus it smells nice, and the act of putting it on creates a moment of mindfulness. 

I don't know how I'll continue with doTERRA,  but I look forward to researching and being more mindful of what's out there.  Lavender for sleep, and I wonder if they do anything for hangover.... the weekend in Notts is catching me up! 

xx Emma-Lou 

Thursday, 8 September 2016

#BadMa Back to School Guide

New academic year, new start, September it is, getting organised, making promises of never forgetting a permission slip, making a donation in time to the PTA, not having any late tickets.  Spending evenings packing school bags neatly by the door.... feeling smug as you pass the school office, they haven't got one on you, you're ahead with the milk money 

Not this year.... 

Thing is you can't keep it up, it's not real life, come October things begin to slip, the pleats aren't as sharp, the school bags left in the car overnight, ham sandwiches creep back in over couscous salad, half the lids missing from your Tupperware! 

Feelings of failure creeps in, #BadMa syndrome... screaming at your children "So help me God, if you haven't got your shoes on in 30 seconds....".

So yes, a new leaf being turned, but not as you think.  I'm starting September as I finished in July - badly organised!  The thing is, in my frantic late way, I keep it together (mostly), the children arrive everyday to school, they may have incorrect kit, with the application form for crafternoon a smidge after the deadline, but who cares, nobody is judging me.  Well I suspect the school secretary is, but I can sweet talk her, perhaps I should buy her a box of Roses at Christmas? 

I'm going to give myself a break, and drink wine. 

xx Emma-Lou