Is medication right for you?

meds

I take a frankly ridiculous amount of medication daily. And I am not going to lie and say I enjoy taking them, because I don’t. But each tablet I take was prescribed after careful research and consideration on the parts of both myself and my GP. I weighed up the risks and benefits of each medication, considered if I thought it was worth it (in terms of risk/ benefit), and considered what the next steps would be if this particular medication didn’t work. Both my and my doctor also took into account the fact that the more medications you take, the less predictable the interactions can be.

Medications, however, aren’t always- read usually- the ‘magic cures’ we believe and want them to be. Unfortunately there is no such thing as a magic pill that works for everyone all the time. That is why the decision to start on medications is such a huge one. It can be much more of a long-term commitment than people realise. Of course, there are plenty of lucky ones who find the perfect medicine first time, but for many people finding the right medication or mix of medications at the right dosage takes time. True, most medications we start we don’t need to take for long, but there are plenty that are a longer term commitment. It is also important to note that in terms of antidepressants and similar medications, sometimes you need to take them for a few months or even years before you are able to stop. But it would be a mistake to assume (except in rare cases like meds to stop you rejecting transplanted organs) that you will have to be on these medications for life. Antidepressants are there to help you regain control of your life and the aim is always to be able to live a healthy and productive life without them in the future.

For most people, there will be a medication, or combination of medications, that control and manage their symptoms. Getting to that point is well worth the wait… however it can sometimes be a relatively long journey that involves trying a number of different medications and doses while you are figuring out what works for you. Since some medications can have bad side effects it can be disheartening to discover yet another medication isn’t working for you. I can only urge that you continue looking. It is very important you are honest with your doctor. If the side effects to a medication are unbearable then let them know. It is worth remembering though that in a lot of cases the side effects lessen and eventually disappear once you have been on the medication a while. My personal recommendation (always to be discussed with your GP) is to give the meds 3/4 months before deciding to move on. Unless they make your symptoms worse or you are unable to cope with the side-effects, that is. For minor issues you may well find they disappear with time.

Medications, particularly for mental health issues, are not the only (or even the best) way to help yourself though. These medications are generally there to help you get into a better frame of mind so you can tackle the things that are behind the mental illnesses. This may include counselling or therapy. That, in combination with medications, can often mean a faster and more complete recovery.

For some people, medications are simply not the answer. There are a hundred reasons that could be the case, including simple patient preference. If you don’t want to start medication for whatever reason, please don’t feel like you are powerless. There are still plenty of things you can do to help yourself. Perhaps the most important (and most often overlooked) way to help heal your mind is to heal your body. And I realise that sounds counter intuitive. But doing what you can to eat a healthy diet with plenty of vitamins, minerals and micronutrients will help every aspect of your health, including your brain and mind. Getting exercise releases endorphins (or ‘happy hormones’) that make you feel happy, safe and secure. It is also an excellent way to reduce stress. Getting the proper amount of sleep is also vital to both good physical and mental health. Anyone with insomnia can attest to the fact that a lack of sleep affects everything from memory to stress levels, it slows healing and can lead to a myriad of health issues including heart problems.

This is something I struggle with immensely, but it is also worth remembering keeping a clean and tidy home will also help your mental health. The saying ‘tidy house, tidy mind’ is very true.

Here is the issue… having mental health problems can make doing those things a million times harder than usual- and they aren’t easy to start with. But it is not impossible. A lot of it involves getting the right support around you, so let your friends and family know what your goals are and what they can do to help you achieve them. Love yourself unconditionally. Accept there will be days where you fail or where you just can’t be bothered.. and that is perfectly okay so long as you get up the day after. Don’t give up on yourself, and others won’t give up on you. If you really want to help yourself, there are relatively easy ways in which you can do it, with little cost involved.

Ultimately, the decision about whether or not to take medication is entirely up to you. There is no right or wrong answer, and as much as I wish I could… I can’t make the decision for you. The only thing I will say is that if you go down that road then prepare yourself.. it may be a longer road than you want.. but when you get to the right mix you feel like you gained your life back and it is a little bit magical! All I can say is… look after yourselves!

I am not a doctor, and I don’t play one on the internet. As with any medication, it should be carefully discussed with your doctor, and you should do your own research to ensure it is right for you. You are your own advocate so if you don’t feel like something is right, let your doctor know. Trust me, they genuinely want you to feel better and will do whatever they can to make that happen. And just like you should never start a medication without talking to your doctor first, you should NEVER stop taking one without talking to your doctor either. I have seen it a million times where people feel fine so stop the medication that is helping them feel that way, and they have often gone back to square one pretty quickly. If you feel like it is time to come off a medication, particularly one you have been on for a while, it should be done slowly over a number of weeks under close supervision.

Mini-break Paradise!

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I am in a great mood at the moment, because I have just gotten back from an incredible 4 day holiday with my father and daughter. I worked it out and in the past 10 years I have had 15 days away (I mean out of the county, I have spent a few weeks with my grandma who lives less than a mile away but that doesn’t really count)… so this break was seriously needed.

What made it all the more special was that I got to share it with my daughter. Since she still lives with my parents getting the chance to go away with her for a few days is special. Though I must admit I am extremely lucky and my parents have never put any restrictions on me seeing her so I have always had plenty of access. I actually have an amazing kid… and I am very lucky to have her. She is smart, intelligent, funny, witty, gorgeous, probably a little sarcastic and she definitely has her mother’s temper… but I couldn’t be prouder!!! She is the one thing I did right and I know I made the world a better place by having her.

Spending time with my dad was pretty awesome too. We don’t get munch 1 on 1 time these days and we have always gotten along well so it was really nice to spend time together. The only person missing was my mum, who unfortunately had to work.

We went to North Norfolk, which is roughly a three-hour drive away. I know it isn’t going half way round the world but having a break from my crazy life is worth it wherever I go. It is a gorgeous area, with loads to do. The cottage we stayed in had acres of woodland around it that we could go exploring in, we had pretty good weather (despite torrential rain on the way up there), so spent some time on the beach, as well as going to a local horse sanctuary, the sea-life centre and an amazing boat ride to see seals in the wild. We saw an incredible variety show and had fish and chips by the sea.  It really was an incredible break.

The amazing thing is this holiday has made my depression feel lighter, my pain feel less consuming, and I feel better able to cope with the world. Even dealing with a particularly large spider was okay! Sometimes getting out of your life, even for a few days, can work wonders. I know I certainly feel a ton better.

Here are a couple of pictures I took. x

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You have to remember the good times to overcome the bad… so this is me, remembering the best of times! Having mental health problems is like swimming against a strong tide. Sometimes it feels impossible, you can get swept off course without really noticing and it is exhausting. A strong family and/ or support group, however, is the life boat. The one that pulls you back on track and is always there to rescue you. Well… I am lucky enough to have a whole fleet of life boats! I feel like this holiday readjusted my course properly though. So I am feeling pretty good at the moment which is why I wanted to share it with you all!

Q&A: My guilt is taking over my life.

Q&A

Dear Hayley,

I have done some thing in my past that I am not proud of. I am trying to move on but guilt about my past failings is preventing me from being happy. I feel like I don’t deserve happiness after what I have done and it is really getting me down. I am not sure how to cope and how I can move on? Any advice would be great!

Sue*

Hello Sue!

Feeling bad about our past is perfectly normal, and I have yet to meet someone with absolutely no regrets. I know we spoke in detail about this, and the things you have done, and I hope I was able to assure you that they weren’t the most awful things in the world!

I know you have come so far since your ‘darker days’ and you shouldn’t forget that. But since this is causing you so many issues in your day-to-day life, including anxiety, I suggest you visit your GP. They may be able to give you some temporary medication to help you back on to your feet whilst you await some counselling. I think talking things through properly with someone will help you forgive yourself.

I suggested writing a letter to your younger self, telling her the everything will work out okay. Sometimes comforting the part of you that you feel let down by can be a massive comfort, and it can help you see things from the perspective of the ‘younger you’. As we get older we get life experience; experience earned only through having gone through what we have. If you had never done what you had, you would not be the person you are today, and that is something else to cling on to. You are so much stronger than you think and you ARE a good person!

The most important thing I can say is that you WILL pull through this. Your past may not be perfect but you are trying to better yourself now, and that is so important. Many people keep repeating the same bad circles, never learning anything, and they are the ones that will struggle to find happiness. The fact that you could see where you were going wrong and have tried to change it is proof to me that you will make it.

I asked you a question, and found your answer interesting. I asked you if you would think any less of your best friend if she came and told you that she had done everything you told me you did. And you said “of course not!”. So why is it any different for you? You are a completely different person now than you were years ago, so why not try forgiving that person rather than forgiving yourself? That may be easier.

I wish you all the best!

 

 

 

*Names have been changed

The advice I have given here is my opinion only, and it should never replace that of a medical professional. I have been emailing Sue for a few months now. She has started therapy, and it is going well. She is also on some medication for her anxiety. She has approved both the shortened version of her original email I posted and my response, and is now ready for her story to be shared. She hasn’t found things easy, and has uncovered some deeper issues during her therapy, but she is coping really well and feeling positive about the future. She wanted to share her story because she felt alone. She said, and I quote, “The world is so much harder when you don’t like yourself, it is like being around an enemy 24/7 and you can’t escape, not even for a minute, so the hatred just gets deeper and deeper”. I have to admit, I can see exactly where she is coming from, I am not particularly fond of myself a lot of the time either. And that is exactly what living with a mental health problem is like. But there is a sentence to live by: If you don’t love yourself, no one else will be able to love you enough. It is true that there is a void that can be filled only by us. And that is why having the best support network in the world isn’t always enough. But it is a very good start, and sometimes seeing how much other people love you helps you see yourself through their eyes, not your own.

 

I will keep you updated with Sue’s progress as she continues on her journey. It is still early days but the if the improvements she has made already are anything to go by, this story at least will have a happy ending!

Holding on to the pain.

 

Letting go of something hurtful is really difficult. When we are in pain we need time to process what has happened, and we need time to come to terms with it. However, it is often harder than it looks. Talking does help people process what happens, and bottling things up only leads to more pain.

There is a point when talking about it does more harm than good. It sounds contradictory I know. Talking about it gets you sympathy from your friends and family… but if you refuse to let it go when it is time, the only thing you will get is more pain. We can upset ourselves by constantly bringing it up and thinking of it. By doing that we don’t allow ourselves to move on. Holding on to anger, upset, pain and bad memories leaves you constantly in a highly emotional state.

We have emotions to help us cope with the bad bits, to help us prepare for fight or flight moments, let us know how much we love someone. They are only meant to be temporary, otherwise we couldn’t cope with anything. Holding on to negative emotions has an effect on the whole body. Stress can be very dangerous if you hold on to it for too long. It can even cause heart attacks.  As hard as it is, people that let go of their emotions are able to return to normal. Holding on to them leaves you upsetting yourself  instead of loving and looking after yourself.

Here is list of a few emotions and how they help:

LOVE: Love keeps us from murdering our children when they cry for the 14th time that night and you need to be up early. Love is bearing the worst bits of your partner just so you can see the best bits.

ANGER: Anger protects us by getting the adrenalin going and helping you with your fight or flight situation. It also keeps our moral compass pointing in the right direction.

FEAR: It might not feel very nice but fear is a very helpful emotion. It helps you keep yourself safe via hyper-vigilance… meaning you make sure you are aware of everything that is going on around you… that way there are no surprises.

GUILT: Guilt is another important emotion. It shows both our conscience and our moral compass are working, and making you feel bad for whatever you did means you wont do it again. It is like a disciplinary emotion that makes you want to do the right thing.

EMPATHY: Empathy is a lovely emotion. It helps create a strong bond and can help lots of people. Being able to understand what someone has been through can drag up some bad memories, but it can also reassure people that it does get better in time and they will be okay. Sometimes that is all they need to hear.

CONTENT: This has got to be the best emotion out there. Feeling content really is a blessing. When you feel good enough to want things to carry on exactly as they are, you are content.

That’s all for now, I will do a more comprehensive list later.

This blog entry is a tribute to my gorgeous sister, who is struggling to let go at the moment. I sincerely hope she is able to let go, move on, and create the life she always wanted. She is stronger than she thinks and moving on will allow her to continue with her wedding plans and focus on that rather than the emotions.

Q&A Help… will this ever end?

Q&A

Below is a message I got from one of my readers recently. He has been going through a really hard time. I want to make it clear, once again, that I am not a medical professional in any form. I am merely someone who has had a rough time of things and want to help. My advice is only that- advice- and should never replace the opinion of a qualified professional. It is always best to seek professional advice when you are feeling low and unable to cope.

 

Hello Hayley,

I was abused as a boy. I lived with the secret for 40 years before telling my wife. She reacted badly, upset that I had never told her before. The thing is, since telling her I have been having nightmares about what happened. I feel like my whole life has been taken away from me because I can’t cope with the constant memories flooding my mind. I was forced to retire on medical grounds 6 months ago, and since then have been completely lost. I have started having panic attacks and I was hospitalised due to one two months ago.  I don’t feel like a man any more, my wife is now the ‘bread winner’ and I am struggling to cope. How do I go back to how I was before. I was fine for so long, what happened? And how can I deal with what is happening now. I can’t do this any more!

Love John **

 

Hiya John,

I am so sorry you have been through what you have. You have already started dealing with this and seeking help, and I am thrilled you have found my blog useful. It can be easy to block out what has happened. We put it in a box at the back of our minds, and move on. However, in most cases there will be a point where that Pandora’s Box will be opened… as has happened here. In my case, that box opened much quicker. However, now the box is opened, I am afraid it isn’t as simple as shoving everything back in and forgetting about it.

You have remained incredibly strong throughout your life, and your story has inspired me no end. I know we haven’t been able to post your entire story, but for the other readers of this blog I must stress this man has dealt with more than anyone ever should have to.

John, I recommend you seek professional help. It seems to me that you might be suffering from PTSD and Generalised Anxiety Disorder, along with a deep depression. The good news is that these conditions can be managed and treated with medication and therapy. I know you have spoken to  your GP and have recently started some medication that I hope starts to help soon.  Therapies like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Psychotherapy should help you regain control of your life. We spoke about the recovery time, and I know you are aware that this can take quite a while to heal.

I know from experience you can only bottle things up for so long… but once the bottle top explodes, we  have to deal with what comes out. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though. Once you have been able to work through what has come out, you will find that you don’t need to bottle things up any more. You will be able to share a more open and honest life with your wife, who I know has been a huge support rock for you, despite her initial concerns. I would encourage you to return to some of my earlier blog posts about ‘A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss‘, and ‘Post Traumatic Growth‘, ‘The Truth About Anxiety‘ and ‘The Truth About PTSD‘. I hope they are able to offer some support and encouragement.

I have a strange little bit of advice for you. It is something that has helped me a lot. Why not try writing a letter to your past self… the child that went through that horrific ordeal. Write to let that small child know that things will be okay, that what is happening is not his fault, and that he will have a bright future and get through this. It is important that you forgive yourself for what happened, and accept that they ONLY person in the wrong is the person that thought they had the right to violate you. You need to let go of the guilt you feel, it will only eat you up.

I know things seem impossible right now, but you have the strength to move forward and cope with what has happened. I wish you all the best in your journey. I know we will keep in touch. It is really important that you don’t give up, because we both you know can do this and you have a lot of support around you. Wishing you all the best.

Lots of love,

Hayley.

 

 

**I have had to summarise the message I received from John (name has been changed) because it was so long. We have spoken in-depth and John has now started getting the help he needs. He is due to start counselling in the next three weeks. The summarised version of his letter was approved by John prior to posting, and he has seen and approved this post. We are going to keep in touch, and I will report on his progress later on in the year.

If you have any questions you want some advice on, you are more than welcome to email me. I will reply to every email, and will only post on here with your consent and knowledge. I change all identifying features of your question. If you just want a friendly ear you are welcome to email me and it will not appear on this blog. I offer advice because I know how hard life can be when you are going through the tough times. As stated above, the advice I offer should never replace professional help from a qualified practitioner.

 

 

The Most Exhausting Job In The World!

Caring for someone who suffers with Mental Health problems is one of the hardest jobs in the world. It can make you want to bang your head against the wall, cry in despair, shake your head in frustration, make you want to give up completely and even cause you to have mental health problems such as depression and anxiety yourself. You will find yourself constantly worried, stressed, and angry at times too.

So why would anyone in their right mind put themselves through it? The simple answer is love. No one would be able to do this without loving the person they are caring for. Whilst speaking to others about this particular blog entry, ‘money’ has been raised as a reason people care for those with mental health problems, particularly in the cases of mental health professionals. After some thought, I have to disagree… the money paid for doing a job could be earned in many other jobs where they wont get attacked, feel responsible if someone takes their own life, wont have to enter homes of patients in a mess you can’t even imagine, wont get shouted at, sworn at and blamed for all life’s problems etc. I believe that it is a job people go into because they care, and, as my mum pointed out, so that they can make a difference to the lives of the people they meet. They don’t get paid enough to do it for the money.  And worse than that, with their budgets being cut time after time after time, they have to live with the knowledge that they are potentially giving a service that cannot put the patient first. They have to live with the knowledge that people have and will continue to die as a result.

If you are the friend or family of someone with a mental illness, you will soon understand that it is a pretty thankless task. If you look after someone with a life threatening or long-term illness, the public will praise you. They will tell you how wonderful you are, what a brilliant job you are doing, and inevitably you will gain some sort of satisfaction from doing that. It is completely different when looking after someone with mental health problems. If you are a parent, people may wonder if you did something to cause the problem, people may urge you to walk away, and you live in the knowledge that this could just be a lifelong commitment.

I have been hugely blessed with a family that have not only stood by me, but been my rock, my biggest fans, and have always been actively involved in helping me, in whatever ways they can. They do it because they love me, and they want, more than anything, for me to be happy. My parents have spent countless hours driving me to appointments, and sitting through them with me. As a prime example, when I was undergoing DBT (Dialectical Behavioural Therapy), my dad drove me to the centre, which took two hours each way twice a week, every week, for 12 weeks, and waited while the session was going on. This is despite working nights. He takes my to my medical assessments, medical appointments, he picks me up and drops me back home every time I go to see them (which is usually weekly). They are on the phone when I need to talk. They remind me to take my medicines. They show me the way to go when things go wrong. They even drag themselves to the psych ward when I have been an inpatient there, knowing what nasty, scary places they can be. They don’t get paid to do that. They do it at personal cost, both of money and time, just for me. They were the ones that drove me to the hospital and spent countless hours in the emergency room when I overdosed.

The biggest thing my parents have done to help me, again at huge personal cost (money, time, emotions), is to look after my daughter. They have saved both me and her, by taking her on and saving her from the social system. Due to my illnesses, and especially due to me still not having completely kicked the self harm issues, I am unable to look after her. It was a huge decision for all of us- it is awful, awful, awful to have to admit your own flesh and blood would be safer and more secure without you. And yet, thanks to my parents, I can see her whenever I want, she is healthy, happy and settled. She is doing brilliantly at school, and is genuinely the funniest person I have ever met. We would be lost without her.

When caring for someone with mental health problems, however, the physical side of things… the appointments etc are not the biggest challenge. It is the mental side of things that will determine if this is something you are able to do or not. I know my parents never stop worrying about me, even when I am ‘well’ or on an ‘up’. They know as well as I do that things will eventually go bad again. And at that point they worry they will get a knock on the door from the police one morning to be told I have committed suicide. Against that constant worry and stress, they have to put up with my loosing my temper sometimes. I can say awful things, things that I don’t even mean just because I can’t express it properly. Sometimes I get cross when they try to protect me from something I don’t want to be protected from. Sometimes I will sit there and cry, like I am never going to stop. And a lot of the time, they have to sit there and listen to me talk for England because I live alone and can’t shut up whenever I meet someone.

In some ways, my parents are fortunate.  I do tend to understand things (eventually!!), I am not violent towards them, I don’t get in trouble with the law, I am not an alcoholic and I don’t take drugs (at least not ones that aren’t prescribed). They don’t live in fear that I will be violent to them. And to be honest, the only reason I don’t do those things is because I was brought up well. It could have turned out very differently.

I am very lucky too… because I love to write. It helps me sort out what is running through my head, and helps me make sense of what goes on around me. I find writing helps me when I want to self harm, too. I am also lucky because I have spent a long, long  time finding out as much about my problems as I can. That way, it doesn’t seem so scary. I know what to expect, I know myself, and through that knowledge I am now, finally, mostly able to reach out for help before things slip too much. Something  I was never able to do before. Even now though, my family are so acutely tuned to me and my problems, they still often know when I am going downhill before I do. They know not to tell me though, as I wont believe a word of it!

Getting to know someone is hard enough anyway… but getting to know someone who can change in a million different ways at any given moment is really hard. Nearly impossible, in fact!

So if you know of someone going through this struggle, be supportive to them. Understand that, as carer’s, they have the hardest job in the world. And just because the world may be ignorant about the facts, doesn’t mean you should be. My parents appreciate a ‘Thank you’ and a ‘Well done, you are doing  great’ more than most. If you happen to suffer from mental health problems never forget to say thank you.

So… to my lovely Mum, Dad, Brothers, Sister, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and my stunning not-so-baby-anymore-girl, THANK YOU. From the very bottom of my heart, thank you.

The Truth About: Insomnia

Most of us have had the odd sleepless night. If you have, you will know how annoying they are. You can’t quite get comfortable, you know you are exhausted, and you just can’t understand why sleep isn’t happening. It shouldn’t be a problem, after all, it has been a very regular part of your life since you were born. You spend the next day almost in a trance.  You are so tired you can’t concentrate, and everything you do becomes a chore. You feel old when you have to go to bed so early the next night, but, at last, the beautiful peaceful sleep descends, and the world becomes right again.

Except it doesn’t become right again. Not if you are an insomniac. These sleepless nights happen more often than they don’t. For a lot of people cursed with insomnia, it comes and goes in cycles. Sleep could be fine for a while, and then all of a sudden another episode attacks. For some, like me, there is no ‘cycle’ and it is just very little sleep for a lot of the time. Of course, I do get good nights sleep every now and again. But even on a ‘good’ night I wake up several times. I just consider it a blessing if I can get back to sleep afterwards!

For those with insomnia, life is a vicious circle. We end up dreading bed time because we don’t want to lay awake for hours. Yet we long for bed time because we are so tired. And the worry about bed time makes the insomnia worse, in turn making the worrying worse. It is awful.

However, there are things we can do to help ourselves. First stop is always the doctor. Insomnia can be caused by underlying  health conditions which may need attention- depression being a very common one. It may be that fixing the underlying problem fixes the insomnia! Whilst you are there, any doctor worth their salt will tell you about ‘Sleep Hygiene’. You should be given a print out of information, but Dr Google will give generally good advice on this one, as long as you visit reputable sites. Otherwise you might have amateur blogs like mine come up!

I have been on medication to help me sleep for quite some time now. However, if you visit a reputable doctor you will learn how difficult it is to get medication to help you sleep, particularly in the long run. Most will only give you a few tablets at a time. Which is a good thing, as sleep medications in particular are very addictive.

I am going to list some tips that should help you. Some of them (particularly sleep hygiene) will need to be a regular part of your bedtime routine for a number of weeks before you can gauge if they are being successful. I will always recommend trying each step for a MINIMUM of 6 weeks, preferably 8-10 weeks, before dismissing them as unhelpful.

Again, please note I am not a medical professional, I am writing my opinions and experiences only. If you decide to try herbal medications, be sure to talk this through with your pharmacist or doctor, as many herbal sleeping tablets will interfere with other medications. Good luck!

  •  Set up a bedtime routine. There is a reason it works so well for small children! Doing the same things, in the same order, at the same time each night will train your body to know when it is sleep time. This may just be the most important tip.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine is obvious, but many people turn to alcohol for its sedative effects. This is a mistake for a few reasons, including it being habit-forming, disrupting the quality of your sleep, and making your body work more to get rid of it!
  • Have a warm cup of milk before bed. Again, there is a reason it works for the kids!
  • Exercise in the day. Exercising will, will, will improve your sleep. It is best to avoid it for about 4 hours before bed though, as you will be ‘buzzing’ from the post work-out energy.
  • Lower lights. Our bodies get confused these days, because (unlike in times gone by) there is no ‘twilight’, we have bright lights, and then darkness. It is during the process of it getting dark that our bodies release melatonin, amongst other things, that helps regulate our sleep cycle. Having a dimmer switch or using bedside lamps will help mimic these conditions.
  • Relax before bed. Sounds silly, I know. But it is very important to wind down. Otherwise all the problems from the day will be racing around in your head all night. Remove electrical devices from the bedroom. No TV, computers or phones should be used in the bedroom, and for an hour before bed. Yes, you will survive. Read a book. If you do read a book though, choose a light one. It wont help if your head is spinning trying to figure out ‘whodunnit’, and reading an exciting book you don’t want to put down will have the same effect! Reading light-hearted short stories is your best bet.
  • Don’t sleep on an argument. Again,  you need your brain to relax if you want a decent nights kip!
  • Temperature: Getting the right temperature in the bedroom is vital, if it is too hot you will wake up, and if it is too cold you will wake up. I keep my bedroom at 18/19 degrees C, but I have a friend whose perfect temperature is 26 degrees C! You will have to experiment to find what is best for you.
  • If you find you have trouble sleeping because you are trying to remember things, or you are thinking about certain things, try writing them down before you go to bed. That way, you can leave them there in your notebook until the morning instead of spinning round your head!
  • Lavender is your friend. Lavender is brilliant for sleep. You can get lavender and chamomile scented plug-ins, lavender pillow sprays, sleep balms, candles, teddies, room sprays, essential oils and all sorts. There will definitely be some form of lavender that suits your lifestyle.
  • If you like a cup of tea before bed, switch to chamomile tea. It has calming properties and helps your mind rest.
  • Smoking. Don’t smoke for an hour before bed (quit altogether if you can). Smoking increases your blood pressure and pulse, sets neurons (brain cells) flying off everywhere, and, at the end of the day, is poisonous. You are wrong if you believe it helps you relax (I used to think the same)… in fact it does the opposite! People just think it relaxes them because they end up doing what everyone tells them to do if they are stressed… taking a few deep breaths! The more you know 😉
  • Eat healthily!

So, there are a few tips to be getting on with. If you have researched this topic before, you will realise that the same things get said a lot. And if you are anything like me, you will have dismissed most of these, not believing they would make a difference. However, the truth, as they say, will out. And the fact that every reputable place is saying the same things can mean only one thing: What they are saying is actually right.

So, give all of the above a good go. None of it is expensive, you don’t need to hire someone to teach you how to do them, and you don’t need to buy loads of specialist  equipment. These are safe, cheap, easy things you can do yourself in the comfort of your own home. What have you got to lose?

If you have given the above a genuine go and haven’t found them helpful, your GP may refer you for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to help. From there, they can then discuss the medication route with you- some do well with herbal remedies such as Nytol and Rescue, and some people who need help with long-term insomnia may be given specific antidepressants that might help, such as Mirtazapine. It is vital that you never start ANY medication, even if it is herbal, without first consulting your Doctor or Pharmacist (or other appropriate health professional).