Quieting The Inner Critic

Most, if not all of us, have had or still have that voice in the back of our mind telling us that we’re not good enough. That we’ll fail, that we won’t ever get a job because nobody would want to hire us, that we’re not likeable or that we’re embarrassing ourselves even over the smallest of issues. Of course this voice is a liar and works hard to put us down, but it doesn’t take much for us to believe that what the voice says is true, and so our fall begins where we believe we’re not good enough as a person and not good enough for anyone or anything else.

There are many ways in which we can push back these thoughts and each of these ways is different for everyone, but I do hope that at least one of them is helpful for you if you do have these niggling thoughts!

-Being logical about these thoughts and acknowledging that they are lies is the first and most important step. Like I said earlier, these thoughts are deceivers and only want to cause havoc in our mind. By acknowledging that they are what they are, we can begin fighting back against them!

-Try not to go over every mistake you’ve ever made in life. This can be incredibly hard and for some people these thoughts can be even worse at night times when there are little to no distractions so of course this would be a challenge. What has personally helped me is saying ‘No!’ and going for a walk around my bedroom every time one of these thoughts have tried to pop into my mind. Most of the time this has worked, but of course there will always be times where the thoughts are more persistent, so for moments like these it is important to remember that whatever your mind tells you is not true.

-This one might be typical, but what advice would you give to a friend who is also thinking this way? You would respond to them with compassion, care, love and support, so do the same for yourself!

-You can attempt to do these processes on your own, but what is recommended is CBT if you are able to attend or afford it as healthcare is a different situation for everyone.

CBT or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can be very effective in helping people change their thought patterns and behaviours that are a result of a mental health problem such as anxiety or depression. CBT helps you to identify each of these thoughts, the reason as to why you have these particular thoughts, for example if someone has called you useless or a failure in the past, and what your next steps should be to reduce and prevent these thoughts as well as turning them into more positive views about you and your life by challenging them in various ways provided by the counsellor, psychologist or therapist.

The counsellor, psychologist or therapist may ask you to do a few self-help activities for yourself, almost like ‘homework’ in a way. They might ask you to keep a journal about your thoughts, how they make you feel, why you think you’re feeling that way and what you’re currently doing to challenge them. They might also provide you with self-help leaflets and books for you to read through.

Whichever method works for you, I want you to know that I completely understand how hard it can be to fight this voice and some days it feels like too much, but by recognising that this voice is deceitful, we can begin the process of reducing the amount of these thoughts and turning them into something more positive.

Age UK And Helping Older people Fight Loneliness!

According to statistics, Age UK helps over 7 million older people in the UK each year, whether this is helping them fight loneliness or providing help and advice on financial and home challenges.

It is stated that over 2 million older people over the age of 75 struggle with loneliness and more than 1 million of those people go a month without talking to someone.

There are a number of reasons as to why older people feel lonely!

-They have a physical or mental health problem that prevents them from going outside often, if at all. Older people can also struggle with mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and dementia as well as physical health problems which include osteoarthritis and other various mobility issues.

-They may have lost someone. Some older people rely on friends and family to help them out with things such as providing help with personal care, shopping and taking them out for days out but if they’ve lost this friend or family member, they also lose the opportunity to go out. With this, they may struggle to get their shopping and visit other friends and family. Losing someone can also cause depression so this relates back to the last point.

-They don’t know how to use the internet. Even though the internet is what moves society along nowadays, most older people aren’t sure how to use the internet and so they can’t keep in contact with their loved ones which causes them to feel lonely.

Thankfully, there are amazing charities out there such as Age UK who do their upmost best to help those who are aged 55+ and are feeling lonely or are struggling with daily life. They do this in a variety of ways!

  • Through befrienders. There are two types of befrienders at Age UK; Telephone befrienders and visiting befrienders. Telephone befrienders can be members of staff or volunteers who offer up half an hour or more of their time once a week to chat to someone who is lonely to see how they’re doing and if they need any type of support. These phone calls can make a huge difference and may be the only call that person gets that week. Visiting befrienders can also be members of staff or volunteers who similar to the phone calls, chat with them once a week but physically go to their home for this chat. This might be beneficial to those who are hard of hearing and would prefer a face-to-face visit. This didn’t happen much during the COVID pandemic, so the phone calls still made a huge impact on helping those who didn’t get many opportunities to talk to someone.
  • Through day centres. Day centres can be inside an Age UK building such as the Bradbury Independent Living Centre in Workington or it can be in other building locations. The best way to find these day centres is to contact an Age UK near you.

Here are the current Age UK locations:

-Workington

-Cleator Moor

-Cockermouth

-Wigton

-Carslisle

-Dumfries

-Kendal

-Appleby-In-Westmorland

Age UK day centres allow older people to socialise with others over a cup of tea, some cake and biscuits and activities such as craft clubs, knitting clubs, singing and music, easy and gentle exercise, quizzes and bingo and day trips.

Refreshments and hot dinners are served as well as transport being offered to those who may struggle to leave the house and don’t have anyone to drive them to places.

-Through other various services. Befriending and day centres aren’t the only help that Age UK offers!

They also offer:

-Shopping deliveries or transport to get shopping. older people can go weeks without having food in their fridge and cupboards, so this service is really important!

-Advice on finances such as pensions and benefits.

-Mobility and home equipment to enhance the independence of older people.

-Help around the home such as sending out a handyworker to fix lightbulbs, radiators and other electrical appliances, as well as fire safety visits and help with their heating during winter through a project called the Warmth Campaign. The Warmth Campaign is designed to remind people to check on their elderly family, friends and neighbours during the cold winter months and ensure that their home is warm enough. Age UK also help out by organising winter benefit checks and recommending handyworkers to visit the older person and help them out with their heating.

-Hairdressing and foot care and advice.

-Digital lessons for the older people who would like to keep in touch using social media and video calls.

-The Falls Prevention Programme which offers help to older people on their footwear, their sight, their hearing, medications that may cause unsteadiness, opening up exercise clubs to allow older people to work on their posture as well as balance and working with the older person’s GP and other professionals to ensure they’re receiving the right advice and care, especially if the older person has just been discharged from hospital.

-Veteran support. The Back From Beyond project works on connecting veterans with each other through events such as weekend breakfasts. This allows veterans to find others to relate to and feel less lonely.

-Relating to day centre days and day trips, specific places do a variety of different activities such as bowls, gardening and allowing the more mobile older people to meet up and go for a walk around town and have lunch together. To know what your nearest Age UK offers, give them a call!

How you can help!

There are a variety of ways in which you can help older people with particular things from helping them feel less lonely to making sure they’re staying cool and hydrated in the summer and nice and warm in the winter!

-Give your parents or your grandparents a call and see how they’re doing!

-Check in on your neighbours!

-Talk to elderly people whether you’re in the streets or in a shop!

-Volunteer for Age UK or work for us!

For more information, visit https://www.ageuk.org.uk

Harmful Phrases To Say To Someone With A Mental Health Problem!


Having a mental health problem can be exhausting, upsetting and confusing and negative phrases can further affect these feelings!

These phrases can be said out of pure ignorance and half of the people who use these phrases might not even realise how harmful they are! Educating people on why these phrases are harmful is important, so let’s begin!

1. ‘Have you tried going for a walk or having a cup of tea?’ While walks and tea can actually help reduce symptoms such as stress, they don’t actually cure mental illness so that’s something to keep in mind!

2. ‘Why don’t you just go to therapy?’ There are a few reasons as to why someone won’t go to therapy. The first and main one is that they can’t afford it, especially in countries such as America where therapy can cost a huge amount. People might also find that they don’t benefit from therapy and have other more efficient ways of looking after themselves!

3. ‘How are you depressed when you’re always smiling and laughing?’ This goes for any mental health problem. Smiling does not mean that someone is automatically fine and most people smile to avoid people constantly asking them what’s wrong or telling them to ‘cheer up.’

4. ‘I’m a bit OCD too!’ This is an incredibly invalidating and undermining thing to say to someone with OCD! OCD can be so frustrating and debilitating to comparing your habit of cleaning and keeping things nice and tidy to OCD is really unfair. This goes for the phrase of ‘Depression is just like sadness.’ It’s so much more than that!

5. We can have a great life and still struggle. When celebrities discuss their mental health problems they are usually faced with laughter and judgement because ‘How can they be depressed when they’re rich!? Mental illness doesn’t discriminate and we should overpower the judgement with compassion and understanding instead. To add, when commenting that the celebrity is better off than everyone else and that they shouldn’t be depressed, they may not see if but your friends and other strangers with mental health problems will.

6. ‘God/The Universe gave you it for a reason!’ People are religious and spiritual can believe this and that’s completely fine. I am spiritual myself and I believe that life has signs and meanings but shoving this onto people who aren’t religious or spiritual isn’t the best way to make someone feel better, and in fact to me, can be insensitive.

7. ‘Suicide is selfish.’ This is a very common one that still caused debates. In my opinion, even though the grief is certainly passed onto their loved ones, telling a suicidal person that they’re selfish really doesn’t help anything or anyone and until you’ve been in the situation where you feel so overwhelmed and empty that you feel ending your life is the best option, you don’t have the right to judge.

8. ‘I know exactly how you feel!’ I have said this to someone before, as have many other people. It’s one of those phrases that you automatically go to when someone is talking about their problems, but it can also be the wrong thing to say! Even though we may go through similar problems, we never truly know how one person is exactly feeling as we are all made differently and have our own unique emotions and responses to situations, so even though we can possibly relate to them, we still don’t know how they truly feel!

9. ‘Why do you go to therapy/use medication/use herbal treatments instead of…’ Truth is, nobody should choose our treatment apart from us! This can be said by not just people without mental health problems, but also in the mental health community itself! Some people are slandered for going to therapy or not going to therapy, some are judged for relying on medication or not taking medication. It can be exhausting having someone tell us that the way we are taking care of ourselves is wrong, but it is important to know that with those people, their opinion doesn’t really matter and as long as we know that it’s helping us get through our days, that’s all that matters.

10. ‘You’ll be fine tomorrow.’ This can be true for specific things. I know that a good night’s sleep has really helped with my stresses, my anxiety and my depressive thoughts, but sleep doesn’t completely cure someone of their mental health problems so even though it can help, it is not a cure and we won’t be completely ‘fine.’

11. ‘You need to put a bit more effort in!’ I’m sure some of us with mental health problems have heard this from someone at some point, and it hurts. When you have a mental health problem it can be hard to put that effort in, for example attending a party. It’s nothing personal towards the person who invited us, we just feel exhausted and not ready for human interaction and would prefer to stay in the safety of our own home where we know we can at least try and relax. Plus, telling people to put more effort in just makes them feel worse about themselves and it makes them believe that they’re a crappy person.

12. ‘People who don’t shower for three days are gross!’ Not a lot of people say this, but I have seen it before, so I would love to discuss this! It is important to remember that some people who struggle with mental health problems find bathing a challenging task and so they put it off and procrastinate until they really need to bathe. Also, people who are physically disabled can find the task of bathing too difficult, especially if it causes them pain. It’s also much needed to mention that people who have been through a traumatic experience can feel hatred towards their body and bathing so it’s really important not to judge people who don’t bathe as often as you think they should. Plus, there aren’t any rules as to how often you should bathe anyways!

13. ‘If you don’t work, you’re lazy and you obviously don’t want to look for a job!’ Some people can’t have jobs! It is easy to judge someone who isn’t working, but you have to remember that people who have mental health problems and disabilities may not be able to work! It doesn’t mean they’re lazy and it’s certainly not because they can’t be bothered with a job.

14. Guilt-tripping phrases such as ‘No one is ever too busy. If they really care, they’ll make time.’ I’ve worded my opinion on this phrase before. Some people are too busy! Whether this is because they’re occupied with school, university or work or because they’ve spent all day throwing their already low energy into battling their mental or physical health problem, some people are just simply too busy to talk at the moment and we need to be more compassionate with this.

15. ‘It’s not that bad!’ This is also a very common phrase that has been more times than enough. This phrase can be incredibly damaging to people and their mental health, especially as it is a form of guilt-tripping and can make them feel really guilty for talking about how they’re feeling, which can prevent them from speaking out about it again, which is harmful and even dangerous for them. What may not seem bad to us, can feel like doom for others.

16. ‘Stop using it as an excuse!’ Technically we can. Mental illness can prevent us from doing specific things so when we say we can’t do something because of our mental illness, you best believe we can’t do it!

17. Some of us can do things, some of us can’t. People with mental health problems all have different abilities and different things they can’t do. For me, I can easily talk to people on the phone but I feel anxious with new situations such as visiting new places. For someone else, they may love going to new places but struggle to talk to people on the phone. Just because some of us can do certain things and others can’t, doesn’t mean anyone is any less depressed, anxious etc.

18. People deal with things differently! It’s all good when people say they’re there to listen to you and support you, but when other symptoms pop up such as jealousy, they’re very quick to call us selfish, negative, disgusting etc. Jealousy is a negative emotion, but it can also be an important one. Similar to feeling angry, feelings of jealousy can help us to realise the changes that we need to make in our lives in order to feel better about particular circumstances. Feelings of jealousy can arise for multiple reasons, for example someone with a mental health problem may feel jealous over someone who had the ability to graduate university, as they have not been able to do that themselves. Feeling jealous doesn’t mean they’re a bad person, it just means they’re feelings things, like a human should!

19. ‘Mental illness is cool!’ So no one has really said this outright (At least I hope not!) but social media loves to romanticize mental illness, whether it’s kids on TikTok pretending to have tourettes, anxiety or Dissociative Identity Disorder or Vogue Portugal naming a fashion magazine ‘The Madness Issue’ and featuring an image of a naked woman sitting in a psychiatric unit bathtub, different forms of media love to romanticize mental illness, which just adds to the judgement and stigma that we already face!

At the end of the day, people can say these purely out of ignorance and even I have said one of them before! What is important is knowing why each phrase can be harmful and why you should try and refrain from saying them 🙂

Thank you for reading!