You have permission to make a changeI am giving it to you.Not that you need me to.You were already allowed.If something is not how you want it to be, if you are not getting what you need, if something else would make you happier, you are allowed to change it. You are allowed to try something else. You are allowed to quit, or have a go, or say no this time even though you have always said yes.You have permission to make a change.Life is big and busy and full and it can feel easier to stick with the status...

Recently I asked my email list* what they were struggling with.I don't have all the answers but I want to know my readers better and write about the things that are on their hearts.I was overwhelmed by the response and felt so privileged that so many took the time to share their stories with me.There were a few themes that emerged, common threads between the responses. So often we think the things that make us feel ashamed or scared separate us from everyone else, when actually it is these struggles that unite us. If only we knew how like each other...

I experienced my first panic attack in my car while attempting a three point turn in the road outside my parents' house. I was 22.One minute I was turning the steering wheel, focused on the manoeuvre, the next I was sweating with fear. My mind raced through a theatre performance I had recently seen, the most devastating moment playing over and over again on the screen of my mind. My body reacted as though this performance was not just real, but was a part of me. I was the dying man collapsing on the ground, I was the one losing...

Maintaining good mental health can be hard work.I didn't manage it, and when my third child was a few months old I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety.I had probably been anxious for 5 years by then, since my first baby was born in 2004. In those days mental health was not something that was discussed often. I hadn't realised what was going on and had assumed I was weak and needed to pull myself together, everyone else seemed to be able to cope - so why couldn't I?But it turns out I wasn't weak, I was ill.There is a difference....

Self care is not just for stressed-out grown ups. Self care is an important life skill we can and should be teaching to our children. And just in case you think I am going to be instructing you to spoil your child, to give them whatever they most desire all in the name of mental health, let me reassure you. My favourite definition of self-care (which makes it obvious it is a skill we all need is) - self care: proactively creating a life you don't need to regularly escape from*. Self-Care is about making sure we are able to enjoy our...

Last week for Mental Health Awareness Week, on Facebook and Instagram, I posted daily about my battle with anxiety and panic attacks.I have summarised these posts here. I hope they might bring comfort to you if you are struggling, and serve as a reminder that you are not alone.Part 1. RECOGNITION Growing up I never really thought about my brain. It was just there, ticking over, doing what I needed it to. As a straight-A student, education was not a problem and apart from a few (obligatory) crappy teenage years I was outgoing and popular. I was brought up to know I was loved...

This morning I took two minutes to sit quietly in my chair before I started work.I close my eyes. I pay attention.A relentlessly joyful bird sings outside the window. The wind whispers down the chimney. The builders in the next street use a piece of equipment that makes a dull grinding noise and the traffic further afield brings a bass note to the song.My glasses rest on my nose. My hands are in my lap, fingers interlaced, one thumb on top of the other. The skin is warm and slightly dry. I scan my body looking for tension and remember...

On Monday I attended a workshop in London. The event was run by child psychiatrist Dr Sarah Vohra who (on top of her day job in the NHS) speaks and has written a book about mental health in children and young people. The event focused on dealing with anxiety, our own and our children's. I have used some of the content she shared at the event to inform this blog post. If you want to know more about Dr Sarah you can find her on Instagram here, and can pre-order her book here (our next month. I can't wait to...

Anxiety doesn't have a hold over me like it used to but it is still something I have to manage. Every now and then I experience weeks when anxiety hovers around, when the low-level buzz of it is ever-present. This can be because I have been too busy or not sleeping well, or because there is unexpected stress in my life. It can also be because I haven't been looking after myself very well and self-care has been neglected. It can be for no obvious reason at all.On these weeks I employ all the tactics I know to try and...

We met at 12:30 in my favourite cafe. The over-enthusiastic waiter delivered two plates of mushrooms on toast to our table, walking away with the tray spinning on his finger like a basket ball. I poured the tea.She told me about her recent trip to India to see her Uncle and her family weekend in Scotland. I filled her in on our few days in Anglesey. We talked about our work, what we were excited about and how we managed the boring but necessary tasks.I started to talk about what I wanted to do next, ideas tumbling out one after...