May is mental health awareness month. A time to share experiences and challenge stigma.And one thing you are sure to hear is someone to say: it is time to talk.Being vulnerable about your mental health can be beneficial and aid recovery, but to be brave and start a conversation often feels impossible.It did for me.My diagnosis with post-natal depression and anxiety took me by surprise. I didn't know what it meant. I felt ashamed and afraid of how others would react.Better to deal with this in private and keep my friends, than be honest and risk losing them, I thought.But...

Today I am delighted to introduce to you my friend Phil. Phil has agreed to share his experiences of dealing with anxiety as a middle-aged (his words!) man; how it was for him and what he did about it. Phil is fantastic, I know you'll enjoy what he has to say. I am very grateful to be able to share his perspective here:I’ve never been too concerned about my physical health.I cycle to work, clocking up about 40 miles per week, and apart from my vasectomy have never had more than a day off in 25 years of gainful employment. I’m...

Before you can love anyone else. Before you can care for anyone else. In fact if you want to be any use to anyone long term:You have to love you first.I used to think loving myself was selfish. I thought prioritising my needs was self-indulgent. Surely it was better to sacrifice what I wanted to make others happy?I was a classic people pleaser, believing I would be loved and accepted only if I behaved and performed as others' wanted me to. So I morphed and changed according to who I was with. I tried to keep a lid on any...

It is New Year's Day.We are in Auckland, New Zealand and have stumbled across an international tennis tournament. The tournament is not under the radar, but we do not follow the annual tennis schedule so, to us, it feels like a gift. The luxury of no other plans allows us to stroll down, wait in line, buy tickets and take our seats to watch some of the world's best female tennis players. Such joy.As we wait for play to begin my mind wanders through the possibilities the coming year holds. I am relaxed, happy, looking forward. It occurs to me;...

I was out and about somewhere this week, I forget where, and I could hear a toddler whining.The child wasn't very upset, but were obviously struggling to get their point across, to let the parent who was with them know exactly what they wanted. I then heard the Mum who was with this little boy, who must have been about two and a half, say a phrase I have said myself many times. She said,"Use your words."She wanted her son to stop his whining and tell her what it was that was upsetting him, or what it was he wanted....

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...

Last month my friend Sri and I had a four day break in Lisbon. We are old friends (we met in sixth form) and have not holidayed together since we were 19 (a fabulous two week adventure in Italy, as you asked).This break had been a long time coming.On the first night we were there I had a panic attack. A fairly impressive one.Normally when I have a panic attack I hide, or flee the scene sharpish. And, until last month the only person who has sat with me during a panic attack is my husband.I am not unusual. I...

Hi, my name is Elli and I'm a people pleaser.A recovering people pleaser.I want to make other people happy.Which always seemed like a good goal to have.But this well-intentioned aim got me into hot water. Back then. About ten years ago life was tiring.My girls were tiny and I was pregnant with my son.I had lots of friends and a brilliant husband who was very busy with work.I ran a small group in church which was made up of lots of fantastic women who were also in the same life stage as me.We were all tired all the time.We were always making...

Not all the causes of anxiety can be rectified quickly or easily. I have found through personal (and often painful) experience, there are certain mindsets and patterns of behaviour that take months, or even years, to unpick.That may not sound very encouraging, especially if you are battling anxiety right now, in this moment.But fear not, there are some things you can do to lessen your anxiety here and now in the middle of your busy day, or stressful season.These are some practices that have worked for me:Breathing Slow. I know I often write about the importance of slowing your...

A list for anyone overwhelmed and stressed.A list for those of us who worry too much about what we cannot control.A list for the over-thinkers and the do-gooders.(A list for me).1. Don't play it safe.Wear the bright red lippy, the yellow dress, the dungarees you think make you look like an overgrown toddler. Clothes are for fun.2. Don't compare.You are beautiful and your life is good. Count blessings, dance in the kitchen. Silence the voice of comparison, it will make your life smaller.3. Don't hide.Let somebody in. The mask will become harder to remove the longer your wear it. Allow...