A few thoughts before the May bank holiday weekend
Updated: Jan 29
I'm just writing a quick post with a few thoughts this morning because I've got a busy day and a lot to get done before the weekend.
This afternoon I'm doing another talk so I have to plan and practice for that this morning, and it's a 'real life' one as opposed to zoom so I have to leave enough time to get there too.
This one is at Berkshire College of Agriculture which I know well because I used to compete there in their autumn event.
It's been organised by an old owner of mine's daughter in law who also now rides one of my old event horses. It has been really nice to catch up with her and to find out that 'Jet' is still going strong.
She also informs me that the last foal in the line 'Sunny' is now competing too and has been placed in a few intermediates. It makes me so happy to know that these horses are still out there because I'd completely lost touch with how they were going.
Anyway, the talk is in front of about 30 students and is going to be outside which I'm a little nervous of considering the weather but I guess we'll just have to see what happens! I think it will be nicer to be able to meet in person rather than on zoom so I'm keen to at least try it that way!
I'm going to split the talk into three sections today, the first being 'my story' then moving on to recovery and survival strategies and finishing with warning signs, triggers and danger points.
I think it's especially important to point out that mental illness can strike anyone, at any time, so that they are aware of the symptoms and warning signs should it (God forbid) ever affect them.
It's always interesting to see what happens in the discussions after these talks and that's the bit that I most look forward to because there's always something that comes out of the questions for me to learn from too.
Speaking of which, I had a nice message from someone yesterday with a book suggestion on a topic that I am keen to know more about. The book is called 'The Better Brain' and explores the nutrition - mental health - mental illness link which I have always known is important.
In nearly 20 years on the NHS not one psychiatrist has ever mentioned anything about diet to me which I think is another massive oversight! The food in psychiatric hospitals isn't nutritious either; there's never any salads or healthy options and there's never any mention of exercise or nutrition.
What do they do in these places you may ask? Answer: fill you full of drugs until you are suitably numb and sedated and then throw you out the door. Oh dear!
When I finally realised that the NHS for mental health were not going to be able to help me, I went to a private doctor who immediately told me to cut out all stimulants and suppressants. This obviously makes sense when the brain is so partial to ups and downs but no one had ever suggested this to me previously.
This means that I can't have any caffeine so that's no chocolate, tea, coffee or fizzy drinks because they're all laced with it. I can't have alcohol either because it's a depressant and could be enough to trigger another depression.
I've managed to do this fairly easily because when you've been as ill as I have you'll do anything to stay well. But I can't cope without a cup of tea in the morning so I do drink decaffeinated but apparently that still has a lot of caffeine in it. Anyway, cutting it out completely is one step too far for me - I'm Sorry to say this Dr Zamar but I'm British, I have to have a cup of tea every now and again!
The only thing I try to add to my diet at the moment is Omega 3 which is needed in the body to build new cell membranes, so I take supplements daily and try to eat fish wherever possible. But I'm keen to know more about nutrition and mental health so I am going to add the book to my reading list and find out what I can.
Funnily enough I was already thinking that your diet involves so much more than what you eat when I stumbled upon a really great post on LinkedIn this week. This is what it had to say:
"YOUR DIET IS NOT ONLY WHAT YOU EAT.
IT IS WHAT YOU WATCH,
WHAT YOU LISTEN TO,
WHAT YOU READ, & THE PEOPLE YOU HANG AROUND.
PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU FEED YOUR SOUL, NOT JUST YOUR STOMACH."
I think that's a fantastic message for people to consider especially as we go into the bank holiday weekend because there's now a chance to think and reassess about how and what we are feeding our bodies and minds.
I will be taking a break to rest and recharge over the next few days but will be back with many more thoughts and insights on Tuesday.
Please keep the suggestions for posts coming and thank you again for all the messages of support which inspire me to keep writing!
Thanks for reading,
Speak to you soon,