The Impact of Divorce: Is it Contagious?

Can divorce be contagious? If my girlfriends are leaving their husbands, should I?  What if my husband’s mates are all single?  Will he want to be single, too? Divorce can be a moot word.  It can bring an enormous amount of uneasiness when spoken about in certain circles.  But, why is there a negative stigma when it comes to divorce?

We have lived in a society where people get married, have children and then stay together until ‘death do us part’.  The 21st Century has presented us with different options.  As divorce rates grow, so do our families, with step-children, step-parents and co-parents.  But with the 21st Century and its ideals, why do we still cringe when we hear that someone is getting a divorce?

Someone came up to me the other day and said, “I had no idea you were divorced.  I am really sorry.  I didn’t know.”

I responded probably quite unusually according to society’s majority with, “that’s okay – I have never been happier!”

I guess everyone has different views about divorce, especially if children are involved.  I think that is really the worst part of divorce – if children are involved.  All children want is their families to be in one place at one time.  Even though children are very resilient and can cope with change sometimes easier than adults, they still want a family unit.

Is that the reason why we cringe when we hear someone is getting a divorce- if children are involved?  ‘Oh, those poor children.’  ‘But what about the children!’

Psychologists have proven that it is healthier to separate than to argue in front of children.  It is not healthy for children to grow up in a hostile, angry and an unbalanced environment.  Children can also sense when there is a coldness in the room.  Even if a couple ignores and avoids each other it is an unhealthy environment for the children as well as the couple.  Children learn and model everything.  If love and friendship is not present in a couple’s relationship the children WILL be affected.  It will affect them with their interpersonal relationships both same sex and opposite sex patterns.

The impact of divorce on a family unit should not go amiss.  Divorce affects everyone differently.  And, there are many reasons why people get a divorce.  Sometimes it is a healthy choice for your children when separating from a toxic person.  Perhaps someone in the family doesn’t take the parenting role seriously.  For whatever the reason, I do not think we should judge people for having to go through something traumatic and stressful such as divorce.  Whether or not children are involved divorce is still stressful.

Hopefully we will realise why the divorce rates have gone up drastically.  Perhaps we should reconsider how we got into the relationship in the first place.  Co-dependent relationships often take us on the journey down the road to divorce.

Divorce is not catchy, nor is it a toxic plague.  Divorce is a break-free clause that is given to married folk who need a get out of jail card… literally.  Some choose to break free and some people are thrown into it without choice.  Whether you choose to leave your partner or your partner took it upon himself to leave you- it still hurts.

If you or anyone you know needs support please contact us.  We have plenty of counsellors who have experience with couples counselling and divorce support.

Jessica Valentine is a Chartered Counselling Psychologist who supports people within the local community and worldwide online. She offers online Skype therapy and face-to-face counselling in East Sussex, Brighton-Hove.

skype: JessValentine
follow her on Twitter, FB and IG: @getwellbrighton

Mental Health: New Years’ Resolutions

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It’s that time of year again. Tinsel and fairy lights adorn houses and trees, Christmas songs blare from the radio, mulled wine is served and not to mention advent calendars and nativity plays. This time of year is a time to be with family and friends, whatever faith you are.

This can mean that the Christmas period can be a challenging time for those suffering from mental ill health, due to isolation and loneliness or the overtly social time frame.

If you are feeling like this, the best thing to do is to either talk to someone you trust, phone a helpline or charity if you need, speak to a psychotherapist or use other coping mechanisms. These include journalling, mindfulness, deep breathing or relaxation CD’s.  Whichever works for you, make sure you don’t bottle things up.

Being that it is coming to the end of the year and looking ahead to 2018, I thought I would share some new years resolutions for positive mental health that you can implement in your life.

1) I will invest in self-care this year.

Self-care means I will actually take time out of my day to check in with myself and decide what I need. This isn’t selfish, it is vital to survival of the bleak winter period in particular.

Each day, I will invest in self care, whether its running a warm bubble bath and soaking for half an hour, journaling out my negative feelings and replacing them with positive ones, colouring for relaxation or just getting some much needed down time in front of the TV in my PJs. I will make sure I invest every day in self-care activities.

2) I will make sure I go outside more.

In the winter, I am definitely more prone to curling up like a doormouse and hibernating inside, in the comfort of my warm home, chatting to friends on the phone and computer. I am also a sucker for my blanket and a warm mug of hot chocolate.

While this is good some of the time, I know that I need to push myself out more into the cold and bright mornings.  So, my resolution is to make sure I go out and get enough light and Vitamin D to boost my mood and health and enough exercise to keep my mind and heart healthy.

3) I will make sure to be present.

A friend of mine gave me this tip when she said –‘Stay in the Now and Enjoy the Moment’

I definitely need to do this more and not worry myself too much.  Staying present means that the only moment is now – try and focus on something positive in the present and not worry too far ahead.

4) I will try not to worry what others think and not beat myself up.

Easier said than done, this resolution had come about due to having people-pleasing tendencies.  I hate upsetting people.  This means that I will often overthink or worry about others and what they think.  This year I want to spend less time fretting and not beat myself up over small things that make a mountain from a molehill!

5) I will have a more positive mind-set.

I will not be ashamed of how I am feeling and feel bad because of it.  I will be more accepting of my feelings and needs.  I will know that even if I am at rock bottom, ‘This too shall pass’ and I will find a way to get through adversity and be positive.  I will actively think positive thoughts and push myself to achieve my goals.

If you are suffering from depression, anxiety or any other mental illness please reach out for help.  Contact The Brighton Wellness Centre.  Phone sessions, online (Skype) sessions and face-to-face sessions are available.

Looking forward to a happier, healthier 2018 and wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah!

 

Jessica Valentine is a Chartered Counselling Psychologist who supports people within the local community and worldwide online. She offers online Skype therapy and face-to-face counselling in East Sussex, Brighton-Hove.

skype: JessValentine
follow her on Twitter, FB and IG: @getwellbrighton

Clearing Out the Clutter in your Life: Be the Change you Want to be.

Making changes is not easy.  It’s not easy to stop habits such as eating or drinking too much, smoking or doing anything in utter excess.  But, how can we stop the ups and downs of the addiction see-saw?

When I was younger and at university, our professors taught us that the only way to kick a bad habit was to quit it ‘cold turkey.’  This method works, but you need to have willpower and discipline.  I have this…if I set my mind to do something- I will do it! (That’s self-affirmation by the way!) You need to be willing to work through the fear and like Nike’s slogan boasts – just do it!

helpmechangemylifeHowever, I am sitting here drinking my second cup of coffee wondering if I poured myself a third cup would I be classified in the DSM-V as having ‘three out of five symptoms’ of having a coffee addiction.  I think that sometimes quitting cold turkey isn’t always easy as it sounds.

If cutting an excessive habit ‘cold turkey’ were easy, everyone would do it.  And, if obtaining balance of eating and drinking were easy there would be no diets, no Facebook quotes on how to obtain a balanced diet, and I wouldn’t be sitting here reflecting on how to obtain balance in the crazy world of eating, drinking and partying.

But how do we obtain balance in our life?  How do we kick the bad habits, move forward, and become healthier, stronger, and happier?

Start by de-cluttering your life. De-clutter your mind, your room, your house, your friends, and/or whatever it is you think you need to de-clutter in order to take the next step of moving forward with your life.

You’ve read about toxic people – get rid of them.  You are a hoarder and you have too much dusty ornaments- clear it out – take that bric-a-brac to your local charity.  Just do it! You want to quit smoking – clear out everything in the house that reminds you of smoking.  You think you drink too much – don’t have booze in the house.  Crisps are your Achilles tendon – don’t buy them.

[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7975tw0EJA]

You will be amazed at how de-cluttering will help you make those life changes you want to make.

If these tasks seem too simple, then you need to take it to the next level…finding out what makes you have these addictions.  Are you filling a void in your life?  Are you depressed?  Are you lonely?  Did you have a difficult childhood?  Do you suffer from anxiety?  Are you stuck in the cycle of addiction?  Do you have a rubber arm (my friends say this about me)? Whatever your ‘baggage’ is, there is a solution.  Every cycle can be broken.  It is up to you to start the process.

Jessica Valentine is a Chartered Counselling Psychologist who supports people within the local community and worldwide online. She offers online Skype therapy and face-to-face counselling in East Sussex, Brighton-Hove.

skype: JessValentine
follow her on Twitter, FB and IG: @getwellbrighton

Beating Seasonal Affective Disorder: Setting Small Goals to Relieve Winter Blues

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It’s January. You may be feeling bloated or sluggish after the Christmas holiday period, the days are still getting dark early, it’s cold and frosty and so you feel completely demotivated. The glow of the holidays has gone leaving us still with several months until Spring. It is natural to feel low, unmotivated and a bit flat at this time of year.

So what can you do?

It’s always good at this time of year – a new year, a new start to put those resolutions into action, in a small way. It is best to break down goals into smaller ones, especially if you are feeling low.

At the start of each new week, it is good to think about what you would like to achieve, however insignificant it may seem to you. This could range from a small goal such as ‘Get out of bed an hour earlier each day’, ‘Do my laundry instead of letting it build up’ to wider health, career and relationship goals. Instead of making a goal vague such as ‘Exercise more’, it is best to set specific, achievable goals such as ‘Exercise for 1 hour this morning’. Specific goals tend to get better results.

I find that it is best to write down my goals in a notebook and to make them achievable for myself. Tick lists can be useful too, but the aim is not to overload yourself with how much you want to do, but to take each goal carefully and in its own time. Give yourself a day or time scale to do it in and don’t beat yourself up if you can’t achieve it, just make the goal more realistic and achievable next time.

Procrastination is my particular nemesis, as I know it is for so many people. However, if it becomes a problem you must ask yourself what is it about that particular goal that you don’t want to do. For example, if you fear something or struggle with motivation, try to reflect on its benefits and why you set that goal in the first place or what you can do to reach your goal.

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As always, the goal must be achievable. Achieving goals brings a great sense of satisfaction and boosts self-esteem. You can either make the goals on your own or with a therapist, life coach or family member.

It is important if you are suffering from depression not to beat yourself up if you aren’t doing as much as you would normally. Depression brings a whole host of symptoms including demotivation and despondency, however there are many things that can help you feel better.

If you are really struggling please see your doctor (GP), therapist or psychiatrist.

At Brighton Wellness Centre, Jessica Valentine helps people struggling with many health issues to feel better. Jessica runs therapy sessions to boost wellness, recovery and self-esteem. Contact Jessica here

Jessica Valentine is a Chartered Counselling Psychologist who supports people within the local community and worldwide online. She offers online Skype therapy and face-to-face counselling in East Sussex, Brighton-Hove.

skype: JessValentine
follow her on Twitter, FB and IG: @getwellbrighton

Do I have an Unhealthy Relationship with My Child? Unhealthy Attachments and How Anxiety and Worry Won’t Help You

If you are someone who is prone to worrying and anxiety, you will understand how stressful it can be to have children. Do I worry about my children? Sometimes. Do I have anxiety when it comes to my children? Sometimes. But when does it become unhealthy? When does having worry and anxiety mess with healthy boundaries between yourself and your child?

Having anxiety is normal. You see, there is good anxiety and then there is bad anxiety. The good anxiety is – how I like to explain it – as a survival skill. If you are a sensitive person and in touch with yourself and other people you will get what I am saying. We as human beings are animals. However, we don’t have the specific form of instinct. We have what is called intuition. And, part of this ‘intuition’ that we as human beings have there lays anxiety. Anxiety can help us stay out of a situation or warn us if there is trouble. Anxiety is part of our make up; everyone has it! However, like anything else there is a spectrum of disorders and a spectrum of personalities that we all endure.

What does anxiety feel like? 

It’s that funny feeling of butterflies in our stomach. It’s that uneasy feeling that something isn’t right. That is how you would describe the good anxiety.

Sometimes when I work with children, I ask them to put a colour on the anxiety that they are feeling. “Where do you feel this funny feeling? What colour is it?” I would ask. This can help children understand what they are actually feeling. And, sometimes…the colour surprises me! I can always relate a colour to a safe feeling or safe object which relieves many children and parents as well.

What is bad anxiety? And, why do I feel bad anxiety?  

The bad anxiety that leads to catastrophic thinking (catastrophising) and unhealthy attachments with our children and our partners, well that is something entirely different. Bad anxiety is an anxiety that gets our knickers in a twist. Bad anxiety stresses us out, makes us shout, increases worry, causes unhealthy attachments with our children and partners, can make us depressed, in some cases make us use drugs and alcohol, can take away concentration in school work and office work and much more.

Bad anxiety or unwanted anxiety (we don’t usually us the word good and bad in a counselling session- it’s usually unhealthy and healthy or desired and undesired behaviour- I am just trying to make a point)- can leave us feeling pretty crappy sometimes. It can leave us feeling isolated and alone. It can also keep you stuck in the house if the anxiety is too overwhelming.

How does anxiety effect unhealthy attachments? 

For those that have anxiety and over-worry it can be quite stressful for the child. Having a parent that over-worries can make the child over think and over-worry, thus not being a risk taker. The child might always question him or herself in everything that they do. They also may manipulate the parent and ‘need’ the parent psychologically when it may not be an age appropriate benchmark. These can then effect future relationships with other people as the child grows and gets older.

You see, attachment starts at the age of 0-2. These years are the most important when it comes to attachment, healthy boundaries and relationships. It’s all connected and quite complex. Loads of psychologists have written and studies about attachment.

The more anxious a parent it the greater risk of having an unhealthy attachment. Do you want to learn more about this fascinating concept? Check out Bowlby’s Attachment Theory!

If you or anyone suffers from anxiety and over-worry and it is effecting your child- The Brighton Wellness Centre in Hove, East Sussex can help. 

This week’s book pick! How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie.

Jessica Valentine is a Chartered Counselling Psychologist who supports people within the local community and worldwide online. She offers online Skype therapy and face-to-face counselling in East Sussex, Brighton-Hove.

skype: JessValentine
follow her on Twitter, FB and IG: @getwellbrighton

Does Skunk Cannabis Cause Psychosis: Causes and symptoms from smoking skunk marijuana.

Skunk and Psychosis: Does Strong Cannabis cause psychosis and what are the symptoms?
by: Eleanor Segall

It has been known for quite some time that smoking ‘Weed’, Cannabis can cause all kinds of effects. Whilst many are seen to be positive- calming you, helping you ‘chill out’ there are some more harmful and sinister effects of a particular strain of Cannabis known as ‘Skunk’.

What is ‘Skunk’?

Skunk is a high potency strain of cannabis which is known for both its strength and pungent smell. It has increased in volume on the street over the past few decades and many smoke it due to its strength. Some also smoke it unaware that its side effects are far more dangerous than conventional cannabis.
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If smoked daily or regularly, the Skunk strain of cannabis can cause psychosis in the brain- meaning one may suffer from delusions, hallucinations, extreme anxiety and paranoia, sleeplessness or hear voices and become quite unwell. This is due to the high amount of chemical present in the drug- Skunk contains more THC- the main  psychoactive ingredient than other types.

Hashish (which is cannabis resin) contains substantial qualities of another chemical- Cannabidol (CBD). NHS Research suggests that the CBD acts as an antidote to the THC, counteracting psychotic side effects. In Skunk strain of cannabis there is far less Cannabidol, meaning that the brain can be triggered more easily into a psychotic state. There is also research suggesting that less potent strains of cannabis, if smoked daily, can trigger mental illness although this is less known than Skunk cannabis.

The NHS have stated in their research from 2015, that ‘Skunk like cannabis increases risk of psychosis, study suggests’ (2015, NHS). They also go on to say that ‘the use of high potency cannabis was associated with a far greater increase in risk’.

Due to the increase in psychotic symptoms from those men and women regularly smoking Skunk cannabis, a medical study was undertaken in the UK. As the NHS and BBC reported,

‘The study compared cannabis use patterns among 410 people from South London who attended hospital with a first episode of psychosis and 370 people from the general public without the condition…

It found that the daily use of cannabis was associated with a greater increase in risk of psychosis and use of high potency cannabis associated with a greater increase in risk.  Smoking potent cannabis was linked to 24% of new psychosis cases analysed in a study by Kings College London Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience …

The research suggests the risk of psychosis is three times higher for users of potent skunk like cannabis than for non users.’

Following on from  this, many former Skunk users have commented on their own psychotic symptoms after smoking it daily or regularly. It is shown that major changes in the brain occur when Skunk is smoked regularly and it can take years for people with skunk induced psychosis to recover fully. The study above was funded by the Maudsley Hospital Charitable fund and published in the medical journal ‘The British Journal of Psychiatry’.

It found that young men were more at risk- the study found most were young between 25- 30 and most were men with a high proportion of unemployment.

So what can you do if you are worried about someone you know who may be presenting with addiction to Skunk or psychotic symptoms?

Firstly, if someone is addicted to Skunk or cannabis and smoking it daily, but wants help to stop, they may need to get some support to stop smoking as much- whether that’s through a specialist Doctor or Rehab unit and initially referred through their GP.

If  they are exhibiting psychotic symptoms and in a crisis situation it is key to get the local Crisis team or psychiatry involved as if they are severely unwell, they may need a short or long hospital stay.

There are many addiction charities and groups out there that can support you and the addict and these are worth exploring. If someone does not want help and you can’t convince them to stop smoking (and they aren’t psychotic), it can be difficult as you may have to wait until crisis point.

If you need to discuss these issues, do speak to Drug addiction charities, doctors/therapists or helplines and make sure you get the support you and your friend/ family member need.

Jessica at Brighton Wellness Centre is a therapist who deals with addiction issues. For more information, please do contact her via the website www.brightonwellnesscentre.co.uk or email jessica@brightonwellnesscentre.co.uk.

Jessica Valentine is a Chartered Counselling Psychologist who supports people within the local community and worldwide online. She offers online Skype therapy and face-to-face counselling in East Sussex, Brighton-Hove.

skype: JessValentine
follow her on Twitter, FB and IG: @getwellbrighton