Anxiety & The Brain, Part 10: Neurotransmitters.

Have you ever wondered what controls our mood?  What makes us feel happy, sad, or afraid?

The answer is chemical messengers called NEUROTRANSMITTERS; they are key players in helping to understand anxiety, and the physical reactions associated with it.

As we learnt in my blog Anxiety & The Brain, Part 5, the brain is made up of millions of neurons, and it’s these neurons that release the neurotransmitters in a process called FIRING.  There Are different types of neurotransmitter, and the ones that get released depends on the information received from our senses, and the emotion that our brain associates with that information.

Firstly, we need to look at the different types of neurotransmitter, and the effect each one has on our body and mind.

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Depression & Positivity

At the moment I’m fighting a constant battle between depression and positivity; I can spend days with a low mood, which literally paralyses me to a point that even doing simple tasks is a challenge; I then get angry and very irritable.

I haven’t really explored depression that much, I’ve spent most of my time focusing on anxiety but as the two normally go hand-in-hand, I think it’s about time I started giving both equal attention.

It’s hard to explain what it’s like to be depressed; like anxiety, it can be quite unnerving, illogical, and pretty hard to understand if you haven’t been there.  My brain can think logically, I can be aware of what is happening, and come up with ideas and solutions, but physically doing things takes an immense amount of energy; I often compare it to wading through treacle.

I think a lot of people liken depression to boredom, or just feeling a bit sad, but it’s a lot worse than that; it lasts for long periods of time and it makes you question your whole existence; I’m constantly asking myself “what’s the point?”

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Mental Health Doesn’t Pick Sides.

Once again the UK is divided (where’s the head-in-hands emoji?), this time it’s about the viability of covid-19 lockdowns, and the battlefield, once again, is the media and social media.

I’m all for people expressing views, but I still can’t get my head around the way people behave and talk to others, especially on platforms like Twitter and Facebook.  It’s what I call ‘The Kindergarten Wars’ (which is unfair on kids in Kindergarten because they’re probably more well behaved than most adults) because the arguments descend into a slagging match, where if you don’t agree with someone they simply tell you you’re stupid or start name calling.

I sometimes wonder what the country would be like if all the ‘armchair’ politicians actually got off their arses and did something?  We now have an army of armchair covid-19 experts, who seem to have all the answers.  A lot of fingers get pointed, and blame allocated, but how many people actually take physical action to change things for the better?

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The Mountain – Laura Ding-Edwards

If the mountain seems too big today
then climb a hill instead
if the morning brings you sadness
it’s ok to stay in bed
if the day ahead weighs heavy
and your plans feel like a curse
there’s no shame in re-arranging
don’t make yourself feel worse
if a shower stings like needles
and a bath feels like you’ll drown
if you haven’t washed your hair for days
don’t throw away your crown
a day is not a lifetime
a rest is not defeat
don’t think of it as failure
just a quiet, kind retreat
it’s ok to take a moment
from an anxious, fractured mind
the world will not stop turning
while you get realigned
the mountain will still be there
when you want to try again
you can climb it in your own time
just love yourself til then

by Laura Ding-Edwards

Success! Becoming a Mental Health First Aider….

A couple of weeks ago I completed a mental health first aid course with MHFA, and while it was a bit of a struggle for me emotionally, I did it, which is a big step considering how my counselling course ended.

The fact that the Covid-19 pandemic has pushed everything on-line has helped me to get back into learning, simply because I can do it from the safety of home.  

In the case of the MHFA course, it also meant that I had a wider choice of trainers, and I definitely struck gold when I found Louise Larkum, but I’ll tell you a bit more about Louise in a moment.

Firstly, about the course itself.  

It was originally created in 2000, in Canberra, Australia, by Betty Kitchener, an educator and mental health consumer, and in partnership with Professor Tony Jorm, a mental health researcher.  In 2003 it was adopted by the Scottish government, and then by England in 2006; since then it has spread around the world.

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