Happiful March 2020

online.magazines

THE MAGAZINE DEVOTED TO MENTAL HEALTH

“I am the

change

Same-sex routines

& slaying Strictly

in heels, trailblazer

Johannes Radebe

has arrived


MARCH 2020 £4.00

RELAX.

UNWIND.

DE-STRESS.

The formula to find calm

in five simple steps

Let your

light shine

Ooze confidence and

embrace your power

DIET

MYTHS

Feed facts not

fiction on p64

9 772514 373000

03

HAPPIFUL.COM

DIY wellness

&FRANKIE BRIDGE: “I have depression, this is who I am”

Mother Pukka

Addressing anxiety


Photography | Gift Habeshaw


To dance is to be out of

yourself. Larger, more

beautiful, more powerful…

– AGNES DE MILLE


Paving the way

How do we know who we truly are?

What moves and inspires us? The

things that spark the excitement and

passion we couldn't be without? It's

often in the most testing times that we

actually start to find out.

As Henry David Thoreau said: "Not

until we are lost do we begin to

understand ourselves."

In the midst of a mental labyrinth,

characteristics and elements of our

personality we never knew were there,

can rise to the surface.

We can find strength in our deepest

reserves, and hope in the dark.

This issue features countless stories

which empitomise that notion. People

who have struggled, and felt knocked

down, but who found a unique path

out. People revolutionising the world

and attitudes around them, to make

others' lives that little bit better.

The incredible Johannes Radebe has

been through some unimaginable

events, but through it all he learned

the power of embracing and putting

his true self in the spotlight. Loud and

proud, he's sending shockwaves

through Strictly, and setting fire to

gender norms.

We also chat to Mother and Papa

Pukka about their secrets to the

elusive 'happy ending' – and how it's

not the fairytale people might expect.

Whether we want to redefine our own

future, or inspire positive changes we

want to see in the world, I hope you

feel empowered reading this issue.

Happily ever after comes in many

forms – don't wait for the story

around you to unfold. Pick up a

pen, and write the

next chapter.

REBECCA THAIR | EDITOR

W | happiful.com

F | happifulhq

T | @happifulhq

I | @happiful_magazine


Features

16 Johannes Radebe

The Strictly pro on family, bereavement,

and being a trailblazer for the LGBTQ+

community

32 Frankie Bridge

Star of The Saturdays opens up in our chat

about being a 'work in progress'

47 Helping hands

The story of how one woman

managed her trichotillomania with

a set of acrylic nails

73 Aiding anxiety

Ironically, getting help for anxiety

can be anxiety-inducing. Follow

our guide to reaching out

The Uplift

8 In the news

13 The wellbeing wrap

14 What is echoism?

Do you skip the spotlight to blend

into the background?

35 DIY wellness

Discover the creative activities that

could help you unlock mindfulness

90 Quickfire: MH Matters

Lifestyle and

Relationships

27 Get moving this March

28 Ditch diet culture

Columnist Grace Victory explores how to

break self-deprecating cycles

52 Easy lovin'

Learn how to follow your feelings and

restore balance with your partner

76 Meet the Pukkas

Bloggers Mother and Papa Pukka get

honest about long-term relationships

Life Stories

39 Sarah: Prioritising myself

Sarah's world was consumed by her

eating disorder, but with time and

patience she found her happiness

57 Naphtaly: Breaking free

PCOS controlled Naphtaly's life and led

her to depression, until she had an idea

that changed everything

87 Henry: Building dreams

Henry was living in deep depression

before he met a counsellor who

reignited his passion for life


Our team

EDITORIAL

Rebecca Thair | Editor

Kathryn Wheeler | Staff Writer

Tia Sinden | Editorial Assistant

Bonnie Evie Gifford, Kat Nicholls,

Becky Wright | Writers

Grace Victory | Columnist

Lucy Donoughue | Head of Content

Ellen Hoggard | Digital Editor

Keith Howitt | Sub-Editor

Rav Sekhon | Expert Advisor

ART & DESIGN

Amy-Jean Burns | Art Director

Charlotte Reynell | Graphic Designer

Rosan Magar | Illustrator

COMMUNICATIONS

Alice Greedus

PR Officer

alice.greedus@happiful.com

Food & Drink

62 Plate-up pasta

Delve into these delicious, body-boosting

pasta dishes

64 10 nutrition myths

We break down food myths so that you

can live your healthiest, happiest life

Happiful Hacks

24 Ask for what you need

44 Explaining your time off

60 The anti-stress tool kit

80 Embrace your power

Culture

30 Ask the experts: burnout

Our career coach gets get to the root

of the problem

42 Our top picks this month

50 Sarah Greenidge

Uncovering the truth about the

wellness industry

68 Taking a stand

Louisa Reid's latest book explores what it

means to back yourself

70 Therapy with a point

What to expect from acupuncture

83 Konnie Huq

The presenter and author on girls in

STEM, and not conforming

CONTRIBUTORS

Gemma Calvert, Fiona Thomas,

Katie Conibear, Salma Haidrani, Jenna Farmer,

Sarah Young, Naphtaly Maria Zimmerman,

Henry Grace, Sylvia Mac

SPECIAL THANKS

Paul Buller, Tom Buller, Krishan Parmar,

Alice Theobald, Graeme Orr, Rachel Coffey, Bethyn

Casey, Laurele Mitchell, Dr Kalanit Ben-Ari, Sarah

Lane, Peter Klein, Josephine Robinson, Letesia Gibson

MANAGEMENT

Aimi Maunders | Director & Co-Founder

Emma White | Director & Co-Founder

Paul Maunders | Director & Co-Founder

SUBSCRIPTIONS

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CONTACT

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Email us at hello@happiful.com

HAPPIFUL FAMILY

Helping you find the help you need.

Counselling Directory, Life Coach Directory,

Hypnotherapy Directory, Nutritionist Resource,

Therapy Directory


Expert Panel

One undeniable truth is that

finding the right help for each

individual is a journey – what

works for one of us will be

different for someone else. But

don't feel disheartened if you

haven't found your path yet.

Our Happiful family can help

you on your way. Bringing

together various arms of

support, each of our sister

sites focuses on a different

method of nourishing your

wellbeing – from counselling,

to hypnotherapy, nutrition,

coaching, and therapy.

Meet the team of experts who have come together to deliver

information, guidance, and insight throughout this issue

DR KALANIT BEN-ARI

BA MA PhD psych

Kalanit is a relationships

counsellor and public

speaker.

BETHYN CASEY

BA

Bethyn is a counsellor who

offers creative therapy to

her clients.

LAURELE MITCHELL

BA (hons) PgDip MNCS Snr Accred

Laurele is a counsellor with

experience working with

couples and families.

SARAH LANE

BSc MSc MBACP

Sarah is a counsellor and

mindfulness teacher offering

personal therapy.

Rav's review

We’re all inherently impacted

by the relationships we’re a

part of – they play a huge

role in our lives, and each

relationship we have is a part

of us. In this month’s issue

there’s a host of practical

and insightful tips on how to

better manage them, as it’s

not always easy. The advice

on page 24 is particularly

helpful, highlighting

the benefits of open

communication. Given that

this allows for connections

and understanding, it is

vital for a relationship to

function healthily. Expressing

yourself and being listened

to is the starting point for all

meaningful relationships.

RACHEL COFFEY

BA MA NLP Mstr

Rachel is a life

coach encouraging

confidence.

PETER KLEIN

BSc PGDip CBT MA BABCP

Peter is a cognitive

behavioural

psychotherapist.

DR LAURA WYNESS

PhD MSc BSc RNutr

Laura is a registered

nutritionist, working in

research and comms.

GRAEME ORR

MBACP (Accred) BACP Reg Ind

Graeme is a counsellor

working with both

individuals and couples.

JOSEPHINE ROBINSON

DipCNM ANP

Josephine is a nutritional

therapist, and yoga and

meditation teacher.

LETESIA GIBSON

Dip BSc Psych & Sociology

Letesia is a creative

career coach specialising

in burnout.

RAV SEKHON

BA MA MBACP (Accred)

Rav is a counsellor

and psychotherapist

with more than 10

years' experience.

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Call Samaritans on 116 123 or email

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INFORMATION ON TRICHOTILLOMANIA

Learn more about this hair-pulling condition and how it's treated

by heading to ocduk.org and searching for 'trichotillomania'.

FIND A NUTRITIONIST NEAR YOU

Read reliable advice and search for qualified nutritionists in

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CAN'T RE-TOUCH THIS

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The Uplift

KIDS

Photographer

proves boys can

have a royally

good time, too!

What makes a princess? For so long,

we’ve been told that princesses are

‘just for girls’. But that’s changing,

and Chicago-based photographer

Kitty Wolf is behind a new campaign

showcasing the joy that comes with

unreserved self-expression.

During her time working as a

princess performer, Kitty started

to spot something that didn’t sit

right with her. Time and time again,

she would see little boys watching

longingly from the sidelines at

parties. And when she attended

an event dressed as Elsa, only to

find one particular little boy just as

excited to see her as the girls, she

decided to do something.

Kitty created a celebration of the

joy that can be found in dressing

up as your favourite princesses

regardless of gender, in a photo

series that sees boys captured with

their favourite princess performers.

Speaking of the photo series, one

boy’s mother said: “A child’s gender

doesn’t dictate the toys they want to

play with. Or the clothes they wear.

Or their favourite colours. Or their

emotional response to things. Let’s

celebrate kids for their kid-ness, and

let them be little!”

Find out more about the campaign,

and browse the full photo series, at

boyscanbeprincessestoo.com

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler


Molly attends Huntington

House’s ‘Knit and Natter’

CHARITY

‘Close-knit’ community brings

pride and purpose to residents

What’s better than a cuppa and

a catch up? According to the

residents of one care home, having

a ‘Knit and Natter’.

Offering a place to regularly meet,

chat, and raise money for charity,

the ‘Knit and Natter’ group at

Huntington House care home, in

Surrey, is helping to create a sense

of pride and responsibility among

its residents.

Now an integral part of member’s

lives, the group helps residents

to rekindle fond memories and

make new connections, and has

quickly expanded to include staff,

and members of the local Women’s

Institute.

But the social benefits are just

one side – the group knits items

to support charitable projects

including brooches for the Poppy

Appeal, and blankets and hats for

hospitals in the UK and South Africa

to keep premature babies warm.

Director of Huntington and

Langham Estate, Charlie Hoare,

said: “When you become reliant on

others to care for you, you can feel a

loss of self-worth. But finding a way

to help others can often make up

for losing the independence to look

after yourself.”

What a perfect way to spread a little

warmth and cheer, wool-dn’t you

agree? Writing | Bonnie Evie Gifford

WORK

Loosen your tie

– work is getting

more casual

Love casual Fridays? Well, new

research suggests Monday to

Thursday is getting less rigid

too, as a poll carried out by

Accountemps saw 91% of

US managers agreeing that

workplaces are less formal

than they were 10 years ago.

So what’s behind the shift?

Managers speculate that more

relaxed social norms, and

organisations catering to a

younger workforce, are behind

the more laid back vibe.

Where tattoos, piercings, and

dyed hair were once a no-no in

the office, a third of managers

now agree that they’re

sufficiently professional. Even

the London Metropolitan

Police has relaxed a ban on

recruiting people with tattoos,

saying they now consider body

art on a “case-by-case basis”.

But it’s not just the way

we look that’s changing

office culture, the way we

communicate is, too – with

30% of managers saying emoji

use and casual lingo is now

more prevalent in emails.

Self-expression is at the

core of who we are and,

considering we spend an

average of 3,507 days at work

in our lifetime, being our true

selves full-time can only be a

good thing.

Writing | Kat Nicholls

March 2020 • happiful.com • 9



Love only grows by

sharing. You can

only have more for

yourself by giving

it away to others

– BRIAN TRACY


ANIMALS

Parrots prove

sharing is caring

You might know them for their quick

wit and shrill catch-phrases, but new

research shows that parrots may

have a softer side.

In a trial published in Current

Biology, African grey parrots – which

were first trained to understand

that small metal tokens could be

swapped for a food treat at a specific

‘exchange window’ – had their

compassion put to the test.

In the experiment, one bird was

given a pile of tokens but no window

to exchange them through. Next to

the first bird, another had no tokens,

but access to the window.

After some consideration, the

bird with the tokens began passing

them through the enclosure to its

neighbour, allowing it to access

a treat – despite the fact the treat

wasn’t shared.

Speaking of the experiment, Peggy

Mason, from the University of

Chicago, admitted she was stunned.

“I think they had the sense that this

was a useful token, and that it would

turn into food for the other bird,”

Peggy explains. “It’s surprisingly

giving, just because the only thing

the bird doing it gets is that warm

glow of helping.”

That’s a glow we’ll all be familiar

with as it turns out generosity is

interspecific, and that Polly is more

than happy to share the cracker!

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

March 2020 • happiful.com • 11


Take 5

Wordsmiths get ready… It’s not a race, but a chance to put your

mind through its paces. Relax, enjoy, and put your brains to the

test with this month’s puzzles

Wheels in motion

Using the letters in the word wheel no more than

once, make as many words as possible of three or

more letters, always including the letter in the centre

of the wheel. Want an extra challenge? Set yourself a

time limit – three minutes, GO!

5 = word wizard

10 = gaming guru

15+ = Shakespearean superstar

D

N

T

R

I

T

A

U

E

Wordsearch

Flex those mental muscles, and find the 12

words in the grid below

R N C D N C B T G R

U R O W D Y O G A S

N C R N P M X G O Y

A W P I L A T E S H

D A N C E N O L Y C

Y L N U L B S C C T

M K T A P I I Y M E

J Y J U M P M C C R

U C Y C N L E B I T

T S W I M A E C G S

DANCE

CLIMB

WALK

SWIM

RUN

YOGA

PILATES

BOX

STRETCH

CYCLE

ROW

JUMP

How did

you do? Search

‘freebies' at

shop.happiful.com

to find the answers,

and more!


Going up

‘Dinosaurs in

love’. Google the

song, but have

tissues at the

ready

Chin chin!

Drinking three

cups of a tea a

week linked to

longer life

Beer yoga

– yes, it really is

a thing!

Liar liar...

Study finds

people care

more about

appearing

honest, than

telling the truth

330% more

children admitted

to A&E for their

MH in the past

decade

Going down

The

wellbeing

wrap

Starry-eyed

In a landmark

achievement, scientists

have taken the world’s

most detailed pictures

of the Sun’s surface. The

patterns of boiling plasma,

looking like ‘cells’, are

each the size of Texas! The

secrets of the universe are

starting to unfold...

ARE OFFICE ROMANCES

A THING OF THE PAST?

Times are changing, and while 30 years ago, one in

five couples met in their workplace, a new study says

its now it’s only one in 10. The research, from Stanford

University, revealed that instead of stolen glances

over the printer, online dating and apps are now the

most popular way to meet your other half. We might

have fewer stories like Tim and Dawn, but it’s a new

love story for the digitial age.

WITH MORE THAN

86,000SQ FT OF OPEN

SPACE, BROMLEY HAS

BEEN NAMED THE BEST

LONDON BOROUGH

FOR WELLBEING.

IT CAME OUT TOP

AFTER BEING RANKED

ON HEALTHCARE,

PARKLAND, AND SPORTS

FACILITIES – OTHER

AREAS TAKE NOTE!

Good news – there’s no

need to feel guilty for hitting

that snooze button. Experts

have revealed that getting

a good night’s sleep could

be as good for you as going

to the gym. It’s because

when we’re tired, we tend to

choose more calorific foods

and have higher cortisol

levels – time for a self-care

duvet day?

Zzz

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Love lives aside, there’s been a surprising shift

away from tech elsewere. In a recent US poll,

it was revealed that Americans visited more

libraries in the past year than cinemas, or any

other cultural activity. On average, adults went

10.5 times. In another nostalgic throwback,

maybe Arthur the aardvark was right – having

fun isn’t hard, when you’ve got a library card!

FANCY A ROAST?

A study from Appalchian

State University, USA,

has found that a bit

of banter between a

couple could be the

secret to a long-lasting,

happy relationship. A

bit of friendly teasing

lets your partner feel

‘seen’ by recognising

their special little quirks.

Lovely!

#REPRESENT

“Imagination,

life is your creation.”

Barbie is certainly

imagining a brighter future,

with the launch of a new range

of diverse dolls for its collection.

Including one with no hair,

and another with vitiligo,

it’s a fantastic move for

representation and

empowerment.

Work it!

With so

much of our

lives spent at

work, more and more companies

are realising the importance

of nurturing their employees’

wellbeing. But what actionable

steps can people take in 2020?

According to research from the

PwC Health Research Institute,

the top focuses should make it

clear wellbeing is a priority, and

encourage individuality, so people

can find wellbeing practices that

work for them.

Pace yourself

Are you a known dawdler, or

basically the real-life Flash?

It could be time to pick up

the pace... A new study has

revealed that our walking speed

can actually indicate our life

expectancy, with those who walk

faster expected to live 15 years

longer.

The research from the

University of Leicester, discovered

that people who walked up

to 100 steps per minute had a

higher life expectancy that those

taking 50 steps per minute.

While it doesn’t directly prove

that walking fast will give us

more years, it certainly shows a

correlation. Perhaps it’s time

to lace up those trainers

for a speed walk around

the block!


What is

echoism?

Afraid to step into the spotlight, or put your own voice and opinions out there?

If you’re more comfortable blending into the background, and mirroring those

around you, you may be displaying echoist behaviours...

Writing | Fiona Thomas

Illustrating | Rosan Magar

You’ve probably heard

of narcissism before

– and may even know

a narcissist yourself.

Well those who might

display a lack of empathy, an

inflated sense of self-importance,

and a need for attention, actually

have an opposite, which you may

not be as familiar with – echoists.

Are your friends and family

always encouraging you to open

up about your feelings? Do you

feel sick whenever you get a bit

of limelight? Do you actively

downplay your successes to avoid

any unwanted attention? Do you

struggle to describe what your own

personal interests and hobbies

are, finding it easier to latch on to

things that your partner enjoys?

These are just a few red flags

which could mean that you are

experiencing echoism.

14 • happiful.com • March 2020


THE STUFF OF LEGEND...

The name for the mental health

disorder narcissism was actually

inspired by a Greek mythological

character. Narcissus was so selfobsessed

that he was cursed to fall

in love with his own reflection,

and part of his story involved his

partner Echo – a forest nymph who

was punished by the goddess Juno

for talking too much. Echo’s ability

to express herself was taken away,

and in the absence of a voice of her

own, she was only able to speak

by repeating the last few words

she heard from others. This is

where the term echoism originates

from and, as with the myth, the

behaviours are often intertwined.

Cognitive behavioural

psychotherapist and Counselling

Directory member Peter Klein says:

“Sufferers with such tendencies

will often have had a narcissist

as a parent. Narcissists tend to

have opposite tendencies and use

sufferers to fulfil their own needs

and desires, which can make the

tendencies of echoism even worse.”

RECOGNISING THE REFLECTION

Coined by Harvard Medical School

lecturer Dr Craig Malkin, the term

echoist describes someone who, like

the Greek nymph Echo, struggles

to have an autonomous voice. They

tend to emphasise other people’s

needs over their own, and have

difficulty accepting compliments.

In more serious cases, sufferers

can’t define their own identity

because they automatically take on

the interests and desires of those

around them, leaving no room for

their own preferences. Echoism is a

personality trait, which is thought to

intensify as a coping mechanism in

response to living with a narcissist.

Echoists aren’t easy to spot and

they don’t present themselves as

you might expect. They are often

highly intelligent individuals who

are kind, supportive, and successful

to boot. But if you go against their

wishes, when they adamantly state

they don’t want a fuss (such as with

a surprise party), be prepared for

them to potentially kick off...

Echoists tend

to feel things more

intensely, and feel

more empathetic

than the average

person

ECHOISM IN RELATIONSHIPS

Echoists tend to feel things more

intensely, and feel more empathetic

than the average person. When

exposed to a narcissistic parent,

they often learn not to express

freely, because displaying emotions

evokes a negative response from

their caregiver. The child is

solely focused on managing the

overwhelming emotional needs of

the parent, leaving little room for

their own. The echoist will grow up

believing life is easier when they

take up as little space as possible in

a relationship, and will rarely share

their problems because they fear

burdening others. Ironically, they

often worry that they will appear

selfish and narcissistic.

Unfortunately, cutting off ties

with the parent in question

doesn’t solve the problem. In fact,

it can often lead to a noticeable

dip in self-esteem, and even

bouts of depression. “Self-doubt,

worries, and self-criticism are

accompanying features,” says Peter.

“These make it even harder for

the sufferer to express their own

needs and desires.” In some cases,

it then perpetuates the cycle and

makes the echoist the ideal prey for

another narcissist.

Echoism can play out in romantic

relationships, too. Women are

thought to be more vulnerable than

men, and children of narcissistic

parents often find themselves

drawn to one-sided relationships in

adulthood.

Those affected will gladly give

their partner attention, and shower

them with compliments, but

actively shun anything when it’s

reciprocated.

Platonic friendships can also act

as the breeding ground for this

counter-dependent behaviour.

Echoists give endlessly to

emotionally-needy friends, leaving

little room to talk about their

own problems. On the surface,

this suits the echoist just fine. But

in reality, it can cause complex

emotional, identity, and attachment

issues, which often centre around

excessive feelings of guilt.

REDISCOVERING YOUR VOICE

Treatment for echoism tends to

focus on teaching the person to

recognise their own behaviours,

and express the emotions that have

gone repressed for so long. Peter

says: “Understanding one’s own

needs in relevant situations, and

the practice of expressing these in a

graded manner, can be helpful. Due

to the complexity and individual

expressions of echoism, this is best

performed in conjunction with a

suitably trained professional.”

March 2020 • happiful.com • 15


Head

over heels

Breaking boundaries in the ballroom,

Johannes Radebe is the Strictly Come Dancing

professional who’s captured the nation’s heart – and

he’s certainly got our attention, too.

By performing in the show’s first ever same-sex

routine in 2019, and dancing up a storm in heels,

Johannes is shattering gender stereotypes and putting

representation on the map in mainstream media.

Yet the journey to utterly embracing himself wasn’t

always easy. But through bullying, homelessness, and

grief, he’s remained true to himself, and it’s

beyond refreshing...

Interview | Gemma Calvert

Photography | Paul Buller

Of all the hello hugs shared with celebrities, rarely have

I been as impressed as when Strictly Come Dancing pro

Johannes Radebe arrives at Happiful’s south London

studio, wrapped up against the January frost in a

woollen pea coat and oversized scarf. A big grin is

pursued by an even bigger, heartfelt embrace, and in 10 seconds

flat, I’m sold.

After 22 years of dance training, the South African-born star

possesses a body built of muscle, but his character is gentle and

beautifully exposed. After sinking into a leather sofa at the rear of

the studio, away from the hubbub of photoshoot preparations, the

dancer and choreographer is instantly at ease. He underscores what

he says with smiles aplenty – like when he expresses adoration for

his “best friend”, fellow Strictly pro Graziano Di Prima, who he was

with the night before, performing on the fourth night of the Strictly

Come Dancing live tour. >>>


“I spend every single day with him,

mostly because his girlfriend isn’t

with us. He hangs on to me for dear

life but, the truth is, we need each

other!” says Johannes, who joined

Strictly in 2018, but enjoyed his first

celebrity pairing in 2019 when he

and former Coronation Street actress

Catherine Tyldesley coupled up.

They lit up the dance floor until

week six.

Touring with the Strictly pros,

enthuses Johannes, is “like being on

holiday with your best mates” and

even though many have secured

lucrative gigs outside the hit BBC1

show – such as Oti Mabuse on The

Greatest Dancer, and AJ Pritchard

who joined RuPaul’s Drag Race UK

as a dance coach – he insists there is

never jealousy between the cast.

“The pie’s big enough for

everybody. We don’t live in the

competitive world anymore. Not to

say that the competition isn’t rife

when we come to Strictly, because

we all want to win, but we’re all

different. We all have our qualities.

It’s so nice amongst the pros.

They’re all kind. It’s been so great.”

Now 32, Johannes finds himself at

a fascinating moment in his career,

and has every reason to be cheerful.

For one, he is finally at home in

his own skin. Three months before

we meet, a fortnight before he

and Graziano danced in the show’s

first same-sex routine, Johannes

slayed a pro dance sequence,

performing to ‘Fame’ in a pair of

high-heeled PVC boots. It set the

Twittersphere ablaze, with Strictly

fans commending him for breaking

the mould of gender stereotypes.

It also, he says, attracted a flurry of

praise from “older gay men” who

“identified with the boldness and

the confidence”.

“That was my coming out party

to the world,” grins Johannes,

revealing that when show bosses

proposed the idea he agreed, not to

publicly shout about being openly

gay, but to educate his extended

family back home. While Johannes

has “always known” he is gay and

never hidden his sexuality, he says

some relatives were still asking at

family functions when he would

“come home with a wife and kids”.

Johannes, who concedes that in

Africa there is a generational gap of

LGBTQ+ education and acceptance,

sighs. “It’s a reality, but we live

in such progressive times, and I

realised there’s no need to hide any

more,” he says. “The world has been

ready, all I had to do was embrace

who I am fully, fully, fully, because

that was always my fear – that sense

of rejection, that feeling of ‘if I do

this, what if somebody mocks me?

I don’t want to bring shame to my

family.’ It took me 32 years to finally

accept that and say, ‘Honestly, this is

my life.’”

Johannes believes historically

there’s been insufficient media

representation of LGBTQ+

minorities, but has observed

an improvement over the past

two years. He was “inspired” by

groundbreaking US series Pose,

which delves into the New York City

ballroom scene at the height of the

AIDS crisis, and accepts credit for

his own role in the acceptance of

greater diversity within society.

“I’m the change. Honestly, I see it

like that. I’m the first gay black man

on Strictly. I just think, good for you

Johannes. I’m proud!”

In the last series of the Danish

version of Strictly, a male duo

emerged victorious, and Steps

singer Ian ‘H’ Watkins and pro

The world has been

ready, all I had to

do was embrace

who I am fully,

because that was

always my fear

skater Matt Evers were paired on

this year’s Dancing On Ice. Surely it’s

time for Strictly to regularly feature

same sex couples, and to hell with

the armchair critics (Johannes

and Graziano’s dance attracted 189

complaints to Ofcom)?

“Out of how many million

viewers?” says Johannes, instantly

putting the protest into perspective.

“It’s good that the BBC have started.

Whenever they are ready to make

that step, they should know there’s

representation.”

For Johannes, who never thought

he would “have a voice”, being

a respected public figure is a

responsibility he cherishes. He’s

actively planning to align with

a LGBTQ+ youth charity, and is

intent on making a difference to

vulnerable youngsters’ lives.

“I hope with my actions I’m

breaking barriers, and bringing

comfort and assurance that it’s OK,”

he says. “Life gets better.”

Which is true. Johannes and his

elder sister Pearl grew up in the

small South African township of

Zamdela, raised by their mother

Jacobeth, and dad Benjamin.

Curiously, as he describes the

“very real struggle” of a “lack

of opportunity and finances”,

Johannes smiles. >>>

18 • happiful.com • March 2020


Suit | Ben Sherman, T-shirt | Reserved, Trainers | Lacoste

>>>

February 2020 • happiful.com • 19


Top & trousers | Topman

Dance was

my escape. It

became my

world, my refuge

“Going back home humbles me,

because you can see how they

[survive] with as little as they have,”

he says. “As a child, I didn’t know

what we lacked, because I had my

dad and I had mum, and with all

that lack there was love – lots and

lots of love and encouragement.”

Johannes began dancing at the

age of seven, and at “10 or 11” got

his first pair of dancing shoes, a gift

from his dad.

“That was his way of saying ‘I

approve’. I was dancing my third

competition, and while he wanted

me to be a soccer star – he thought

dance was going to be a phase – he

gave me the freedom to explore.

Our neighbourhood wasn’t the

safest, so he loved that after school,

I had somewhere to go and I was off

the streets. Dance was my escape. It

became my world, my refuge.”

Johannes’ hobby and his

“flamboyant demeanour” made

him a target for bullies, but at

dance school and in the family

home, he was free. He adoringly

describes his mother as his “best

friend”, “queen” and “biggest

counsellor” – a woman who didn’t

bat an eyelid when she discovered

her teenage son squeezing his size

11 feet into Pearl’s high heels.

“I used to hang out with my

mother all the time, experimenting

with all these things in front of her,

and she just did not care, honestly,

and in that regard, thank God for

my mum,” says Johannes.

At school, the abuse Johannes

endured was predominantly

verbal, but on one occasion turned

physical when he got into a fight

with a bully, and the perpetrator

returned with a baseball bat.

“I thought ‘This is it.’ That’s the

worst it got,” shudders Johannes,

still grateful for the onlookers who

stepped in before damage was done.

The words fired at him as a young

boy, and the anticipation of physical

violence, must have been incredibly

wounding? He nods.

“It left me confused, feeling like

there was something wrong with

me. It was isolating. For the longest

time I thought ‘I’m not worthy,’

and ‘Why are you putting yourself

through this?’ I could have easily

left dance because it brought all

that attention to me but, at the same

time, it made me so happy.”

Adolence is rife with challenges,

particularly for LGBTQ+ teens – with

one study from the Children’s Society

revealing that half of gay or bisexual

14-year-olds had self-harmed.

20 • happiful.com • March 2020


Jacket & trousers | Scotch & Soda

It’s a devastating statistic, that

speaks volumes to under-supported

demographic, and one that Johannes

has seen play out in front of him.

“I lost a friend of mine. He was 10

or 11 and in school with me. Talk

about flamboyant and OTT, he was

mighty gay and he had it harder than

me. He deflected the attention from

me so many times, and protected

me. As young as I was, when that

happened, I understood where he

was coming from. He had it hard.”

His friend’s suicide wasn’t the

only loss Johannes experienced as

a youngster. When he was 14 his

father, who had then separated

from his mother, died aged 46

from tuberculosis – a neglected

disease which still kills more than

100,000 South Africans every year.

The heartbreaking period of grief

propelled Johannes to make a

life-changing decision, and accept

an offer to enrol at a dance school

for disadvantaged youngsters in

Johannesburg, 111 miles from home.

For four years, under the family’s

guidance and inspired by his dance

idols Bryan Watson, Jason Gilkison,

and Motsi Mabuse – who he now

works with on Strictly – Johannes

honed his versatility as a performer.

He trained in ballroom, Latin,

contemporary, jazz, and ballet, and

established a steadfast work ethic,

dancing in shopping malls and

parking lots to fund entry and travel

to national dance competitions. To

this day, he remains the undefeated

South African Latin champion.

Despite trying to continue his

studies, financial woes eventually

saw Johannes quit in favour of

employment in Johannesburg,

appearing in a stage show and

teaching dance to the elderly. But

for two years, before getting his

“break” on a cruise ship, Johannes >>>


lived rough, sleeping in the

doorway of a city-centre taxi rank,

and showering in shopping mall

toilet facilities, all so he could save

money to send home to his family.

It was during this ordeal that he

had the biblical verse ‘no weapon

formed against me shall prosper’

tattooed on to his ribs.

“That was my mantra for the

longest time. I come from a family

of very strong personalities. My

mother and my aunts are my pillars

of strength. But looking back, I

was so miserable, and I can’t tell

you where the courage to do that

came from,” says Johannes, quickly

correcting himself. “I actually tell

you lies. It was all because I needed

to provide for my family. That was

so important.”

It still is. Johannes sends home

a portion of his Strictly earnings,

but now the gesture comes without

sacrifice. He rents an apartment

in north London, and is househunting

in South Africa for his own

place, plus one for his mum.

I ask what his father would make

of his achievements. The question

prompts Johannes’ chin to fall to

his chest.

“Dad’s death was a sad one,

because it was quick. We were

very close…” he says, his voice

momentarily disappearing. “I think

dad would have been very proud.

Mostly, I think he would have been

shocked that I had the courage

to do what I’ve done. The fact he

didn’t get to see all this unfold

leaves me feeling sad at times, but

I’m happy I did it and I’m sure,

wherever he is, he is happy, too.”

As our time together draws to a

close, I wonder whether Johannes

unwittingly carried the shame he

endured as a boy into adulthood

I think dad would have been very proud.

The fact he didn’t get to see all this

unfold leaves me feeling sad at times,

but I’m happy I did it and I’m sure,

wherever he is, he is happy, too

and, if so, what effect his two gamechanging

Strictly performances

and the subsequent “incredible”

response of his wider family have

had on his mindset.

“Yes I did,” he confirms. “When

I’ve got people coming up to me,

saying ‘Johannes, you’re such a

wonderful person,’ I think ‘Maybe

there’s actually nothing wrong

with me, after all this time.’ It’s

a beautiful feeling. Being in this

country has been very liberating.

It’s nice to settle in a place where I

feel I’m seen, where there’s much

more freedom, and people are

more liberated and progressive.”

As Johannes has always sought

counsel from family and friends

who have kept him “in check”,

what is his advice to loved ones of

LGBTQ+ youngsters?

“Love and show support,” he

says firmly. “Make sure they

know there’s nothing wrong with

them. I’ve been blessed to come

across people who, when I was

being bullied in the middle of the

street, would bring it to order and

say ‘That’s not right.’ We need to

live in a world where we’re not

afraid to stand up to what’s wrong,

because what I do in my bedroom

has nothing to do with you. I don’t

dictate how you should live your

life, so why are you telling me how

to live mine?”

While Johannes’ last relationship

was three years ago and shortlived

– the nomadic life of a dancer

doesn’t always lend itself well to

long-term commitment – if the

right opportunity presented itself,

he would leap at the opportunity to

settle down.

“I wish I had a boyfriend. I’m

not saying it’s the one thing that’s

missing, but it would be nice to

come home to somebody. I’m not

young anymore! I would like to be

with somebody who’s going to take

this all the way,” he says, referring

to marriage and children.

As for the next step in his career?

That’s simple. “I want to continue

the Strictly journey for as long as

I can,” he says. “It’s a once in a

lifetime opportunity, – as long as

they’ll have me, I’ll come back.”

After the shoot wraps, I bump

into Johannes on the street outside

before he heads off to resume his

Strictly tour duties. “You can’t keep

away from me!” he laughs, and

there’s no point denying it. When

kindness, graciousness, emotional

generosity, inner strength, and a

desire to help others combine, the

allure is truly captivating.

Johannes will be appearing in the

Strictly Professionals Tour from May

2020. Find him @johannesradebe on

Instagram.

22 • happiful.com • March 2020


Styling | Krishan Parmar

Grooming | Alice Theobald at Joy

Goodman using Morgan’s Pomade

and Babyliss Pro

February 2020 • happiful.com • 23


How to ask for

what you need

in a relationship

Communication is often considered a secret ingredient for happy

relationships, but it doesn’t need to be complicated – or secret

Writing | Kat Nicholls Illustrating | Rosan Magar

I

think I need time alone,” my

boyfriend said, looking a

little exasperated on a recent

Sunday evening. We hadn’t

been arguing (in fact we’d had a

really nice day together), although

I had noticed a shift in his mood as

the day went on.

After a slightly confused and

defensive facial expression from

me, he explained what he meant.

As an introvert, an empath, and

someone who struggles with

depression and anxiety, quiet time

alone is something my partner

needs at the weekend to feel

recharged and ready for the week

ahead.

It had taken a year of us living

together for him to: a) realise that as

much as he loves me, he still needs

time away from me; and b) that it

was OK for him to ask for this.

Once he explained why he needed

alone time, I felt a little swell of

pride. Depression has a habit of

swallowing your self-worth, so

allowing himself to be vulnerable,

and asking for something he

needed, felt like a milestone.

Since then, we’ve both been more

open about what we need, whether


it’s a couple of hours alone in our

local cafe, or for us to share the

house admin a little more. It’s

taken a little navigating, but has

helped us both thrive within our

relationship.

Often, when we’re in long-term

relationships, we can feel that our

partners should know what we

need intuitively. We expect them

to read our minds, and we sit with

frustrations bubbling under the

surface when they don’t. Then,

one day, we hit boiling point,

culminating in an argument

involving demands, heightened

emotions, and blame.

If we can get to a place where

we can ask for what we need in

relationships before this point, it’ll

save a lot of heartache. OK, ready

to ask for what you need? Follow

these steps:

1 PLAN WHAT YOU

WANT TO SAY

Understanding what it is you really

need can take some self-reflection.

Take your time over this. Give it

some space, think through what

you want to say, and plan how

you’ll say it.

Remember that we’re all worthy

of feeling happy and fulfilled in

our relationships. Asking for what

you need isn’t being demanding,

it’s showing a commitment to

communication that will have only

positive ramifications for your

relationship.

2 CHOOSE YOUR

TIMING WISELY

What we need often comes to the

front of our minds when we’re

not getting it, and sometimes

this happens during a heated

discussion or argument. Try your

best not to bring it up then. Wait

until you’re both calm, and pick

a time when you can give the

discussion the space it needs.

3 AVOID PLAYING THE VICTIM

It can sometimes feel like we

shouldn’t have to voice our needs

(especially if they seem pretty

obvious to us), which can lead to

frustration and passive aggression.

If this happens, it can be easy

to play the victim when the

discussion takes place.

However, when you use

victimised language, you end up

24 • happiful.com • March 2020


When expressing what you

need, do so from a place of

honesty and authenticity, not

from a place of entitlement

punishing your partner for not

knowing something you’ve never

told them. They’ll likely get upset

by this, and put up walls of defence

in reaction. This puts a stop to any

conversation and can cause further

arguments.

When expressing what you need,

do so from a place of honesty and

authenticity, not from a place of

entitlement.

4 USE ‘I’ STATEMENTS

With the above in mind, try to

stick to ‘I’ statements. Rather than

placing the blame or responsibility

on your partner by telling them

what they’re not doing, such as:

“You’re always on your phone”,

keep the conversation centred

on what you need and how your

partner can help – “I need to feel

more connected to you when we

talk, and feel you putting your

phone down during discussions

would help.”

5 AND IF YOU’RE ON THE

RECEIVING END…

Don’t panic! The fact that your

partner is talking to you about

what they need means they care

about the relationship, and want

it to flourish. Feeling defensive is

natural, but try to remember this

is not about anything you’re doing

wrong. It’s about what your partner

needs to feel fulfilled.

Understanding

what it is you

really need can

take some selfreflection

Encourage them to explain more

about how you can help them,

and if it’s something you feel

unable to give, try to work out a

compromise. Now is also a great

time for you to consider what you

need in the relationship. If your

partner has opened the doors of

communication, keep them open.

March 2020 • happiful.com • 25


Photography | Sept Commercial


We rise by lifting others

– ROBERT INGERSOLL


Moving

on up

Most of us know exercise

is good for both our

mental and physical

health, but it’s not just

through running and

hitting the gym that you

can reap the benefits.

Here we’ve pulled

together five adventurous

ideas packed with mental

health benefits. Ready,

set... go!

Writing | Kat Nicholls

1 Skydiving

Jumping out of a plane may not,

at first, seem like an enjoyable

activity – but it turns out it could

be just what your mind needs.

Skydiving releases a huge number

of endorphins which can help ease

mild depression, and psychologists

say falling through the sky can

help us to put our emotions into

perspective.

Plus, you don’t have to jump

alone. Tandem skydiving lets you

enjoy the ride while safe in the

hands of an expert. To book your

first jump, visit goskydive.com

2 Team sports

All sports are great for your

health, but team sports in

particular have been found to

have beneficial effects. Working

with others towards a shared

goal is a lovely way to bond with

others, and our social connections

play a big role in emotional

wellbeing.

Head to beinspireduk.org for

ideas and ways to get involved,

or simply do an online search

for team sports in your area.

Many team sports can be adapted

for differing abilities too, visit

parasport.org.uk for more

information.

3 Nordic walking

If you’re already an avid walker

and want to step up your game,

try Nordic walking. Using two

poles to harness the power of

your upper body, the Nordic

walking technique helps you

propel yourself forward, and turns

walking into a full-body exercise.

The poles also take some weight off

the knees and lower body joints,

making it suitable for all ages and

fitness levels.

Visit nordicwalking.co.uk to learn

more and to find a local instructor.

4 Surfing

From Cornwall to Scotland, the

coastlines of the UK have some

great surfing spots. Being at one

with nature, and the adrenaline

rush you get after catching

the perfect wave, makes it an

unsurprisingly great activity for

your mental health. Apparently, just

30 minutes spent catching waves

can reduce negative thoughts, and

decrease self-destructive behaviour.

Wave Project is a mental health

surfing charity that can help you

use surfing as a coping strategy.

Head to waveproject.co.uk to find

out more.

5 Horse riding

Horses are used as therapy aids

because they’re incredibly intuitive

and have the ability to mirror your

feelings. This can make horse

riding especially beneficial for

those living with mental illness.

Horse riding is also accessible for

all abilities – the Riding for the

Disabled Association has nearly

500 centres across the UK, learn

more at rda.org.uk.

If you want to reap the mental

health and therapeutic benefits

specifically, search for equine

therapy services in your area.


Mental health and

diet culture…

with Grace

Our columnist Grace Victory has experienced first-hand the alarming link

between mental health problems and our insidious diet culture. But, she

reveals, you won’t find real happiness and fulfilment in a smaller pair of jeans…

One of the many

reasons for my past

poor mental health

has been the link

between diet culture,

fatphobia, and the incessant belief

that I am not good enough. Do

you remember the first time you

saw something that made you feel

terrible about yourself? I don’t.

I just remember grabbing my

tummy at age eight, and wanting to

chop the chub off.

Diet culture is so subtle,

so sneaky, that we digest it

subconsciously throughout our

lives, especially as children. It can

be the ‘Are you bikini-body ready?’

ad on the Tube, the ‘Nothing tastes

as good as skinny feels’ quote on

Instagram, or ‘I just don’t think

women with big thighs should

wear mini skirts’ conversations you

hear at the office.

Diet culture is everywhere,

and deeply ingrained within

our society, because someone,

somewhere, is making big bucks

from making women feel like shit.

Keeping us hungry and counting

calories keeps us small – not

just physically, but mentally and

spiritually, too. It keeps us focused

on things that don’t actually matter,

so that we don’t have the mental

capacity or energy to take the

patriarchy down, or question the

beliefs that have been programmed

into us.

As children, many of us inherited

unhealthy thoughts and feelings

towards food and our bodies. We

were taught to count calories, no

carbs before marbs, no eating after

6pm, and that apple cider vinegar

would give us a six-pack. When

Slimfast was out, Slimming World

was in. When small bums were out,

big bums were in.

The ideals of how we should look,

and who we should be, change

constantly, so that we remain in

a vicious cycle of self-hate. And

guess what? The money keeps

rolling in to the corporations who

sell us the products or services

that will ‘fix’ us. This is a battle we

never win, because we – and our

bodies – are not the problem.

I remember a few years ago,

after finishing treatment for an

eating disorder, I was so incredibly

Keeping us hungry

and counting

calories keeps

us small – not

just physically,

but mentally and

spiritually, too

angry. I had realised that falling

into disordered eating and negative

body image is almost inevitable if

you simply look at the advertising

and messages we see and hear.

There is a narrative that you

are morally wrong if you don’t

conform to look a certain way. That

women should fall in line, and

never dare to break free from the

story that no longer serves them.

Diet culture is just another tool to

take away our power. We’ve been

brainwashed into believing that

our own intuition isn’t enough,

and that we cannot trust our

bodies to eat well. So, we allow

things outside of us to do the work

instead.

28 • happiful.com • March 2020


@GRACEFVICTORY

Grace recommends

Body Positive Power: How

to stop dieting, make peace

with your body and live

By Megan Jayne Crabbe

(Vermilion, £12.99)

Health at Every Size:

The surprising truth

about your weight

By Linda Bacon

(BenBella Books, £10.99)

This is why our relationship with

food – and ourselves – becomes so

skewed. We tear ourselves down

in any way that we can, and even

though 95% of diets do not work,

we blame ourselves if we don’t lose

weight. We exercise to look good,

despite feeling like utter crap. We

constantly think about our bodies

in a negative way, and every day

that goes past is another day of

self-loathing and self-deprecating

behaviour.

But we hardly see it, because it’s

normal to hate who we are, and

radical not to. We disconnect from

parts of us in a bid to become

smaller versions of ourselves. We

shrink, pick, and even cut away at

who we are, in the desperate hope

that we will find happiness in a

smaller pair of jeans.

And this was me, and sometimes,

it is still me. I’ve been so much

thinner than I am now, and it still

wasn’t enough. I got to my goal

weight and the goal changed, and

then all of a sudden I was Googling

boob jobs and bum lifts. It became

apparent that no matter what I

looked like, I still wouldn’t like

myself. It wasn’t my body after all.

Happiness and self-actualisation

cannot be found on the outside

– it is about the inner you. It is

about knowing who you really

were before you internalised

other people’s standards. It is

about setting your own standards.

It is about letting go of fear, and

instead choosing love. Life does

not begin when you’re thin. Life is

happening now. So, stop engaging

in behaviours, conversations, and

diets that make you feel like you’re

not good enough. You are.

Love

Grace

x

March 2020 • happiful.com • 29


Ask the experts

Career coach Letesia Gibson

answers your questions on

workplace burnout

Read more about Letesia on

lifecoach-directory.org.uk

QI am exhausted.

I’m in the

middle of a

big project at work,

and I can’t see things

getting better any

time soon. Every day is

hard. What can I do?

It sounds like your

A spiritual and emotional

energies are being

compromised. When we live

with compromise in things

like our values, expectations,

sense of reward, and control

or fairness, is exhausting. We

cope with this by going on

autopilot, withdrawing, and

giving up.

Immediate relief will come

from getting into your

body more often. It will

feel counterintuitive to do

more when you feel tired,

but gentle movement, like

walking or yoga, will help to

regulate your nervous system,

giving you fresh perspective

and a feeling of being in

control again. Getting out of

this dorsal state is necessary

for change.

This experience of work

isn’t working for you. Being

truthful about your mismatch

with it will give you clarity

on what about it needs to

change. That kind of honesty

is easy to say and hard to

do, but the energy you’ll get

back will be worth it.

Q

I think I need to

leave my job,

but it never

seems to be ‘the right

time’. I can’t afford to

leave without another

job lined up, so I’ve

been putting it off.

Can you help me?

AIt’s great that you’re

intending to leave a

job that’s burning you out.

But ‘the right time’ will never

emerge while in that draining

zone. We have to create the

fertile conditions for the new

strength and motivation to

grow, and the first step is

putting you first, more often.

Write down the good parts

of the day. Practise saying

‘no’ more often. Commit to

carving out time to start a

transition plan. Can you cut

down your hours, or take

some holiday? Before the

new job, you need to get

clear on what you actually

need to thrive in the next role.

When you know this, you’ll be

ready to start looking for a

new job, and see what new

energy you have for change.


Burnout

Q

I’m worried

about a

colleague.

They have become

detached and seem to

have lost their ‘spark’.

How can I support

them?

One of our fundamental

A needs is to be truly

seen, and when a person

becomes disconnected, they

have become invisible –

even to themselves. When

this is done with kindness

and compassion, it creates

a much-needed space for

connection.

Tips include keeping things

simple. Let them know

that you see them in this

struggle, and that you are

there for them. Have soft

eye contact. Be gentle with

your tone of voice. Choose

a place and time that fits

this more intimate moment.

Avoid speculating why this

is happening, or trying to fix

it. Be ready to listen. Don’t

get hung up on needing to

do something, or expecting

them to ask for something

in return. The very act of

seeing them is a powerful

support in itself.

Life Coach Directory is part of the Happiful Family | Helping you find the help you need


AN OPEN BOOK

Frankie Bridge was first thrust into the spotlight as a member of S Club

Juniors, before going on to join the hugely successful girl group, The

Saturdays. But behind the scenes, things weren’t easy – and for a short

time in 2012, she found herself an inpatient at a mental health hospital.

For Frankie, this was an opportunity to speak about the realities of

mental health, and she hasn’t looked back since. Here, we catch up

about her new part-autobiography, part-self-help book OPEN, and

what it means to be a ‘work in progress’...

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

Hi Frankie! Congratulations on

your new book, OPEN. Does it still

feel a bit surreal? It does! It’s weird

because people who I don’t know

are now getting to know me quite

intimately! But it’s good because

when I’m saying things that I’m

feeling, and seeing that others have

also experienced it, it makes me

feel less alone – at the same time

as making them feel less alone. It

was a difficult writing process, but

I enjoyed it. And now I’ve got the

end result, it was all worth it.

In OPEN, you’re asking people to

‘Speak out. Ask for help. And be

helped.’ Do you remember the

first time you spoke out about

your mental health? I went to the

doctor, I thought I was just tired.

He was the one who suggested I

needed some therapy, and that

was a weird moment because I just

couldn’t see it, it wasn’t something

that I knew anything about, or

that anyone had spoken about.

But it was after that that I realised

he was right, and I realised that

things weren’t quite as they

should be.

In 2012 you had a short stay in

a mental health hospital. Did

you have any preconceptions

about it before going in? In my

head, it was all padded walls

and being locked in your room.

It wasn’t like that at all, it was a

really comforting place to be, and

it was such a relief to be around

people who I didn’t have to lie to,

or pretend to be OK in front of.

It was just a massive weight off

my shoulders, and I didn’t really

expect that before I went in.

You then went on to talk publicly

about your stay. Was that a

difficult decision? No – it was

more that, at the time, the press

assumed that I had some kind of

addiction or eating disorder. No

one really thought about anxiety

and depression, and I just wanted

to raise awareness that there are

different things that people go to

hospital for.

How do you approach

conversations about mental

health now? I don’t always know

how to approach it with other

people, because everyone’s

different, and I don’t want to

frighten people off. But if anyone

asks me a question, I find it quite

easy to talk about my mental

health. It doesn’t mean if I’m

walking around and someone

asks me how I am, I’ll say, “Oh

I’m awful.” There are only certain

people that I tell. But it’s important

that I have those people.

As a mother of two boys, do you

talk about wellbeing at home?

I do try to but, though I struggle

with my mental health, I don’t

really know how to approach the

subject with them at such a young

Photography | Sophie Davidson

32 • happiful.com • March 2020


I have anxiety and

depression, this

is who I am, and

it is what it is

age. I just try to ask questions about

how they’re feeling. When they’re at

school, I ask them whether people

are being kind, are they happy,

and just reassure them that I love

them. When they’re scared about

things, I try not to just brush it off

and push it to the side – I try to be

understanding.

You call yourself a ‘work in

progress’, what do you mean by

that? I’m not going to be fixed. I

have a chemical imbalance in my

brain, and it’s not going to go away.

So every day I have to work on

getting up and staying positive. I’m

always learning what can press the

wrong buttons, and what presses

the right buttons. But I think that

comes with age and surrounding

myself with the right people. I’m

kind of accepting that this is who I

am. I have anxiety and depression,

this is who I am, and it is what it is.

Do you have a message for

someone who might be going

through something similar?

Knowledge is key. Know what is

happening to you, find someone

you can confide in, and don’t

give yourself such a hard time.

Remember, a better day is around

the corner.

‘OPEN’ by Frankie Bridge is out now

(Cassell, £18.99). You can follow

Frankie on Instagram @frankiebridge

March 2020 • happiful.com • 33


I am. I have

Megan Crabbe | Joseph Sinclair

THE HAPPIFUL PODCAST

SHAHROO IZADI MEGAN CRABBE

JAMIE WINDUST KIMBERLEY WILSON

• Listen • Like • Subscribe •

Listen to conversations with Jamie Windust, Megan Crabbe, Kimberley Wilson,

Shahroo Izadi and many others who share their passions, and

reveal the moments that shaped them.

34 • happiful.com • February 2020


crafting

From slow sewing to paper cutting, we explore the wonderful world of

mindful crafts and how they benefit our mental health

Writing | Kat Nicholls

Many of us know

by now that

mindfulness is a

pretty wonderful

thing. It can reduce stress and

anxiety, and generally help us to

maintain our mental wellness.

Mindfulness meditation is

often hailed as the ultimate

mindfulness practice. But the

brilliant thing about mindfulness

is that it can be tapped into in so

many ways. One creative idea is

to take regular crafting activities

and give them a mindfulness spin

by slowing down, and letting the

activity absorb your attention.

Counsellor Bethyn Casey

incorporates creative therapy into

her work, and believes crafting

can be ideal for those looking for a

different approach to mindfulness.

“There is something outside

of yourself to focus on – trying

to sit and meditate when our

thoughts are rushing can be

just what we need, and I would

never discourage mindfulness

meditation, but sometimes

a meditative state is hard to

achieve and a busy mind can be

frustrated further by the struggle

to relax on its own accord.

“Playing with colours, symbols

and shapes can be absorbing, our

attention focused on something

else, but ideally pressure-free,

and so we may more naturally

relax into a mindful way of

being.”

But the actual benefits go

beyond this. Research from the

British Journal of Occupational

Therapy suggests doing crafting

activities on a regular basis can

improve mood and increase

feelings of relaxation. And

Bethyn notes that being creative

in this way can ultimately help us

access difficult emotions, too.

“By crafting, we’re just letting

images, shapes, colours, and our

intuition, lead us in different

directions. Somehow the fun of

the objects themselves can mean

we drift out of boxed thinking and

discover that something within us

can quietly rearrange things in the

background.

“Suddenly we’ve put our tools

away, and whatever it was that was

stuck and knotted and inaccessible

inside has somehow formed itself

into something tangible that can

be touched and explored.”

Sometimes, focusing on

something external can help

us internally. If this sounds like

something you’re keen to try,

we’ve got some suggested mindful

crafting activities for you – get

your tools at the ready. >>>

March 2020 • happiful.com • 35


Paper

cutting

Paper cutting involves making intricate designs

using a craft knife and, traditionally, just one sheet

of paper. The entire process of paper cutting, from

designing to cutting, takes extreme focus and care,

making it an ideal mindful craft. When cutting, try

to focus your attention on what you’re doing and

take it slowly.

You might want to attend a class or follow online

tutorials to get started. Once you feel happy with the

technique, all you need is a template, a craft knife,

and a piece of paper – simple!

Macramé

Macramé is a type of textile made using knotting

techniques. You can use any materials that can be

knotted, such as cotton, twine, yarn, or even leather,

to create a beautiful wall hanging or plant holder.

The activity is both challenging to the mind (some of

the knots can be intricate), and relaxing as there are

often repetitive actions needed. This combination

can trigger a flow state, where you feel relaxed and

as if time is standing still.

Mindful

scrapbooking

Cutting and sticking in this way can feel incredibly

therapeutic, and it turns out there’s a reason for this,

as Bethyn explains.

“We can discover things about ourselves we didn’t

know – when collaging, we’re drawn to certain

types of images, shapes, and colours that resonate

with different meanings for us. By playing about

Use scrap cuttings for

your scrapbook

with them, and rearranging what goes where, new ways

of seeing old patterns appear; suddenly the world isn’t a

lonely place; we are our own friend, gradually discovering

new ways of relating to the world around us as we continue

to practise our craft.”

As a bonus, you get to keep your scrapbook after you’re

done! Pick a theme or simply let your intuition guide you!

36 • happiful.com • March 2020


Never underestimate the

power of a box full of craft

toys; they can open up a

whole different world inside

our own minds

Slow sewing

Instead of reaching for the sewing machine, slow

sewing is all about stitching a project by hand. The

gentle, focused nature of hand sewing makes it a

perfect mindfulness activity. It can also be nice to

try alongside other people, especially if you struggle

with social anxiety.

“Having crafting to focus on means the excess

energy anxiety brings can go into what we’re

creating, rather than building up within. Sometimes

being able to share a craft activity together quietly,

without the normal social pressures of having

to make conversation, can be in itself socially

fulfilling,” Bethyn says.

If you’re new to sewing, why not reach out to see if

anyone would be willing to help you learn and form

a slow sewing group? You might make some friends

while developing a new skill.

We know carving out time

for yourself can be difficult,

especially when the demands

of work and family seem to be

tugging at your sleeve. Having

a dedicated activity to turn to

can not only help you prioritise

‘you time’ (and make you excited

about it), it can help you switch

off from modern-day stressors

(yes, we’re looking at you

Twitter).

As Bethyn says: “Never

underestimate the power of a box

full of craft toys; they can open

up a whole different world inside

our own minds; it’s a world where

we get to make choices about how

we shape our creations, and this

can help us begin to make choices

about how we want to craft our

own lives.”

So, whether you’re a crafting

newbie looking to try something

different, or a dab hand with a

craft knife, you officially have

permission to get creative more

often. Trust us, your mind will

thank you for it.

Visit counselling-directory.org.uk to

find out more about Bethyn Casey,

mindfulness, and art therapies.

March 2020 • happiful.com • 37



Enjoy the little things, for one

day you may look back and

realise they were the big things

– ROBERT BRAULT

Photography | Natasha Kasim


TRUE LIFE

Learning to

choose me

Sarah’s world was consumed by her eating

disorder for more than a decade. It’s wasn’t an

overnight transformation, but with time, patience,

and understanding, she learned to embrace her

natural body as it is

Writing | Sarah Young

I

was terrified,

standing on the

scales, praying

that the number

would show a

drop in weight. I’d just

woken from a nightmare

where I’d gained two stone

overnight. When I opened

my eyes, my hands had

been running over my

protruding hip bones, even

in sleep, just to check that

they were still prominent.

I kept feeling like there

was a shadowy presence,

just out of the corner of my

eye, watching me. It felt

like death. I felt like maybe

I was ready for him.

It was early 2012 and I

was nearly 21. I’d been

living with an eating

disorder for almost a

decade. The reason for

its development can’t

be pinpointed to one

single event, but rather

a combination of many

factors coming together to

make the perfect storm.

This period was the

worst I’d ever been. My

brittle, dry hair fell out in

clumps in the shower. I

was experiencing memory

loss. I was dizzy a lot, the

world seemed grey, and

my senses were dulled as

if my brain was smothered

in cotton wool. I had

insomnia, and when I slept

I had nightmares. I was

entirely, unequivocally,

weary of being sick and

miserable.

I was weary of being

in a living hell. I was

weary with the despair,

the darkness, the anger,

and the devastation. I

was weary of the calories

circling around my head

all day and night. I was

tired of counting down the

minutes until I was ‘allowed’

to eat, of the starving and

compulsive exercising, and

eventually, the purging.

I was exhausted by the

intense fear I felt at going

anywhere near food, and

the utter desolation of my

mind and body that meant

I lived in a starving shell

that couldn’t function, and

a mind controlled by a

single focus: to lose weight.

A severe mental illness

caused by a combination

of genetics and my

environment was my way

of handling the world and

myself, but finally, after

eight years, I decided that

this could not go on.

At first, I viewed death as

the only escape from the

torment, but as moments

of clarity started to push

their way to the forefront of

my mind, the possibility

of recovery developed

from rejected thoughts to

cautious actions.

However, I was faced

with a world that seemed

to not want me to recover.

Not fully, anyway. It was as

if everything in the world

was screaming: “Recover,

but not too much. Gain

weight, but not too much.

Eat more, but not too

much.” I felt like the

world was asking me to

tone down my disordered

thoughts and behaviours…

but not too much.

I watched others call

themselves “recovered”

from eating disorders,

while closely restricting

their intake, and

controlling their exercise.

For me, that felt like still

being sick. It felt like

being better, but not well. >>>

March 2020 • happiful.com • 39


To hear more from

Sarah, follow her

journey on Instagram

@bodypositivepear

I felt like the world was

asking me to tone down

my disordered thoughts

and behaviours… but not

too much

It felt like still being inside

a cage, and not able to live

life freely.

But I found out, you can

push further.

I came across a blog that

suggested another way.

It suggested that we all

have our own individual

natural, healthy weights,

that our bodies need to

be at their healthiest. It

talked about eating freely

in order to recover from

eating disorders. It talked

about listening to your

body fully, and responding

to all the hunger that

recovery brings. It talked

about becoming friends

with your body rather than

treating it as the enemy.

It also led me to a website

that changed my life, and

made me realise that I

don’t have to engage with

diet culture, or live my life

trying to please society by

having the ‘perfect’ body.

Formerly known as Your

Eatopia, now The Eating

Disorder Institute, the site

taught me about health at

every size, weight set point

theory, and fat acceptance.

I decided to reject the

idea of an ‘ideal’ body.

But this wasn’t a decision

I made in an instant – it

took years of research,

getting involved with

feminism and the body

positivity movement, and

learning about the impact

of diet culture, and how

the diet and weight loss

industry intentionally make

us hate ourselves for profit.

It took deciding to be as

healthy and happy as I could

possibly be in both body and

mind. It took deciding to let

40 • happiful.com • March 2020


I choose my

health and

happiness over the

approval of others.

I choose me

OUR EXPERT SAYS

go of the importance that

I had placed on being a

certain weight.

I turned out to be one of

those people who naturally

have a higher body weight

than some. This can mean

dealing with increased

stigma around weight and

size, and knowing that

some people will look at

me and decide that I am

unhealthy/lazy/greedy,

while knowing nothing

about my lifestyle, or who

I am as a person. I am also

aware of my own weight

privileges, in that there are

people at higher weights

who suffer a lot more

stigma and discrimination.

My body is the size that

I can live my life as a

healthy and happy person.

If I wanted to be smaller,

I’d have to focus on calorie

restriction, and possibly

an excessive amount

of exercise, and we all

know where that would

lead. I accept my body. I

know I am doing what is

right for me. I choose my

health and happiness over

the approval of others. I

choose me.

I have been ‘in remission’

as I like to call it (as I don’t

believe eating disorders

can ever be fully cured)

for five years now. It was

a long, hellish journey to

end up here, but it was

the most important thing

that I have ever done for

myself. If I could say one

thing to those thinking

about fighting that war, I

would say that however

indescribably hard the

battle is, it is all worth it – a

billion times over.

To get to where I am

now, I chose to reject the

ideas and ideals that are so

entrenched in our culture

and our society. I chose

my actual health over the

idea that you have to be

a certain weight, shape,

or size to be healthy. I

chose my actual happiness

over the absolute lie that

you have to be a certain

number on the scales to

be happy. Those lies are

fed to us all day, every day,

everywhere we look, but

I don’t buy it any more. I

have decided to live my

life in a way that means

working with my body

and letting it be whatever

weight, shape, or size it

needs to be to enable me

to be healthy and happy.

I will not change that for

anyone. I choose me.

Over the years,

suffering from her

eating disorder caused

Sarah severe symptoms

that brought her to

a crisis point in her

life. She found online

resources that helped

her to change how she

identified with her body.

They inspired her and

helped her to stay in

a healthy relationship

with herself and food.

It helped her to value

her own opinions of her

body over that of others.

Often this is first step

in changing – knowing

and finding who you

are, not what others say

you should be. Now

Sarah is much

more confident

and comfortable

with life.

Graeme Orr | MBACP (Accred) UKRCP

Reg Ind counsellor

March 2020 • happiful.com • 41


HAPPIFUL TOP 10

March

Feel empowered by real experiences, from real people. Get involved with the global

movement celebrating women and girls, discover the influencer breaking down

barriers, and take action to end stereotypes around eating disorders

1PAGE-TURNERS

The Wellfulness Project

‘Wellfulness’ is all about

using mindfulness to improve

your wellbeing. You don’t

need to practise meditation,

mindfulness can be used

anywhere at any time. The

Wellfulness Project will guide

you through how to apply

mindfulness in everyday life.

(Out 5 March, Octopus

Publishing Group, £16.99)

3

PUT ON A SHOW

4

Women of the World

Festival

Women of the World is a

global movement celebrating

women and girls. This year

is the 10th anniversary of the

WOW festival, and it’s set

to be bigger than ever! Visit

the festival for three days of

events, performances, and

debates from the world’s

leading speakers, activists,

and performers.

(6–8 March. To

find out more, visit

thewowfoundation.com)

OUT AND ABOUT

2

London Dog Week

This week-long celebration is

all about the power pups have

to bring people together. Head

to the capital to enjoy fashion exclusives, interactive experiences, and

competitions, all while raising money to support the welfare of dogs

around the country. It’s bound to have tails wagging!

(23–29 March, for more information head to londondogweek.com)

PLUGGED-IN

Amber Guzman

Amber lives with

muscular dystrophy,

which has left her

unable to walk long

distances, and has made daily

activities more challenging. To help

distract herself, Amber began to

embrace her passion for cosplay,

and now she inspires thousands

with her complex costume designs,

eye-catching

photographs,

and ingenious

incorporation of

her wheelchair.

(Follow

@amber_

kohaku_chan

on Instagram)

5TECH TIP-OFFS

ThinkUp Positive

Affirmations

Do you want to develop

a more positive mindset? ThinkUp

helps you achieve this by allowing

you to choose a positive affirmation,

record yourself saying it, and listen

to it daily. You can record multiple

affirmations specific to your goals,

and add your favourite music and

photos to tailor the app just for you.

(Download from the App Store and

Google Play, find out more

at thinkup.me)


Images | Mulan: Walt Disney Pictures, Amber: Instagram @amber_kohaku_chan

6 9

LEND US YOUR EARS

How Did We Get Here?

Ever wonder how you ended

up in a certain situation?

Close friends Claudia Winkleman and

Professor Tanya Byron discuss the reallife

difficulties their guests are facing,

and help them to understand why they

can’t put into practice what they

know they should do.

(Listen to the podcast on iTunes

and Spotify)

7

SQUARE EYES

This Disney favourite is

back with a bang in this live-action

feature film. Mulan tells the story

of a young Chinese woman who

disguises herself as a male warrior

in order to protect her father. Far

from a princess waiting to be

saved from her tower, this script is

filled with female empowerment.

Mulan

(In cinemas 27 March)

THE CONVERSATION

Eating Disorders Awareness Week

8

TREAT YOURSELF

If you’re trying to go green, a reusable coffee cup is a great way to cut

down on the plastic! The WAKEcup coffee cup is made from sustainably

farmed bamboo and stainless steel, and 10% of profits go directly to The

Marine Conservation Society. Start saving the planet with your coffee.

WAKEcup coffee cup

(£19, visit globalwakecup.com for more)

Win a WAKEcup coffee cup!

For your chance to win, simply email competitions@happiful.com

with your answer to the following question:

How much coffee cup waste does the UK produce each year?

a) 10,000 tonnes b) 20,000 tonnes c) 30,000 tonnes

UK mainland only. Competition closes on 19 March 2020, good luck!

Anyone affected by an eating disorder deserves support,

no matter what their diagnosis, gender, ethnicity,

sexuality, age or background. This week is about breaking down the

stereotypes around eating disorders, and sharing real-life stories

about how people are affected.

(2–8 March, get involved at beateatingdisorders.org.uk)

10GET

GOING

Chocathlon Yorkshire

Getting active doesn’t

mean you have to give

up all tasty temptations!

Choose between 5K or 9K

routes, and refuel at the

chocolate stations as you

walk or run around the

track. Prizes are on offer

for the top three finishers,

as well as the best fancy

dress.

(7 March, find out more

at chocathlon.co.uk)

WIN!


How to deal with the

“How's work?"

question

Taking time off for our mental health is often essential, but many of

us dread explaining why we’re taking time away

Writing | Katie Conibear Illustrating | Rosan Magar

Often it’s not until we’re

taking time off to

look after our mental

health that we realise

how much small talk

revolves around work. It’s seen as a

universal icebreaker, from people

we know well to those we’ve just

met. We might be at a party (yes,

you can be unwell and still go to

parties), a family gathering, or just

out for a coffee with a friend.

While it can feel overwhelming

to socialise when we’re unwell,

it’s important as it stops us from

isolating ourselves, and these are

the people that can support us, and

help carry us through. So to then

be presented with the “how’s work”

question can sometimes feel like

too much to deal with.

As innocent as the intention,

it can be a loaded question. I’ve

been asked this when I’ve been ill

with mental health problems, and

that feeling of dread will begin to

creep over me. I’ll feel flustered

and anxious, with a tightness in my

chest. I’ve found myself making

excuses, or trying to avoid the

question completely. But rather

than feeling shame, or hiding,

here are four important points

to remember when we’re having

these conversations.

1 BE HONEST

Sounds difficult right? It doesn’t

have to be. The way we phrase our

responses can make everyone who

is a part of the conversation feel

at ease. Think about the person

or people you’re talking to. How

can they relate to your situation?

Do they know us well or are they

acquaintances? There are simple

phrases that work well in these

situations:

• “I’m taking some time out for my

mental health.”

• “I’m making my health a priority.”

• “I need time to refocus so I can do

my best at work when I go back.”

• “I was feeling stressed and near

burnout, and needed some time off

to recharge.”

Depending on the person, we

can figure out how much detail we

want to divulge. If you feel you can

be completely honest, do it! The

majority of people will care and

ask how they can help.

2 LOSE THE SHAME

We often find ourselves

apologising for being mentally

unwell. We do it because of shame

and guilt, but thinking differently

about why we’re off can make our

conversations easier. Ask yourself:

“How likely is it someone will

think less of me? I’ve made a call

about my health and I needed to

take time off.” Feeling ashamed

won’t help us feel better, it will

sabotage our efforts to get back to

work. If someone does shame us

for being unwell, they need to be

educated; it is a fault with them,

not us.

3 TELL THEM YOU’RE TAKING

CARE OF YOURSELF

Having time out from work means

you’re taking your health seriously.

It might be you’ve stopped yourself

from reaching burnout. Or you

may have reached burnout, and

had the presence of mind to realise

44 • happiful.com • March 2020


that you needed a break. Everyone

can relate to these feelings to an

extent. If it’s an ongoing, long-term

illness then it shows that we know

ourselves well, and taking care

of ourselves should be praised.

We’ve taken responsibility for our

health, which shows maturity. We

should be proud that we’re not

trying to work through an illness,

but instead are making our health

a priority.

4 REMEMBER WORK

DOESN’T DEFINE YOU

Although work is an important

part of many people’s lives, it

doesn’t have to define us. There

are so many more things that are a

part of us – our hobbies, passions,

and personality to name a few.

When we really think about all

the topics we’re interested in, the

possibilities for a conversation are

endless. Shifting a conversation to

a topic that is important to us can

make socialising less stressful to

deal with. It can also help us find

purpose outside of work. It can

help us realise that our identity

matters just as much as our career.

Katie Conibear is a freelance writer,

focusing on mental health. She blogs

at stumblingmind.com and has a

podcast, ‘A Life Lived Vividly’, with a

focus on hearing voices.

March 2020 • happiful.com • 45


Photography | Marcos Paulo Prado


Accept yourself, love yourself,

and keep moving forward

– ROY T BENNETT


How acrylic nails

helped me beat

my hair-pulling

disorder

For years,

Salma battled

trichotillomania – the

irresistible urge to

pull out her hair. Then

a simple trip to a nail

salon transformed

her life, and her

sense of self…

Writing | Salma Haidrani

For most of my teens,

mornings often followed

the same pattern: I’d wake

up with raw and red eyes, a

sore scalp, several missing

lashes, and patches of bare skin

between my eyebrows. It took a

few seconds before it’d dawn on me

why: I’d deliberately pulled my hair

out, and now there was hardly any

of it left.

It wasn’t always like this. With

our thick mane and full set of dark

eyelashes, no one could easily tell

me or my twin, Layla, apart. >>>

March 2020 • happiful.com • 47


Any attempts to ‘cure’ the

disorder over the years – from

putting plasters on my fingers, to

meditation – had failed

But at 15, I’d developed

trichotillomania, a disorder that

saw me pull at my lashes, brows,

and later my scalp.

Stressed by looming exams, the

familiar ritual of pulling a strand

and coiling it around my fingers

was soothing. It soon became

addictive, and it wasn’t long before

bald patches the size of a 50p piece

appeared on my scalp. When I ran

out of head hair to pull, I started

tearing out my pubic hair.

I feared anyone finding out, so

I’d painstakingly spend hours in

front of the mirror, lining my eyes

and brows with heavy kohl liner

and pencil.

Despite my efforts to conceal

my disorder, it wasn’t long before

school friends found out. One

particularly cruel jibe I heard was:

‘How can you tell the difference

between the twins? Salma’s the

one who doesn’t have eyelashes.’

The challenges that came with

my condition were exacerbated

by my heritage. Communities

of colour like mine – I’m half-

Lebanese, half-Pakistani – can

often have an uneasy relationship

with mental health. I certainly

saw this first-hand. Relatives were

reluctant to see trichotillomania

for what is – a mental health

disorder – but as something I

could easily control. My parents,

uncles, and aunts remained

convinced that all it took to control

my condition was willpower.

Any attempts to ‘cure’ the

disorder over the years – from

putting plasters on my fingers,

to meditation – had failed. I had

resigned myself to dealing with the

disorder for the rest of my life.

But that all changed last April

when I was taken, with fellow

bridesmaids, to a salon to have

matching red acrylic nails applied,

ready for my sister’s wedding.

That evening, I found that the

length made it difficult to grip,

let alone pull, my lashes. I was

so overcome with panic that I

considered running back to the

salon to have them removed. Over

that week, it became too much

effort to keep trying, and soon I

realised that I barely pulled.

The impact acrylic nails

have had on my life has been

immeasurable. Within a month,

lashes and brow hair started

sprouting for the first time in

years. Two months later, I had a

full set of (albeit stubby) lashes.

Applying mascara for the first time

in more than a decade was surreal.

With my hair growth came

renewed confidence: I no longer

had to hide. Now I’m rarely

seen without my acrylics – I’ve

experimented with neon-green

talons in summer and jet-black

fingertips during October. If

anything, I don’t feel like ‘me’

without them.

That’s not to say there haven’t

been drawbacks. One white

acrylic nail broke mid-way

through a week-long trip to Ibiza

last summer, and I found myself

tugging absent-mindedly at my

lashes while sunbathing.

Having to maintain my nails

once a month can also take a

toll on my finances. A new set

can set me back as much as

£45 (sometimes £65 if I opt for

intricate designs). As a freelance

journalist, my income can be

unsteady, so sometimes I’ve had to

cancel seeing friends, or cut back

on meals out.

A surprising side-effect, too,

has been discovering the stigma

associated with acrylic nails.

Although a number of celebrities

have popularised acrylic nails –

from the likes of Cardi B, Rihanna,

and Kylie Jenner, to the female

cast of Love Island – that the idea

of acrylic nails being ‘common’,

‘classless’ or ‘tacky’ still persists.

I’ve lost count of the number of

times I’ve been asked ‘How do you

do anything with those nails?’ and

even ‘How do you wipe after going

to the toilet?’ At times, I’ve had to

reveal my condition to complete

strangers – something I’ve kept

secret for more a decade – to

distance myself from the negative

associations of acrylics.

It does a disservice to the

transformative impact acrylic nails

have had on my life and sense of

self. After all, I haven’t pulled for

a year and a half, something I’d

48 • happiful.com • March 2020


Salma’s acrylic nails helped to

stop her hair-pulling disorder

never have thought possible a

decade ago.

I no longer need to endure

a three-hour round trip for

eyelash extensions – nor have to

I haven’t

pulled for a

year and a half,

something I’d

never have

thought possible

a decade ago

brace myself for the technician’s

confusion as she notices the empty

patches of bare skin between my

lashes. I can spend hours trawling

make-up counters, trying new

mascaras – a ritual I’d consigned to

history, thanks to trichotillomania.

For those battling the disorder,

help is on hand. Though a fresh set

of acrylic nails works for me, that’s

not to say that will be the case for

everyone. Mindfulness, fidget toys,

wearing a tight-fitting hat, and

CBT, can have a similar effect.

Online trichotillomania support

groups, too, offer much solace and

comfort, as people the world over

have made me feel less isolated

as we exchange ‘progress photos’,

much-needed encouragement,

and distraction techniques. To

women of colour like myself with

the disorder, I say: you’re not any

less of a ‘woman’.

It’s heartening that high-profile

figures, like Sam Faiers and Colin

Farrell, are more vocal about their

experiences with trichotillomania

– I know I would have benefited

from knowing that there were

others who also struggled.

Gone are the days of waking up

with a blurred vision and tell-tale

bare skin between my brows.

Gone, too, are the days of people

being able to easily tell me and my

twin sister apart just by a quick

glance at the bald patches on my

scalp. And for that, and more, I

thank my acrylic nails.

Salma Haidrani is an awardwinning

freelance writer and

journalist based in London. Follow

Salma on Twitter @its_me_salma

March 2020 • happiful.com • 49


Media partner

Wellbeing – fact or fiction?

How many contradictory posts on wellness have you seen in the past week?

It can be hard to decipher what you should (and shouldn’t) believe online,

but fortunately there’s a new movement to change that – Sarah Greenidge’s

WellSpoken is a trailblazer for truth and credibility across the industry

Writing | Lucy Donoughue

What would you say if

your boss told you to

bend the truth? Or

that blurring the lines

of what you could and couldn’t say

was OK? For Sarah Greenidge, this

situation came up while consulting

for a consumer health PR firm...

“I was really shocked, stunned, at

what could be said at a consumer

health level,” she says.

Sarah’s concerns were raised

when she was asked to cast an eye

over a campaign. “I remember

giving it back with red marks,

noting there were a lot of things

that couldn’t, or shouldn’t, be said,

and was met with a response of:

‘This is health and wellness, so it’s

different. We don’t have to be so

stringent.’”

To address this shocking state of

fact and fiction, Sarah had the idea

for WellSpoken – an independent

authority providing a code of

practice to ensure consumers

could get credible, evidence-based

information on nutrition and

wellness.

Having worked in healthcare,

medical communications, and

regulations, Sarah had the

knowledge and experience, so her

first step was to get to grips with

exactly what the main issues were.

After a year-long journey, she

realised two main things…

“There wasn’t enough

infrastructure, regulation, or

standardisation in place when it

comes to dealing with something

that’s inappropriate,” Sarah says.

“Unfortunately that’s still the case,

unless you breach the advertising

rules, but you can put out some

really dodgy information and

there’s no repercussions, apart

from a bit of backlash.

“The second thing is, I asked five

CEOs what credibility and wellness

meant to them, and I got some

smashing answers – but they were

all different,” Sarah says. “We don’t

have a standard way of keeping

our communications credible.”

So, by working with the

University of Barcelona and the

University of Sheffield, WellSpoken

developed a framework. It offers

accreditation and the WellSpoken

Mark, to ensure consumers can

find trustworthy information, and

that those providing it are sharing

authentic, reliable, and evidencebased

content.

It’s an important step forward.

Given that the worldwide wellness

industry is worth 4.2 trillion

dollars, it’s big business. But

WellSpoken isn’t just about calling

out misinformation. It’s also

about supporting and developing

credible – and incredible – content.

And it’s also important we

move with the times. The way

we’re consuming information is

changing, so it’s not just the big

brands that need to be aware of

the impact they’re having.

“Often the way influencers make

money is by being an ambassador,”

Sarah explains, “or by being paid

to share content about products.

If you’re not experienced in that

field, you might end up promoting

something you wouldn’t ordinarily,

and it’s not maliciously done.”


I remember giving it back

with red marks and was met

with a response of: ‘This is

health and wellness, we don’t

have to be so stringent’

You may have seen the video

clips from an undercover BBC3

series, exposing this very issue.

Influencers, including Lauren

Goodger, were filmed agreeing

to promote a fake product called

Cyanora, without questioning the

poisonous ingredient hydrogen

cyanide.

Part of WellSpoken’s work has

involved researching the impact of

influencer behaviour, by analysing

more than 3,500 health and

wellness influencers, and offering

them data, and even guidance on

pricing, for posts.

But there’s still more work to be

done, Sarah insists. “We’re looking

at the psychology behind the

influencer-follower relationship –

how ‘followers’ interact with those

they follow, and how this might

cause them to drop their guard.

“For example, if they read

information in an article by an

unknown author, they would be

more likely to park that. But when

that same information comes from

someone they’ve put their trust

in, they are more open to receive

and act upon it – so influencer’s

can have even more responsibility

than a brand, in a way.”

With that responsibility,

WellSpoken suggests the following

four tenets every content producer

should abide by. “We use SOBI.

S stands for substantiation –

making sure you can reference

research and, where it’s personal

opinion, showing that really

clearly. O is is making sure you’re

not out of remit. B is balance. And

I is for incomplete – not leaving

out vital information.”

It’s an approach she hopes many

in the wellness industry will adopt

moving forwards!

Find out more about WellSpoken at

wearewellspoken.com and follow it

on Twitter @WellSpokenMark

Sarah will be at Live Well

London (28 Feb to 1 March),

speaking at ‘How To Be A

Credible Business in the

Wellbeing Industry’ and ‘Fact

or Fiction: What To Believe

When It Comes To Your

Wellbeing’. Find out more at

livewelllondon.com


How to stop resentment

building in your relationship

Occasional arguments can be a natural part of our relationships,

but is there a way to avoid upset and imbalances before they

develop into something more?

Writing | Bonnie Evie Gifford

Romantic

relationships can

be tricky things.

From keeping

track of the dayto-day,

to the dozens of tasks and

responsibilities on our plates (such

as remembering the birthday of a

family member you’ve never even

met), relationships can come with

a lot of added responsibilities.

For many, the imbalance in

emotional labour that can develop

leaves us feeling exhausted,

overstretched, stressed, and fedup.

As counsellor Laurele Mitchell

explains, when we feel that the

balance of our responsibilities

within a relationship is off, it can

lead to a whole host of problems.

“It’s incredibly stressful to take

responsibility for someone else,

to remember everything that

needs to be done – never mind to

do it – especially if we subjugate

our own needs in the process,”

Laurele explains. “It can lead to

bitterness and resentment, being

critical, and even contemptuous

of our partner, which all have

the potential to damage the

relationship, especially if our

partner is blissfully unaware of

the problem!”

Communication is key

The more stressed and under

pressure we feel, the more likely

we are to bottle things up. After

all, how can those around us not

see how overwhelmed we are?

Yet when we let these feelings

and overall sense of discontent

build, we risk making ourselves

feel worse.

“Effective communication is

the lifeblood of any relationship,

and the antidote to the impact of

emotional labour,” Laurele says.

But how can we start to do this, if

the effects of emotional labour are

already being felt?

“Firstly, articulating your

feelings honestly and respectfully

to your partner, with the view

of understanding one another,

rather than apportioning

blame, can actually deepen the

relationship, even if it feels risky

at first. Secondly, honouring our

feelings enough to articulate them

to another is empowering and

reminds us that we matter, too.”

...but how we communicate

with each other can differ

Relationship expert and

counsellor, Dr Kalanit Ben-

Ari explains that while

communication is key, how we

express ourselves (and our needs)

can vary greatly.

“When talking about emotional

labour in a relationship, it’s

important to note that women

and men express and regulate

their emotions differently. It’s not

that one gender is better than the

other, just that we communicate

emotions in what can appear

to be different languages, and

52 • happiful.com • March 2020


in different areas of life. It is

important for couples to learn

about their partner’s ‘language’,

and to communicate openly

and honestly about their own

experience. The goal is to move

away from blaming and shaming,

to collaboration, growth, and

possibilities.”

While we may think we are being

open and frank with how we are

feeling, sometimes our partners

can miss the signs – as can we.

“When one partner feels they

hold the emotional labour, but do

not communicate it in a way the

other can really understand and

share that responsibility, it can

lead to resentment. Having this

mindset not only disempowers

them but also prevents change

from happening.”

Focus on what you want – not

what you don’t

The way in which we frame and

share our feelings can have a

Effective communication is the

lifeblood of any relationship,

and the antidote to the impact

of emotional labour

March 2020 • happiful.com • 53


What is emotional labour?

In essence, emotional labour refers to

having to keep up a happy outward

facade, take on additional tasks (such as

housework and general life admin), or

take on an ‘organisational’ role at home,

which can often be seen as ‘nagging’

huge impact on how our partners

perceive – and react – to them. Dr

Ben-Ari suggests that we should

share our feelings from our own

perspective, focusing on small

steps and potential solutions we

can work towards together, rather

than looking to place the blame.

“For example, rather than saying,

‘I’m exhausted, you never care, I

need to take care of everything…’

say ‘I’m exhausted. I feel a lot is

going on for me. I would really

appreciate it if we can have one

dinner this week without the kids

to share and plan the next week.’

“Couples are much more aware

of what they don’t want, but

have little idea about what they

do want. When we put the focus

on what we are ‘not getting’ this

is what’s going to grow. Instead,

look at your partner through the

eyes of love. Appreciate what they

already do, ask for specific and

instructed support, and this is

what’s going to grow.”

Share the load

Resentment and discontent can

build not only when we feel like

we are taking on more than our

fair share, but also when one

partner feels like they need to

be ‘in charge’ of splitting the

workload.

It can be easy for one partner to

fall into a more ‘organisational’

role, where they feel like they

have to be responsible for tracking

every little thing from birthdays

and bills, to chores. Yet we may

not realise that our partners, too,

may be feeling there are areas they

are shouldering the load.

For example, I found myself

growing frustrated that my

partner expected me to have a

list of chores ready for him

each weekend; couldn’t he

just as easily figure out what

needed doing? It wasn’t until we

talked about it, that we realised

by having this list, it helped

him to feel less overwhelmed

and distracted with the sheer

number of ‘little things’ that

regularly add up.

Identify what works for you

Splitting everything 50/50 may

sound like the ideal way to go,

but finding the best way to

balance the load can vary greatly,

depending on your relationship

and needs. By focusing instead

on talking and working together

to find compromises, you can

both be happy with, you can

ensure that you each feel happier

with your responsibilities. We

each have our own strengths and

54 • happiful.com • March 2020


Couples are much more

aware of what they don’t

want, but have little idea

about what they do want

weaknesses; it’s OK to keep

these in mind and to work

with, not around, these needs.

Consider speaking

with an expert

If you’re worried that the

communication in your

relationship may have

broken down, speaking with

a relationship therapist or

couples counsellor could help.

While a counsellor will not ‘give

you the answer’, they can help to

create a safe space where you can

talk openly and confidentially,

without worrying that they will

‘take sides’.

When you have been with

someone for a long time, it can

be easy for communication to

break down without realising

it. Speaking with an objective,

unconnected third party can

help you to gain new insight and

perspective into issues that may be

clear or more covert.

To find out more about relationship

counselling and emotional labour,

download the Happiful app, or visit

relate.org.uk for relationship help

and advice.

March 2020 • happiful.com • 55



Dreaming, after all, is

a form of planning

– GLORIA STEINEM

Photography | Ian Dooley


TRUE LIFE

Finally free

to be me

The impact of Naphtaly’s polycystic ovary syndrome

isn’t just physical, but mental too. She struggled with

depression and loving herself for years, but has finally

found a way to nourish herself, and find peace

Writing | Naphtaly Maria Zimmerman

Suffering with

your mental

health is not easy.

And I should

know, having struggled

with my mental health

for more than a decade.

During adolescence, I

experienced anxiety and

stress due to my polycystic

ovary syndrome (PCOS).

By the age of 16, this

developed into low moods,

causing anxiety and selfhatred.

At 17, I moved to

London to study, but had

no social connections

there at that point. My

depression became worse,

causing me to feel like my

energy and motivation

were drained. But none

of this compared to the

feeling that I had lost

myself and my identity.

During my bachelor’s

degree at university in

2014, it became harder

and harder. I felt caged

inside my own mind,

dying to be free. I had

a rage inside of me, all

I was doing was taking

medications for my PCOS,

and whatever the doctor

had prescribed did not

work for me at all.

It was hard to focus on

my studies – in class I felt

numb, and even lonelier.

I didn’t know how to

manage my anger and

depression. Carbs, alcohol,

and sugary sweets made

it easier to survive those

stressful days, but only

for a short period of time.

I started talking really

negatively towards myself.

Can you imagine spending

24 hours a day inside your

head, with only negative

thoughts for company? I

couldn’t find equilibrium.

When I turned 19, I

started partying a lot,

which was hard as I was

working full-time while

going to university.

The amount of pain

I had from the PCOS

was increasing with an

imbalanced menstrual

cycle, and I was putting

on a lot of weight, even

when eating healthy and

exercising. I was going six

to eight months, or even

a year, without having

a period, then having

them last from four to six

months long. Not only

was my mental health

affected, but also my

physical health.

During those times, it

was hard to accept who I

was seeing in the mirror.

I had spots on my face

and I began wearing loads

of makeup to hide the

person underneath it,

which didn’t help. There

were days where I locked

myself inside my room

without seeing daylight,

without seeing or talking

to anybody. The worst part

was that I was ashamed to

tell my parents, friends,

or partner how I felt,

because I didn’t want them

to feel sorry for me. When

I began explaining to a

few friends and colleagues

about the way I felt, it

was always one answer,

which was “It’s only in

your head” or “You’ll get

over it.”

At the age of 22, I was

feeling rejected, sad,

unmotivated, and things

weren’t going well in

everything from my

personal life to my career.

I hated feeling like there

was no spark in my soul. >>>

March 2020 • happiful.com • 57


I felt caged inside

my own mind,

dying to be free

I wanted to only spend

time with myself; all I

wanted was to be in my

own sad little world.

But I had – and still have

– my amazing supportive

partner who was always

there to help me through

this process.

In 2017, during my final

year at university, I was

feeling exhausted and

drained, but I didn’t want

to feel that way anymore.

I went to the doctor to

get help with my PCOS.

I looked myself in the

mirror, and asked myself:

is this how I want to feel?

My answer was no, I

wanted help, I wanted to

be myself and happy.

I’ve tried numerous

things to combat my

depression – I changed

jobs, went on frequent

holidays, exercised, ate

healthily, spent time off

social media, had herbal

teas. The list goes on, and

it was tiring. But nothing

seemed to work.

In 2017, I had an idea:

why not create something

for relaxation without

breaking the bank? I

wanted to provide and

practise self-care within

the comfort of my home,

so I started to investigate

what was needed. I

thought home fragrances

and skincare would be

a great way to start, and

launched NaphtalyWorld

in summer 2017. This was

the start of me being able

to accept my depression,

and start on the road of

recovery. I used to see

my mental illness as an

affliction. But now it’s a

part of who I am, and I’m

comfortable discussing it

openly now.

I realised that I had

to learn to forgive

myself, and show more

compassion towards

myself. Now, I keep a

gratitude journal and write

positive things in it every

day. I have a healthy diet,

exercise more often, and

58 • happiful.com • March 2020


Find out more about Naphtaly

at naphtalyworld.com

I don’t beat myself

up for having a

bad mental health

moment, or day, or

week anymore

travel when I can. I also

have positive affirmations

posted all over my house,

and I make sure to practise

mindfulness daily.

I am now better at

looking after myself, and

do more for me. I go on

solo-dates to restaurants,

the opera, movies,

holidays, and generally

make myself a priority.

I don’t beat myself up

for having a bad mental

health moment, or day, or

week anymore.

My business has been

a game-changer for me,

not only because I’m

doing something I love,

but because I can share

my story with others

who are also living with

depression and PCOS, or

are looking for a new way

of improving their health

and wellbeing.

Now, for the first time

in my life, I am more

than happy and feel at

peace with myself. I am a

health and wellness coach,

dedicated to helping

others and myself. I run an

award-winning skincare

and home fragrance

business, and I am writing

a wellness cookbook to be

published this year. I hold

wellness events, do public

speaking, and much more.

My journey has taught

me the importance of

health and wellbeing for

creating a balance of good

nutrition, good health,

and happiness in one’s

life. I hope my words

give you the strength and

knowledge you need to

act as your own advocate,

and the power to create

change in your life –

starting from today. Many

women learn to manage

PCOS naturally. For me,

I have learned not to let

this affect me mentally

anymore – everyone is

different, and trust me,

you are not alone.

Please know that there

is no quick fix or magic

potion to cure depression

or PCOS, along with

many other mental health

conditions, but there is

still so much hope for

those affected. Help is all

around you – yes, it often

does take a lot of hard

work and courage, but you

will get there.

OUR EXPERT SAYS

Naphtaly’s story is one

of inspiration. Gradually

people are recognising just

how many of us struggle

with mental health. It’s also

not unusual for our physical

health to impact upon it too.

What’s fantastic is Naphtaly

found a way through her

darkest days – what’s more is

she’s willing to share it.

The more we feel able to

open up to others, the lighter

the burden becomes. It also

enables us to find a new path

through our struggles – for

Naphtaly that was through

her business.

There’s always

a way through

– it begins with

sharing your

story!

Rachel Coffey | BA MA NLP Mstr

Life coach

March 2020 • happiful.com • 59


How to de-stress

in five simple steps

Writing | Kat Nicholls Illustrating | Rosan Magar

Sometimes stress builds up, and you feel totally overwhelmed. When

this happens, you need tools that work in the moment to

help you feel relaxed and in control

60 • happiful.com • March 2020


W

e all know that

too much stress

isn’t good for

us. As well as

damaging our

mental and physical health, it can

cause problems at work and in

our relationships.

But taking action can be easier

said than done. Making time

for self-care, reaching out for

support, and getting enough

sleep, are all fantastic for keeping

us calm, but let’s be realistic,

sometimes circumstances don’t

allow for this.

There are times in our lives

when things build up, and the

feeling of being overwhelmed hits

you like a brick wall. When this

happens, getting up from your

desk at work to go to a yoga class,

or saying “Sorry kids, I need some

me-time, make your own dinner”

isn’t always possible.

This is why having some tools

to lower stress is so important.

The following steps can help you

do just that.

1 SAY ‘STOP’

Often when we’re stressed,

our thinking becomes too fast

and we spiral into panic. The

trick to getting out of this is

self-awareness. As soon as you

recognise what’s happening, say

the word ‘stop’, ideally out-loud –

but in your head is fine, too.

The ‘stop’ technique (or thoughtstopping)

is often used in cognitive

behavioural therapy (CBT) to help

prevent obsessive or worrying

thoughts from taking over. By

recognising what’s happening,

you have the opportunity to

change your way of thinking.

2 FOCUS ON YOUR BREATHING

A good step to take after using the

stop technique is to deepen your

breathing. When we’re stressed,

we take more shallow breaths, and

this can lead to physical anxiety

symptoms such as dizziness and

chest pain.

To counter this, try to breathe

from your belly and exhale a little

longer than you inhale. The 4-7-

8 breathing technique is great at

reducing anxiety and stress – simply

breathe in for four seconds, hold for

seven, and breathe out for eight.

3 VISUALISE YOURSELF

SOMEWHERE LOVELY

This may sound incredibly simple,

but a little visualisation can go a

long way. Imagine yourself in a calm

setting, somewhere quiet, and really

allow yourself to be there. Maybe

you’re on a beach, in your childhood

home, or a tranquil garden. Find

a place you feel safe. Remember a

time you felt calm, confident and in

control. Recall how you felt, and let

your body respond.

4 USE THE WOOP TECHNIQUE

Developed by psychotherapist

Gabriele Oettingen, the WOOP

technique can be a powerful way

to move past mental blocks. Take

a few minutes to think about the

following:

Wish – what is your wish or hope

right now?

Outcome – what is the ideal

outcome?

Obstacle – what might be getting in

your way?

Plan – what is one action you can

take? Make the following plan: “If

[obstacle], then I will [action or

thought].”

Imagine yourself

in a calm setting,

somewhere

quiet, and really

allow yourself to

be there

5 LISTEN TO YOUR

FAVOURITE MUSIC

Classical music has been shown

to slow heart rate, lower blood

pressure, and reduce stress

hormones. But if classical isn’t your

thing, any music you love will give

your mood a lift. Find something

that reminds you of a happy

memory and, if you can, have a

five-minute dance party!

Use these techniques when

things get busy, but try not to rely

on them solely for reducing your

stress. There are times when stress

is unavoidable, but it’s important to

recognise when it’s taking over and

becoming a daily feature.

If you’re finding stress is

affecting your health, you need

to think long-term. It’s always

worth speaking to your GP, but

you may also want to try talking

therapies such as CBT to help

you understand the link between

thoughts and behaviours, or

hypnotherapy which can help you

change your response to stress.

Stress affects us in many ways but

there are also a variety of methods

to tackle it, so don’t worry – the

right help is out there for you.

March 2020 • happiful.com • 61


Bellissimo!

Pasta recipes to make you weak at the knees

Writing | Ellen Hoggard

Sometimes, nothing

beats a warming bowl

of pasta. It’s cheap and

cheerful, and you don’t

need to be a Michelinstarred

chef to whip up something

mouth-watering. By dabbling in

the world of seasonal vegetables,

and mixing up your sauces, you

can make a pasta recipe go a long

way – cooking in bulk to feed

you for a whole week, while also

providing you with more than

your five-a-day.

Nowadays, it’s a lot easier to

accomodate for allergies, too. With

pasta varieties in abundance, and

many alternative dairy products

now available, there’s nothing

stopping us all from getting out the

big pot and whipping up a bowl of

delicious, but nutritious goodness.

Vegetarian Bolognese

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 onion

1 large carrot

1 courgette

1 red pepper

200g mushrooms

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp garlic

1 tsp dried mixed herbs

2 tbsp tomato paste

1 tbsp vegetable stock concentrate

400g can chopped tomatoes

400g spaghetti

40g parmesan, grated

Method

• Slice the onion. In a pan, heat

the oil and cook the onion until

soft. Chop the carrot, courgette,

pepper and mushrooms into

small chunks and add to the pan.

Sauté for 5 minutes.

• Add the garlic, dried herbs and

mix. Add the tomato paste,

vegetable stock and chopped

tomatoes. Bring to boil, then

simmer for 20 minutes.

• In a large pan of boiling water,

add the spaghetti and boil for

10–12 mins.

• Drain the spaghetti and divide

into 4 bowls. Add the vegetable

bolognese with a sprinkling of

cheese. Serve hot with an optional

side salad.

Grilled Asparagus

& Pesto Spaghetti

Serves 4

Ingredients

25g basil

25g flat leaf parsley

1 tsp garlic

100g green olives

2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted

40g parmesan, grated

2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra

for brushing

230g asparagus, trimmed

and halved

300g wholewheat spaghetti

Salt and pepper

Method

• In a food processor, add the

herbs, olives, pine nuts and

parmesan. Combine until coarse.

Add a glug of oil and combine

until a smooth, green pesto.

Set aside.

• Preheat a griddle pan, or the grill.

Brush the asparagus with a little

oil and cook for 10–12 minutes,

turning regularly until tender.

• Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in

a large pan of boiling water for

10–12 minutes.

• Drain the spaghetti and return

to the pan. Add the pesto and

asparagus and stir. Serve in

bowls with an extra sprinkling

of parmesan and black pepper.

Enjoy.


OUR EXPERT SAYS…

Vegetarian Bolognese

This is a great recipe to batch

cook and store in the freezer for

busy evenings. The large variety

of vegetables offers a myriad of

good bacteria, promoting healthy

bacterial diversity in the gut.

The carrots and red peppers

are loaded with vitamin C and A,

benefitting the immune system

and skin. These well-cooked

vegetables will be easy to digest,

while rich in fibre, which should

help stable blood sugar levels.

I would suggest opting for

fresh vegetable stock instead of

concentrate, to benefit from the

added antioxidants, and enhance

the nutrition-density of this recipe.

Grilled Asparagus

& Pesto Spaghetti

I love the use of fresh basil and

parsley. Not only do they add

flavour, but they also offer a

myriad of nutritional qualities!

Parsley is well-known for

promoting bowel motility and

decreasing bloating, while basil is

highly regarded for its immuneenhancing

properties.

The basil and pine nuts make a

feisty immune-boosting combo,

while the nuts also offer a dose

of healthy fats for satiety, and

minerals, such as magnesium (for

sleep), zinc (for skin), and iron (for

healthy red blood cells).

You could swap asparagus for a

more seasonal vegetable, such as

purple sprouting broccoli.

Find a nutritionist near you at nutritionist-resource.org.uk

Josephine (Beanie) Robinson

is a nutritional therapist,

yoga and meditation teacher,

and co-founder of The Health

Space. Find out more at

thehealth-space.com


10 nutrition

myths debunked

We all want to live healthier lives, but with so much nutritional information online

and on social media, how can we separate the facts from the fiction?

Jenna Farmer chats to the experts to debunk the myths around

healthy eating, and shares their top tips for a healthier you

The myth: Going gluten-free

will improve your gut health

The myth: Carbohydrates cause you to gain weight

The reality: Unless you have an

allergy or intolerance, a glutenfree

diet really is no healthier

than one with gluten in it. “For the

majority of people, going glutenfree

is not going to improve gut

health. However for the 1% of

the population who have coeliac

disease it is of course essential,”

explains Dr Sammie Gill, a

dietitian who specialises in gut

health. If you suspect gluten is

a problem for you, ask your GP

to test you for coeliac disease,

but don’t cut out any food group

without medical advice.

But what about those food

intolerance tests we see on social

media? Registered nutritionist Dr

Laura Wyness urges her clients

to be wary. “Many allergy tests

have no scientific basis, and can

be harmful when multiple foods

are excluded without reason – not

to mention a waste of money!”

Laura advises any testing should

always be done under medical

supervision with the support of a

dietitian.

The reality: We’ve all heard the

mantra ‘no carbs before Marbs’,

but is it true that tucking into

carbohydrates can cause weight

gain? Absolutely not. The NHS

advises that there’s very little

evidence that ditching carbs can

help with weight loss, and that

tucking into healthier whole grain

carbohydrates, like brown pasta

and rye bread, actually offers a

whole host of benefits.

64 • happiful.com • March 2020


The myth: Eat five pieces of fruit

and veg a day to stay healthy

The reality: Five-a-day is

certainly a good target to aim

for, but it’s not quite as simple

as that. “Some research suggests

seven, or even 10 per day, is

actually optimal,” explains

nutritionist Anna Mapson. But

however much fruit and veg you

manage to consume, don’t go

reaching for the same produce

time and time again. “Smoothies

can help with upping your

intake, but they reduce the

amount of fibre, so you

shouldn’t have more than one a

day. Instead, aim for variety to

keep your gut microbes happy,”

Anna adds.

The myth: It’s difficult to get

enough protein on a vegan diet

The myth: We all need to up our fibre intake

The reality: There’s no denying

that fibre is vital for a healthy gut,

but it’s not as simple as reaching

for the Bran Flakes. “Different

fibres behave in different ways

when they reach the gut, so

variety through different sources

(such as wholegrains, fruit, veg,

nuts, seeds, and legumes) is

key,” advises Dr Sammie Gill.

“In some circumstances you can

have too much of a good thing.

For example, with irritable bowel

syndrome (IBS), certain types of

fibre can aggravate symptoms,

and increasing fibre too quickly

may actually worsen symptoms

temporarily.” Therefore, if your

gut is sensitive, quickly upping

your fibre isn’t the answer. It’s

worth keeping a food diary, paying

attention to the types of fibre

you consume, and increasing

it gradually to avoid digestive

discomfort. Those with medical

conditions, such as inflammatory

bowel disease and diverticulitis,

are sometimes advised to follow

a low fibre diet to help with

symptoms.

The reality: This one has an

element of truth in it. Make

the switch without doing any

research and you could find it

tricky. However, with a little

forward thinking, it’s perfectly

possible to tuck into plenty of

protein-rich meals on a vegan

diet. “Vegan protein intake

requires careful planning, but

can be achieved,” explains

Anna Mapson. “Ensure you’re

eating protein at every meal.

Plant-rich sources include

tofu, beans, pulses, and nuts.

Most people underestimate

how much protein is actually

plant-based – one cup of beans

is around 8–9g of the 50g of

protein you need a day.” Beans

on toast for dinner it is then... >>>

March 2020 • happiful.com • 65


The myth: Switch to

sugar-free alternatives

to help with cravings

The reality: Many sugar-free

drinks and sweet treats rely on

artificial sweeteners such as

aspartame. A recent overview

of studies found that these

sugar substitutes actually offer

no health benefits, and aren’t

linked to weight loss.

Find more

nutritional

info on the

Happiful app

Generally

superfoods are

expensive, but

common vegetables

like carrots, cabbages

or blackberries, are

packed with just as

many nutrients

The myth: You need to

splash out on superfoods

to be healthy

The reality: Hands up if you’ve

dashed out to buy the latest

superfoods – such as kale

and pomegranate – without

really understanding the

hype. There’s nothing wrong

with these products, but

you’ll often find the health

benefits elsewhere – at a much

cheaper price. “Superfood is

a marketing term,” explains

nutritionist Anna Mapson.

“Generally superfoods are

expensive, but common

vegetables like carrots,

cabbages or blackberries,

are packed with just as many

nutrients.” Save your cash and

spend it on a rainbow of fruit

and veg instead.

66 • happiful.com • March 2020


The myth: Not eating after

7pm helps you to lose weight

The reality: What time you

tuck into that cheeseburger

and fries really makes no

difference to how many

calories are in it. You might

find it more comfortable to eat

a heavier meal at lunchtime

(and find this helps with things

like bloating and heartburn),

but that’s about it!

The myth: Alkaline diets

prevent the body from

becoming too acidic

The reality: Alkaline diets have

been on the scene for years

now, but do they actually have

any truth in them? Dr Laura

Wyness says no. “It stems from

the idea our blood PH can

change according to our diet,

but if food changed our blood

PH we’d be in a lot of trouble!

Our body constantly regulates

the PH of our blood to ensure

it stays within a PH of 7.35 to

7.45 to prevent us from dying.

Alkaline foods include lots of

fruit and vegetables, so in lots

of ways it can be healthy, but

not because of the impact on

our body’s PH level!”

The myth: Everybody should

detox on a regular basis

The reality: It’s often been

said that a regular detox

(whether that’s through a juice

cleanse, fasting, or cutting

out food groups from your

diet) is necessary for optimal

health, but the truth is that

your body already does this

on a daily basis. Our bodies

detox in a number of ways – in

fact yours is probably doing

so right now! Essentially, our

bodily systems can flush out

‘toxins’ every time you take

a deep breath, go to the loo,

sweat, or even get your period.

And the good news is that it’s

perfectly capable of doing it

without our help. While you

don’t need to embark on detox

cleanses, ditching habits, like

excessive alcohol consumption

and smoking, does make it that

little bit easier for your body to

do its job!

What time

you tuck into that

cheeseburger and

fries really makes

no difference to

how many calories

are in it

Jenna Farmer is a freelance

journalist who specialises in writing

about gut health. She has Crohn’s

disease and blogs about her

journey to improve gut health at

abalancedbelly.co.uk

March 2020 • happiful.com • 67


Book

Review

Gloves Off

Raw. Relatable. Re-readable. Unforgettable.

Writing | Bonnie Evie Gifford

When it

comes

to books

for teens,

the topic

of bullying isn’t exactly

new. It’s something

that, by the time we

reach adulthood and

are finally able to

start making our own

decisions, we will

have encountered in

some form or another.

And yet, somehow,

Louisa Reid’s young

adult novel, Gloves Off,

manages to encapsulate

the whole, horrid

experience in what

feels like a unique and

visceral way.

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Written in poetic verse,

Lily, a teen in secondary

school, shares her

experience of being

mercilessly, physically

and emotionally bullied.

When a particularly

bad incident forces

Lily to open up about

her experiences, she is

introduced to boxing

as a way to confront

her fears, stand up for

herself, and own her

own space.

Split between Lily’s

perspective and her

mother, Bernadette’s,

thoughts and feelings,

it’s easy to become

swept away with

Lily’s journey from

victimhood to learning

to take charge of her

life, and discovering her

voice. An emotionally

taxing read, Lily’s

journey feels as

refreshingly authentic

as it is frustrating.

ADULT INFLUENCES

From our personal

expectations to our

world view, the adults

around us shape us

more than we might

realise. Throughout

Gloves Off, we see how

Lily’s life, experiences,

and expectations, have

been affected by those

around her. From her

distinctly working-class

background and the

unsafe estate in which

she lives, we see how

the pressure to succeed

can be as stifling as

it can be a source of

strength.

While Lily’s

relationships with her

mother, who shares

many of the same

weight and confidence

struggles, and her

father – a supportive

and loving, if albeit at

times absent, figure –

create a complex, often

thought-provoking

backdrop, it is Lily’s

school life that is one

of the most frustrating

aspects of her story.

Highlighting the

failings of over-worked,

under-experienced

young teachers, it

feels like Lily is being

failed by a system

that should be there

to make everyone feel

safe and included.

While Lily seems able

to brush off the failings

of her teachers, as a

reader, I was left feeling

frustrated and angry

on her behalf. And this,

in many ways, is how

the author succeeds

in creating such a

believable, and heart-

68 • happiful.com • March 2020


wrenching story; we see

genuine human failings,

rather than easily

dismissable villains or

malicious intentions

from those around her.

SHOULD I BUY IT?

Yes. If, like me, you’re

unfamiliar with fiction

written in poetic verse,

it can take a little

while to get used to

the format, however

it’s easy to become

lost in the rhythm and

authenticity of Lily and

Bernadette’s voices. The

stylistic choices help

readers to feel more

connected with Lily

in particular, and her

thoughts and feelings

as you experience each

twist and turn along

with her.

For teen and young

adult readers, getting

a glimpse into Lily’s

mother’s perspective

offers a truly unique

take. Highlighting

the delicate balance

between how parents

can teach and guide

us, and how they risk

passing on their own

insecurities and fears

to their children, it

feels like both parents

and teens alike can

each get something

different, yet equally

as valuable, from

reading Gloves Off.

Offering a stark

reminder of how

cruel teens can be,

Gloves Off is not only

a must-read for teens

who have experienced

bullying themselves,

If you liked this, you’ll love...

but is an important

narrative for all of us.

Intrinsically, we want

to fit in – we want

to be liked. Gloves

Off reminds us that

using cruel words – or

turning away when

we see behaviour that

we know isn’t right –

can have a significant

impact, perhaps just

as much as that of

those who are actively,

overtly bullying

others.

Touching on so many

important subjects,

from self-loathing

to suicidal thoughts,

friendship to social

isolation, fat-shaming

to building selfesteem,

Gloves Off is

simply a must-read, no

matter your age.

Must

Reads

To find out more

about spotting the

signs of bullying,

and advice for

teachers, parents

and employers,

visit counsellingdirectory.org.uk

Gloves Off

by Louisa Reid

Paperback available

from 5 March 2020

(Guppy Books, £7.99)

Great for…

No Big Deal

by Bethany Rutter

What If

by Anna Russell

Being Miss

Nobody by

Tasmin Winter

• Teens looking to see

the wider impact of

bullying

• Parents with teens

Emily knows she’s smart,

funny, awesome – and fat. She

doesn’t need anyone else to

tell her these things; she likes

herself and her body – it’s time

everyone else caught up.

Written in poetic verse,

Russell’s latest novel

explores mental health,

OCD, and the impact our

struggles can have on

friends and family.

Rosalind hates her new school,

and is an easy target. Creating

a new blog, Miss Nobody,

Rosalind finds a place to speak

up. But has Miss Nobody

become a bully herself?

• Anyone who has

struggled with

their weight, selfconfidence,

or

bullying

March 2020 • happiful.com • 69


Acupuncture

Getting to the point

It’s thought to have been around for more than 5,000 years, and today it’s used

alongside standard treatments as an alternative therapy that promises to be the

solution to a number of complaints, from chronic pain to mood control. So what

can you expect from an acupuncture appointment? Happiful’s Kathryn Wheeler

took to the treatment chair to find out

Illustrating | Rosan Magar

For me, acupuncture

is the Big Foot of

alternative therapies.

Everyone knows

someone who

knows someone who’s tried it,

and there are plenty of myths

and unanswered questions that

surround it. Does it hurt? How

can having needles systematically

tapped into your skin be relaxing?

And, vitally, does it work?

Acupuncture is used as a

complementary therapy to soothe

complaints about everything from

muscle and body pain, to stress,

anxiety and depression. Using

very fine needles that are tucked

under the skin at specific points

on the body, the practice is based

on traditional Chinese medicine

which believes that life energy

flows through us. It’s thought

that this energy can get stuck

or blocked, causing pain or low

mood, but that it can be relieved by

the needles, restoring our balance.

While some modern practitioners

embrace this traditional belief,

many now work alongside Western

medical practices, viewing it as a

means of tapping into neurological

systems, and a way to complement

formal diagnoses and treatments.

Eager to find out more, I headed

to therapist Toni Hennings,

at Crowthorne Health, to try

acupuncture for myself.

I’ll admit, before I arrived, I was

feeling apprehensive. I don’t have

a fear of needles, as such, though

the thought of what was about

to happen did make me a little

nervous. But my fears were soon

put to bed.

To begin the session, we sat down

to chat about my medical history.

Of the 90-minute appointment,

this took up the bulk of the time as

Toni meticulously worked through

everything from childhood

illnesses, to my general lifestyle –

reassuring me that no stone would

be left unturned, and that the

treatment would be tailored to my

specific needs.

I got undressed and lay face down

on a massage table, as Toni began to

gently press up and down my back,

either side of my spine, feeling for

where to insert the needles. She

told me to take a deep breath in,

Try this at home

While it’s not a good idea to

experiment with acupuncture

on yourself, you can try pushing

certain pressure points with

your fingers to relieve stress and

anxiety.

Feeling worked up or

overwhelmed? Run your finger

down your pinkie and into your

wrist crease, keeping it in line

with your little finger. Pressing

firmly on this point is thought

to alleviate anxiety and help to

regulate your emotions.

and then on the out-breath, she

tapped in the first needle.

To say I didn’t feel anything would

be a lie... I did feel the needle go in,

and as she worked down my back,

some areas were more sensitive

than others. It was a small prick,

like you may expect, but there was

no pain once they were in place –

and as she left me with the needles

in my back for a few minutes, I

soon forgot they were there, and

began to feel calm and relaxed.

After a short time, Toni removed

the needles, and I slowly got up to

70 • happiful.com • March 2020


sit back on the table. Moving on to

target points specifically chosen

to ease stress and anxiety, she put

two needles in my knees and in

my wrists. Now, honestly, these

points tested my cringe-factor.

It’s not every day that you spend

a morning sitting with needles in

your soft spots, but I closed my

eyes and breathed through the

taps, soon settling back into the

calm place I was before.

Following the session, we

reflected on how the treatment

went, discussing how acupuncture

could be used long-term to manage

mood – and touching on how, often,

people who come for a physical

problem will find the wellness

benefits are just as powerful.

For me, I left feeling energised

and intrigued about the potential

that acupuncture has to be an

effective treatment across so many

different areas. And that night I

slept soundly straight through to

my alarm, something Toni had

predicted would happen.

If you have any hang-ups about

whether the treatment will be

painful, let me put your mind

at ease – you may feel a small

prick, but make sure to breathe

through the insertion and you will

be fine. For those uncomfortable

with needles, you probably don’t

need me to say that this may

not be the treatment for you.

But with a relaxed mindset, and

good communication with your

therapist, acupuncture can be a

great complementary therapy that

gets straight to the point of your

concerns.

Visit crowthornehealth.co.uk

to find out more, or head to

therapy-directory.org.uk to

discover therapists in your area.


72 • happiful.com • March 2020


Why is getting

anxiety

medication

so anxiety

inducing?

When you live with

anxiety, certain tasks can

feel overwhelming – none

more so than booking an

appointment with your

doctor for support

Writing | Kat Nicholls

Standing in front of my

wardrobe, looking at what

clothes I should pack

for a weekend away, I

started to cry. My anxiety was at

its worst; the simplest of tasks felt

impossible.

When you have anxiety, your

thinking gets very fast and your

brain works overtime. Your

body reacts accordingly – cue

symptoms like chest pain,

nausea and dizziness – putting

you in a constant state of fight or

flight. This can leave very little

headspace for decision-making

and carrying out simple tasks.

It’s no wonder that, for many of

us living with anxiety, life admin

often falls to the bottom of our

to-do list. This can be even

more pertinent when it comes

to tasks involving our anxiety,

such as booking a doctor’s

appointment, or getting repeat

prescriptions.

Before we can get the help we need,

we often need to overcome obstacles.

Some of these are in our mind, and

some are very much in the real

world. But whatever obstacles you

are facing, there are ways to leapfrog

them, and get the support you need. >>>

March 2020 • happiful.com • 73


THE OBSTACLE: TALKING

TO A DOCTOR

“With mental health conditions

that aren’t always visible, like

anxiety, people can worry that

others – including their doctor –

won’t believe them,” counsellor

Sarah Lane explains. “Sometimes

clients are socially anxious, and

seeing an authority figure, such as

their GP, might be challenging for

them, as they fear being judged.”

Sadly the fear of not being

believed can, in some cases, come

from experience. Jessica Pardoe

tells me how she was affected

when the first doctor she visited

about panic attacks dismissed her.

“It caused me to totally resent

the idea of talking to a medical

professional about the way I was

feeling again for some time. Every

time I went to the GP I considered

bringing it up, but had that usual

twang of anxiety that stopped me

from doing so.”

With encouragement from her

boyfriend, Jessica was able to go

to a different doctor and received

the support and medication she

needed. The experience does still

come up in her mind, however,

when she goes for check-ups.

“I’d love it if initiatives could

be introduced to help curb the

anxiousness that doctor’s surgeries

and pharmacies bring about.

Perhaps less intimidating decor,

or finding a new way to book in

patients for appointments without

them having to state what they're

visiting for – which, if you live with

anxiety, is awful.”

HOW TO OVERCOME IT

First of all, remember that you

deserve to be heard. If you have

a bad experience, or

aren’t comfortable

speaking to a certain

doctor, you can

request to talk to

another. If you’re

worried about leaving

the house, or being at

the doctor’s surgery

itself, ask your doctor

if they offer telephone

assessments, or home

visits. If they can’t,

they may be able to

recommend a quieter

time for you to book an

appointment.

It can help to have

someone attend your

appointment with you

for support, and some

GP practices also allow

other people to book

appointments for you.

If talking about your

mental health worries

you, Sarah encourages

you to remember

the facts: “Anxiety

is very common;

a high percentage

of your doctor’s patients will

also have anxiety, so they are

likely to understand what you’re

experiencing and how it might be

affecting you.”

THE OBSTACLE: GETTING

APPOINTMENTS AND

PRESCRIPTIONS

According to GPonline, nearly

three quarters of GPs in the UK

reported a rise in appointments

over the past year in their practice.

With more appointments and

not enough doctors to help,

delays in getting appointments

If you’re unhappy with the

service you’re receiving, you

can make a complaint. You

can do this directly, following

the surgery’s complaints

procedure, which should be

available on their website. If

the problem isn’t resolved,

you can complain to the NHS

Commissioning Board, email:

contactus@nhs.net or call

0300 311 22 33.

and medication are sometimes

inevitable.

“The biggest problem with

getting medication for anxiety is

actually booking to see a doctor,”

Ben Taylor tells me.

74 • happiful.com • March 2020


What matters is that you are

able to access any healthcare

treatment that you need

“Both myself and my sister got

knocked back because the nurses

at our practice can’t talk about

mental health issues. So you build

yourself up to go, and end up

leaving empty handed and told to

book again with someone else...

which you don’t.”

In 2019, changes in legislation

allowed advanced paramedics

to prescribe medication, and

Ben says this has made a real

difference in his area. Having said

this, it’s clear that availability and

waiting times for appointments

are ongoing issues.

HOW TO OVERCOME IT

The best approach here is to

get familiar with your doctor’s

surgery, and do your homework.

Find out the best ways to book an

appointment and ask about typical

waiting times.

Apps like Patient Access and

MyGP may also be able to

help. These allow you to book

appointments, pharmacy services,

and access medical content easily.

Speak to your doctors about the

booking services that they’re

supported by.

THE OBSTACLE: REMEMBERING

TO ORDER REPEAT

PRESCRIPTIONS

When you first start taking a

new medication, you’ll need

to have regular appointments

with your doctor to ensure it’s

helping you. While this can feel

stressful, we all react differently

to medication and it’s important

to be monitored initially. You may

need adjustments to ensure what

you’re taking is working as well as

possible.

For Dan Francis, getting past this

point to a place where he could

order repeat prescriptions made

things easier. However, he found

it tricky to remember to order

medication before he ran out.

“The main way to get medication

when this happens is to contact the

doctor’s practice and request an

emergency prescription, but this

can take up to five days to be ready.

“For a few months I was

limited to a two-week supply as

I was forced to see a doctor for a

check-up... even though the next

appointment I could book was

in a month’s time. This meant I

had to keep putting in emergency

prescriptions to the doctor’s

practice just so I could have

enough to keep me going.”

HOW TO OVERCOME IT

For Dan, help came in the form of

technical assistance. He was able

to use the Patient Access app to

order repeat prescriptions to be

delivered to his local pharmacy

and used calendar reminders to

prompt him.

“Setting reminders in my

calendar in advance so I

knew when to order my next

prescription really helped take

the pressure off worrying about

forgetting it.”

There are several services

available to help you order repeat

prescriptions easily, including

Healthera, Well, and Echo

Pharmacy. Speak to your doctor

and find out which services are

available in your area.

Finally, when it comes to both

booking appointments and

getting prescriptions, Sarah

advises us to not put them off.

“When we avoid things,

although it makes us feel better

in the short term, in the longer

term it tends to increase our

anxiety. Try to put aside worries

about what other people – GPs,

receptionists, pharmacists,

assistants – think of you. What

really matters is that you are

able to access any healthcare

treatment that you need.”

Keeping up with appointments

and taking any prescribed

medication is, ultimately, a form

of self-care. Try to see it in this

way, and lean on the support of

loved ones, and even apps, when

you need to.

Learn more about Sarah Lane’s

work and find support for anxiety at

counselling-directory.org.uk

March 2020 • happiful.com • 75


PUKKA-UP

Romance isn’t dead – it’s just not always

as easy as it once was. We delve into

the secrets to a long-lasting relationship

with the digital parenting superstar duo,

Mother and Papa Pukka, who reveal

their top tips to rediscover your

long-term love...

Writing | Gemma Calvert

When does the gloss

dull on a shiny,

happy marriage? For

author, presenter

and journalist Anna Whitehouse,

it was precisely eight years and

two children after saying “I do” –

the moment she discovered one

of her husband’s jagged toenail

clippings in her cosmetics bag.

“That was the straw that broke

the camel’s back,” admits Anna,

whose filter-free parenting blog,

Mother Pukka, has become a

go-to for frazzled parents. Over

the past six years, Anna has

“cracked open the very real

issues” of her life, sharing her

innermost feelings with her

241,000 Instagram followers,

about everything from five

miscarriages, PTSD, anxiety and

postnatal depression, to working

in pyjamas, getting “spangled”

with her mum on a rare night out,

and swimming with two kids (FYI

don’t do it).

During the hard

times, Anna, 38,

credits her hubby

– fellow journalist

Matt Farquharson,

43 – with being her

rock. She recalls

with heartbreaking

clarity when she

first miscarried in A&E. “Matt just

held me and that was the point

where we got married – not the day

I was worried about favours, the

live band, and 5,000 Scrabble tiles

spelling out our guests’ names,’ she

says. “We got married in a hospital

ward during one of the darkest

moments we’ve experienced

together.”

But by the beginning of last

year, Anna and Matt’s solidity

had weakened. Confused by the

seemingly gaping chasm between

“I do” and “The End”, and tired of

daily frustrations with each other,

the couple became disillusioned

by marriage.

“It’s easy to cruise along and

think ‘everything’s fine’, but you

let little disappointments go, and

ignore things that should be dealt

with – that shortness with your

partner, that sarkiness about

mundane nonsense, starts to build

and affect someone,” explains

Matt, aka Papa Pukka, whose

hilarious take on fatherhood has

turned him and Anna into digital

parenting royalty.

Anna agrees. “It was never one

thing, it was an amalgamation of

things that were chipping away

at our happiness, and wearing

down on what was once a really

shiny thing,” she says, adding that

Photography | Emily Gray

76 • happiful.com • March 2020


Anna and Matt’s Flex Appeal campaign for flexible

working for parents, has helped get a bill read in

parliament. They are striving to change attitudes

about a ‘one-size-fits-all’ worklife, and to think

about individual needs instead

Matt just held me and that was the

point where we got married – not the day

I was worried about 5,000 Scrabble tiles

spelling out our guests’ names. We got

married in a hospital ward during one of

the darkest moments we’ve experienced

Images | Instagram @mother_pukka

such issues were compounded by

“exhaustion, postnatal depression,

redundancy, the weight of finances

and admin”.

All of this led Anna to one place –

hunting for an escape route.

“I’ve said to Matt a couple of

times ‘Maybe I should just f**k

off,’” she confesses. ‘You get to the

point where you wonder ‘Is this it?’

and ‘If this is it, do I want this?’”

To find answers, Anna and Matt

committed not to a divorce, but

to writing a book “separately but

together”. They agreed on nine

topics, from going it alone to porn,

and then wrote down their deepest

thoughts while interviewing

experts including residents of a

love commune, monks, and their

own parents. They only read

each other’s contributions before

penning the final chapter. The

process, says Anna, “nearly broke

us, then mended us again”.

“One psychiatrist said ‘being

married or in a long-term

relationship is about as close as

you can get to being in therapy

without being in therapy’ because

the other person is this mirror,

reflecting back to you your very

best and worst traits,” says Matt,

who believes the process helped

them reframe the meaning of the

“elusive” happily-ever-after by

getting real about the dynamics of

a modern-day relationship.

“It’s taught me patience and a

rediscovered mutual respect. We’ve

now worked out what the next stage

is, and that it can be just as happy if

not happier.”

But Anna and Matt, whose 2017

book Parenting The S*** Out Of Life

became a Sunday Times bestseller,

refute the suggestion that they are

now bonafide relationship gurus.

“We’re just two exhausted

people who found divorce one

administrative thing too many,”

laughs Anna. “Matt and I are still on

a journey… but I haven’t told him I

want to f**k off for a very long time!” >>>

March 2020 • happiful.com • 77


THE PUKKA

ROUTE TO

HAPPILY

EVER AFTER

How are you? Who are you?’ We

have lost each other so very much

in the last few years, because we

haven’t checked in enough in this

pursuit of the bigger, the better,

the faster, the richer.”

3 STRIKE A BALANCE BETWEEN

BEING SUPPORTIVE AND

OVER-DEPENDENT

“One of the things we learned is

the huge value in being able to

bugger off and be by yourself,”

says Matt. “Everyone needs a

little bit of time in their own

head and you don’t often get that,

especially in a family set-up.

Creating a bit of space purely for

you, whether through exercise,

going to a museum or watching a

film, is incredibly important for

helping you appreciate the time

you do have with your partner.”

1 EMBRACE THE MUNDANE

“Realise that the mundane is the

happy ever after, that the banal

cheese and pickle sandwich, and a

cheeky bum squeeze by the fridge,

are the things to celebrate, not big

romantic dinners where there’s so

much pressure to have the perfect

date,” advises Anna. “Stop chasing

what Google wants you to find,

what Getty Images are telling you

love looks like. Stop looking for

that Disney happy ever after.”

2 CHOOSE YOUR WORDS

CAREFULLY

“It’s easy to stop trying when

you’ve been with someone for a

while,” admits Matt. “It’s worth

stopping to think: ‘If I was to give

my best self to this person, what

would that look like, and what

would I be doing?’”

“Be vocal about your needs,”

adds Anna. “I recently said to

Matt, ‘I just need you to ask me

sometimes, ‘How was your day?

4 FIND YOUR ‘SOMETHING'

“When one person feels like

they’ve lost themselves, maybe

after giving up their career,

there’s often a sense of ‘who am I

now?’ For a healthy relationship

with yourself and with your

partner, you have to have that

something,” says Anna. “The

minute I stopped putting heavy

expectations on other humans

in my life to fix me and make

me happy was when – through

writing this book – I found

happiness. It was such a simple

shift.”

5 WORSHIP YOUR PARTNER AS

MUCH AS THE KIDS

“A psychiatrist I spoke to said

problems creep into relationships

when parents worship their

children in a way that they don’t

any more worship their partner,”

explains Matt. “What kids need to

78 • happiful.com • March 2020


As part of the Flex Appeal campaign, which supports

parents, carers, creatives, and anyone for whom the

standard nine to five isn’t suitable, Anna and Matt

organised a flash mob dance in Trafalgar Square

see is a loving, mutually respectful

relationship between whoever is

raising them. It’s easy for people

to overlook that, and I’ve definitely

realised I need to make my best

effort with Anna as much as I do

with our kids.”

6 GET PHYSICAL

“On a really primal level, the more

you have sex, the more you want

to have sex, the more you feel

connected, and the healthier and

happier you are. The physical side

can just be contact – a hug or a

fruity WhatsApp message,” says

Anna. “That said, the other day I

messaged Matt to say ‘let’s get it on

tonight’ then by the evening I was

really tired, I’d dealt with a doctor’s

appointment over a potential

bunion, and I wasn’t there!

Actually, what mattered was that

contact, a hug, and recognising

that those little moments build up

to a bigger picture.”

7 TREASURE THE TOUGH TIMES

“Recognise that tears can be

just as good as laughter,” insists

Anna. “If you Google romance

and love, you’ll see pictures of

sunsets and cocktails on holiday

in warm weather with a very

heteronormative couple holding

hands. The images should be those

when you’re in a million pieces,

sobbing on the floor with mascara

running down your face, unable to

find a way out of the door through

anxiety, or postnatal depression,

or post-miscarriage trauma, and

your partner is there lifting you

up, holding you up as you sob,

saying ‘It’s sh*t and I’m here.’”

8 BE CONTENT WITH THE NOW

“The desire to get on and do better

is part of the reason people end

up having affairs,” warns Matt.

“People remember the great

relationship they had with their

partner in their 20s, then 15 years

later, with kids and a mortgage,

hanker after that with someone

else. Marriage vows say ‘for richer,

for poorer’, but ‘the poorer’ is

more important. Tackle that.

Money isn’t going to buy the joy

that you’re seeking.”

‘Where’s My Happy Ending?’

by Anna Whitehouse and Matt

Farquharson is available now

(Bluebird, £14.99)

March 2020 • happiful.com • 79


Small changes to feel

POWERFUL

We all have days when we feel out of our depth and like we’ve lost control. Here

are five small changes you can make to get back on top. It’s your time to shine

Writing | Ellen Hoggard Illustrating | Rosan Magar

We live in a ‘switched

on’ world where we

pride ourselves on

being busy. We work

hard, maintaining social lives and

relationships, while also striving to

be the best version of ourselves. But

sometimes, this constant state of

busyness can leave us feeling downand-out.

Naturally, we hit a point of

exhaustion, and when things feel

out of our control, we typically fall

back and surrender.

But there are ways you can

reignite your energy levels and

80 • happiful.com • March 2020


get your power back. Lifestyle

changes and maintenance –

regular movement, healthy eating

and time for yourself – are key in

looking after both your physical

and mental health, and we know

that. However, there are some

tricks you may not know that can

jump-start the ignition. Small

changes you can make to feel

powerful, whether it’s planning

your week ahead, or sneaking

into a room five minutes before

a meeting to flex your favourite

power pose. Ready?

1 RECOGNISE THE PROBLEM

If there’s something specific

grinding your gears, acknowledge

it. Are you feeling overwhelmed by

your ever-growing to-do list? Have

you got a month full of social plans,

but really, all you want is a night

in your pyjamas and a takeaway

pizza? Has a loved one or colleague

annoyed you, and you can’t seem to

get it out of your head?

Whatever it is that’s winding

you up, acknowledge it. Shout it

from the rooftops. Get in your car

and scream. Let out a loud sigh,

dropping your shoulders as you

release the breath. Sometimes, it’s

letting go of your frustrations in a

physical way that can immediately

give you a sense of relief.

2 MAKE A LIST

Write down the things you need to

do – or think you need to do. If you

have a million things going round

in your head, you’re never going to

be able to focus and do them all to

your best ability. Write everything

down and then, be ruthless. What

do you absolutely need to do?

Mark the tasks. Next, mark the

jobs that are important, but not

urgent. Then, mark the things that

someone else can do, or are low

priority.

On a new piece of paper, write

the top three things you need

(and want) to get done. Forget all

the little jobs and things that are

holding you back. You now have

your list for the day (or week) – try

to stick to it. Giving yourself this

time to complete your priority

tasks will leave you feeling much

better – and totally in control.

3 GET DRESSED

When you’re feeling stressed, it

can take a lot of energy to actually

get out of bed and dressed. But

trust me, putting on your favourite

outfit – one that makes you feel

like you can do anything – is a

quick trick that can really put a

pep in your step.

When you’re wearing what makes

you feel good, you naturally hold

your head higher. And by being

open and standing tall, you allow

air into your lungs. You relax

your shoulders and float with

ease. Sometimes, it’s as simple as

pushing your shoulders back and

taking a deep breath.

4 TREAT YOURSELF

This may be as small as picking

up a coffee on the way to work,

or arranging a night out (or night

in) with your loved ones and a

delicious meal. It’s easy to get

bogged down with the negative

stuff and forget to spend time on

yourself.

A simple but effective change can

be your attitude. There’s nothing

wrong with throwing your hands

up and proclaiming, f**k it! Forget

Get in the stance

that for you,

reflects true

power, and soon

you’ll be oozing

strength and

confidence

those little worries that you can’t

do anything about. Often in the

grand scheme of things, they

don’t matter. Book some time

away. Take a day off to do what

you want. Leave the guilt behind.

5 FIND YOUR POWER POSE

For an instant boost in energy,

confidence and power, you need

to find your power pose. Brought

to public attention by psychologist

Amy Cuddy, whose TedTalk has

now garnered more than 55

million views, power posing is a

technique in which you adopt a

stance you associate with power,

in the hope of “feeling and

behaving more assertively”.

It may sound silly, but for many

people, taking five minutes

before a big presentation to take

a deep breath, and stand in a

position that represents power,

can instantly lift your mood and

clear doubts. It doesn’t have to

be applied only at work either; if

you’re going on a date, or doing

something that makes you feel a

little nervous, channel your inner

power muse (think, what would

Beyoncé do?). Get in the stance

that for you, reflects true power,

and soon you’ll be oozing strength

and confidence, and going about

your day with ease.

March 2020 • happiful.com • 81


£57

£40

ENTER CODE:

HAPPIMAR

AT THE CHECKOUT

Reader offer

First two copies + postage & packaging = FREE

On an annual subscription using

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Includes postage and packaging (mainland UK). Prices and benefits are correct at the time of printing, using code

82 • happiful.com • March 2020 HAPPIMAR, which expires on 16 April 2020. For full terms and conditions, please visit happiful.com


Konnie Huq:

An exact science

What did you want to be when

you grew up? A police officer?

A teacher? An analytical

textile technologist? The world

of science can often feel

mysterious, but author and

ex-Blue Peter presenter Konnie

Huq is on a mission to open up

the world of STEM to the next

generation. Here, we speak

about the pressure to conform,

the importance of visibility,

and her debut children’s

book, Cookie… and the Most

Annoying Boy in the World

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

Photoraphy | Ed Miller

It “ was a different time,” Konnie

Huq says, as she reflects on

her childhood, and the ways it

compares to those of children

in 2020. “We used to play out all

day in the holidays, we’d be on our

bikes and just come in to eat.”

Today’s children have a lot to

contend with, from tackling the

technology problem (Is it good? Is

it bad? When is enough, enough?),

to an ever increasing pressure to

perform at school – and, of course,

the age-old question: what am I

going to be when I grow up? >>>

March 2020 • happiful.com • 83


When I was growing

up, going into TV

as an Asian wasn’t

necessarily something

I thought was actually

a possibility

“I was going to be an engineer,”

says Konnie. “I did physics,

chemistry, maths, and further

maths A-levels. My parents came

over from Bangladesh in the 1960s

with dreams of their kids being

scientists, engineers, doctors,

accountants, and mathematicians

– because those were revered

professions.”

In the end, Konnie took another

course, stepping into the limelight

when she first appeared on our

screens in 1994, presenting a

Saturday morning children’s TV

show on GMTV, before going on

to be Blue Peter’s longest-serving

female presenter, from 1997–2007.

Though, she notes that this wasn’t

something she did, or even realised

she could, aspire to as a child.

“When I was growing up,

going into TV as an Asian wasn’t

necessarily something I thought

was a possibility because I didn’t

see any others,” she says. “And

actually I sort of fell into my job.

I went to open auditions for TV

presenters, but not with a view to

getting a job as a TV presenter, just

for a fun day out.”

“I remember hearing a lady’s

voice on the radio when I was really

young and thinking, ‘I didn’t realise

women can do radio DJing as well.’

So it’s only what you’re used to that

you see as a possibility.”

84 • happiful.com • March 2020


There are so many forces at play

when it comes to predicting how

our lives will pan out. Wealth,

ethnicity, disability, geographical

location, and many more variables

all come together to affect the

choices that we make. So often,

the first step to breaking down

these invisible barriers is visibility

– seeing people who look, sound,

and think like you, doing the

things you aspire to be.

“My role model, though I don’t

know if I had her when I was

a kid, is Ada Lovelace,” Konnie

says. “She’s the epitome of a

woman scientist. She foresaw that

computers had the ability to make

music, pictures, and all the things

they do today. Though I don’t

know that I discovered her when I

was at school, because she wasn’t

celebrated as much as all the men

you hear about.”

These days, we’re taking the

time to retrospectively celebrate

the women who may not have

got the credit they deserved in

their time. But the current gender

divide in who’s going into STEM

(science, technology, engineering,

and mathematics) subjects and

industries is something worth

talking about. Girls make up just

35% of students taking STEM

subjects at school and in higher

education, and just 22% of the

industry workforce. Undeniably,

there’s something at play here,

and this issue is at the heart of

Konnie’s debut children’s book

series Cookie.

A sassy, determined girl, Cookie’s

love for science takes her down a

path of hilarity and the occasional

sticky situation (think classroom

lemonade bottle experiments

gone explosively wrong). Konnie

describes the series – the second of

which she is currently writing – as

‘stealth woke’, subtly expanding

readers’ experiences of different

people, and weaving in lessons on

all kinds of systems, from solar

to social.

“For instance, Cookie is from

an ethnic minority family. She’s

Muslim. Her best friend has

two dads,” Konnie explains. “It’s

the minorities that make up the

majority, and the majority is more

interesting for the variety. That’s

what inclusivity and diversity

are about.

“So I’ve got a lot of that in the

book, but instead of shoving

it down people’s throats it’s

secondary,” she continues. “It

doesn’t affect the plot that Cookie

is Muslim, or that Cookie is from

Bangladesh. It’s nothing to do

with it. It’s like you’re saying if a

character has green eyes. We’re all

defined by so many things.”

But breaking free of the messages

that tell us to blend in with

everyone else, and celebrating

who we are, isn’t always easy – and

Konnie notes that the early years

of her career were full of pressure

to “conform” to a certain standard.

“When I was in my 20s, I was

more easily led by other people,”

Konnie says. “I was never really

into fashion, but for work I was

told that I had to be into fashion.

I do think that when you’re in

this industry you have to play the

game. You have to toe the line.”

For Konnie, a lesson that she’s

learned over time is that happiness

can be found in the simple

things in life – with the people

you surround yourself with, and

the things that you choose to

prioritise.

‘Cookie! and the Most Annoying

Boy in the World’ by Konnie Huq is

available now (Piccadilly

Press, £6.99)

“When you find friends who

you really like and who you really

get on with, that’s kind of all you

need,” she says. “I can go have a

laugh with them or chat to them,

and I come back thinking, ‘That

was priceless.’ Happiness comes

from within, it comes from

helping each other.”

At a time when questions about

consumerism, technology,

and the future of the planet,

are all weighing heavily on our

minds, it can be easy to take the

dimmer outlook. But perhaps

by turning our focus on to the

people who matter most to us,

while simultaneously broadening

our horizons and embracing the

limitlessness of our abilities, we

can begin to make the difference

that we want to see in the world

around us.

As for Konnie, is she hopeful for

the future?

“Just look how amazing young

children are,” she says. “Yes, I am.

I am, definitely.”

March 2020 • happiful.com • 85


Is mental health on your company agenda?

We believe mental health first aid training should be given equal importance to physical

first aid training in every workplace. If you would like to become a mental health first aider

at work, Happiful can train you, and we've created this email template to help you explain

the benefits to your boss

Dear ,

I'd like to become a mental health first aider for

and I'm hoping you can help.

Here are some of the reasons why

will benefit from offering Mental Health First Aid training to our

employees:

1. Build staff confidence to have open conversations around mental

health, and break the stigma in the office and in society.

2. Encourage people to access early support when needed. Early

intervention means faster recovery.

3. Empower people with a long-term mental health issue or disability

to thrive in work, and ensure that we are compliant with legislation

in the Equality Act 2010.

4. Promote a mentally healthy environment, and allow people to thrive

and become more productive.

5. Embed a long-term, positive culture across the whole organisation,

where our employees recognise their mental and physical health are

supported as equal parts of the whole person.

6. Proudly share that mental health is on our company agenda, and

improve retention as a result of a reduction in staff stress levels.

Happiful offers two-day mental health first aid training courses for

individuals across the country for £235 + VAT per person, and they

can also offer bespoke courses on-site at our workplace if we have a

minimum of eight attendees.

Yours sincerely,


Did you know that stress,

anxiety, and depression

are the biggest causes of

sickness absence in our

society?

Mental ill-health is

currently responsible for

91 million working days

lost each year. The cost

to UK employers is £34.9

billion each year.*

Happiful has partnered

with Simpila Healthy

Solutions to offer

internationally recognised

courses and training

events in the UK.

Each course is delivered

by an accredited Mental

Health First Aid England

instructor and is delivered

in a safe, evidence-based

programme.

Proudly working with

*Source: MHFA England

SIMPILA

Healthy Solutions

To register your company’s interest or to book an

individual place, visit training.happiful.com or

drop us an email at training@happiful.com


TRUE LIFE

A voice of

understanding

After years of hiding his pain and depression, Henry

found himself at breaking point. But the connection

and trust with a special therapist, and his own passion

for music, opened him up to the possibility of a brighter

future – one which he embraced whole-heartedly

Writing | Henry Grace

Photogrphy | Emmanuelle Le Chat

When I was

18, I was

diagnosed

with

depression. It was 2010,

and I had just finished

high school. But instead

of celebrating with my

friends, I was admitted to

a psychiatric hospital in

London. The truth is that

it was a relief. For so many

years, I’d covered up my

depression and, to some

extent, hidden it pretty

well from even myself.

I never told anyone about

the pain I was in, the selfharming,

or that I almost

took my own life when I

was 16. It probably seems

strange that I was unaware

I needed help. But mental

health was just never a

conversation at home or at

school. And so when the

truth finally came out, I

hoped that life would get

a little better.

But after three years of

therapy, and a few stints

in psychiatric hospitals,

my condition had only

worsened. I’d been

diagnosed with multiple

mental illnesses, and was

put on a cocktail of drugs

that left me comatose

half of the time. I felt

completely hopeless

and often contemplated

suicide. The few things

that brought me any real

happiness during this time

were my family, friends,

and writing music. I count

myself incredibly lucky to

have not only lived a life

surrounded by wonderful

people, but also to have

found a passion so early

on that has always found a

way of guiding me. Music

has helped shape me as a

person and, in many ways,

defined my life so far.

But by the time I turned

21, life had pretty much

unravelled. I could

no longer maintain

relationships, couldn’t get

a job, or even get through

the day without having

a panic attack. I had

overdosed twice, dropped

out of university, and

stopped writing music.

With nowhere else to go,

I moved back home to

my parents’ farm in rural

Oxfordshire and, after

only a week or two, found

myself contemplating

suicide again.

Suicide is a really complex

topic. It totally devastates

everything it touches but,

for so many who feel like

they can no longer cope, it

often seems like the only

way out. For me, life had

become unbearable. I had,

quite literally, lost the will

to live and so, one summer

evening, I walked out the

door of our farm and tried

to end my life.

A few days later, I woke

up to find myself in a

hospital hooked up to

multiple machines. I can

remember closing my

eyes tightly and feeling

devastated that I had

survived. When doctors

told me that there were

no available beds in any

of the NHS psychiatric

hospitals across the UK,

my family organised for

me to go to a rehab in

Arizona. Two days later, I

found myself boarding a

plane to America.

I arrived in Arizona a

completely broken man.

But it didn’t take long for

me to find my feet. >>>

March 2020 • happiful.com • 87


Henry performing at

Bush Hall, fundraising

for Young Minds, in 2019

Photogrphy | (Right) Isabella Clegg

For me, life had

become unbearable

On my second day, I

met my therapist. He told

me his life story – how

he’d lived through gang

warfare, abuse, addiction

and depression, and how

he’d transformed his life

to eventually become the

man sitting across from

me. It blew me away. No

therapist had ever told

me anything personal

before. But before I even

had a chance to catch my

breath, he was asking to

hear my story.

And so I spilled my

whole life out before him.

He listened and somehow

made me feel completely

comfortable. It was as if,

for the very first time, I

was telling my story to

someone who actually

understood. When I

finished, there was a

brief silence between us

as I watched the wheels

in his mind turn, before

he asked plainly: “What

would your life look like,

if it wasn’t like this?” I

told him I had no idea.

He nodded in agreement,

looked me dead in the eye,

and asked: “Do you want

to change?”

The question took me by

surprise. Not because it

was so direct, but because

no one had ever asked it

before. Usually therapists

took these moments to

just tell me what they

thought was wrong with

me, and that I needed to

do this or that to cope. But

here was a man simply

asking me if I wanted to

change, and asking in such

a way that made change

almost seem possible. Hope

started to swell inside me,

and suddenly, with more

honesty and integrity than I

had ever had before, simply

said “Yes.”

At that moment I realised

that I had the power to build

the life of my dreams.

And so I admitted to

myself that, through no

fault of my own, I had

gotten myself into this

mess. Events had happened

in my life that I’d had no

control over, and no

idea how to deal with.

I’d become accustomed

to being my own worst

enemy, and had grown

to see the world not for

what it was, but for what I

perceived it to be.

By taking ownership of

my depression, I suddenly

had power over it. With

every day that passed, I

worked on changing my

way of life, my beliefs, my

actions, my views – both

of the world and of myself.

I was reclaiming my

existence, and it was the

most incredible feeling.

To achieve something

you want in life, I think you

require three things. You

88 • happiful.com • March 2020


Photogrphy | Emmanuelle Le Chat

Here was a man simply

asking me if I wanted to

change, and asking in

such a way that made

change almost seem

possible

have to believe in yourself,

you have to work hard, and

you need a bit of luck. I was

lucky to go to Arizona, I

was lucky to meet the right

people at the right time,

and I worked harder than

I ever thought possible,

but, more than anything,

I believed in myself. And

that’s what it took for me

to beat nearly a decade of

living with depression.

I don’t have all the

answers, and life still

grinds me down at times,

but I really wouldn’t

change a thing, because

my past, however hard it

was at times, has made

me who I am today. I

truly believe that hope is

everything, so I never let

go of it.

Instead of returning

home to England from

Arizona, I moved to Los

Angeles, acquired a visa,

enrolled myself in a

small college, and started

a music career. I met

people who helped me

in more ways than I can

ever possibly explain. But

what I am most grateful

for, above all else, is that

they encouraged me to

start taking my music

seriously. During my

five years in California, I

released two EPs, had my

music played on the radio,

picked up endorsements,

and, in 2016, moved to

San Francisco after being

accepted to study at the

University of California,

Berkeley.

I graduated last year

with a degree in English

Literature, and moved

back home to England,

where I now work as a

musician and a mental

health advocate for young

people. I have toured the

country, gone on air with

the BBC to talk about

mental health, and curated

shows that raise awareness

and money for mental

health charities.

Advocating for mental

health was never an

intention of mine at the

beginning, and I certainly

never imagined that I

would now be trying to help

people on a daily basis.

But, in the end, I became

so inspired by those who

shared their stories, and by

the countless people who

devote their lives to helping

others, that it only seemed

right to share mine in the

hope it can help someone,

somewhere, believe in

themselves again.

OUR EXPERT SAYS

Henry’s experience is

truly inspirational, having

overcome such adversity,

to now being in a position

where he is helping

others and shining the

light for positive change.

His journey did not come

without it’s struggles.

After multiple attempts

to end his life, Henry

found invaluable support

from his therapist that

changed his life forever.

The role that music has

played is also key for

Henry. Connecting with

an activity we enjoy is vital

to maintaining our

wellbeing, and

provided Henry

with a flourishing

self-belief.

Rav Sekhon | BA MA MBACP (Accred)

Counsellor and psychotherapist

March 2020 • happiful.com • 89


Mental health

matters

After suffering severe burns as a child,

Sylvia Mac founded her campaign

and support network, Love Disfigure,

in the hopes of reaching others with

skin disfigurements. Here, she shares

personal milestones, and the things

she’s learned along the way

Mental health matters to me

because… I suffered for years

with severe depression, anxiety,

and low self-esteem due to the

scars on my body. Learning

about my mental wellbeing has

certainly helped me become the

survivor, or thriver, I am today.

When I need support I… talk to

family members to get their

advice, but more importantly

get their hugs and love.

When I need some self-care,

I… recover by resting and

spending alone time, or have spa

treatments with my daughters.

Reading positive books on selfcare

always helps. Sometimes

you’re pulled from all different

directions, but I know how to

deal with this by knowing my

self-worth.

The best lesson I’ve learned in life

is… always accept a compliment.

All too often, we deflect positive

messages such as, ‘You look

great!’ We reply, ‘Oh no, not me.’

Replying with a simple ‘thank

you’ not only makes you feel good

about yourself, but it should also

help keep that positive mindset.

The moment I felt most proud of

myself was... when I received my

Point of Light award from Theresa

May. The certificate came through

the post with ‘10 Downing Street’

marked on the envelope and I

couldn’t stop reading it over and

over. It was definitely one of my

biggest and proudest moments.

When I’m lacking motivation I...

take ‘time out’ and switch off

from everything. Sometimes I

turn off my phone and relax in

a calm environment – a bath or

swimming pool – or pop to the

gym and listen to high-energy

music until I’m back on track.

One thing that being a burn

survivor has taught me about

myself is... just how strong I am

emotionally, physically, and

mentally. I count myself as a

thriver, which is third in line after

‘victim’ and ‘survivor’. I no longer

have ‘down days’ worrying about

what people will think about me

and my scars. It’s truly amazing.

Photography | Kaye Ford

My biggest tip for self-love is…

remind yourself every day just

how beautiful you are. Look

in the mirror and repeat: ‘I am

beautiful, I am worthy’. Keep hold

of that positive mindset and carry

it throughout the day.

The main thing I want people

to know about dealing with

disfigurement is... no matter

where your skin differences

are on your body, it still affects

many people mentally as well as

physically.

Visit lovedisfigure.com for more.

Sylvia Mac will be speaking on

‘Finding Your Confidence – Inside

and Out’ at Live Well London

(28 February to 1 March). Visit

livewelllondon.com for tickets.


Photography | Joelvalve

Dance is the hidden

“language of the soul

– MARTHA GRAHAM

December 2018 • happiful • 91


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