Happiful June 2020



JUNE 2020 £4.00

Find your




the sheets

Sex therapists' secrets to

spice up your love life

Feel inspired by those who

have overcome their

greatest challenges

ways to

nourish your


The self-care







9 772514 373000






Stigma ends here. We sort

the fact from fiction

Life is tough, my darling,

but so are you


Photography | Guilian Fremaux

Hope on

the horizon

In challenging times, we so often

have to call on reserves of emotional

strength we never knew we had. But

that inner fight, it's there, in all of us.

For some, getting out of bed today

felt like an insurmountable task, or

homeschooling the kids, or making

sure we can make ends meet this

month, or continuing with daily life

while fearing for our loved ones' safety.

But it's time we started treating

ourselves with the kindness and

compassion we deserve, and recognise

what might seem like the smallest

victory for the effort, and energy, it's

taken for us to achieve it.

In our June issue, we implore you to

hold on. Remember that even on the

darkest night, a new day will rise.

In our feature on how to find your

'dawning moment', we share, to

inspire you, the experiences of those

who found a moment of clarity to

move forward from unprecedented

personal challenges.

To encourage you to truly take care

of yourself on difficult days, we have

collected together insight to nourish your

soul – on everything from mindful adult

play, and indoor gardening, to easing the

burden of decision-making, and creating

your own spa experience at home.

As daunting as things might feel, know

that we can get through this – and you

don't have to do it alone.

Og Mandino said: "I will love the light for

it shows me the way, yet I will endure the

darkness for it shows me the stars."

We hope you find your

light in the dark.


W | happiful.com

F | happifulhq

T | @happifulhq

I | @happiful_magazine


18 Find your dawning

We speak to real people about the

moment they overcame challenges, and

moved into the light of a new era

32 Eight psychosis myths

We break down common misconceptions,

and discover the truth behind the condition

47 Jamie Windust

The non-binary editor, writer, and model

shares their journey with self-expression

and acceptance

51 Lego of stress

How adult fans of Lego are picking up the

pieces of good mental health

79 Jack Garratt

The singer-songwriter opens up about

learning to live with his negative emotions

The Uplift

8 In the news

13 The wellbeing wrap

15 What is cute aggression?

Ever found something so adorable that

you want to squeeze, crush, or bite it?

Here's the science that explains why

90 Feel-good mantras

Life Stories

39 Adam: stepping up

Adam was thrown into fatherhood

when his partner unexpectedly gave

birth. While he initially sank into

depression, he came out stronger

71 Victoria: forging a future

When Victoria first received a diagnosis

of fibromyalgia, she thought the future

looked bleak. But with time, she built up

the emotional strength to thrive

87 Sharon: a new normal

The day her son took his own life was

the day Sharon's world fell apart. From

mindfulness to reaching out to others,

she's slowly rebuilding


31 Picture this

Vision boards and how to use them

60 Kind in mind

Don't miss this month's top book picks

82 Things to do in June

Lifestyle and


26 Stop the spiral

Columnist Grace Victory talks bad days,

and honouring our emotions

35 Good relations

With expert advice, we look at how to have

conversations about MH with your family

42 How to tackle loneliness

56 The sex effect

The wellbeing perks of turning things up

a notch in the bedroom

61 The power of expression

We speak to Jessica Blackler, founder of a

gender-free makeup brand

Our team


Rebecca Thair | Editor

Kathryn Wheeler | Head Writer

Tia Sinden | Editorial Assistant

Bonnie Evie Gifford, Kat Nicholls | Senior Writers

Becky Wright | Content & Marketing Officer

Katie Hoare | Digital Marketing & Content Officer

Grace Victory | Columnist

Lucy Donoughue | Head of Partnerships

Ellen Hoggard | Digital Editor

Keith Howitt | Sub-Editor

Rav Sekhon | Expert Advisor


Amy-Jean Burns | Art Director

Charlotte Reynell | Creative Lead

Rosan Magar | Illustrator

Emma Boast | Designer


Alice Greedus

PR Officer



Fiona Thomas, Erica Crompton, Katie Conibear,

Caroline Butterwick, Jamie Windust, Jenna Farmer,

Shahroo Izadi, Adam Bucklow,

Victoria Smith-Gillard, Sharon Truesdale

Happiful Hacks

28 Overcome decision fatigue

44 Stay in touch, creatively

74 Challenge the status quo

84 When weddings are on hold...


24 The brainwave

How sound can help us to relax

54 DIY spa

Steps for creating the ultimate spa day, all

from the comfort of your own home

76 A breath of fresh air

Bring nature into your home with these

indoor plants to brighten up your space

Food & Drink

64 Take a leaf of out this

Three tasty, refreshing salads bursting

with protein to fuel your day

67 Under the skin

From eczema to acne, how can good

nutrition help us to improve the condition

of our skin?


Graeme Orr, Rachel Coffey, Smita Rajput Kamble,

Lucy Fuller, Beverley Hills, Sonal Shah,

Dr Daniela Hecht, Christine Locher, Ilse Passet,

Deborah Holder


Aimi Maunders | Director & Co-Founder

Emma White | Director & Co-Founder

Paul Maunders | Director & Co-Founder


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Email us at hello@happiful.com


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



Andrew is a solutionfocused





Beverley is a relationship

counsellor and




Smita is a psychoanalytic

psychotherapist in private




Lucy is a child, adolescent,

Couples and parenting

counsellor & psychotherapist.

Rav's review

It is inevitable in life that we

will face many challenges

that test our confidence,

self-worth, and happiness.

The key is how we respond to

these moments – an aspect

we explore in this month's

issue. The article on p18 is an

inspiring way to bring this

together, through sharing

people’s real life ‘dawning’

experiences of how they

pushed through personal

challenges, to come out the

other side stronger. It all starts

with self-love, acceptance,

and cultivating care for your

true self. You have the power

to create such change, and it

comes from within.


BA MA MBACP (Accred)

Rav is a counsellor

and psychotherapist

with more than 10

years' experience.


CPsychol AFBPs

Daniela is a psychologist,

EMDR therapist, and

university lecturer.



Christine is a decision coach

for professionals looking to

enhance their careers.



Shahroo is a behaviour

change specialist with

her own private practice.



Rachel is a life coach

encouraging confidence

and motivation.


BSc (hons)

Sonal is a nutritional

therapist, health tutor, and

director of Synergy Nutrition.


MBACP (Accred) BACP Reg Ind

Graeme is a counsellor

working with both

individuals and couples.



Ilse is a transformational

coach and life purpose



Sound Therapy Dip, BACP

Deborah is a counsellor

and sound therapy


9 772514 373000


JUNE 2020 £4.00

Find help


If you are in crisis and are concerned for your

own safety, call 999 or go to A&E

Call Samaritans on 116 123 or email

them at jo@samaritans.org

Head to


for more services

and support

Reader offer




SANEline offers support and information from 4.30pm–10.30pm:

0300 304 7000


Mind offers advice Mon–Fri 9am–6pm, except bank

holidays: 0300 123 3393. Or email: info@mind.org.uk


Switchboard is a line for LGBT+ support. Open from 10am–10pm:

0300 330 0630. You can email: chris@switchboard.lgbt



Search for qualified life coaches in your area, and browse free articles

and information at lifecoach-directory.org.uk




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Competitions and prize draws!

Visit happiful.com





Find your


ways to

nourish your


The self-care



Feel inspired by those who

have overcome their

greatest challenges



Find out more about psychosis, and download a free fact-sheet

by heading to rethink.org and searching 'psychosis'.


Access support for issues that affect men, and join in with

Men's Health Week (15-21 June) at menshealthforum.org.uk


To get support for bereavement, head to cruse.org.uk, or call

their free helpline on 0808 808 1677


the sheets

Sex therapists' secrets to

spice up your love life









Stigma ends here. We sort

the fact from fiction

Cover illustration

by Charlotte Reynell

Our two-for-one tree commitment is made of two parts. Firstly, we source all

our paper from FSC® certified sources. The FSC® label guarantees that the

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Way, Camberley, Surrey, GU15 3YL.

In light of the Covid-19

social-distancing guidelines,

our June issue has been

brought together from the

Happiful team’s home-office

set-ups. Overcoming the

distraction of cute Happiful

pets, the temptation of WFS

(work from sofa), and the

unique challenges of video

conference calls, we’re proud

to bring you our second issue

created entirely remotely. For

as long as we can, we will

work tirelessly to continue

to offer you the print edition

of Happiful, but if anything

changes, we will be in touch.

For now, take care, stay safe,

and enjoy the read.

Prices and benefits are correct at the

time of printing. Offer expires 16 July 2020.

For full terms and conditions,

please visit happiful.com


The Uplift

Discussing MH

brings couples

closer together

You’ve got this ‘dating thing’ down, you’ve

had the ‘what are we’ conversation, and

you know the names of their childhood

pets – but when’s the right time to talk

about your mental health? According to a

study from Superdrug Online Doctor, the

sooner the better, as having a deep and

meaningful chat about our mental health

could help us bond.

That said, opening up about mental

illness isn’t easy, and the study found that

people wait an average of nine months

before having the big talk. But we might

be holding back without good reason, as

83% of respondents said their partner

reacted positively when they did discuss

it, with a further 74% revealing that the

communication actually brought them

closer together.

Sharing the strategies which helped

them to deal with mental health

conditions in relationships, respondents

said the most important things were

communication, mental health

education, and medication management.

Speaking about the results of the study,

Superdrug Online Doctor said: “For

individuals living with mental health

challenges, our results offer a hopeful

view of what is possible with a loving

partner. Although disclosing a mental

health disorder to a significant other can

require true courage, the majority who

do so receive a positive response.”

So, could love really conquer all? Head

to p35 for more insight on how to open

up about our mental wellbeing to loved


Writing | Kat Nicholls


Care home spreads

cheer with child’s

message of support


Man completes marathon

– in his living room

Peter Cooper tied up his laces in the name of charity

Coming up with things to do in

lockdown has been a challenge

for many of us, but one man has

hit the ground running as he

completed a full marathon in his

living room.

Cheered on by his wife Amy, who

provided fluids from the sofa, Peter

Cooper – originally from Devon

– ran 5,250 laps of his Hong Kong

flat, completing the marathon in

just over four hours. It’s no mean

feat in itself, but in just 24 hours

Peter also raised an incredible

£4,000 for his two charities: Mind

and Cardiomyopathy UK.

But beyond a test of endurance

and focus, there was a personal

reason behind Peter’s challenge. In

2016, Peter’s mum, Marilyn, died of

a heart attack shortly after running

a half marathon. Later, tests found

that she had Arrhythmogenic right

ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC)

– a type of cardiomyopathy that

affects how blood is pumped around

the heart, causing abnormal heart


“I wanted to do something

positive in her memory by helping

Cardiomyopathy UK to keep

supporting those living with the

disease, and raising awareness

of symptoms,” Peter says, when

reflecting on the challenge. “I want

to help other people and their

families going through a similar


It’s an inspiring achievement, and

an impressive effort. So, 5,250 laps

of the living room – who’s up next?

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

We could all do with a little

boost in positivity right now and,

thankfully, one Surrey care home

has delivered just that.

After putting out a call for

kids to send artwork to cheer

up residents, the Huntington

& Langham Estate decided to

share the messages with the local

community, by using a billboard

to showcase them.

For the residents, one drawing in

particular stood out – a piece by

seven-year-old Faith, whose greatgrandmother

is a resident, reading:

‘We want to keep you safe!’ By

turning Faith’s art into a billboard,

the Huntington & Langham estate

aimed to show their thanks for the

words of support they’ve received,

and highlight the ongoing need

for residents to forego family visits

throughout the crisis.

Director of the Estate, Charlie

Hoare, said: “Our call for artwork

received a tremendously positive

response, so we felt it only right

that we projected that positivity

back into our community. Faith’s

words summed it up; these

restrictions are about keeping

people safe.”

Many of us across the country

are feeling the reduction in

meaningful interactions, but this

latest message of positivity is a

reminder: we’re all doing our part

to keep each other safe.

Writing | Bonnie Evie Gifford

June 2020 • happiful.com • 9


Volunteer therapists

offer free support

to those struggling

during coronavirus


In a huge act of kindness, more than

600 therapists have come together to

voluntarily offer their expertise and skills

to help those in need through a new, free

initiative: the Help Hub.

Designed to connect anyone struggling

emotionally due to the coronavirus with

qualified therapists, from the comfort of

their own home, psychotherapist Ruth

Chaloner initially founded the project

to create support in her local area

of Oxford.

But demand for online counselling

is higher than ever before – with

Counselling Directory seeing an

increase of more than 1,000% in

searches for ‘online counselling’ when

lockdown began in March. After several

high-profile interviews, Ruth responded

to this growing demand by expanding

the project.

Speaking on Happiful’s podcast, ‘I am. I

Have’, Ruth explains how the Help Hub

can provide gentle support.

“It’s there for you to express your fears,

and have somebody who knows how to

listen, carefully help you through them.”

Anyone in the UK who has access to a

phone or the internet can book a free

20-minute slot to speak with a therapist

through the Help Hub website. Aimed at

those who need support, but especially

anyone with limited contact due to

the coronavirus, the Help Hub is the

listening ear many of us need right now.

Find out more at thehelphub.co.uk

Writing | Kat Nicholls

June 2020 • happiful.com • 11

Take 5

Virtual Quiz

When you can’t be with your loved ones in person, having some fun by playing games, and

getting overly competitive, across online platforms will have to do. Personally, we’ve lost count

of the number of Zoom quizzes we’ve done in the past few weeks, so to make those virtual

hang-outs easier, we’ve taken the prep-work out of it for you. Here’s a little pub quiz we’ve

put together just for you. Thinking caps at the ready!


1. Mara Wilson played the title character in which film based on a Roald Dahl novel?

2. ‘Feed the birds’ was sung by Julie Andrews in which 1964 film?

3. If America has the Tony Awards, what does the UK have?

4. Who is not throwing away his shot?

5. Elton John wrote the original soundtrack to which animated film?

For a bonus point, can you work out the theme connecting these five answers?


1. What is the name for a shape with eight sides?

2. What language is the most spoken on the continent of Africa?

3. What was Superman’s greatest weakness?

4. What is the name of the narcissistic villain in Beauty and the Beast?

5. If someone has coulrophobia, what are they afraid of?

Emojis | emojipedia.org

For a bonus point, the first letter of each answer can be rearranged to make an animal.

Can you work out what it is?


Can you decipher the film names described by the following emojis?






How did you

do? Search

'freebies' at


to find the answers,

and more!

Animal shelter

in Chicago runs

out of dogs to

adopt – for the

first time ever!

Twitter CEO, Jack

Dorsey, donates

$1 billion

to Covid-19

relief fund

Sir David


is teaching

geography as

part of the BBC’s

virtual schooling



from Chicago

has sewn 600

PPE masks




Holey moley

Great news for the planet!

The largest ever hole in the

ozone layer has closed.

The hole above the Artic

was originally the size

of Greenland, and was

caused by a polar vortex

this spring. Thankfully, the

weather seems to have

solved the problem as well

though. A hole in one.

We all deserve a treat

now and then, but if

you’re prone to feeling

guilty after a glass of

wine, or chocolate snack,

we have some good

news! A study from Exeter

and Brighton Universities

has found that both these

products have antiageing

properties, so it’s

not all bad – chin, chin!


Inspired by the 2004 film, a real-life Romeo

has recreated past dates for his girlfriend

after she lost her memory. Jonathan Wilson

dated Sophie Clayton for two years, when

she suffered a nosebleed that triggered a

functional neurological disorder, resulting in

significant memory loss. But he wasn’t about

to give up on their future, just because she

couldn’t recall the past. He created albums

of their key moments, and took her to visit

special places from dates. Adam Sandler’s

got nothing on Jonathan!


As if we didn’t already love Captain Tom Moore

enough (now honorary Colonel), on top of his

record-breaking fundraising activities,

Tom is donating more than 1,000 gifts

he received for his 100th birthday to

survivors of coronavirus. What a hero.

Lucy’s Law

On 6 April a landmark new law was

introduced to tackle puppy farming in

the UK. Named after Lucy, a Cavalier

King Charles Spaniel, who was

rescued from a puppy farm in Wales,

the law looks to encourage people

to get pets from rescue

centres or licensed

breeders only.


on me

A recent study

in the journal Neurology has

revealed that “telephone-based

cognitive therapy” can help to

lessen depression symptoms in

those with Parkinson’s disease.

Although it’s a movement

disorder, it’s estimated that 50%

of patients also have depression,

meaning these findings could be

a vital lifeline for patients.

Friends forever

Flamingos may not spring

to mind as the most similar

animal to humans, but new

research reveals we do have

a trait in common. Like us,

flamingos have been found to

make long-lasting and loyal

friendships, according to a

study published in the journal

Behavioural Processes.

Rock on!

A dad has

transformed his

staircase into a

climbing wall

for his sons in












While makeup can be a creative outlet, and a great

form of self-expression, it’s important that it empowers

us, rather than controls us. And it seems that since

lockdown, more of us than ever are comfortable with

embracing our natural looks. A survey commissioned

by Skin Proud found that 73% of women felt

comfortable in their own skin, and 69% of respondents

are now wearing less makeup than usual. Bare-faced

or made up, it’s that confidence that shines through.

Photography | Dani Bayuni

To love oneself is the beginning

of a life-long romance

14 • happiful.com • April 2020


What is cute


Writing | Fiona Thomas Illustrating | Rosan Magar

Have you ever had the urge to pinch chubby-cheeked babies, or

squeeze adorable puppies? Don’t worry, it’s a completely natural

response, and here we’ll explain why...

Every time my friend

sends me a picture

of her baby, I feel my

shoulders tense up.

I’m not worried or

anxious, in fact I normally sport

a joyous grin as soon as I catch a

glimpse of his teeny smile, or his

boopable pink nose. But the rest of

my body has a physical reaction.

My knee-jerk response is to groan

loudly, grit my teeth, and throw my

phone across the room. Once I’ve

composed myself and fished my

phone out from under the sofa, I

almost always text back the same



I can’t explain the mixture of

emotions. I love the little squishy

angel so much that I have to look

away. It’s like I’m worried I’ll

become hypnotised by the lone tuft

of wispy blonde hair on his head, or

by the innocence in his bright blue

eyes. The cuteness is just too much

for me to bear.

You’ve probably felt something

similar yourself, or witnessed it

in other people. Maybe you’ve

been reunited with a loved one,

so pleased to see them that

you’ve cried and

hugged them so

tight that it hurt.

Maybe you have

a dog-loving friend

who smooshes the

face of every puppy

she meets. Maybe

you’ve watched in

concern as your

granny squeals:

“I could just eat

him right up!” as

though it’s entirely

normal to want to

nibble on a baby’s

li’l toeseywoesies.



Well the truth is, it is entirely

normal. Yep, there’s an official term

for the way that your auntie used

to pinch your chubby little cheeks

just that bit too hard. It’s called

‘cute aggression’ and it’s defined as

the urge to squeeze, crush, or bite

cute things without any desire to

cause harm.

Most of us look at babies and

instinctively find them cute, and

experts say this is because certain

infant characteristics (like a large

head and a cuddly body) literally

change our behaviour.

Animal behaviour expert Konrad

Lorenz dubbed these infantile traits

‘baby schema’, and said that they

motivate us to take care of the child,

serving an important evolutionary

function by keeping vulnerable

babies safe, and increasing the

likelihood of survival. In modern

times, the concept has even been

used by some marketers to make

products more appealing. Just think

about how many brands adopt a

baby animal as their mascot, such

as the Andrex puppy, for example.


So, an affection for cute features

is in our biological blueprint, but

what about this unprovoked urge

to crush every little doggo that

comes our way? Well, although

it might feel unnatural to think

about squeezing, pinching, or

grabbing a vulnerable pet or small

child, it’s really nothing to worry

about. According to psychoanalytic

psychotherapist Smita Rajput

Kamble, cute aggression invites

play and has a useful function.

She says: “It is a playful way of

disposing of aggression, which

could have otherwise been

potentially uncomfortable. For

example, soft-boxing someone

without making real contact.”

Interest in cute aggression arose as

the result of research published in

2014 by Oriana Aragón and Rebecca

Dyer. Participants were shown a

series of photographs of babies, and

their expressions recorded. The

babies who had the cutest features –

round faces, big eyes – elicited cute

aggressive responses. Alongside the

aggression (fist-clenching, gritted

teeth) participants simultaneously

displayed caregiving emotions, and

reported they had the urge to look

after the baby.


There are some interesting

hypotheses about why on earth we

feel the urge to squish little puppy

faces even though we find them

cute. The first is that our brains

aren’t very good at appraising

positive events, or thinking about

them from a negative perspective.

The second is that we have less

experience suppressing positive

emotions, and this is the best

defence that we have. The third is

that on a practical level, removing

ourselves from a positive situation

(which is, psychologically speaking,

an effective way to regulate strong

This contradictory

behaviour helps

balance out our

emotions when they

suddenly get to a

point where they are


positive emotions) simply isn’t

feasible. A parent can’t step away

from their duties as a caregiver, but

they can display cute aggression to

dampen the overwhelming feelings

of joy which could otherwise leave

them incapacitated.

The research certainly suggests

that the involuntary response

serves a function. In the baby

picture experiment previously

mentioned, those who displayed

cute aggression were better at

recovering from the intense,

overwhelming feelings than

everyone else. Playful pinching,

or even just gritting your teeth,

can arguably help to restore your

emotional balance.


If you’re someone who experiences

cute aggression on a regular basis

(about half of all adults do) then

16 • happiful.com • June 2020

the chances are you give off various

dimorphous expressions to help

stabilise your emotions. You’re

probably the kind of person who

cries happy tears in the cinema or

screams like a banshee when you

see your favourite band live on

stage. It’s your way of coping with

the rollercoaster of emotions that

life throws at you.


This disconnect

between emotions

and behaviour

is widely

recognised by


as dimorphous




refers to



a strong

emotion, such

as happiness, and

yet expressing the

opposite emotion,

such as sadness.

This could be

crying when you

are experiencing

joy, or laughing

in an upsetting


Studies suggest that this

contradictory behaviour helps

balance out our emotions when

they suddenly get to a point where

they are unmanageable. Have you

ever lost someone close to you, and

yet found yourself laughing with

friends about a funny memory you

have of them? This unconscious

response brings us back to a sense

of normality more quickly than

if we had fully succumbed to the

strong feeling.

They say that when you master

your emotions you will be the

master of your own reality, and

cute aggression is just one – albeit

a very interesting – example of how

we naturally keep those emotions

in check. Of course, many of

us also employ unhealthy

coping mechanisms such

as physical aggression or

substance abuse. But

there are many effective

techniques out there

– such as talking,

exercising, resting,

and writing – which

help us regulate the

complicated emotions

we experience as


Thankfully, cute

aggression has no real

threat. In fact, it probably

means that you just really,

really want to hug a dog.

Smita Rajput Kamble

is a psychoanalytic

psychotherapist in

private practice. She also

supervises trainees and

qualified counsellors in

Bedford Counselling


Fiona is a freelance

writer and author whose

book, ‘Depression in

a Digital Age’,

is out now. Visit


com for


June 2020 • happiful.com • 17

Find your



What does it feel like when, following a period

of emotional darkness, the sun rises again?

We speak to five people about the moment of

clarity that followed unprecedented challenges

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

Artwork | Charlotte Reynelll

For some, it will happen early

on in life – like a neatly-tied

coming-of-age film. For others,

it comes later, following falsestarts,

unparallelled challenges, and

depleting moments of hopelessness. I’m

talking about the moment everything

changed, the moment we discovered our

value, our confidence, and our power.

Maybe you have an image of what

loving yourself unconditionally could

look like, but the components to that

kind of attitude feel just out of reach.

But after being shut out in the dark,

something changes. The sun rises and

suddenly everything is clear. It’s the start

of a new day, a new era in your life. The

pain, struggle, and doubt from before

evaporates as you are flushed with clarity.

This is your dawning.

But what does this look like for real

people, with real-life challenges? We speak

to five individuals about the moment that

changed everything.



Sarah: The love I deserve

A term to describe the

moment of personal clarity

and realisation we experience,

following a period of uncertainty

and challenge.

Lauren: Embracing my power

“How’s the weather up there?” It’s a

phrase that followed Lauren Marina

for many years. At 6ft 3in, Lauren

had been faced with constant

fascination surrounding her

height – everything from naivety to

teasing, and intrusive questions.

“My sense of body confidence

entirely circled around my height.

It was what the outside world saw

first about me, and so I felt rejected

and completely unattractive,”

Lauren shares.

But everything changed when, one

night at a gig, Lauren discovered

the punk band The Distillers – she

remembers how the “cool-asf*ck”

frontwoman, Brody Dalle,

performed with a “billowing


For as long as she can remember,

Lauren idolised Brody’s selfpossession,

as well as her tattooed confidence. For five years, she was in

Sarah Miles has struggled with self-

aesthetic. Over the next decade, an emotionally abusive relationship

Lauren began collecting her own with her ex-partner – who took

inkings. “From blooms of big pink advantage of her low self-esteem,

peonies on my chest, to a dagger convincing her that no one else would

cutting through a blood orange ever want her.

on my arm – along this process of “Our relationship ended badly – he

being tattooed, I’ve found each new left me with everything to sort out,

piece enables a new level of selfconfidence.

Tattooing counteracts Sarah explains. “Two months after

including selling our joint home,”

the years of discontent I felt for our relationship ended, my dad

my body – I’m recarving and

passed away very suddenly. I had

embellishing myself the way I

never felt so lost, lonely, or low.”

want to be.”

But things changed when Sarah

Her height and her tattoos make sold the home she had shared with

Lauren feel powerful. She senses her ex and, literally, closed the door

and embraces her presence in on the past.

a room, and no longer wants to

“I care about myself now,” says

shrink into the shadows.

Sarah. “I do what I want, when I

“I created my own patterned

want, and with who I want. I am not

vessel to sail this life in. Of course, fully there yet, but for the first time

our outwards-facing image isn’t in forever, I feel confident.

everything. I have values and

“I’ve learned that people will love

morals that I hold with integrity, me, and that when I’m ready to

an abundant flow of creativity, and be in another relationship, it will

emotional gentleness that makes be with someone who loves and

me happy to be me. But I am

respects me for the person I am right

grateful to now stand at ease with now, because that is exactly what I

the mirror too.”


Follow Lauren’s Instagram

Follow Sarah’s blog at

@laurenmarina beautyaddict32.co.uk >>>

June 2020 • happiful.com • 19

Lee: Turning inwards

For Lee Chambers, it began when

he had a breakdown at university.

“I struggled to define myself as an

adult, as a man, and understand

my thoughts and feelings,” recalls

Lee. “I spent the next nine years

trying to find that inner-trust and

understanding of myself.”

In 2012, Lee’s son was born. The

same year, he and his partner

married and bought their first

home, soon finding out that they

were expecting their second child.

Despite this, Lee’s confidence

was still almost non-existent. And

things very quickly took a turn for

the worse.

On an ordinary Thursday, Lee’s

wrist swelled up and locked in

place. By the following Wednesday,

he had been admitted to hospital,

unable to walk or look after himself

as the symptoms spread across his

body to other joints.

Never fully diagnosed, but

categorised as having a type of

autoimmune arthritis, for Lee,

recovery was a marathon over

many months, as he had to learn to

walk again. But during that time,

he looked at the patterns that had

followed him throughout his life,

picking apart where things went

wrong, when it dawned on him:

he had, and could continue to,

overcome the challenges that came

his way.

“The day I walked a mile

unaided, that was my moment,”

Lee says. “I was my authentic self,

I had confidence in my ability to

overcome challenges.”

An environmental psychologist

and wellbeing consultant, Lee

now dedicates his time to helping

others. “I’ve learned that when

you live authentically, you don’t

need to be confident, it resonates

inside you – even when you show

vulnerability. Happiness comes

from within.”

Ashley: A look in the mirror

In early 2017, Ashley Groom had

lost her job and just been dumped.

“But by chance, I caught myself

crying in the mirror and felt like

I didn’t recognise the reflection,”

Ashley explains. “That was my

dawning moment – when the

thought flashed into my mind that I

just needed to stop.”

Ashley started to take her needs

seriously. She read books, took

herself to museums and talks, and

invested in working with a career

coach. In 2019 she met her partner,

and started working on her fashion

brand, Monuriki. But in July,

Ashley’s mum unexpectedly passed

away when she took her own life.

“It was a complete shock and

sent me into a tailspin. I put

everything in my life on hold and

went back to Vancouver to be with

my family.

“Eventually, I came back to London

and have slowly, over the past

months, tried to adjust to continuing

on without my mum. I’ve been

feeling my way out of the dark with

the help of family, my amazing

partner, and therapy.”

In the middle of this, Ashley and

her partner got the joyous news

that they had a baby

on the way. She

now reflects

on how her

initial dawning


equipped her for the challenges

that were yet to come.

“While it has been a real challenge

to hold both grief and joy at the

same time, and to start to emerge

from a very dark place,” Ashley

says, “I truly believe that I would

not have been able to survive the

past year without the insights and

changes that I’ve made in the past.”

Ashely | Olivia Bossert Photography

Nothing compares to being able to be

radically honest about who you are

Stacey: Radically me

Since her early teens, Stacey Kelly-

Maher has lived with depression

and anxiety. When she thinks

back to those times, she sees

herself growing up in a world that

isn’t always kind to girls, leading

so many to develop unhealthy

relationships with their bodies and


When she was 17, Stacey dropped

out of sixth form following a

depressive episode. In the six

months she spent at home, she

discovered online communities,

The right state of mind

Transformation coach Ilse

Passet says that cultivating a

dawning moment is all about

tuning in.

“Mindset is at the top – practise

seeing challenges as moments

of growth. Re-wire your brain

to see the lesson in adversity.

Honouring your needs doesn’t

only grow your self-confidence

and self-love, but also helps

you grow as a person.”

where she learned about feminism

and activism, which she says helped

her to find her own purpose and a

fresh perspective.

“Accepting being a lesbian is

probably the best thing to ever

happen for my happiness, because

nothing compares to being able

to be radically honest about who

you are,” Stacey explains. “The

more community I’ve found, the

more I’ve worked to support my

communities, the more at peace

I’ve become.”

At the core of her confidence is

Stacey’s understanding that she has

to have her own back.

“I need to continue to be gentle

with myself – that’s part of the

package with chronic mental

illness and any kind of sustainable

change,” she says. “Self-love is

never finished, there is no peak

Though they all take different

forms, our journeys through

adversity unite us.

There may be days where we want

to throw in the towel, and when

the dark and the unknown will feel

confidence level (although I am

aware that I’m sensational), and

I’ll always need to keep finding a

balance between doing the work

and taking care of myself.”

unimaginably heavy. But whether

it’s through tuning in, or reaching

out, the sun will rise again. And

when we find our dawning, and we

come out the other side, it will be

clear, bright, and beautiful.

June 2020 • happiful.com • 21

Vulnerability is not

knowing victory or

defeat, it’s understanding

the necessity of both; it’s

engaging. It’s being all in


Brené | brenebrown.com



Searching for inspiration? Look

no further than Brené Brown...

As a ‘New York Times’ bestselling

author, a research

professor at the University of

Houston, and with one of the

most viewed TED talks in the

world, Brené Brown’s insight

has inspired millions. With her

background in academia, and

specialising in topics such as

vulnerability and shame, Brené’s

words empower us to find the

courage to embrace how we truly

feel, and to follow our own path.

Watch: ‘The power of vulnerability’ TED Talk by

Brené Brown, available on YouTube.

With more than 13 million views, this is a funny,

insightful, and certainly memorable talk sharing

findings from her research, as well as Brené’s

personal quest to truly know herself, and humanity

– “our ability to empathise, belong, love”.

Read: Daring Greatly: How the courage to be

vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent,

and lead by Brené Brown (Penguin Life, £9.99)

In a world where we so often strive to appear

perfect, Brené explores our natural instinct to

fight against feeling uncertain and exposed,

and challenges convention by highlighting the

true strength that can be found in embracing

our vulnerability, and having the courage to be


Listen: ‘Unlocking Us’ podcast, available on iTunes.

The key to Brené’s 2020 podcast? Authenticity. She

discusses with raw honesty what it really means to

be human, in all its unpolished, messy, and magical

glory. It’s the connections between us as humans

that are truly special, and in each episode Brené

explores the emotions and experiences that give

our lives meaning.

Healing sounds

Brainwaves, soundwaves, and binaural beats – what does it all

mean, and how can we use sound to relax?

Writing | Kat Nicholls

As I write, I’m listening

to ‘Dreamcatcher’,

composed by Robert

Foster – a piece of

music on the Calm

app. There’s a landscape of sound

created by instruments I can’t

name. What I can name, however,

is how I feel when I listen to it –

calm, in control, and focused.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been

enjoying an array of ‘relaxation’

music. Whether I’m writing at my

desk or reading before bed, it’s

fast becoming the soundtrack to

my days.

While I’ve always known music

has a profound effect on us, it

wasn’t until I delved deeper into

the science behind sound therapy

that I understood how sound waves

affect our brainwaves, and how we

can utilise this relationship.

When exposed

to these healing

frequencies, the sound

resonates within the

mind and physical body,

naturally releasing

any emotional blocks

and expanding


It helps for us to first understand

the main types of brainwaves:

• Beta waves are associated

with being alert. When we’re

concentrating and analysing,

we’re likely to be in a

beta-dominant state.

• Alpha brainwave patterns are

slower and longer in frequency.

When we’re in an alphadominated

state we’re awake,

but relaxed.

• Theta brainwaves take the

relaxation deeper, and include

lighter stages of sleep.

• Finally, delta waves are very slow,

low-frequency, and are dominant

when we enter into deep sleep.

Scientists have found that when

we’re exposed to sound waves, our

brain waves can be affected. This is

a process called entrainment.

“This is when our brainwave

activity naturally aligns with the

sound’s rhythm, inducing a state

of deep relaxation,” counsellor

and sound therapy practitioner

Deborah Holder tells me.

So, by listening to low-frequency

sound waves we can encourage our

brainwaves to slow, too. Another

important factor is the presence

of binaural beats. This is when

you hear two tones, one in each

ear, that have slightly different

frequencies. When this happens

our brain processes a third beat at

the difference of the frequencies.

If this difference is below 30Hz,

it’s believed to reduce anxiety,

encourage sleep, and even help

manage pain.

While the science and

understanding of this is relatively

new and ongoing, sound therapy

has been in place for centuries.


Deborah explains that sound

therapy uses specially selected

instruments with a high vibrational

frequency and long resonance,

such as singing bowls, gongs,

and vocal toning in the form of

chanting, humming, and singing.

“When exposed to these healing

frequencies, the sound resonates

within the mind and physical

body, naturally releasing any

emotional blocks, and expanding

consciousness. It reduces

brainwave activity and lowers

heart rate, prompting the body to

self-heal and rejuvenate.”

Described as an energy medicine,

sound therapy has this effect on us

because the cells in our body are

sensitive to vibrations. If you’ve

ever experienced a gong bath,

you’ll no doubt know how this

wall of sound feels physically and


24 • happiful.com • June 2020

We are all

drawn to different

frequencies, so follow

your intuition



Deborah explains that sound

therapy can help with anxiety,

depression, insomnia, pain, and

assist in the management of

conditions such as fibromyalgia.

Research on how sound therapy

helps is vast, and our knowledge

continues to grow. Last year,

musician Paul Masvidal released

an album called Mythical Human

Vessel, and says the tones used are

‘isochronic’ – a groundbreaking

type of sound therapy that is

believed to increase serotonin and

alleviate depression.

However, researchers have noted

that not everyone will respond in

the same way, and further studies

are needed to fully understand the

effect of sound on the brain.

If you decide to try sound therapy

for yourself, you’ll be taken

through a short assessment so your

treatment can be personalised.

“You’ll be screened for any

risk factors, such as tinnitus,

pregnancy, metal implants, and

whether you have a pacemaker or

epilepsy. It’s very important that

sound therapy is used correctly

with any of the above conditions,”

Deborah explains.

Following the assessment,

you’ll be asked to make yourself

comfortable, and simply enjoy the

sounds washing over you.



To open your ears to the world

of sound therapy, try listening

to sound-healing meditations.

You can find these on YouTube,

or through apps – the Third Ear

meditation app is a great one.

If you already have a meditation

practice, you could experiment

with adding an instrument such

as a singing bowl, which Deborah

says is great for grounding energy.

Or, she also recommends vocal

toning to lift your vibration.

“Vocal toning uses seven

tones based on vowels that are

connected to the chakras – the

energy centres in the physical

body. Each tone resonates with

a specific chakra. For example,

‘ee’ connects to the crown chakra

at the top of the head, and ‘ah’

connects to the heart chakra.”

However you choose to use sound

in your wellbeing practice, the

most important thing is to follow

what feels good to you. As Deborah

says, “We are all drawn to different

frequencies, so follow your

intuition when choosing a sound

healing instrument.”

Get listening, get healing, and

welcome in those good vibrations.

Deborah Holder is a counsellor, Usui

Reiki Master, and sound therapy

practitioner. She is also the founder of

Stepping Stones Crystal Reiki Sound.

June 2020 • happiful.com • 25

How to get through

a bad day...with Grace

with Grace

When we’re thrown into uncomfortable and unfamiliar territory, it’s easy to

feel overwhelmed, and for feelings to spiral. Before you know it, a bad day

becomes a bad week – but there are ways to turn things around. Here, our

columnist Grace Victory offers a comforting look into how we can respect

these feelings, without letting them take over

We are in

unprecedented times

and, for some of us,

completely out of

our normal routines. It can often

feel like we are bombarded with

Covid-19 talk on social media, on

TV, and even in our homes. We

can’t escape the reality of what is

going on, and that can feel quite

overwhelming, given we are also

stuck physically as well. For some,

households are small, dark, and

have no outside space. For others,

households are unsafe, and harbour

violence and emotional abuse.

Self-isolation is not an easy feat by

any means, and although some may

find it less engulfing than others, I

think it’s fair to say that most of us

are having up and down days.

On the good days, I wake up and

feel excited. What content can I

create? What can I write about?

I might do a workout, or a face

mask, declutter the living room,

edit three YouTube videos, and

binge-watch a Netflix show. Yes,

yes, yes – it can make me feel on

fire! But on the bad days it can

be a lot of tears, brain fog, and –

you betcha – absolutely zero ‘yes’


For so many of us, it’s easy to

let that feeling persist, but it’s

important to try to stop a bad day

from turning into a bad few days,

a bad week, or even a bad month.

While I believe it’s important to

honour your feelings – regardless

or whether they are positive or

negative – I also think we have to

recognise when enough is enough,

and understand how we can turn

things around.

So, you want to know how to get

through a bad day? I’ve got you



The moment we suppress or

diminish what we feel, the feelings

grow and grow, and eventually

explode. Just because a feeling is

difficult or triggering doesn’t mean

that it shouldn’t be felt. During

these moments we can learn so

much from our own soul, as well

as bring ourselves more clarity

and self-awareness. While it may

not always be safe to outwardly

express these feelings (especially

in difficult households during

self-isolation), we should learn

how to express these feelings to

ourselves – with no judgement.

It’s a wonderful, spiritual practice

to sit and feel, and sometimes we

can recognise that our emotional

pain is physical, too. When I feel

overwhelmed, my neck and upper

back ache, so sometimes I will

notice the bodily sensations before

the emotional.


Sometimes internal chaos can

manifest out, and sometimes

external chaos can manifest

in. The best way to distinguish

which is which, as well as calming

yourself in order to figure out

what you’d like to do with the

chaos, is to create stillness. This

can be achieved by meditation.

You don’t need to sit cross-legged

and say ‘om’, but you do need to

bring awareness to your breath,

and connect to yourself. I often do

this in the shower, because water

is such a cleansing tool, and a

great way to feel a sense of calm.

Another meditative task is cleaning;

when I clean, I think of nothing but

what I’m doing at that moment. So

by the end of an epic cleaning sesh,

I feel more grounded and present.

Try different activities to find your

own thing!


Just because a feeling is

difficult doesn’t mean that it

shouldn’t be felt. During these

moments we can learn so much

from our own soul, as well as

bring ourselves more clarity



Playing with the arts and being

creative is beneficial for the soul,

but it’s also a tool to connect to

your inner child. Paint, draw,

colour, or papier mâché your

feelings. Draw whatever is on

your mind, or draw how you’d

like to feel. Whenever I pick up a

paintbrush, I’m drawn to nature

and always paint water or trees, or

both. The actual act of painting is

enough to centre me, but creating

a piece of art that is calming

and still makes it even more

worthwhile. Alternatively you

could play board games, listen to

music, or a podcast. Do something

that takes little physical effort, but

feeds your soul.


When we’re feeling rubbish, the

last thing most of us want to do

is exercise, but it’s proven to be

a great way to shift low mood

and emotional stress. I’m not

recommending a 45-minute HIIT

class, but simply some form of

movement. My friend, the author,

speaker and life coach Michelle

Elman, recommended The Fitness

Marshall, and I’ve been hooked

ever since. It’s a YouTube channel

that does three to five minute

dance videos to your favourite

artists. From Beyoncé to Demi

Lovato, it’s a quick and simple

way to get some movement in.

After three videos, your face is as

red as a strawberry, but you can’t

beat that post-workout feeling.

Alternatively, you could try yoga, a

walk in nature, or put yourself out

there and learn a TikTok dance.


And lastly, write down a list of

things you’re grateful for. Yes,

you can still be grateful when

everything feels uncertain.

Creating a gratitude list raises your

vibrations, and can help bring you

some comfort and relief.


Grace x

How to overcome

decision fatigue

Life can often feel like a long string of decisions. What to wear, what to have for

dinner, how to reply to an email, or even what book to read next. Big decisions,

small decisions, they all add up, and can become draining...


don’t know about you but,

sometimes, I can’t face making

another decision. It doesn’t even

have to be anything significant –

after a long day, just choosing a

new Netflix series can feel like the

hardest choice in the world.

Well, it turns out there’s a reason

for this. Decisions actually can feel

harder to make, the more of them

we have to make. In fact, according

to a 2010 study in America, judges

in court have been shown to make

poorer quality decisions later

in the day than they do in the

morning. The fate of a defendant’s

sentence might

really depend on

how many other

cases the judge

Writing | Becky Wright

Illustrating | Rosan Magar

has had to deliberate over – and

whether or not they’ve eaten


It’s something even supermarkets

are wise to. That’s why you’ll

usually find sweet snacks displayed

prominently at the

checkout. Yes,

just when

we’re depleted

after making all

those decisions

throughout the

aisles, we can be

tempted easily with a snap decision

to pick up a chocolate bar by

the till.

No matter how rational you try

to be, you can’t make decision

after decision without paying a

biological price. It’s different from

ordinary physical fatigue – you’re

not consciously aware of

being tired – but you’re low

on mental energy. The

more choices you make


the day, the

28 • happiful.com • June 2020

Get decisive

Try this coaching technique to

improve self-reflection in decisionmaking,

from life coach Christine


“What are your biggest goals right

now? How do you want to go about

reaching them, in line with your

core values? What is the legacy

you would like to build? Once you

are clearer about this, this is an

excellent compass.

“Decisions are how these bigger

picture goals become real (or not).

So, ask yourself with every decision:

‘Is this relevant to the bigger


“If yes, the core question is: does

the decision I am about to make lead

me towards what I care about? And,

if no, streamline your choices so you

don’t have to sweat the small stuff.

“If you keep doing this, over time

things will start shifting in the right


harder each one becomes for

your brain.

The thing is, we can’t expect to

be good decision-makers simply

by default – it comes from energy

preservation, and we have

to work at it. Here

are some

The more choices you make

throughout the day, the harder

each one becomes for your brain

tips to help you establish habits

that eliminate the mental effort of

making choices:

1 Plan daily decisions

in advance

If there are decisions you have

to make each day that you can

find overwhelming, try making

them ahead of time. So, instead

of agonising over your wardrobe

every morning, plan your outfits

for a few days in advance. It’s the

same reason Mark Zuckerberg

wears a grey T-shirt and

jeans every day – it’s one less

complication in your day.

It’s about minimising the things

you have to ponder over, to save

your best decision-making for

where it truly matters.

2 Make important

decisions first

It might not always feel like it, but

the morning is when your mind

is at its most energised, so take

advantage of that. Consider all

your options carefully, then go with

what your gut tells you. You’ll feel a

sense of accomplishment that will

set you up for the rest of the day.

3 Eat something

Of course, it’s not always possible

to make decisions first thing in the

day. One thing that can be avoided,

though, is making decisions on an

empty stomach – particularly if

you have to make decisions later

in the day.

Give your brain the fuel it

needs to focus on the task at

hand. Feeling energised and

replenished will give you the

mental strength you need to feel

confident in your choices.

4 Make commitments

instead of decisions

Do you find that you lack

motivation or commitment

when you’re making choices

for yourself? Well, instead of

deciding every day whether or

not to go to the gym, why not set

up a regular workout session with

a friend? Looking forward to a

plan you’ve made with someone

else takes deliberation out of

the equation.

5 Delegate if you need to

If you really can’t make a

decision, it’s OK to ask someone

else. This could be as simple as

asking your friend to pick the

restaurant for dinner.

Instead of getting caught in a

spiral of “I don’t mind, what do

you think?”, be direct. “I don’t

know where we should go for

food – could you pick somewhere

for us? I’m happy to go with your


When done right, delegating can

empower people, and show them

that you trust them.

June 2020 • happiful.com • 29

Taking care of yourself makes

you stronger for everyone in

your life… including you


Photography | Jen P

Dare to dream

Writing | Bonnie Evie Gifford

We all have a dream

– whether it’s

something we’ve

always wanted to

have, do, or be. But what can we

do to help us achieve our heart’s


If you’ve not explored them

before, then you may not realise

just how much vision boards can

empower us to commit to what

we want in life. And we know it

works; athletes use visualisation

to improve their performance –

so, why can’t it work for the rest of

us, too?

Yet according to one study by

the University of California, we

could be going about things the

wrong way. Instead of setting

our sights on our end goal, we

should focus on how to achieve

it. Dreaming big about a career

change, country house, or oncein-a-lifetime

vacation is all well

and good... but if we put all of our

time into the fantasy, it’s easy to

forget the most important step:

turning that dream into a reality.

Here’s a quick guide to get you



Before you begin, take the time to

ask: what do I really want? Find a

quiet spot where you can reflect

on different areas of your life,

how they affect your wellbeing,

and where you can imagine

yourself being in the future.

Listening to soft, calming music,

or white noise, can help you tune

out distractions.



Once you have a rough idea of

what you want, it’s time for the fun

part: picking out photos, pictures,

words, or even quotes that call to

you from your stack of magazines.

If you’re struggling and have a

working printer, try searching

online on sites like Pinterest for





Before you start working on your

layout, think about your goals

and how you will feel when they

are complete. Do you hope to feel

calmer, more confident, and in

control? Perhaps you want to feel

more satisfied and fulfilled in what

you do?




Once your board is ready, it’s time

to start visualising the steps you

need to take to succeed. What is

holding you back – time, training,

space, or even dedication? Once

you identify this, you can focus

on how you can overcome it, and

create a more concrete idea of the

steps you can take towards your

end goal.



Ensure your vision board is

somewhere you can clearly see it

every day. By keeping your end

goals – and the steps you need to

take to achieve them – firmly in

mind, you can turn your focus to

making progress towards those

dreams each and every day.


• Glue

• Scissors

• A posterboard, corkboard,

or frame

• A stack of magazines





8Breaking down the prejudice

and misconceptions around

psychosis, and uncovering the

truth behind this condition

Writing | Erica Crompton

People with psychosis

often say that the

prejudice against

psychosis is worse

than the condition itself.

Whether it’s being dumped by a

new beau, or getting fired from a

job, the stigma around psychosis,

and those with it, is rife.

In the literal sense, psychosis

means ‘out of touch with reality’,

and episodes aren’t usually

constant. People might find they

can tread water and lead happy,

fulfilling lives, and yet still have

‘blips’ of psychosis that all-toooften

mark out characters like an

ink-blot on paper.

32 • happiful.com • June 2020

But with treatment (medications,

and sometimes talking therapies)

people with psychosis aren’t to

be feared. We are just everyday

people, trying our hardest to fit into

the world around us. Many people

with psychosis have jobs, families,

homes, and pets.

Psychosis is a part of my schizoaffective

disorder, and I’ve

experienced episodes of psychosis

three times over several months,

during the course of two decades. I

can still manage to work part-time as

a journalist and guest lecturer, with

my own home, and I’m mum to two

adorable cats.

Psychosis isn’t something that’s

held me back in my life, and I have a

clean Disclosure and Barring Service

(DBS) record. But other people’s

views and fears of psychosis persist.

Here are eight common myths that I

still battle with every day.

1 People with psychosis are

dangerous or evil

Whether it’s a thriller titled Psycho,

or Batman’s jibe to the Joker in The

Dark Knight Rises (he says: “You’re

just a schizophrenic clown”), there’s

a myth perpetuated by Hollywood

that people with psychosis are

evil, axe-welding maniacs. But

despite fears, we now know

people with psychosis are more

likely to be victims of violence

than perpetrators, and only a tiny

minority who experience severe

hallucinations and delusional

beliefs will go on to act on them,

and occasionally cause harm to

themselves or others.

2 It means you have multiple


There’s a really unhelpful myth that

people with psychosis are like Jekyll

We are just everyday

people, trying our

hardest to fit into the

world around us

and Hyde – psychosis meaning

‘out of touch with reality’ has

caused a lot of confusion. People

with psychosis do sometimes

experience delusions and

hallucinations, but they do not

have multiple personalities. That

condition is known as dissociative

identity disorder.

3 People with psychosis are

all the same

Psychosis isn’t a one-size-fits-all

illness. Many people experiencing

psychosis will see visions or hear

voices that others don’t. However

this isn’t the case for everybody.

Some people with psychosis, like

myself, only experience ‘delusions’

– mine is that I’m Britain’s most

wanted criminal. Other people

with psychosis will have tactile

hallucinations, such as the feeling

that insects are crawling over

them. However the symptoms

present themselves, they are very

often terrifying for the person with

them, and very hard to live with.

4 People with psychosis

look dishevelled

I’ve lost track of the amount of

people who’ve met me in person

and commented: “You don’t look

like someone with psychosis.”

Yes, during a crisis, self-care can

be neglected, and I may be too

anxious to wash my hair or put on

makeup. But crises are rare once >>>

June 2020 • happiful.com • 33

stable on medication, and for the

bulk of time I can attend meetings

or appointments with washed hair,

clean clothes, and sometimes even

makeup, too.

5 People with psychosis need

to be locked away

Even when I’m in crisis, I can

usually manage to live by myself,

and will only see my GP or

psychiatrist for a check-up about

once a week to monitor my

medication and mental health.

Hospital stays tend to be reserved

for more acute episodes, often after

a suicide attempt and when the

patient lacks awareness (known in

psychiatry as ‘insight’). There are

psychiatric assessment teams in

A&E who can determine whether a

stay in a mental hospital is needed.

While I’ve lived with psychosis

for two decades now, I’ve only

ever needed to be in hospital

for one week, before stabilising

on medication and then being


6 Psychosis is caused by drug use

While psychosis can be induced

by taking drugs, this certainly

isn’t always the case. Nobody

knows exactly what the causes

of psychosis are, but it is likely

to be due to both environmental

and genetic factors, including

stress, childhood adversity,

brain chemistry, genetics, birth

complications, or even harmful


7 There is no treatment

for psychosis

Antipsychotic medication is the

mainstay treatment for psychosis

and, once the right one is found,

it can help many people to feel

better, and dampen the delusions

or hallucinations. Once out of a

crisis and stable on medication,

people can also find talking

therapies help – to get people

to understand more about their

condition, why they have it,

and how they can prevent it by

identifying ‘early warning signs’.

Once out of a crisis,

people can find

talking therapies help

– to understand more

about their condition,

why they have it, and

how they can prevent

it by identifying ‘early

warning signs’

8 People with psychosis

can’t recover

In the two decades I’ve lived with

psychosis, I’ve lost a job and a

handful of close relationships due

to stigma around my condition.

However I’ve gone on to gain two

degrees, in journalism and fine

art. I’ve also been published in The

New York Times and written my

debut book. My personal life has

also spiralled upwards too, having

recently bought myself a little white

cottage, and adopted two loving

tomcats – Caspar and Winter.

Although we all need help and

support to get through the more

difficult times, people who have

experienced psychosis can go

on to live full, happy, and truly

rewarding lives.

Erica Crompton is the co-author of

‘The Beginner’s Guide to Sanity:

A Self-Help Book for People with

Psychosis’ – written with Professor

Stephen Lawrie (published by

Hammersmith Health Books, £14.99).

34 • happiful.com • June 2020

How to talk to family

about wellbeing and

mental health

Trying to explain your

illness to those closest

to you can be an

intimidating challenge,

so here’s some expert

advice to help you

get the conversation


Writing | Katie Conibear

However much we love

them, talking to family

about our mental health

can be hard work. It

can be daunting to start

a conversation about it, and even

tougher to help them understand.

I was lucky. My family was there

for me when I was diagnosed with

bipolar disorder. However, even

though my mum worked with

children with mental illness, and

my dad was a social worker, it still

took them a long time to deal with

the diagnosis. If your family has

no experience of mental illness, it

can feel like a monumental task to

explain any of it.

Counsellor and psychotherapist

Lucy Fuller says: “Whatever form

mental illness takes, it is still an

illness. If you had a heart problem, >>>

June 2020 • happiful.com • 35

you would tell your family about

it, how it affects you, and what

they can do to help you while you

are not well. It sometimes helps to

think about mental health issues

in the same way.

“Close family will always have a

tendency to want you to be better

as soon as possible, and often their

intentions – although coming from

a good and caring place – are not

all that helpful.”

Because they can’t see what’s

wrong, family members might

have a harder time understanding.

I’ve found using a description or

a metaphor works. I’ve explained

bipolar disorder as a rollercoaster,

or like waves in the ocean. Find a

description that works for you. If

they can picture something, it can

help your family wrap their heads

around the idea.

Break it down into chunks. For

instance, give examples of past

behaviour and tell them: “This was

an episode of depression.”

Really stress how these

symptoms have a profound

effect on you. It will be hard

work, and emotional, to explain

everything, and will leave you

feeling vulnerable. It’s important

to tell loved ones how this makes

you feel. Explain what it isn’t – for

example, depression is more than

just feeling low or fed up.

Lucy Fuller explains how

family can support you. “They

need to know from you that

acknowledging your difficulties,

and just being there for you, is

important. They don’t need to

try to fix you – that will come

with time. They just need to be

there for you, and show their love

and support by accepting your

mental state, and being able to be

alongside you in your difficulties.”

If they feel the need to fix

the problem, involve them.

They’ll feel calmer about you

being unwell, and will feel

like they’re doing their bit to

help. They’ll learn more about

the condition, and if they feel

partly responsible for you being

unwell, it can help them deal

with those feelings.

Take them along to see your

doctor or psychiatrist. I regularly

take someone from my family

to appointments with me. It

helps me, too. Family often

notice something isn’t quite

right with my behaviour before

I even realise it. If I’m very ill,

having someone else in the

appointment helps because

you can’t always process all the

information you’re being given.

I had to tell my

parents that

they can’t fix

me, but they

can help

Take them to support groups,

or therapy sessions, if you can.

Share what you’ve learnt, and

update them on how you’re

managing. If they care about you,

all your family want to hear is

how they can help. Make a list of

what they can do practically to

help you. Give them information

on who to call and what to do if

you become ill. Explaining what

your treatment involves can help

alleviate their worries.

What I’ve found is that families,

especially parents, are desperate

to fix you. They want to stop you

from feeling the way you do. They

want an answer as to how you can

be better again. And they want

to know why you’re ill. And the

problem with these questions is

they’re either messy answers, or

there isn’t one. I had to tell my

parents that they can’t fix me,

but they can help. My parents

fretted for years that they’d done

36 • happiful.com • June 2020

something wrong, that had caused

me to be this way. I’ve had to

reassure them that it’s OK, they

didn’t do anything wrong.

It’s incredibly difficult to admit

to family that something that

happened to you when you were

younger has contributed to you

being unwell. Depending on your

situation, it might not be possible

to be completely truthful. It could

cause more harm than good. You

really have to judge the situation

If you need support

Call Samaritans on 116 123

Find a local support group at


Look into family therapy at


Together-uk.org provides peer

support and can advocate on

your behalf

MIND charity has an online

support community called

Elefriends (elefriends.org.uk)

and do what you think is best.

Talk it through with a therapist, or

someone you trust.

Lucy Fuller says: “If they still don’t

get it, point them in the direction of

some good literature, podcasts, or

TV programs where they can learn

more about mental health.”

What if they

aren’t supportive?

This does happen, and can be

heartbreaking when a close family

member just doesn’t get it. It’s

horrible to feel that someone in

your family doesn’t – or isn’t willing

to – understand. It can happen for

a number of reasons. They might

feel responsible, or they might not

know how to talk to you, so push

you away. They might have old

fashioned beliefs.

Sometimes you can work with

family to help them understand.

If they’re receptive, you can try to

educate them. Share literature and

links to websites you think they’ll

find useful. If you go to a support

group, invite them along. It will

help them learn more about mental

illness, and see you’re not the only

one with the condition.

Unfortunately, sometimes none

of these will work. It’s up to you

what you then do. They might need

more time to come around to the

idea. Or maybe you know they will

never accept it. This can be heartwrenching,

so it’s important to lean

on other people in your life. When

we feel rejected or alone, the strain

can make us very ill.

It sounds a bit cheesy, but you

can make your own family. Real

family are the people who support

you, look out for you, and accept

you regardless of what you’re

going through. You don’t have to

be related, or brought up by them.

You might not find your real family

until you’re an adult. Families come

in all shapes and sizes, and you can

make yours look any way you want.

Katie Conibear is a freelance writer,

who blogs at stumblingmind.com and

has a podcast, ‘A Life Lived Vividly’,

with a focus on hearing voices.

June 2020 • happiful.com • 37

Challenges make life interesting,

however overcoming them is

what makes life meaningful


Photography | Felipe Bustillo


From zero to

parenthood – in

just three hours

When his girlfriend unexpectedly gave birth to

a baby girl, new dad Adam sank into a pit of

fear, anxiety, depression, and inner conflict. But,

by searching for reasons and answers, he has

emerged stronger – and now uses hypnotherapy

to help free others from their emotional shackles

Writing | Adam Bucklow


had always said I didn’t

want children. I knew

nothing about them,

had never even held a

baby – and so I couldn’t

have been less prepared

for the phone call that was

to change my life.

Looking back now, I

wouldn’t have it any other

way. I cannot imagine

life not being a dad; but

it took a lot of struggling,

self-discovery, and

moments of realisation,

to get to that place.

It was 11 May 2015 when

I was woken in the middle

of the night by my phone

ringing. Little did I know

this one call was going to

be the most important of

my life.

It was my (now) motherin-law

with the news

that my girlfriend was

in hospital. I felt sick.

What had caused her to

be rushed into hospital

in the middle of the

night? My mind raced,

my throat dried up, and

then she announced the

unexpected… My partner

was in a delivery room,

preparing to give birth!

I froze and could just

hear heavy breathing

getting louder and more

thunderous. I stood

up, began to get ready

to make my way to the

hospital, then dropped the

phone on the bed – and

at that instant, I buried

myself deep inside.

This just didn’t make

sense. My girlfriend had

been working that day; we

had been zip-lining the

weekend before. She had

no baby bump, she didn’t

have morning sickness,

she had been taking her

contraceptive pill, and

yet there I was driving to

the hospital to be with the

mother of my child. It just

didn’t seem real.

When I reached the

hospital, I was in a deep

state of shock, but my

girlfriend was going to

need me – she would be

so confused and scared,

so I needed to be there

for her. I again buried the

emotions deep inside the

chasms of my mind.

As I entered the delivery

room, it was surreal.

There lay my beautiful

girlfriend, in a hospital

bed, wearing a gown. She

was trying to convince the

midwife that she would

know if a living child was

inside her! I put on my

brave face, took a deep

breath, and I ran towards

her as the tears began.

Over the next few hours,

I experienced every sort

of emotion – ones I’d

never felt before. There

were so many questions,

so many doubts, fears,

and yet nobody seemed to

be able to tell us anything

about our baby. Was it

a boy or girl, was our

child healthy, full-term? >>>

June 2020 • happiful.com • 39

From the first moment I

set eyes on my daughter

and held her, I felt my

heart melt

Nurses were running in

and out the room, and a

monitor clearly showed

something moving inside

my girlfriend’s tummy.

Over the next few hours,

I tried to come to terms

with the situation. I

held my partner’s hand,

and made sure she felt

supported. I was locked

into that moment, and

yet fear consumed every

element of my being.

When our child was

eventually born, it was

an emotional experience.

My partner was amazing,

I temporarily overcame

a fear of blood, and from

the first moment I set eyes

on my daughter and held

her, I felt my heart melt.

I was suddenly a dad

to a healthy and happy

baby girl. But now what?

She had no name, we

had nothing for her,

and we weren’t even

living together. But by

midday, we had half of

Mothercare in my living

room! I remember the

inner conflict I felt as I

sat surrounded by bags of

clothes, nappies, bottles,

and mourned my old life,

while also trying to accept

and come to terms with

my new one.

I didn’t eat for days, I

couldn’t sleep. My life

consisted of waiting for

hospital visiting hours

so I could go support my

girlfriend and our baby. I

was so lost.

Eventually my daughter

and girlfriend were

released from hospital.

Apart from losing my

guitar room overnight,

I had the perfect space

for a nursery, and my

girlfriend moved in. Life

became very different,

very quickly. We worked

together – she was so

patient with me – and

soon I was confident

enough to change nappies,

and hold my daughter

more regularly.

The broken sleep was

hideous; we were both so

physically and mentally

exhausted. The bottle

feeds in the early hours

were some of the loneliest

and scariest times for me,

as I tried to make sure that

I shared responsibilities

with my partner.

I quickly discovered

that there wasn’t much

support for dads. Every

leaflet, house visit, and

check-up focused on the

mother – as they should.

But I remember thinking

40 • happiful.com • June 2020

I studied the mechanics of what

causes anxiety, depression, even

phobias, and decided I wanted to

help others going through dark times

I was the other part of the

equation, too, and had

equally been affected.

This deep sense of

fear, worry, and doubt

eventually manifested

itself in anxiety, and time

alone with my daughter

filled me with dread. What

if I got her bath water the

wrong temperature? I

easily imagined scenarios

that would scare me. All

the while I was fascinated

with how this could

happen, and searched for

answers, until one day I

found one.

It was all to do with

the conscious and the

subconscious mind, and

how as both minds weren’t

aligned, the body bypassed

the entire process. I

became obsessed with

the mind, and was ready

to uncover the emotions

I’d buried. Instead of

listening to the anxiety, I

had tried to run from it –

causing it to get louder. I

needed to let it out.

I allowed the emotions,

the feelings, and the

memories to come

flooding back, and they

poured out of me. It was

my therapy. It was my

story, told from my point

of view, with nothing

spared, and I soon began

to realise that I no longer

felt anxious or depressed.

In fact, I could see

clearly for the first time

in a while. I remember

hugging my daughter and

thinking how I could now

enjoy my new reality. I

later self-published my

story as an ebook, called

3-Hour Dad.

My obsession with the

mind became stronger – I

studied the mechanics

of what causes anxiety,

depression, even phobias,

and decided I wanted to

help others going through

dark times.

So, I studied hypnosis,

immersing myself in

books, and took several

online courses before

saving enough money

to attend a school and

passing my diploma in

clinical hypnotherapy

with a distinction.

I set up Mindblocks


Nottingham, and started

to see clients living with

from emotional blocks.

With my backstory, my

understanding of the

mind, and a flexible

approach, I soon began

helping people to feel


I have now helped more

than 50 people, and love

to deliver workshops

to companies (which I

always start with my own

story) about the power of

the mind. I enjoy breaking

down the belief that there

isn’t hope for people. I

have discovered it is never

the event, but merely the

meaning we attach to it.

They say in life you don’t

discover your purpose;

it discovers you. And it

is fair to say without the

beautiful miracle of my

daughter, I wouldn’t be on

this path.


Adam’s journey shows

how we can be affected

by change, even when

it’s welcomed! We often

struggle to adapt because

our brains are naturally

resistant to change as a

means of keeping us safe

– but this can heighten

our anxiety, and trap

us in cycle of negative

thinking. However, as Adam

discovered, understanding

how the mind works is

often the first step to taking

back control of our anxiety.

Combining this knowledge

with hypnotherapy

gives you

the tools and

strategies to

stay calm and

resilient in times

of change.

Andrew Major | HPD DSFH


June 2020 • happiful.com • 41

Ask the experts

Dr Daniela Hecht answers

your questions on overcoming

feelings of isolation

Read more about Daniela on




feeling very

alone right now,

what can I do?

This is a challenging

A time, especially for

outgoing people who like to

socialise. Wanting to connect

with others and be in their

physical presence is what

usually gets us going, so being

socially distant can feel like the

opposite of what you need.


I live alone and

am missing

physical touch.

Is this normal?


Missing physical touch

when you are living

alone is a completely normal

phenomenon. We are social

creatures, and physical touch

is part of that interaction.

Although many people who

live on their own experience

isolation regularly, these

But just because you’re not

allowed to see friends and

family in person doesn’t mean

that you can’t see them at all.

Thanks to the internet, there

are a huge variety of ways to

connect. Try a Zoom hangout

over virtual brunch, or a

movie night from the comfort

of your sofa with Netflix Party.

Catch up with your best friend

over FaceTime, or give your

family a call.

challenging times highlight

the sense of loneliness that

comes from not being able

to physically get close to

someone else.

There are ways that may

help you soothe that need

for physical contact, such

as reaching out to friends

and family. Seeing them via

video may not be the same

as seeing them in person, but

it can help to alleviate that

sense of isolation.

This is a good time to be

imaginative, so try to find a way

to bring your social circle near,

even if you can’t be physically

close. When you need a break

from screens, open a window to

see if your neighbour is around.

Have you ever introduced

yourself? Perhaps you can help

each other out in little ways,

and once this is over you might

have made some new friends

along the way.

If talking to friends and

family doesn’t provide you

with the kind of physical

comfort you crave, then

give yourself a hug, or

sit in a nice hot bath.

Pamper yourself with a

self-massage, lather on

that luxurious lotion you’ve

been saving for a special

occasion, and wrap yourself

in your favourite blanket to

give yourself that feeling of

physical comfort.

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

Dr Daniela Hecht’s top tips for those

craving connection

1. Remember that this is temporary. Social

isolation will end, and you will be able to see

your friends and family again.

2. Make use of the internet and social media –

just because you can’t meet people in person

doesn’t mean you can’t see them on other

platforms; this is a time to be imaginative.

3. Be old fashioned – write a letter, stick your

head out of the window and connect with a

neighbour. Wave to someone across the street,

or speak to a stranger who shares a queue with

you (two metres apart, of course).


My partner

and I don’t

live together

and I’m finding it

really difficult. How

can we keep our

connection while we’re


Not being able to be

A with your partner in

these difficult times must

be really challenging. But

just because you aren’t

physically close, doesn’t

mean that you can’t be

connected emotionally. Not

being in the same space

just means you may have to

work harder to maintain that

emotional closeness.

Communication is key – try

to share what’s going on for

you, talk about your fears, and

discuss your day. If you usually

have meals together then try to

keep this up – have breakfast

via Zoom, check-in throughout

the day, and spend some time

in the evening to recap.

You may find that you’re

getting closer even though

you’re not in the same space,

because you’re not taking for

granted that you know what

the other is doing or thinking.

Creative ways to stay in touch

Now more than ever, we truly value and appreciate how important it is

to connect with others. But socialising isn’t just reserved for the digitallyminded.

Here we uncover some refreshingly original ways to show

someone you’re thinking of them…

Writing | Caroline Butterwick

Artwork | Charlotte Reynell

Staying in touch with

friends and family isn’t just

about being sociable – it’s

something that actually

supports our wellbeing. But not all

our loved ones live close by, which

can make meeting up for a meal,

or popping round for a coffee, hard

to do as often as we’d like. And

right now, as coronavirus has us

avoiding social contact in person,

we’re all too aware of how much we

can miss that connection with the

people who mean most to us.

Fortunately, thanks to WhatsApp

groups, Skype, and social media,

there are great tools to help us keep

in touch. But there’s something

even more magical about reaching

out to people in a creative way...


For the past few years, one of my

close friends and I have made

each other gifts to stay connected

through living in different

continents, various hospital stays,

and the recent worldwide situation.

One of my favourites is spending

hours crafting a handmade zine for

her. I sew several folded sheets of

thick paper together, and then fill

the pages with things I know will

resonate with her: a recipe for the

vegan tiffin I brought to a picnic;

a collage of Simpsons quotes; an

ironic travel guide to the city where

we both went to university (“Love

pottery kilns? Love Stoke-on-

Trent!”). I enjoy putting it together,

finding I get into the creative flow

and relax, and she has the fun of

reading it through, and laughing at

the silly in-jokes.


Who doesn’t love opening a

parcel full of wonderful things? If

someone you care about is going

through a hard time, or you just

want to show you’re thinking about

them, putting together a care

package can be a lovely surprise.

You could include their favourite

tea bags, scented candles, art

supplies, fluffy socks… Anything

you know they’ll love and will give

them some comfort. And if you’re

unable to get hold of some of their

favourite items, you could always

be creative and write them a letter,

or print off a photo of you both. It

doesn’t have to be expensive – it’s

the thought that counts.


If you love using language, try

penning a poem for your friend.

Whether heartfelt or funny, it will

be sure to make them smile. You

could handwrite it and post it to

them, or record yourself reading

it and send them the video. Or

maybe there’s a poem you’ve

read that brings your friend to

mind, which you could share if

you don’t fancy writing your own.

Writing and reading poetry can

be therapeutic, and by sharing

what you create with others, you’re

adding even more meaning to it.


Music means so much to many

of us. If you love strumming your

guitar or writing lyrics, you could

compose a song for your friend and

record it. If you’re not up for writing

your own, you could try sending

each other song recommendations,

or making a playlist for them,

meaning you can share music

together, no matter the physical

distance between you.


Most of us are familiar with

services that let us send a bouquet

of flowers. But a cheaper and

craftier version would be to pick

flowers ourselves (being sure to

act responsibly and never pick

rare flowers in the wild) and press

them, for our friends to keep. There

are plenty of guides available for

how to do this effectively, often

using simple tools like paper and

an old book. If you’ve been lucky

enough to be given fresh flowers by

someone, pressing is a great way of

preserving them.

44 • happiful.com • June 2020

“If you love using

language, try

penning a poem

for your friend.

Whether heartfelt

or funny, it will

be sure to make

them smile”


I’ve always collected postcards on

my holidays. But you don’t need

to have travelled far to have an

excuse to send one. Whether it’s a

postcard featuring a print of your

favourite painting you picked up

from an art gallery, or an image of

a beautiful landscape from a gift

shop in town, there are plenty of

options. When my friend was living

abroad, I loved getting a postcard

from her with interesting artwork

and a short update.


I have a few friends who are gifted

artists and who have sketched me

beautiful pictures as presents.

Knowing they spent so much time

and effort creating something they

knew I’d love makes their artwork

extra special to me, and takes pride

of place on my wall. If you’re a

pro with a paintbrush, consider

making something for a friend.

And even if you’re an artistic

novice, it’s the thought that counts

– you could do a funny sketch or

caricature instead.


Cooking and baking can help us

relax, and many of us love sharing

food with others. But when you

can’t have your loved ones round

to eat, perhaps you could try

doing the next best thing:

share recipes. If you’re a keen

cook, put together a booklet

of recipes to give to friends,

or send your favourites

electronically. You could

even host a virtual bake-off,

and cook along together.

Take photos, too – lots of us

love looking at delicious food for


June 2020 • happiful.com • 45

Photography | Nathan Dumlao

Don’t feel alone, because there is

always someone out there who loves

“you more than you can imagine

46 • happiful.com • June 2020


At what


Writing | Jamie Windust

Presenting our true selves outwardly can be an essential

part of developing confidence and self-acceptance, but

can be easier said than done. For Jamie Windust, a nonbinary

editor, writer, public speaker, and model, the artistry

and effort put into their makeup was an empowering

means of exploring their identity – but it came at a price.

Here, they share their journey of self-expression and

acceptance, and how we don’t owe anyone a certain

version of ourselves...

It took about six

months for the old

department store that

I used to work in to

be convinced that it was

OK to have someone work

on the plethora of beauty

counters, who wasn’t

a woman. To me, the

beauty counters were a

metropolis of potions >>>

June 2020 • happiful.com • 47

and creams that had the

capabilities to transform oneself,

but not into someone else, rather

into a more confident, and sculpted

version of who you already were.

Like most people, I started

wearing makeup due to insecurity.

After years of fluctuating skin

types, and months on prescription

drugs, I decided that it was time

to try the slap. I dabbled here and

there, only to one day be asked to

take all my makeup off by my then

manager as I looked, in her words,

“ghastly”. Thanks, love.

As my identity as a human being

grew and evolved, my makeup

bag came with me. The cyclical

relationship of wanting to explore

femininity, and my ever growing

makeup collection, was no

coincidence. Colour held its hand

out to me, and I took it swiftly,

allowing it to adorn my face in

ways I had never imagined would

be possible. It was a time where

the meaning of makeup changed

for me.

I was 16 when I realised the

enormous potential makeup had

to allow me to fully embrace being

myself. I never felt like the rules

everyone else was following with

makeup really applied to me. I’d

watch the tutorials, and find the

techniques to master the basics,

but when it came to the creative

element of constructing a visage,

I always felt underwhelmed by

the creations on my screen. So, as

I continued to throw everything

on to my face in the hope that

something stuck, it never crossed

my mind that this could be seen

as too much. There was always a

slight hesitance, and discreteness,

but never enough to stop me from

painting how I wanted to.

Now, that feels different. The

magnitude of reality seems to

have squashed how makeup feels

for me now. It’s still an outlet

for a conversation with myself

about how gender and expression

harmonise through my face,

but it leaves me with a question,

speaking back to me in the mirror

– “At what cost?” The conundrum

trans people have lived with for

what feels like forever. At what

cost is it to be yourself, when

everyone will inevitably tell you

that they don’t want you to be?

As I slick the blush up the sides of

my face, and blend the fuschia into

my temples, I wonder if it’s worth

the pain that will assert itself?

This isn’t what makeup used to be

about. It used to be fun. It used

to allow me to find who I am. But

once you’ve found it, the feeling

around makeup as expression

forms a new relationship. It now

feels like an endurance test. How

long can I last in this face, before I

have to change it again? Is it worth

it? At what cost?

The potions and

creams had

the capabilities

to transform

oneself, but not

into someone

else, rather into a

more confident,

and sculpted

version of who you

already were

In 2019, I stripped it all

back. Towards the end of

the year, I decided enough

was enough. I was tired of

feeling like public enemy

number one every time I stepped

onto the Tube. Sick of having to

second guess if it’s sensible to go to

certain places in a face of makeup.

Whether or not it was worth it. I

stripped it back, and for the first

time since I was that 16-year-old

taking their first steps towards the

makeup counters, I went without.

I navigated the world with ease,

and with less anxiety. I felt room

to breathe. I was able to do the

mundanities of life, and not feel

like I was being watched. But did I

feel like me?

I’d reached a stage of my

relationship with makeup that

I’d never thought possible. The

impact of wearing it, and being

subjected to constant street

harassment, had pushed my

mental health over the edge,

and eventually landed me here,

makeup-less. I felt like I’d given

48 • happiful.com • June 2020

in. That I’d started to believe

what they were saying. Started to

believe it was true.

But for anyone who knows how

it feels to be persecuted for being

your truest self, we know that

person is still inside us. Even if

you’ve changed how you look,

and your presence in the world

is vastly different from what it

was, you’ll still hear their voice

inside your head to remind you

that they’re there. Sometimes,

it’s more important to prioritise

your whole health, both physical

and mental. By looking out for

your own mental health, it in no

way means that the prejudice

you face has won. It means that

you’re, unfortunately, having to be

practical in a world that doesn’t

allow trans folk to


People often ask

me, “How did you

get to this version of

your face, and how

do you not care what

other people think

about you?” And

the answer is never

simple. People want

you to say that it’s all

about ‘being you’ and

‘never letting people

stop that’. In part, I

agree. We shouldn’t, en

masse, allow people

to dictate how we

look, or how we live

our lives, because they’re ours to

live, and not theirs. But it comes

to a point where you also have

to listen to your body, and your

mind. Make the decisions you

need to make about the way you

present yourself to the world. If

you can’t be bothered with having

to deal with the anxiety of street

harassment, it’s OK to create a

face that you know will be safer

for you. It doesn’t negate any part

of your identity, and it doesn’t

mean they’ve won. It just means

that you’re looking out for yourself

when you need it the most.

At what cost is

it to be yourself,

when everyone will

inevitably tell you

that they don’t want

you to be?

The first time I ever used my staff

discount was on that fateful beauty

department. I’d been working

there a week, and came in on my

day off. I will always remember

the absolute joy of placing that red

lipstick down on the counter, and

the pure excitement at how it was

going to make me feel.

Remember the excitement of the

first time you became who you are

now, and never forget that they

will always be proud of you, no

matter how you look.

June 2020 • happiful.com • 49

Photography | Eugenivy Reserv

Life shrinks or expands in

“proportion to one's courage





The world of AFOL (adult fans of Lego) is booming. From bustling online

forums where creators show off their projects, to dedicated AFOL teams at

Lego HQ, whose role is to support this growing community, there has never

been a better time to pick up the pieces. But what inspires adults to return to

Lego, and can these simple blocks help support our mental health?

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

I’ve “ recently completed the

Trafalgar Square set, the

London Bridge set, and the new

Fiat 500 set. My VW camper

van is my biggest build to date

at 1,334 pieces! It’s so realistic – it

comes with pull-out beds, a table, a

kitchen area, curtains, a boot, and

driving controls.”

Vicky Richmond, 23, is an AFOL

(adult fan of Lego) and she’s

reflecting on her best builds so

far. But Vicky isn’t alone. She’s

part of a booming community of

people who are piecing together

sets, and getting creative. And it’s

happening on an extensive scale,

as earlier this year Lego shared

that more than 800,000 members

from more than 200 countries

are registered with Bricklink, its

online marketplace for AFOLs.

Of course, the existence of the

community itself is nothing new.

Adults have been enjoying Lego

since production began, and Lego

recognises this community with

dedicated teams who monitor

the wants and needs of their


Speaking of its unaging appeal,

Lise Borgstrøm Henriksen, from

the Lego AFOL engagement team,

says Lego continues to be a tool to

express creativity throughout our

lives. “Also, they really enjoy the

immersive building experience,

and the social benefits of being

connected to such a strong

community of fellow builders who

have a diverse range of Legorelated

specialisms and passions,”

she adds.

But what are the benefits of this

immersion, and how can it help

support our mental health?

From the toy box

For many people, Lego inspires

memories of days spent working

on sets and scenes, the sound

of rustling through buckets of

pieces, and the infuriating pain

of stepping on a stray block in the

night. But nostalgia plays a larger

role in our psyche than simply

serving as a bookmark of where

we’ve been.

A study from the University of

Southampton found that the >>>

June 2020 • happiful.com • 51



suggests that

play continues

to be important

for good mental

health in


core pillars of our personality

remain the same throughout our

lives, and that nostalgia boosts

self-connectivity. When times are

tough, it can be helpful to revisit

the things that once brought us

so much joy. Which is a point

Vicky relates to, noting how Lego

takes her back to her childhood,

bringing out forgotten parts of

who she is. But beyond that,

counsellor and mindfulness

teacher Sarah Lane points to the

importance of maintaining ‘play’

throughout our lives.

“As we grow up, play is often

neglected as our lives get busier,

and we feel we need to focus on

more ‘serious’ matters,” Sarah

explains. “However, psychological

research suggests that play

continues to be important for

good mental health in adulthood.

Building with Lego is one way

people can express this need for

play and carve out time for leisure

and relaxation.”

Picking up the pieces

But for Vicky, her return to

Lego goes beyond nostalgia.

With a history of mental health

problems and the pressure of

being a fourth-year undergraduate

student at the Royal College of

Music, Vicky found herself going

through a difficult time in October

2019. Almost by chance, she was

walking around a supermarket

when she found herself drawn to a

Lego set.

“It really has benefited my

mental health,” she says. “I live

with anxiety and depression, and

Lego helps me to relax – even just

the physical motion of attaching

one brick to another is satisfying.

It’s taught me to be patient, and

to take things one step at a time

– both things I apply to my music

studies, and my life in general.

It’s also helped my ability to

follow instructions and process

different shapes (something that

I find difficult as someone with

a learning difficulty). Finishing a



In mindfulness, ‘flow’ is used

to describe the state of mind

we experience when we find

the balance between skill

and challenge. Coined by

Hungarian psychologist Mihaly

Csikszentmihalyi in the 1990s, it is

thought that if the challenge is too

great we’ll become stressed, and if

the challenge is not difficult enough

we’ll become bored. But when it’s

just right, we experience ‘flow’.

set I first thought was impossible

gives me an enormous sense of


It’s an effect that Sarah can attest

to. Mindful activities are known

to have soothing effects on our

52 • happiful.com • June 2020

mental health, and building Lego

ticks all the boxes for this kind of


“Enthusiasts are likely to be

focused in the present when

they’re making a structure, and

therefore less prone to becoming

lost in negative or anxious

thoughts, which might otherwise

lead to, or worsen, low mood and

stress,” Sarah explains. “They

may get into the psychological

state known as ‘flow’, in which

they would become completely

absorbed in the task before them,

and lose all sense of self and time.”

Of course, picking up an activity

like this at any time can be

beneficial, and it’s no stretch to say

that we should all try our best to

make time for enjoyable, mindful

projects. But switching off our

worried minds and tuning into

sensations has been particularly

important through lockdown,

something that Lego quickly

identified before beginning to

offer free inspiration on their

website and social media pages,

as part of their #letsbuildtogether


“Our hope was to alleviate

some of the strain and stress for

families, while keeping people

engaged and curious,” says Lise

from the AFOL engagement

team. And from the mindfulness

prompts, to the way it can

facilitate creativity, it makes sense.

New kid on the block

So often, comfort can be found

in taking things back to basics.

Our minds can get carried away,

our worries can intrude into the

rest of our lives, and things that

might be minor in reality can

quickly balloon into something


Picking up a block, finding its

place, and piecing it together, may

sound like an absurdly simple

solution, but it’s so effective

because of just that – it’s simple.

From a dabble in nostalgia to

problem-solving and creativity, it’s

really no surprise that adults are

turning to Lego. Mindful activities

are a way to ground ourselves in

the moment, gently refusing to

allow external stress to work its

way in – and there’s no age limit

on that.

Find out more and connect with

others in the community at


June 2020 • happiful.com • 53



We could all use a little peace right now, so we’ve put together a short

guide to help you enjoy an at-home spa experience

Writing | Kat Nicholls

From the moment you

step foot into a spa to

the moment you leave,

everything is designed to

help you feel relaxed. Therapists

talk in soothing tones, while the

lighting is kept low and the air is

heavy with sweet-smelling oils.

Just the thought of it is enough to

unfurrow your brow, and help you

breathe a little deeper.

At this moment in time, we’re

sure many of you could do with

exactly this scene. Sadly, however,

going to the spa isn’t something

on the cards right now. But we

don’t think this should stop us

from getting that deep exhale we

desperately need. With a little

ingenuity and preparation, we can

recreate the spa experience for

ourselves at home.

It turns out, a lot of us are

already thinking about DIY when

it comes to beauty. Research from

Showers To You shows 83% of us

have considered recreating our

favourite beauty products at home,

including shampoos, face masks,

and lip balms.

Before you get started with your

DIY spa day, you’ll need to carve

out some time and, if you live with

others, let them know so they can

give you some calming space and

peace to relax.


Think about appeasing all of your

senses, starting with scent.

Scent: Our sense of smell is

directly linked to our limbic

system in the brain, which is

why it can have such a powerful

effect on how we feel. Utilise

aromatherapy here and burn

some essential oils, spray a room

scent, or light a scented candle.

Scents known to relax and soothe

include lavender, bergamot, and

ylang ylang.

Sound: Having calming music on

in the background can really help

to set the tone of your experience.

Try the music section in the Calm

app, or look at the ‘spa & massage’

genre on Spotify, which has a

collection of playlists.

Sight: If it’s possible, keep the

lighting nice and low. Light several

candles (just be careful not to leave

them unattended), and let the

warm light permeate.

Touch: For your spa experience

you want to feel relaxed in every

sense, so be sure to wrap your body

in comfortable, tactile fabrics. Why

not put your robe on the radiator

so it’s warm when you wear it?

Taste: Infuse your water with

fresh mint, lemon, or cucumber

if possible, or brew some herbal

teas. Chamomile, peppermint, and

lemon balm teas can all help ease

stress, giving you a moment of



At this point, you’re hopefully

already feeling a little more

relaxed. Now it’s time to decide on

your treatments for the day. Here

we’ve listed some suggestions to

get you started.

Enjoy a warm bath with salts: If

you can get hold of bath salts, add

a couple of scoops to your bath.

Depending on the blend, they can

encourage relaxation, ease muscle

pain, and uplift your mood – we

love Radox’s Sleep Aromatherapy

Calm Your Mind Lavender bath

salts. If you don’t have a bath, drop

some essential oils on to a damp

washcloth and inhale deeply while

in the shower. Just make sure not

to put the oils directly on your skin!

Exfoliate: Great for improving

circulation and getting rid of dry

skin, treating yourself to a body

scrub is an easy at-home spa

treatment to try. Plus, you can

easily make your own! Dr Asher

54 • happiful.com • June 2020

With a little ingenuity and

preparation, we can recreate

the spa experience for

ourselves at home

rose quartz bath and body crystoil,

which is a blend of rose geranium,

sweet orange, lavender true,

and palmarosa oil, imbued with

rose quartz crystals (known for

encouraging self-love).

Siddiqi, medical aesthetic expert

at Transform, suggests combining

coconut oil with coffee granules or

sugar for a DIY body scrub.

Have a facial: Stress can really take

its toll on our skin, and if you’re

anything like us you’ll have noticed

a few more break-outs than normal.

If you have a mask already, go

ahead and use that, or if you want

to make your own Dr Siddiqi says

banana, coconut oil, egg whites,

and oats can all help your skin to

feel more hydrated, while honey

and yoghurt can help oily skin.

Give yourself a massage: A lot of

us are missing physical touch right

now, so giving yourself a gentle

massage can be a nice way to fill

that gap. Try using a moisturising

oil, and use long sweeping strokes.

An oil on our wish-list is LLIO’s


For the rest of the day or evening,

try to keep things slow and relaxed.

Try a short meditation and get

stuck into a new book. Journal

about how you’re feeling, and

whether or not your self-care

needs are changing. If you can,

avoid screens, drink plenty of

water, and get an early night.

Let the after-effects of your spa

experience sink in as you melt into

a blissful, uninterrupted sleep. And

then? Well, get planning for your

next one of course.

June 2020 • happiful.com • 55


ways to transform

your sex-life

No matter how satisfying things are in (and out of) the bedroom,

we all like to spice things up now and then. But what if you could

transform your sex life with just a few simple changes? We speak to

a sexual wellness doctor and a relationship counsellor to find out...

Writing | Bonnie Evie Gifford

Illustrating | Rosan Magar


We may not talk about it, but us Brits

love a bit of solo-TLC. According

to the Tenga 2019 Self-Pleasure

Report, more than a quarter (27%)

of women and a fifth (21%) of men

in the UK prefer masturbation to

having sex. Whether it’s to satisfy

sexual urges, just for fun, or to

help us relax, many of us embrace

masturbation as a regular part of

our self-care routines. Sure, sharing

some sexy fun with our partners is

all well and good – but who knows

you better than you?

Even the experts agree. Sexual

wellness doctor, Elle Vooght, from

sexual wellness brand Kandid,

advocates for the benefits of

masturbation. “I’d recommend

making masturbation part of your

weekly, or even daily, self-care

routine. Self-pleasure is a proven

wellness tool that has a multitude

of health benefits. Regular

masturbation can reduce anxiety,

help with relaxation and deep

sleep, and create happy hormones.

Plus, it’s fun!”



Intimacy is important in any

relationship – but are you making

sure you foster these feelings

both in and out of the bedroom?

Relationship counsellor and

psychotherapist Beverley Hills

shares her thoughts on the

importance of nurturing our

relationships as a whole, to improve

our intimacy and desires.

“Most of the work that goes into

re-creating sexual desire in an

established relationship happens

outside of the bedroom – the

thoughtful touches, the sexy texts

and, believe it or not, possibly

taking sex off the agenda altogether.

“Stepping off the sexual gas can

help relieve tension by reducing

expectations, and allowing the

partner to fully relax in the

company of their loved one. This

does take time and patience, but

it can also ramp up the passion;

tell someone that they can’t have

something, and they want it even



Practising open, honest

communication can help you

to not only improve your sex

life, but your relationships too.

When we become too afraid to

talk about things, it can feel like

we’re building a barrier between

ourselves and our partners. When

we’re hesitant to communicate our

needs and desires, over time it can

feel like we’re turning perfectly

natural feelings into something

taboo that we become reluctant to

speak about.

“Intimacy begins with

communication, so why is it

sometimes hard to communicate

with our partner?” Beverley asks.

“So many clients say, ‘If only

she’d desire me a little more,’ and

the reply is often along the lines

of, ‘Well I’d have time to if you

emptied the bins once in a while.’

“If you’ve never set a precedent

of telling your partner what

you want, then how are they to

know? We expect them to read

our mind or at least the signals, >>>

June 2020 • happiful.com • 57

27% of women and

a fifth (21%) of men

in the UK prefer

masturbation to

having sex

Researchers found

that those who take

part in BDSM are

less neurotic, and

more open to new


What you eat can

have a significant

impact on your

libido, stamina, and

overall wellbeing

Visit Counselling

Directory to find

out more about

relationship therapy

but the problem is you’re talking

in semaphore, and they are talking

Morse code!”

Opening up the conversation can

help ensure you’re both on the same

page, and that any underlying needs

you may have – sexual or not – can

be spoken about and, hopefully, met.


What you eat can have a significant

impact on your libido, stamina, and

overall wellbeing. Ensuring you

have a balanced diet can lead to

improvements in your mood, and

even decrease feelings of stress,

exhaustion, depression, anxiety, and

difficulty concentrating.

Ensuring you’re getting enough

vitamin E can improve testosterone,

oestrogen, and progesterone levels,

while making the switch to organic

foods could reduce the number of

pesticides you’re exposed to. For

men, testosterone productionboosting

foods, such as beans, egg

yolks, tuna, and low-fat milk, can

also be good sources of vitamins

and protein.

While oysters may not get you

in the mood, they can help with

stamina and increasing sperm

quality. Dark chocolate, thought

to be one of the most romantic

sweet treats, can increase blood

flow thanks to the cocoa and its

phenylethylamine (PEA) or ‘love

chemical’ content.


Knowing confidence is sexy is one

thing, but how can you improve

your self-confidence if it’s starting to

affect other areas of your life – and


Beverly explains: “If you don’t feel

good about yourself, your body, the

way you look, or even who you are

right now, then you’re going to find it hard to

feel sexy. There’s the old adage: ‘If you rely

on someone else to bring you happiness then

you’re doomed, because that person might

go away.’ The message being that it’s best

to find lasting happiness within yourself.

A happy you is a happy sex life, and so in

counselling we look at what’s preventing

you from being the best you can possibly be,

both in and out of the bedroom.”

If you’re worried low self-confidence may be

holding you back, working with a counsellor

or a life coach can help you reframe negative

self-thoughts, and work towards loving you

for who you are.

In counselling we look at

what’s preventing you

from being the best you

can possibly be, both in

and out of the bedroom


50 Shades may have been and gone, but in its

wake are thousands of curious readers who

are much more open to embracing their

more unusual desires. Researchers from the

Netherlands have revealed that those of us

who practise BDSM regularly are both better

communicators with our partners, and

report a higher overall sense of wellbeing.

They found that those who take part in

BDSM are less neurotic, more open to

new experiences, and less sensitive to

rejection than their ‘vanilla’ counterparts.

What is BDSM?

BDSM stands for bondage and discipline,

dominance and submission, and sadism and

masochism. From fluffy handcuffs to floggers,

BDSM captures a spectrum of sexual interests,

kinks, and fantasies.

58 • happiful.com • June 2020

Women particularly showed more

confidence in their relationships,

had less need for approval, and felt

less anxiously attached. Sounds like

there isn’t a downside!

If you’re new to fetish or BDSM

exploration, make sure that you

and your partner clearly discuss

your desires – and relevant safety

implications – first. While 50 Shades

may be a fun weekend read, it’s not

known for promoting the safest of

practices. If you’re unsure where to

start, Lee Harrington and Mollena

Williams’s Playing Well with Others,

Jay Wiseman’s SM 101: A Realistic

Introduction, or Screw the Roses,

Send Me the Thorns by Philip Miller

and Molly Devon, all provide solid



Feeling stressed on occasion is

perfectly normal, but too much

stress can have a big impact on

us. From difficulty sleeping to

feeling anxious, frustrated, and

overwhelmed, stress can lead to us

actively avoiding the things – and

people – we enjoy the most.

Taking time out to assess your

stress levels, think about your

schedule, and question how you’ve

been feeling, can give you the space

to recognise if there’s something

that may need addressing.


It can be easy to forget, but your

mental health can have far-reaching

effects – for better and for worse.

How you are feeling can affect

your perception of yourself, your

relationships, and those around you.

While sex and loving relationships

can have huge physical and

wellbeing benefits, it’s important to

ensure that you are (and continue)

putting your wellbeing first.

Whether you’re feeling anxious,

are emotionally eating, or are just

feeling overwhelmed, it’s important

to first identify and address these

problems, before looking at ways to

boost your sex life.



If you’re in a long-term

relationship, it can be easy to let

things fall into a pattern. Sex can

become, well… predictable. By

bringing the focus back to foreplay,

you can not only increase your

desire and libido, but can also

create the chance to focus on

fostering a sense of intimacy and




Throughout our lives, our sex drive

fluctuates. It’s perfectly natural to

have a period where we just aren’t

feeling it – or another where we

can’t get enough! It only becomes

a problem if you struggle to talk,

and allow it to become

the elephant in the

room. By talking

about things

together, you can

air any concerns

before hurt

feelings have

time to fester.

Together, you

can come up with

creative solutions that

leave you both feeling


No matter what you decide

to try, it’s important to remember

you don’t have to do this alone.

Relationship counselling isn’t a last

resort – it can offer a safe, neutral

space to talk about things that you

may feel nervous, embarrassed,

or uncertain how to bring up.

Beverly says: “Relationship

counselling can enable

translation to take place. It offers

a safe, confidential space with a

third person who can help you

to hear each other’s wants and

needs in a non-judgemental way.

It can gently uncover anxietymaking

blocks that have been

holding you back from having a

fulfilling sex life, and it can give

you the confidence to create a

new way that works for you both.”

Make sure that you

and your partner

clearly discuss both

your desires – and

relevant safety

implications – first

June 2020 • happiful.com • 59

Happiful reads…

From batch cooking to finding balance, we share four of this

month’s unmissable new releases

Writing | Bonnie Evie Gifford

We could all do with a

little more balance

and harmony right

now, couldn’t we?

Debut author and established

cultural communicator, Akemi

Tanaka, shares how we can find

our inner strength thanks to the

power of chowa – the Japanese

concept of balance and harmony.

Filled with beautiful artwork,

this inspiring guide aims to help

readers find peace and harmony

across every area of their lives.

Using this fresh approach,

Akemi shows readers how we

can create space and symmetry

not only at work, but at home,

and in our relationships, thanks

to this ancient philosophy. Based

on a set of practices that can help

people discover what matters

Must reads

Be Kind to

Your Mind

by Claire


Out now

Give your

mind a little

TLC, and find out how you

can put yourself first in these

uncertain times with this pocket

guide to looking after your

mental health. Focusing on how

to take things slow and recharge,

discover how to make moments

of worry more manageable by

nurturing yourself – mind, body,

and spirit.

most in their lives, chowa can

help us to transform how we

think about both ourselves and

others. By focusing on what is

truly important to us, we can

cultivate a sense of calm that

can help us to develop our

confidence, and begin facing any

challenges that may arise.

Weaving together insightful

narration about Japanese

customs and the principles

underpinning everyday balance,

the author shares both personal

experiences and anecdotes to

create a fascinating starting

point for readers new to the

concept of chowa.

Providing practical steps

you can follow to feel more

empowered, balance your

priorities and relationships,

What Have I

Done? By Laura


Out now

Best known for

her must-reads

for kids and

teens, Laura’s latest book is a

memoir about resilience, love,

and finding your way. Following

a traumatic birth, baby anxiety,

sleep deprivation, and a slow

recovery, Laura’s feelings of

overwhelm escalated into

postpartum psychosis. Now, she’s

determined to break the stigma

around postnatal mental health.

The Power of


Akemi Tanaka

Out now

all while finding your inner

strength, The Power of Chowa

looks to help us find our

inner strength, and flexibility

throughout times of change and

stress, to achieve happiness,

wellness, and contentment.

If that doesn’t sound like

something we could all do with

right now, then I don’t know

what does.

The Batch

Lady by



Out now

If you’re


for quick, easy, and delicious

home-cooked meals without

breaking the bank, look no

further. Teaching readers how

to save time and money, while

eliminating food waste, online

sensation the Batch Lady shares

how we can cook just once for the

week ahead with a little planning,

thanks to batch cooking.

More than makeup

Inspiring the LGBTQ+ community and beyond, we talk to founder of

makeup brand Jecca Blac about listening to the needs of clients,

supporting trans inmates, and the power of a good concealer

Writing | Kat Nicholls

Despite the beauty industry’s

murky morals, we have to admit

that makeup is a powerful thing.

A swipe of red lipstick can give

you a much-needed confidence

boost, and well-placed highlighter

lets your inner glow show.

The ability to express who

we are, and feel like the best

versions of ourselves, makes

it unsurprising that it’s a £27

billion industry in the UK, but it

can be a little… out-dated. Many

mainstream brands continue to

solely target cis-gender women.

It’s therefore incredibly refreshing

to see brands disrupting the norm

by removing boundaries and

catering for all. Jecca Blac is one

such brand.

Coming out of school and

straight into work as a makeup

artist in the film industry, Jessica

Blackler found herself with some

downtime between jobs. She’d

work with clients, mainly doing

wedding makeup, but her heart

was in prosthetics and character

work. This passion came through

in her online portfolio, and she

started attracting clients who

wanted more...

When her first trans client

requested her services, she

was happy to oblige. “It was an

interesting process; I enjoyed

almost ‘transforming’ someone.

So, I decided to specialise in trans


A safe space

Many clients coming to Jessica

hadn’t yet come out as trans to

friends and family, so needed

somewhere that was discreet,

with someone they could trust.

The studio quickly became a safe

space for them to learn how to do

their own makeup.

Two in five trans people (40%) adjust the way

they dress because they fear discrimination

or harassment. This number increases

significantly to half of non-binary people (52%)

“I became quite well-known in the

trans community for that service,

and I even visited a prison to help

people who were transitioning


Jessica started working in Parc

Prison, a high-security facility

in South Wales, after an inmate

found out about her through a local

newspaper. Pushing the article under

the door of a prison guard’s office,

the inmate attached a note asking if

Jessica could come in to teach trans

prisoners how to do makeup.

Initially volunteering to go in as a

one-off, Jessica realised that it was

difficult for the trans community

in prison to come together. This

prison in particular was large, and

the layout made it hard for trans

inmates to meet and talk, despite

knowing of each other.

“I explained to the officer that

when you’re transitioning, it’s

already really lonely, let alone doing

it in a prison,” Jessica says. “So if

they could support the community

and bring it together as a whole,

it would help, and allow them to

support each other through a really

difficult time.

“And that’s what we decided to do –

bring the community together more


The workshops in prison became

an opportunity to learn about

makeup, connect with fellow

inmates in the trans community,

“and just have a girly afternoon”,

Jessica says.

Giving clients what they want

Working with clients at the prison

and clients in her studio, Jessica

said that despite it being a full

spectrum of people, they all

wanted the same thing – “To have

brands not just for trans people,

but for everyone, and to accept

that there are many different

makeup wearers. So that’s what

Jecca Blac is all about, it’s a

gender-free approach to beauty.”

Responding to the needs of her

clients, Jessica explains that it

was never her intention to start

a makeup brand. But, she saw

the desire for it, and how a brand

like Jecca could support the


Four bright and beautiful

lipsticks sit alongside her Soften

and Sculpt palette, and awardwinning

Correct and Conceal

palette (which can cover beard

shadow). Being able to provide

much-needed products alongside

education around makeup is what

makes this brand truly stand out.

Creating community

In February of this year, Jecca

Blac launched the very first

Trans Festival. Bringing together

the trans part of the LGBTQ+

community, the event filled an

existing gap of offline support.

Complete with talks from activists

such as Juno Dawson, and support

from charity Mermaids, the

event “couldn’t have gone better”

62 • happiful.com • June 2020

Get involved with the community,

shop for products, and learn

more at jeccablac.com

community, all you need to do

is scroll through Jecca Blac’s

Instagram (@jeccablac). Whether

it’s Jessica sharing a makeup

tutorial, or happy customers

showing off how they’re finally

able to express themselves

authentically, it truly is a sight to

be seen.

Speaking in a video recently

shared on their Instagram, one of

Jessica’s clients, a primary school

teacher, explained how makeup

has made a difference for her.

“Makeup has had a really

big impact on me as I’ve been

transitioning over the past 15

months – especially on my first

day of transition in my primary

school where I wanted to go in and

A 2019 survey by the

official jail watchdog

suggests there are up

to 1,500 transgender

inmates among the

90,000 prison population

in England and Wales,

but a lack of support for

this group means figures

could be much higher

according to Jessica. “Next year we

want to do it on a bigger scale.”

Speaking of the future, the plan

to grow the community around

Jecca Blac is high on the agenda.

“To build the community around

the brand is really important,

and to stand for more than just a

‘makeup brand’.”

Becoming more of an advocate is

another goal of Jessica’s; creating

an impact, offering more festivals

and events, and breaking down

the stigma behind beauty. She says

emphatically: “This is not just for


To see the impact the brand

is already having on the trans

I didn’t want people to stare, and

to make me feel insecure. Having

Jessica do my makeup before

I went to work gave me lots of


So there you have it, whether

it’s confidence, community, or

concealer you’re after, you know

where to go.

June 2020 • happiful.com • 63

Summertime salads

Three delicious and refreshing salads packing a protein punch

Writing | Katie Hoare

If the thought of a salad for

lunch sends you to seek out

the biscuits, these proteinpacked

spring dishes are

sure to switch up your routine.

The trick is to be brave, and

explore different textures and

flavours that might traditionally

have been left outside of the salad

bowl. Experiment with mixing

fruits and cupboard essentials,

with some lean protein and

healthy fats to round off the

dish. Tangerine in a salad may

sound strange, but actually the

tangy citrus taste is just the trick

to deliver a burst of flavour and


If you’re anything like me, when

the sun is shining I crave fresh,

cold lunches. But in the past

they’ve lacked enough sustenance

to fill me up. Well, not anymore as

we bring you three salads to put a

spring in your step.

Chickpea and Chicken

Rocket Salad

Serves 2


• 400g chickpeas, rinsed

and drained

• Salt and pepper

• 1 tbsp olive oil, for grilling

• 1 lemon, for juice

• 200g grilled chicken, sliced

• 75g rocket

• Handful of cherry tomatoes,


• 1 avocado, sliced

• Avocado oil, drizzle


• Spread the rinsed chickpeas on

some kitchen towel, and pat dry.

• Add the chickpeas to a baking

tray and season with salt, pepper

and olive oil. Place under the

grill for approximately 25


• Place the olive oil, lemon juice

and chicken fillet in a sandwich

bag, and turn chicken over to


• Place under a medium heat for

approx 7 minutes. Turn chicken

and repeat.

• Place the rocket and sliced

tomatoes into a bowl, and then

gently mix.

• Remove the chickpeas from the

grill, and add to the rocket.

• Place the grilled chicken on the

rocket and chickpea bed, and

serve with sliced avocado. Drizzle

over some avocado oil if you like

as well. Delicious.

Quinoa and Kale Citrus Salad

Serves 2


• 1 cup of cooked tricolour quinoa

• Pinch of salt

• 100g of kale, chopped

• Olive oil, drizzle

• Handful of pomegranate seeds

• Handful of walnuts, chopped

• 1 tangerine, peeled


• Using a sieve, rinse the quinoa

under cold water for 30 seconds.

This helps to reduce its organic,

bitter taste.

• Tip the quinoa into a pan, and add

double the amount of cold water,

with a little salt.

• Bring to boil over a medium heat,

then reduce to simmer for 10

minutes or until liquid is absorbed.

• Fluff the quinoa with a fork.

Set aside.

• In a separate bowl, massage the

raw kale leaves with olive oil.

• Add the pomegranate seeds

and chopped walnuts to the

bowl, and mix with hands.

• Add the warm quinoa (or wait

until it has cooled) mixing

gently, and serve with the

tangerine slices.

Find a


near you on the

Happiful app

Salmon Protein

Power Salad

Serves 2


• 1 fillet of salmon, grilled

• Salt and pepper

• 1 lemon, drizzle

• 2 eggs

• 75g spinach

• 2 spring onions, diced

• 210g edamame beans


• Lay the salmon skin-side down

on a piece of kitchen foil (foil

must be big enough to cover the

entire fillet), and season with

salt and pepper, and a drizzle of

lemon juice.

• Cover with foil and place under

the grill for approximately 8


• While the salmon is cooking,

place two eggs in a pan of cold

water, and bring to the boil.

• Simmer eggs for 7 minutes, then

plunge into cold water and peel.

Cut each egg in half.

• Place the spinach, diced spring

onion, and edamame beans in a

bowl, and mix with hands.

• Remove the salmon, and serve on

top of leaves with the sliced egg.

Our expert says

All three salads are gluten-free

and provide protein, healthy

fats, and fibre to keep you fuller

for longer, and are bursting with

goodness! The quinoa in the

‘Quinoa and Kale Citrus Salad’

contains nine essential amino

acids, and just one cup of cooked

quinoa contains 8g of protein.

Plus, it’s high in fibre.

The ‘Salmon Protein Power

Salad’ is packed with protein

as the edamame beans – also

known as soya beans – provide

approximately 23g of protein.

One salmon fillet contains 22g,

and two boiled eggs contain 12g

of protein. The ‘Chickpea and

Chicken Rocket Salad’ has 7g of

protein from the can of chickpeas

and 54g from 200g grilled chicken.

The addition of walnuts, salmon,

avocados, and olive oil to these

salads provide essential omega

fats, including omega 3s, which

also help vitamins A and K from

the kale, spinach and rocket, to

absorb into the body. These super

greens contain vitamin C, folic

acid, and iron, helping to sustain

energy, vision, skin, and immune

system health.

Sonal Shah is a nutritional

therapist and director of

Synergy Nutrition. She

specialises in sports nutrition,

hormonal imbalances, and

vegan diets. To find out more,

visit synergynutrition.co.uk






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Get the glow:

how good nutrition

can help your skin

In an age where everything can be filtered and Photoshopped, we’re constantly

surrounded by visions of perfect skin. But the reality is different, with more than half of us

suffering with a skin condition of some form. So, could an improved diet be the answer?

Writing | Jenna Farmer

rom acne to

Fflaky skin. From

chronic issues

like psoriasis, to

those blemishes

that always arrive

at that time of

the month. Chances are you’ve

experienced problem skin in the

past, or may be living with several

of these conditions.

Skin issues can understandably

knock our confidence, but

it’s important to know they’re

common and nothing to be

embarrassed about. The truth is,

there’s no such thing as ‘perfect

skin’, and none of us should be

striving for it.

With much of what we see online

being edited and unrealistic, we

applaud Instagrammers, like Em

Ford (@mypaleskinblog), who

peel off the makeup and show

what living with skin problems

really looks like.

While you shouldn’t have to

hide your skin condition, some

people do find that nutritional

changes make a difference to

their skin health – whether it’s

simply making them feel confident

without makeup, or easing the

discomfort of conditions like

psoriasis. We chat to the experts

to get their top tips on the simple

nutritional changes that might give

your skin a boost…

Can changing your diet solve

your skin issues?

While eating healthily will always

be beneficial for your overall

wellbeing, there’s no guarantee

it can necessarily cure or change

your skin issues. “What we eat can

certainly influence our skin health,

but many people might struggle

with skin problems regardless of

what they eat,” explains dietitian

Sophie Medlin, who urges you not

to blame yourself, your lifestyle, or

your diet if you’re suffering with

skin problems.

Eat a rainbow

When it comes to our general

health, the more varied our

diet the better. A simple way

to remember this is by making

sure your fruit and veg bowl is as

‘rainbow-like’ as possible. “My

top nutritional tips for healthy

glowing skin would be to eat a

diet full of bright colours like

greens, salad, peppers, berries,

nuts, and seeds, which all

have fabulous antioxidant and

anti-inflammatory benefits,”

explains Louise Walsh, a

dermatology and cosmetic

nurse. Antioxidants can help

protect our skin against free

radicals (that can be found from

things like pollution and smoke),

while anti-inflammatories can

help with things such as skin

redness. >>>

June 2020 • happiful.com • 67

Studies have



might help with

things like our

skin hydration,

elasticity, and

even potentially

reverse skin


Fat is good for you!

The best thing you can do for

your skin is to tuck into foods

with plenty of healthy fats, rich

in omega-3, like avocado and

wild salmon. “Fat is essential for

good health because it creates

the barrier to protect our skin

and stops it drying out,” explains

Sophie. In fact, embarking on a

diet could make your skin worse

rather than better. “People who

have a very low-fat diet, or try a

crash diet like juicing, can often

suffer with dry, irritated skin,”

adds Sophie. If you don’t eat fish,

consider things like flaxseeds and

olive oil, or invest in a good quality

omega-3 supplement.

Be careful of starting a

new diet regime

With many of us switching to

plant-based eating, or going

gluten-free, it’s important to

make sure you’re not at risk of

nutritional deficiencies, which

can not only make you feel unwell

but can also be the reason behind

poor skin health.

“Many nutritional deficiencies

show themselves in our skin

quality,” says Sophie. “A varied

diet that includes all food groups

will provide all the nutrients we

need, but with the popularity of

diets that eliminate food groups,

we are seeing more nutritional

deficiencies cropping up. If you

notice a change in your skin

within a few months of making

a significant dietary change, it’s

worth looking at your diet.”

There’s nothing essentially

wrong with making diet changes,

but working with a dietitian can

ensure you’re not missing out.

For example, if you’re thinking

of going vegan, a dietitian can

ensure you get enough protein, B

vitamins, and healthy fats – all of

which might impact your skin and

overall wellbeing.

It’s all in the gut

The power of the gut microbiome

is far reaching, and there’s some

research to suggest our gut health

and skin health are more closely

linked than we realise.

“Any dysfunction in the gut will be

reflected in the skin,” explains Dr

Johanna Ward, a GP and author of

new book Superfoods to Superhealth.

“Inflammatory skin disorders,

like acne, eczema, rosacea,

and psoriasis, are so common

nowadays, and it’s thought to be

due in part to the collective decline

in our gut health.”

Studies suggest that probiotics –

or good gut bacteria – might work

as both an anti-inflammatory and

an anti-bacterial, with a study

finding that 80% of acne patients

showed an improvement when

taking the strains Lactobacillus

acidophilus and Lactobacillus

bulgaricus. Other studies have

suggested probiotics might

help with things like our skin

hydration, elasticity, and even

potentially reverse skin ageing.

But you don’t have to take a

supplement – simply tucking into

fermented foods, like sauerkraut

or kefir, could make a difference.

“For good skin health we know

that the protective bacteria in our

gut need to outnumber (or at least

balance) the bad and harmful

bacteria,” explains Johanna.

“Just increasing your intake of

dietary fibre (found in plant-based

foods like fruits, vegetables and

beans), along with eating more

probiotic-rich fermented foods,

can drastically improve your gut

health and skin health.”

Tackling psoriasis and eczema

More serious conditions, like

psoriasis and eczema, should

always be treated under the

guidance of your GP, who may

offer suggestions or refer you to a

dietitian. But is there any evidence

that changing your diet could help

here, too?

68 • happiful.com • June 2020

Some have suggested the

Mediterranean diet – which is rich

in healthy fats – could potentially

help with psoriasis. “Both psoriasis

and eczema are very drying, so we

need to increase the oils we eat,”

says Louise Walsh.

When it comes to eczema and

psoriasis, Dr Johanna Ward

again believes the gut is key. “I

tell all my patients to eat and live

a gut-healthy life and to follow

an anti-inflammatory diet. That

means eating lots of fibre and

fermented foods, ensuring a good

intake of essential fatty acids

like omega-3. I also recommend

reducing sugar and dairy, as some

eczema sufferers are cow’s milk


When it comes to our health,

there’s no one-size-fits-all, and

that includes our approach to skin

health, too. Good nutrition is just

one of the many things that can

influence your skin so, as always,

it’s important to listen to your body

and consult your GP before making

any big changes to your diet.

For more information and

nutritional support, explore

our free Happiful app.

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

June 2020 • happiful.com • 69

Straight roads do not

“make skillful drivers


Photography | Eugenivy Reserv


My illness could have

broken me – instead it

made me stronger

When Victoria was diagnosed with

fibromyalgia, her future looked bleak. But

the agonising condition taught her to fight, to

change, and to forge a successful new life

Writing | Victoria Smith-Gillard

So, picture me,

just 25 years

old, sitting in

a consultant’s

office, feeling vulnerable

and scared, being given

the damning diagnosis:

“You have fibromyalgia…

it will get worse… and

you will end up in a


The diagnosis in 2006

was deeply upsetting,

crushing beyond belief.

My whole life flashed

before me, and I imagined

what I would never get

to do – I had a fear of

the future, rather than

curious expectation.

Fibromyalgia is a longterm

condition that causes

pain all over the body. The

exact cause is unknown,

but it’s thought to be

related to abnormal levels

of certain chemicals in the

brain, and changes in the

way the central nervous

system processes pain

messages. In many cases,

the condition appears

to be triggered by a

physically or emotionally

stressful event.

I started medication,

yet my body couldn’t

take the high doses the

doctors wanted, so the

nerve suppressant had to

be reduced to a minimal

dose, which for many

does nothing.

Initially, I struggled to

work. I was left exhausted

after 20 minutes of gentle

exercise, and stress

felt like I’d been hit by

a baseball bat. Before

my diagnosis, in 2003,

my previous work had

suffered, and I lost my job

due to repetitive strain

injury (the trauma tipping

point for the fibromyalgia

developing). My selfesteem

went through

the floor. By 2004 I had

managed to claw my

way back to being strong

enough to work in retail,

but that felt like a step

backwards and triggered

a feeling of hopelessness,

as I felt I wasn’t fulfilling

my potential.

But I kept going. In 2005,

I eventually managed

to secure an office job

where I could work

without computers, and

build some purpose

back into my life. Yet the

fibromyalgia continued to

affect my relationships,

social life, career, and

my mental, physical, and

emotional health.

I was resentful when

people accused me of

being lazy or making it

up, judging me. I felt guilt,

shame, hurt, sadness,

anger. I hated the disease,

and probably myself. I

would go into the ‘why

me?’ mode, and get angry

to the point of bursting

into tears of frustration,

which only made the

fibromyalgia worse.

In the summer of 2006,

I relocated to Kent and

got a part-time job, yet

I battled to find enough

energy. Unfortunately,

I was bullied at my

workplace and was

unfairly dismissed,

despite being completely

honest and truthful in my

interview. More fighting,

more stress.

Yet all along, my

medication had not

been increased, and I

was continually looking

for holistic methods to >>>

June 2020 • happiful.com • 71

I was resentful

when people

accused me

of being lazy

or making it

up, judging

me. I felt guilt,

shame, hurt,


anger. I hated

the disease,

and probably


control pain, as well as

using exercise, and having

the attitude of “I want to

control it, not it control

me.” The focus on what

I could do, not what I

couldn’t. The warrior

within broke free, and

although she got tired of

fighting many times, out

she came again with her

sword and shield.

But with every ending

there is a new beginning

and I began working in a

veterinary referral centre,

being able to build up my

workload and implement

task management to suit

the fibromyalgia. That

built my confidence and

started a whole new


I seemed to have good

instincts for the job, and

I was told by one of my

managers that I had the

best client empathy in the

company, a compliment

that has stayed with me –

and which started to make

sense several years later.

By gradually dealing

with my severe anxiety

and mild depression,

by 2011 I managed to

come off medication

completely. I exercised,

worked, and overall had a

pretty good life compared

to the picture that was

painted for me in 2006.

But in 2014, redundancy

hit and I grieved for the

job that I truly loved –

partly because I knew I’d

never get as varied a role

to suit the fibromyalgia as

I had there.

I secured a new job… and

once again got tendonitis.

A pattern was beginning

to build, and each time the

tendonitis hit, it was always

worse than the time before.

I remember exclaiming:

“It’s like someone doesn’t

want me to work in an

office anymore!” Oh, how

little I knew.

I took a leap of faith

and trained in neurolinguistic


using speech software to

get around the computer

work. I worked hard and

passed with flying colours.

Next came cognitive

behavioural hypnotherapy

in 2015, and Rahanni

healing in 2016.

I learnt how I was

experiencing spiritual

stress by being a highly

sensitive person, an

empath, and an old

soul, and how all this

was contributing to my


I learnt ways of dealing

with this to reduce my

symptoms. Yet even

though I was helping

clients and myself, I

still felt like there was

something missing.

While decluttering,

I came across an

article about a canine

hypnotherapist, who was

helping dogs to release


72 • happiful.com • June 2020

I’m medication free, I eat

healthier than I ever did,

I work out, and can enjoy

a life that is relatively

normal compared to

many sufferers

Given what I did, you can

imagine I was delighted! I

contacted her, went along

to a workshop, and loved

it. It fitted so well with

what I’d already learnt,

and I got to help dogs in

the process.

Animals have always

been dear to my heart.

Being bullied when I was

young, I found comfort

and affinity with animals

who gave unconditional

love. So, I trained in

canine flow and animal

communication, and now

I work in Canine Assisted

Therapy – helping dogs

release their emotions,

while helping them show

their owners what they

need to heal.

Why am I telling you all

this? Well, because while

completely switching and

retraining in a career that

lets me control what is

left of my fibromyalgia, it

began loosening its hold

on me through awareness

and action.

While this won’t be the

case for everyone, for me,

I learnt that I didn’t ‘have

it’, I was ‘doing it’. That in

itself felt empowering.

If I am ‘doing’ it, then I

can stop doing it. I felt

(and still do feel) that

fibromyalgia has a deeply

emotional basis, with

different types of stress,

PTSD, and emotions

trapped in our cells.

I have done a lot of

emotional clearing and

healing, using various

energy and therapy

techniques, and deepdiving

into values,

beliefs, emotions, and

metaphysics. To this day I

still work on any triggers

that arise, confident that

everything is a lesson or

a gift in some way, to heal

something trapped within.

I have learnt what’s

important to me in every

area of life. Things may

have happened to you, but

it is up to you to create the

changes within through a

process of healing, and an

integration of every part

of you, removing limiting

beliefs that no longer

serve, and not being afraid

to be you – the real you

before all the trauma


I’m medication free,

I eat healthier than I

ever did before, I work

out, and can enjoy a life

that is relatively normal

compared to many

sufferers. On top of that,

I’m doing work I love, and

look forward to getting up

in the mornings! For me,

fibromyalgia was a sign to

treat myself better, and

to become who I’m meant

to be, in every area of

my life.


Victoria’s story

demonstrates just how

varied and individual

our paths to recovery

and happiness can be.

She found a way to learn

from her struggles, which

in turn enabled her to

understand herself more.

Although she had an

innate sense of empathy

and ability to help others,

she needed to take care of

herself first in order to be

truly available.

By being open-minded,

Victoria has found a

genuinely unique way

to be happy. It just goes

to show that we

should never be

afraid to listen

to our hearts and

follow our own


Rachel Coffey | BA MA NLP Mstr

Life coach

June 2020 • happiful.com • 73

About time

Life tends to throw tests in our path, and

we can find ourselves having to adapt

to the unexpected. But it’s often these

difficult moments that prompt us to

reflect, and check-in with ourselves –

and consciously reassess our priorities...

Writing | Shahroo Izadi

Life can have a way

of forcing us to

suddenly ‘step up’,

and demonstrate

how capable we are,

regardless of how prepared we

feel for the challenge. While many

of its tests certainly aren’t ones

we would have chosen, some of

us associate the periods when we

experienced the most personal

growth with the times when we

got through the most difficulty.

Often it’s these challenging

periods that make us pause, zoom

out, and punctuate our lives. They

can bring us the perspective we

need to check-in with ourselves

when the status quo is disrupted.

We can come to ‘meet’ ourselves

by observing how we respond

to periods of challenge, and use

this insight as a springboard to

create positive changes in the next

chapter of our lives. Periods of

disruption and difficulty can force

us to adapt in ways we could never

have prepared for, and we often

surprise even ourselves when it

comes to how quickly we’re able

to make changes across our lives

when we need to.

We can also become more aware

of how we may take for granted

the more ‘boring’ and uneventful

periods of life, and realise how

they are filled with opportunities

to check-in with ourselves, and our

lives in general. There’s something

about going through a difficult

period that can give us a renewed

sense of belief in ourselves, and an

urgency to ensure we’re living a life

that really aligns with our values.

It can help us to remember that

there will never be a perfect time

to give some thought to how we’re

generally engaging with ourselves

and others across our lives, or

to acknowledge, and redefine

ourselves as a result of what we’ve

managed to get through. So why not

make this the time?

1 Time to re-establish what’s

most important to you

It’s common for our priorities and

values to shift subtly over time,

without us stopping to adjust

our behaviours accordingly.

Periods of uncertainty, difficulty,

and disruption can provide an

opportunity to ‘zoom out’ and can

force us to re-evaluate where it’s

most important for us to spend our

time, money, and energy.

Consider what parts of your life

are important to you right now,

what you most value, and how that

list has changed and rearranged

itself in the past few years. Then

think about how much of your time,

money, and resources are being

spent enabling you to live by these

values. Ask yourself how you can

make adjustments to ensure that

the life you are living is the life you

most value – today.

2 Time to be nicer to yourself

Think about the last time you made

a mistake. How did you speak

to yourself about it? Was it fair,

helpful, or kind? Often, negative

self-talk and self-limiting beliefs

are picked up in earlier life, and we

simply carry them through without

taking time to listen-in to what

we’re actually saying. The next

time you feel you’ve let yourself

down in some way, choose to

turn up the volume on how you’re

speaking to yourself. Then, ask

yourself: who does this sound like?

Some of us associate the

periods when we experienced

the most personal growth

with the times when we got

through the most difficulty

When did I start speaking to myself

like this? Can I try talking to myself

in the way I’d speak to a loved one

in the same position? What needs

to happen before I can be nicer

to myself, and why can’t I start

practising right now?

3 Time to accept yourself

as you are

It’s common to think that we’ll

be nicer to ourselves once we’ve

changed or improved in some way.

Yet when we do achieve personal

goals, we can easily find another

thing we’re not happy with, and

another, before we can finally

accept who we are.

You are deserving of treating

yourself well, in every possible

way, and you can start right now.

Living life ‘on hold’ can deprive

us of realising that we will always

like some aspects of ourselves and

our lives more than other parts,

and we’re only human. We will

never reach a point of perfection,

and whether or not we achieve

the goals we set for ourselves, we

deserve to enjoy our lives and take

self-acceptance off ‘hold’ – ASAP.

4 Time to believe in myself more

Often we forget to give ourselves

credit for having got through

something challenging, especially

when we had no choice but to

get through it! Whether or not

a challenge is voluntary, if we

stepped up to meet it, we deserve

to acknowledge ourselves, feel

pride, and let it inform more

ambitious choices for ourselves.

We deserve to update the way we

define ourselves when it comes to

how strong and resilient we are. It

can help to write a list of every way

you’ve pleasantly surprised yourself

by getting through a tough period.

Note how you’ve demonstrated

strength, tolerance, and patience.

Commit to reminding yourself

that these are qualities you’ve

demonstrated you possess the next

time you find yourself doubting

whether you can meet new

challenges in any area of your life.

Commit to being as ambitious for

yourself as you know you can be.

Shahroo is a behavioural change

specialist, who started her training

in the NHS, and later worked

for the charity Turning Point –

which provides substance misuse

treatment – before setting up her

own practice, and writing books on

habit-change. To find out more, visit


June 2020 • happiful.com • 75


root of


Masquerading as

decorative houseplants,

these everyday greens

are actually working

behind the scenes to

bring the benefits of the

great outdoors into

your home

Writing | Katie Hoare

Illustrating | Rosan Magar

We may not all be

fortunate enough

to have a garden

at our disposal,

and when we’re confined to the

same four walls, the need to get

outside, see green spaces, and

breathe fresh air, can be great.

With working from home now

the norm for many of us, and

the weather giving us spring

sunshine, you’ll be forgiven for

yearning for a little green space to

call your own.

Humans are intrinsically

linked to the ecosystem.

Frankly, we couldn’t

survive without it.

So if you suddenly

find yourself, and

your household, with

restricted access to the

outside world, you may feel

somewhat stifled by the air

around you.

A study by NASA determined that

bringing everyday houseplants

into a sealed environment can be

just the trick to make us feel more

energised, alert, and refreshed. By

using specially formulated carbon

filters and containers, they found

that plants drew out toxins and

harmful airborne bacteria from

the air, converting them to new

plant tissue.

And NASA was, of course,

on to something. While

this study was conducted in

laboratory conditions, it did

unearth some intriguing

data about the power

of plants, and was

just the tip of the

iceberg when it

comes to the health

benefits of owning a



Much like exercising or immersing

yourself in wide open, green

spaces, research suggests that

taking care of a living plant can

significantly reduce feelings of

mild anxiety and stress.

A study published in the

Journal of Physiological

Anthropology states: “Active

interaction with indoor plants

(like touching and smelling)

can reduce physiological and

psychological stress. What’s

more, even the potting soil can

help you to keep a handle on

daily stress and anxiety.”



Common houseplants, such

as the dracaena or peace lily,

add to the humidity of your

home, and can even aid dry

skin complaints and

itchy eyes. Particularly

in winter when we

often stay inside and

use artificial heating, a

houseplant can reduce the

effects of dryness through it’s

process of transpiration. During

this cycle, plants lose their

leaves, releasing water into the

air, which creates a more humid




The best way to access

oxygen? Going outside. But

when we sleep, we’re likely

to be restricted to four walls.

However, fortunately many

plants are known to increase

their oxygen emissions at night,

and inhale the carbon dioxide

we produce while asleep.

An increased oxygen flow is

essential for a restful night, as it

ensures we are able to breathe

evenly, encourages cell renewal,

and can calm symptoms of

common sleep disorders such as

sleep apnea.



A study conducted at the Chelsea

Flower Show by the University

of Exeter found that equipping

offices with greenery can help to

boost staff wellbeing by up to 47%!

The study sought to challenge the

previous notion that plants in the

office “are an unnecessary or even

wasteful element of the business

environment”. And it succeeded.

“The results showed that allowing

staff to make design decisions in a

workspace, enhanced with office

plants, can increase wellbeing by

47%, increase creativity by 45%,

and increase productivity by 38%.”



While it’s more common for us to

feel these emotions in relation to

pets, for some people a pet may

not be an option at this time. So

what’s the next best thing? A living


Bringing a living organism into

your home promotes compassion

and nurturing feelings, it provides

you with a sense of purpose.

Although you’re in demand

from a houseplant significantly

less, you can still feel a sense

of responsibility. If you’ve ever

accidentally forgotten to water

your plant, the feeling of guilt can

be pretty surprising.



Snake plant

Perfect for beginners and busy

lives. Ensure the soil fully dries

between watering, and avoid

getting leaves wet. Keep the

snake plant out of direct sunlight.

Aloe vera

The epitome of a houseplant with

health benefits. Water your aloe

vera roughly every three weeks,

and position in bright, indirect

sunlight. Harvest the gel when

leaves reach about eight inches.

The peace lily

Position this floral beauty in the

shade, keeping the soil moist but

not overwatered.


Unlike the peace lily, regular

watering and direct sunlight will

ensure the chrysanthemums


English ivy

This thrives in bright, indirect

sunlight, with evenly moist

and well-drained soil.

Note: some

plants can be

poisonous to pets

when ingested,

so do look into

your plant before


Counselling can help you

see through the clouds

If you are ready to find help and support, then you are already proactively looking after

yourself and those around you – and that’s a huge achievement.

Start your journey at counselling-directory.org.uk

– part of the Happiful family

Photography | Jake Wangner



Singer-songwriter Jack Garratt is no stranger to

accolades. In 2016, he won the Critics’ Choice Award

at the Brits, and, objectively, his debut album, Phase,

was a huge success. But, contending with consuming

self-doubt, Jack didn’t see it that way. Four years later

he’s back, and building on the lessons of his past. Here,

we discuss learning to live with your emotions, and the

moment that made every struggle worth it

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

Hi Jack! Your new album, Love,

Death & Dancing, is out in June.

How are you feeling about the

upcoming release? Strangely

excited, and also scared! I’ve put

on a show that I’m proud of – I’ve

made this record to sound exactly

how I intended, I’m so overjoyed

about the videos for it, and the

creation of the cover. Everything

about this record is something that

I am proud of. >>>

June 2020 • happiful.com • 79

That’s not a feeling I’m used to,

and it’s a weird one to then have in

a strange interlacing knot with this

anxiety and fear that sometime in

the not-too-distant future it’s no

longer going to be mine to keep a

hold of, but instead it’s going to be

everyone else’s to experience.

It’s been four years in the making,

what was that process like?

About two years was me trying to

figure out what happened with the

first record. A lot of people would

say that it was a success by their

definition, and yet by mine it was

an unmitigated failure.

I spent two years trying to figure

out why I feel like this, and I

haven’t come to an answer. But

that helped me understand that

there a lot of the feelings I have

I might not have answers for – I

might just feel them.

A big underlying theme of the

album is that a lot of the emotions

I have been feeling in the last few

years are – and will possibly be

forever – unresolved, and I think

that’s healthy, I think that’s OK.

That can be the reality for so

many people – learning to

manage our emotions where

there may not be a neat solution.

That’s it – we’re encouraged to

think that there is an answer,

because we’re told that our

emotions are problems that need

fixing. And I refuse to believe that

the way I feel is a problem unless,

it is harmful to either myself or

those around me. And I don’t think

that my depression, for example,

has to be harmful to me.

I would like to think that I could

have a relationship with it that is

at least healthy – that I can have

a relationship with my negative

There a lot of the feelings I

have I might not have answers

for – I might just feel them

thoughts and live with them,

in the same way that I have a

relationship with my positive

thoughts and I live with them.

That’s an idea you can see in the

title of your album: Love, Death &

Dancing. What’s the story behind

that? It originally was going to be

called Songs about Love and Death

that People can Dance To. And my

wife, very astutely, observed that

that was a ridiculously long title,

and offered the shorter version,

which I loved.

A lot of my creative decisions

come from a place of enjoyment

first, and they were things that I’d

written about in the album. But

what I’ve come to learn is that

those three things – love, death

and dancing – are all things I’m

absolutely terrified of doing. I’m

afraid of openly loving myself.

I am also absolutely scared of

dying, and I used to dance when

I was about 12 until 16 – but as

soon as I started to become a

young man, I lost the confidence

and I became fearful of doing it in

public. And so they’ve all become

three categorical things that I’m

afraid to do by myself.

In the music video for the track

‘Time’, you’re dancing on your

own throughout. So you’re facing

a fear there? Exactly. I stupidly

define my music as being ‘dance

music for people who don’t want

80 • happiful.com • June 2020

I’ve refused to leave any

lyrical ambiguity, because

I’ve wanted to be absolutely,

heart-baringly, honest

to go out’. Because that’s what I

love. I love dance music, but I

hate going to clubs.

However, that doesn’t mean I

should be starved of a good fouron-the-floor.

I like to make music

that makes me want to move.

The whole point of the video was

supposed to represent me as a

character engaging in behaviours

that I’ve not allowed myself to do

for a long time. It was supposed to

be a defiant act of self-celebration.

Reading the YouTube comments

on that video, people have their

own very personal connections to

your songs. What’s that like? It’s

kind of intimidating. I made quite a

loud point on the first album of not

overly specifying my songs. I didn’t

want to discourage somebody’s

listening experience by making

the songs about me. I’ve done the

opposite this time. I’ve been very

specific about my experiences.

I’ve refused to leave any lyrical

ambiguity, because I’ve wanted

to be absolutely, heart-baringly,


But it’s actually meant that more

people have connected with

it. They’ve been able to apply

their own lives to a very specific

example in my life, my emotions,

and my experiences – which

proves that I was very wrong the

first time around.

Before you perform these

personal songs, have you had to

put strategies in place to protect

yourself? Yes. To be honest, I’ve

had to do that this time, because I

wasn’t very good at it before. The

first album brought on some really

tough few years for me, because I

was performing on my own.

I also think – with the accolades

I’d received – it’s difficult to feel

my situation was relatable, it

was so specifically mine. And

then I would go on long tours on

my own, and play on a stage by

myself, and walk off stage into a

green room where I’m alone.

So this time, I’ve restructured

some of my supporting pillars.

And I’ve found that I’ve really been

able to rely on them, and that’s

made a huge difference for me. It’s

helped me to be able to survive a

little longer in something that isn’t

designed to be done alone.

Reflecting back over your career,

is there a standout moment you

feel proud of? I’m not one to shy

away from a good name-drop

every now and then... But one

of the biggest things to me, was

mine and my wife’s wedding. We

obsessed over every detail and we

were able to do what has, I think,

been regarded by our friends as the

‘greatest party of all time’. But we

got to throw that because my career

up until then allowed us to do so.

It was, honestly, the happiest

night of my entire life – marrying

the woman who I will love for the

rest of my life, and to celebrate her

in front of all of those people. I’d

never felt more pride for myself,

my career and, most importantly,

for me and my wife. Yes, I’d never

felt that before.

Jack Garratt releases his new album

‘Love, Death & Dancing’ on 12 June.

June 2020 • happiful.com • 81



Relax, rest, and recharge. Take time out to enjoy nature, declutter your home and

your mind, and discover the perfect inspiration for crafting with kids



Secret Yoga Club: Selfempowerment

through the

magic of yoga

Release the tension in your mind

and feel empowered through the

practice of yoga. Gabrielle Hales

shares the rituals she has found

life-affirming and liberating over

seven years of teaching yoga.

(Out 4 June, Octopus Publishing

Group, £20)




Bring the show into your

home with a costume-themed

dinner party. Pick your theme

and host an evening where

everyone can dress up, enjoy

a family meal, and play party

games. If you’re isolating alone,

invite a group of friends to join

over Zoom!

Love your garden


While our access to the

outside world is limited, now

could be a great time to

benefit from what’s right on

your doorstep. If you’re not sure where to start, you can find guides to

help you get started with gardening on the RHS website. If you don’t

have a garden, don’t worry! You can also benefit from indoor plants

(see our guide on p76).

(For more gardening tips, visit rhs.org.uk)

Costume Party


‘The Petcast’

Hosted by Gemma

Atkinson, ‘The Petcast’ is

brought to you by leading pet charity

Blue Cross. Proud owners join the

podcast to share how their pets have

helped their wellbeing, as well as the

challenges they have faced. Experts

will be on hand to share top tips about

pets of all shapes and sizes!

(Listen to the podcast on iTunes

and Spotify)

5If you’re looking

for some crafting

inspiration, Handmade Charlotte

is the perfect account to follow.

Rachel Faucett started the

account to share DIY projects,

crafts, recipes, and design

inspiration, to help families

create unforgettable moments.


Handmade Charlotte

(Follow @handmadecharlotte

on Instagram)

6 9


Yoga for Beginners |


Yoga is a great way to relax

and take some time out. If you want to give

it a try, Yoga for Beginners is the perfect

app to help you get started! Try simple

work-outs to help you de-stress, relax and

feel good.

(Download from the App Store and

Google Play)


Carers Week

As we have seen over the past months, a little

gratitude goes a long way. It’s important to thank

NHS staff for the amazing care we receive every day of the

year, and equally important to recognise the incredible work

of unpaid carers. Carers Week highlights the challenges

unpaid carers face, and recognises the contribution they

make to families and communities across the country.

(8–14 June, get involved at carersweek.org)


Tidying Up with Marie


Is it time for the annual

spring clean? In this series,

tidying expert Marie Kondo

shares her tips to help you

declutter your home and your

mind. These home makeovers

will inspire you to clear out the

clutter, and fill your life with joy.

(Available on Netflix)



P.E. With Joe

With schools closed and people

spending more time in their homes,

Joe Wicks is determined to keep the

nation moving. The Body Coach is

sharing live workouts on Youtube

every day at 9am, that are simple,

fun, and suitable for all ages.

(Search The Body Coach TV on


Marie Kondo | konmari.com, Candle | @smallbatchmedia



Candles can be great for self-care, but it is important to know what’s in

the candles you’re burning. Kukena Naturals candles are made using

ethically sourced, natural, sustainable ingredients. The Original Coconut

Bowl Candles are completely biodegradable, so you can treat yourself and

protect the environment. (£12.99, view the full range at kukenanaturals.com)

Kukena Naturals Original Coconut Bowl Candle

Win a Kukena Naturals Original Coconut Bowl Candle!

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

with your answer to the following question:

Where did the tradition of putting candles on a cake come from?

a) Ancient Greece b) Ancient Egypt c) Ancient Rome

Competition closes 18 June. UK mainland and Northern Ireland only. Good luck!


How to cope with a

cancelled wedding day

After months, or even years, of build-up and excitement, to have to postpone

your big day can be heartbreaking. But, this isn’t the end of your love story – it’s

a bump in what we’re sure will be a very long, and happy, road...

Writing | Becky Wright

To all the couples who’ve

had to call-off their

weddings because of

Covid-19, I’m so sorry.

For some, their big day may have

already come and gone. For others,

whose wedding is due to be in the

next few months, they are facing

the reality that it might not be the

day they’d dreamed of. As we enter

what is typically peak wedding

season, it’s unlikely that large

social gatherings will be permitted

for some time.

Here, we share one bride-to-be’s

experience, and explore ways to

help you prepare and overcome

anxiety, if you’re a couple worried

about postponing your wedding.




Rachel Newton, sales executive

at Combermere Abbey, a country

house wedding venue in Cheshire,

says: “This is an upsetting time

for many brides and grooms who

were so close to their special day

– but we must remember that this

is only temporary. You will still

be able to marry the love of your

life, it’s just going to take a little

longer than you originally thought.

When normality resumes – and it

will – we’ll appreciate things a little

more, and I believe this will be

echoed on your wedding day.”

Here are some tips we hope you’ll

find helpful and reassuring, if

you’re having to make alternative

arrangements for your wedding.



Becky Sutton, who was due to get

married in April, says that calling

the suppliers was a whirlwind.

“Because we were so close to the

day, everything was confirmed:

guests, food, outfits, and payments

had been made. But, in one day, I’d

not only cancelled one wedding,

but had prepared a new one.”

A lot of suppliers are being

flexible during this time, which

Rachel echoes is also the case for

many venues.

“We recognise that brides and

grooms are understandably

devastated but, at Combermere

Abbey, our approach has been to

provide reassurance, by bringing

clarity and objectivity so that their

weddings can get back on track.”

Speak to your venue and suppliers

about your options, and read

through your wedding insurance.

Once you have all the information,

you’ll feel much more in control.


Becky says that once the

practicalities were out of the way,

her focus turned to notifying their

bridal and groomsmen parties.

“These were the closest people to

me, the people I didn’t have to put

on a front with. Through a cracked

voice and many tears, I told them

the news while also checking they

could make the new date.

“Being met with words of love

and the reassurance of ‘whenever

it is, I will be there’ shed a glimmer

of light on what was a pretty

rubbish day.

“It took me two days to notify the

rest of our guests – I couldn’t face

it before that. I knew so many of

them had taken time off work, and

booked travel and accommodation.

Thankfully, the majority of people

were understanding.

“Some guests couldn’t say for

definite that they’d be able to

attend the new date. We, therefore,

not only still face the prospect of

potentially having to postpone

again, but also not having all of our

guests there.”



It’s upsetting if there’s a chance

that not all of your guests will be

able to make your new date, but

there are some options to explore.

Looking at ways to involve guests

that can’t be there – perhaps by

live streaming your ceremony,

or asking your photographer or

videographer to do a quick edit

– are options that may become



Rachel is encouraging couples

to try to find positives from this

situation. “There’s a little extra

time for additional planning now

– perhaps you could integrate

something into your wedding day

that you didn’t have time to plan


You could:

• Learn calligraphy, to add a

personal touch to your wedding

invitations or place cards.

• Make your own confetti. If you’ve

got a garden, or have a bouquet of

flowers, you can dry out petals to

make beautiful, natural confetti.

• Take some extra time to hone

those vows and speeches, to allow

you to do something truly special.

If you’ve got a garden, or have a bouquet

of flowers, you can dry out petals to

make beautiful, natural confetti.

more common for weddings. It’s

also a good reason to continue

celebrations after the day, when

you can catch-up with loved ones

who couldn’t attend in person.



“If there’s one positive thing,

it’s that the process of having to

postpone has 100% brought me

closer to my partner,” Becky says.

“It’s confirmed just how much we

love each other and, at the end of

the day, that’s the most important

thing. I’m only glad that, whenever

our wedding happens, it’s going

to be a big celebration of love, not

only between us, but our families

and friends, too.”

And why not celebrate the

original date you were meant to be

getting married? Use it as a reason

to have a little celebration, just the

two of you. You could get dressed

up, put your wedding rings on,

have a date night – and maybe even

say your vows to one another.

Although this may feel like a huge

upheaval right now, remember that

on your wedding day – whenever

that may be – this will seem like

a dim and distant memory. Your

relationship will have survived

a truly testing experience, and

it will make the celebration of

the love between you feel even

more special, knowing what you

overcame to get there.

For more information, Hitched,

the UK’s number one digital

wedding planner, has advice on

all things relating to weddings

and coronavirus – from whether

your wedding insurance will cover

postponement, to whether you’ll

be able to collect your wedding

dress during lockdown. Wishing

you the best of luck, for when your

big day does arrive.

I am. I have








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Learning to grieve -

with love, kindness

and forgiveness

Sharon’s world fell apart the day her son took his

own life. She was stuck in a destructive cycle, and

felt completely alone. But with antidepressants,

mindfulness tools, retraining herself with self-care

routines, and the positive inspiration of others around

her, she is learning how to cope, one day at a time...

Writing | Sharon Truesdale

When we lose




that it’s part of the circle

of life, that we should

have faith in loved ones

being in a better place, an

eternal life where we will

all be together again, to

create a picture that death

is tolerable.

What we don’t expect is

that when someone we

love dies, grief begins and

uncontrollable emotions,

thoughts, and behaviours

can take over the life we

once knew. The thoughts

of the circle of life or

heaven sounds wonderful,

but it doesn’t fill the void

or the unbearable pain we

now have in our hearts.

I want to tell you about

my first experiences of

death, and how on that

day the old Sharon died,

too. Everything I was, and

everything I believed in,

no longer existed. For a

long time, the only thing

that survived was the

presence of a body, barely

existing, not living – a

broken spirit.

Before that day, Sharon

was a meticulous,

youth worker in special

education for the

Education Authority for

Northern Ireland. I was a

mother to four beautiful

children – Matthew,

17, Natasha, 15, Annie

Jean, eight, and Daniel,

one. Living alone with

the children had its

challenges, but I loved

my family, and always put

their needs first.

Things began as usual

on Thursday 11 October

2012; the alarm beeped,

and it was time to wake

the girls for school,

and Matthew for work.

Daniel was teething

and, thankfully, was

being looked after by his

father. I went outside

to a detached annex to

wake up Matthew, but as

I opened the door I found

my oldest, first-born son

was dead. He had taken

his own life. My heart

broke, and a part of me

died with him.

Matthew had struggled

with his mental

health from a young

age. Unfortunately,

professional support was

limited – Matthew would

display self-harm, I’d take

him to the doctors, and

a referral was made to a

specialist support service.

With long waiting lists due

to a shortage of resources,

by the time contact

was made Matthew’s

behaviour had improved,

and so no intervention

took place. This was a

repeated pattern.

The May before

Matthew died, we visited

a GP. When they asked

how they could help,

Matthew replied: “Give

me a lethal injection.”

He was referred to Child

and Adolescent Mental

Health Services (CAMHS). >>>

June 2020 • happiful.com • 87

He had taken his own life.

My heart broke, and a

part of me died with him

After crying while detailing

Matthew’s self-harm, and

his previous suicide attempt

to the psychiatrist, social

worker and counsellor

sitting before me, I was

told that as a youth worker

with ‘more’ resources, I

should put him on an anger

management programme.

No other support was given.

My son died without any

medical intervention.

Remembering this still

brings me much heartache

and pain. Matthew had

been growing into such a

lovely young man; making

plans for his 18th birthday,

learning to drive, he was

the one who always told

jokes, and helped me bring

all the shopping bags in

from the car.

The first year after he

died was spent in what

professionals would call

the ‘grief cycle’, but to me

felt like I was going mad.

Wearing Matthew’s socks,

sitting at his graveside

for hours, unable to sleep

due to flashbacks, and

forgetting to eat, didn’t fit

nicely into the grief cycle.

Two weeks after

Matthew’s death, I was

making plans to join him.

I somehow managed to

phone a helpline and

decided I needed to live

to support others like

Matthew and me, who

weren’t able to get help.

For a while this thought

helped, until Mother’s

Day when the suicidal

thoughts returned.

Standing in my bedroom

I cried for help, but no

one was there to hear me

– except out the corner of

my eye I saw my Bible. I

had my arguments with

God – why me? Why

Matthew? As I cried,

prayed, screamed and

shouted, I ended up living

another day.

I never truly told anyone

how I was feeling. To cope,

I started to drink alcohol

to sleep, and used online

shopping auctions to feel

some sense of control. But

while I thought no one

was noticing, my daughter

Natasha, and my partner

Terry, started to subtly talk

to me.

As life went on for

others, I was stuck. I

lost all motivation. As

the accumulation of debt

and addiction to drink

was pointed out to me, I

decided something had to


I was doing a counselling

course, and while I was

learning how to treat

others without judgement,

and with respect – which

felt easy to do – the

hardest learning was

practising this on myself.

I went to my GP

and agreed to take an

antidepressant, and

in turn my sleep and

mood improved. I saw

a counsellor for nine

months, and learned to

forgive myself, accepting

that the only thing I have

control over is me. I started

88 • happiful.com • June 2020

When I was reliving the past,

I learned mindfulness tools to

bring me back to the present

to listen to my feelings,

and acknowledged my

behaviours and thoughts.

Where my thoughts were

negative, I looked for the

positives. When I was

reliving the past, I learned

mindfulness tools to bring

me back to the present.

When my feelings became

uncontrollable, I practised

breathing skills to allow

me to be more in control

and focused.

I had to retrain myself

to make sure I got up

in the morning, made

the bed, ate breakfast,

lunch and dinner. The

days I didn’t want to do

anything, I made myself

get out. Some days, even

opening a letter was a

chore, so I gave myself

praise for all the things

that I was doing. I stood

in front of the mirror

and gave myself positive

affirmations, and slowly I

started to cope better.

During this journey I

was inspired by others:

friends who would help

with practical things, such

as making me a sandwich,

and allowing me to talk;

the community helping

people feel valued by

placing painted stones

with positive messages

in public gardens; and

donations of a bench to

encourage people to sit.

I found books helpful,

and was inspired by

those who shared their

story. In October 2019,

I felt strong enough to

publish my story, Forever

Young. Through sharing

my personal experience,

I hope to support others

who have been affected

by suicide, and help break

the stigma.

While grieving the loss

of my son, I learned

how important talking

and taking care of

myself has been to my

recovery. To do this

sincerely, I had to show

myself love, kindness,

and forgiveness. There

are support services out

there, but with limited

resources, I learned selfhelp

techniques I could

use until they became

available. I finally learned

that I didn’t have to be on

my own.


Sharon was in a cycle of

despair and uncontrolled

emotions after her son

took his own life. She used

unhelpful coping behaviours

as she struggled to accept

his death, and felt stuck.

Yet as she allowed herself

to accept help, and began to

understand her feelings, she

offered herself compassion.

And, in turn, things changed;

she started to take better

care of herself. When we’re

struggling, it’s important

to use our support

networks, as

they help us on

our journey to


Graeme Orr | MBACP (Accred) UKRCP

Reg Ind counsellor

June 2020 • happiful.com • 89

Repeat after me…

I am worthy of self-love.

Here are five mantras to

help you embrace your


With origins in Hinduism and

Buddhism, a mantra is a repeated

phrase that helps us set intentions.

And when we set intentions, it’s

that much easier to reach our goals.

This month, we challenge you to

embrace these self-love mantras.

Repeat them to yourself in the

mirror in the morning, through

stressful times during the day, and

last thing at night. Tune in to your

inner-strength – it’s there waiting

for you.

I am worthy of love,

support, and respect

I am capable of overcoming the

challenges that come my way

I am in the process of loving my body

I believe in my ability to achieve my goals

I am enough

Let us know how you get on, and connect with others

by joining the Happiful Readers’ Panel on Facebook.

Photography | Juskteez Vu

Only when it is dark enough

can you see the stars


December 2018 • happiful • 91



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