Happiful July 2020

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Let your

mind roam

Unearth the power of a good

book, with the therapy

that gets you reading

More than

a feeling

Tune-in to your

emotions & cultivate

a positive mindset


greatest mental

health books

Feel empowered,

heard, & inspired

In the spotlight:


What to do if you find yourself the

victim of this emotional abuse

9 772514 373000









the sea

Riding the wellbeing

wave of 'blue mind'






12 th June - 12 th July
























your story

What was your favourite book

growing up? Or the pinacle moment

when you felt completely swept away

by a great story?

Books have a special power – whether

it’s pouring your heart out in a journal,

escaping from reality with captivating

fiction, or finally feeling understood

when you see yourself in someone

else’s words.

Reading has the potential to connect

us not only with people throughout

history, and from all around the world,

but also with ourselves.

They say ‘the cover is not the book’,

and it’s a sentiment that certainly

rings true. When we find the courage

to open up and look inside, we

give ourselves permission to be

authentically ‘us’.

In this issue, we’re focused on helping

you to truly understand yourself. From

getting to the root of your emotions, to

embracing the silence, and learning to

love yourself.

But we also want to celebrate the power

that turning a new page can have on

bringing you that clarity. That’s why we’re

exploring the imaginative therapy that

focuses on prescribing the perfect read at

just the right time.

Michelle Obama wrote in her biography:

“Your story is what you have, what you

will always have. It is something to own.”

We shouldn’t be afraid to start a new

chapter, but know that all those

moments that brought us here have

helped shape us, too. And the rest, well

that’s ours to write.

Own it.


W | happiful.com

F | happifulhq

T | @happifulhq

I | @happiful_magazine


18 More than a feeling

We explore the psychological tool that can

help us to track, understand, and even

predict our emotions

31 The hypno glow

How can hypnotherapy help us to cultivate

a positive mindset? We bring in the experts

to learn more

44 Read all about it

From childhood classics to raw accounts

of personal experiences, here's our top 20

greatest mental health books of all time

64 Identify gaslighting

Read one man's experience of the abuse

tactic that thrives on self-doubt

71 Beyond skin deep

We take a closer look at the condition that

causes people to pick their skin

The Uplift

8 In the news

13 The wellbeing wrap

15 What is bibliotherapy?

The right read at the right time can work

wonders. So meet the therapist who

'prescribes' books to her clients

90 Quickfire: MH matters

Life Stories

39 Rebecca: New courage

For years, anorexia controlled Rebecca's

life. But with time, and close work with

professionals, she's learned to live with

hope and joy

51 Julia: A peaceful mind

Julia's undiagnosed OCD dominated

her thoughts for years before

understanding the condition helped her

banish the fear

87 Suresh: Sourcing support

As Suresh's daughter struggled with

depression, suicidal ideation, and their

sexuality, he learned a lesson on the

power of unconditional love


55 Booked up

Four good reads you won't want to miss

80 Jack Monroe

The food writer and campaigner on not

shying away from difficult subjects

84 Things to do in July

Lifestyle and


22 Discover your power

24 Attune to the moon

Columnist Grace Victory explores how to

harness lunar energy for our wellbeing

59 Annabel Karmel

The author pens a letter of love, loss and

legacy to her daughter who died as a baby

67 Eating disorder myths

We break down 10 misconceptions

77 Stay social

Five fun things to do with friends and

family, remotely

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



Rachel Miller, Claire Munnings, Teresa Marks,

Fiona Thomas, Gemma Calvert, Andrew Pain,

Sarah Young, Anna Gaunt, Eliza Nicholas,

Rebecca Quinlan, Julia Harrison, S Suresh

Food & Drink

42 Crystal clear

How food nourishes our skin health

56 Feeling peckish?

Enjoy these quick, easy, nutritious snacks


28 The sound of silence

Could switching off the noise benefit our

mental health?

36 Feeling blue?

We explore the theory that being near

water can enhance our wellbeing

48 Tap into this

We try the treatment that treats anxiety by

asking clients to tap points on their body

Happiful Hacks

26 Balance relationships

34 Have a laugh

62 Grow a sensory garden

74 Learn to love yourself

78 Work through panic attacks


Graeme Orr, Rachel Coffey,

Lesley Lyle, Katerina Georgiou, Ella Berthoud,

James Brannan, Charlie O'Brien, Sonal Shah,

Nicola Menage, Amie Butler, Amber Guzman


Aimi Maunders | Director & Co-Founder

Emma White | Director & Co-Founder

Paul Maunders | Director & Co-Founder


For new orders and back orders, visit

shop.happiful.com, or call Newsstand on

+44 (0)1227 277 248 or email



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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 holistic therapy.

Meet the team of experts who have come together to deliver

information, guidance, and insight throughout this issue



Lesley is a hypnotherapist,

NLP practitioner, and

positive psychologist.





Katerina is an accredited

counsellor and



BA (Hons) NLP

Rav's review

A good story has the power

and potential to change your

life, touching on the very

essence of being human

and enabling growth from

within. This month, we explore

books and the wonderful

impact they can have on

our wellbeing. If you head

over to page 15, you will be

enlightened by bibliotherapy,

the therapy that makes use

of books to support people

on their personal journey of

development. Enjoying a book

can be much more than a

relaxing hobby – it can play a

vital role in maintaining your

mental health and supporting

you towards happiness.


BA MA MBACP (Accred)

Rav is a counsellor

and psychotherapist

with more than 10

years' experience.

Ella is a bibliotherapist at The

School of Life, helping clients

with the power of books.


BSc PG Dip Dip Hyp NLP EFT

Charlie is an EFT

practitioner with an interest

in anxiety and confidence.


BA (Hons) D.Hyp THA

Nicola is a hypnotherapist

specialising in mind

performance coaching.



Amie is a nutritional therapist

supporting gut health and


James is a hypnotherapist and

NLP practitioner, with more

than eight years' experience.


BSc (hons)

Sonal is a nutritional

therapist, health tutor, and

director of Synergy Nutrition.


MBACP (Accred) Reg Ind

Graeme is a counsellor

working with both

individuals and couples.



Rachel is a life coach

encouraging confidence

and motivation.

9 772514 373000









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



If you're living with an eating disorder, or someone you love is struggling,

Beat offer support and advice at beateatingdisorders.org.uk, or call

their helpline on 0808 801 0677 and youthline on 0808 801 0711.




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Search for holistic therapists in your area, and those offering

remote appointments, by heading to therapy-directory.org.uk


Call the national abuse helpline on 0808 2000 247 or head to

nationaldahelpline.org.uk to learn more about your options.


Find advice and support for young LGBTQ+ people and their

families at youngstonewall.org.uk


Let your

mind roam

Unearth the power of a good

book, with the therapy

that gets you reading


greatest mental

health books

Feel empowered,

heard, & inspired

In the spotlight:


What to do if you find yourself the

victim of this emotional abuse

More than

a feeling

Tune-in to your

emotions & cultivate

a positive mindset

Cover illustration

by Rosan Magar


the sea

Riding the wellbeing

wave of 'blue mind'


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 July 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 third 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 20 August

2020. For full terms and conditions,

please visit happiful.com


The Uplift

‘Doortraits’ capture

snapshots of

lockdown life

Through uncertain times, something

that never fails is community spirit.

And photographer Katie Kavanagh has

captured just that, as she documents

lockdown in her series of ‘doortraits’ –

households on their doorsteps – shot

across her hometown of Dublin.

“I’ve always wanted to do something

with the interesting doors on the street,

and I thought now was the perfect time,”

Katie tells Happiful. “With people being

asked to stay home, I was aware that it will

become a symbol of the Covid-19 battle, so

I wanted to document that, too.”

There’s a charitable element to Katie’s

work, as money from her ‘doortraits’ is

being donated to Purple House Cancer

Support Centre – a life-changing service

that offers free support to those affected

by cancer, and which means a lot to Katie

after her nephew passed away last year.

Snapping households through the

generations, and including everything

from families-of-four to four-leggedfriends,

the series gave Katie a unique

insight into the power of community

– something tenderly captured in her

candid, cheerful photos.

Reflecting on what she wants

participants to take from the photos, Katie

said: “If they get nothing more than a

nice family photo I’ll be happy. If, in years

to come, when they look back on it, and

remember how people came together to

stay home to keep the vulnerable safe,

then my job is done.”

Browse the series by following Katie on

Instagram @katiekavphoto

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler


Cooking gets us hot under the collar

Saucy study reveals food could be the key to our hearts

If your idea of a steamy read is

more Joy of Cooking than Fifty

Shades of Grey, you’re not alone, as

86% of Americans find cooking a

real turn-on, according to recent

research from The Little Potato


And it’s not just about getting

things cooking in the bedroom

either, as two out of three

respondents said that when it came

to finding ‘the one’, a partner who

can cook was a top priority. The

ultimate dream, it appears, is to

have home-cooked meals every

night, with 43% of Americans

saying they’d give up coffee if it

meant they would be cooked for.

Angela Santiago, CEO and cofounder

of The Little Potato

Company, explains why cooking

is such a common love language:

“Cooking is truly an act of love and,

even if you’re not an accomplished

chef, you can still show people

you care about them with a homecooked


Ready to impress with your

culinary skills? The study found

steak and potatoes, pasta and

garlic bread, and chicken and

veggies, to be the top three most

romantic meals, so get practising

and, who knows, it could be love

at first bite.

Writing | Kat Nicholls


Study lays family

connections out

on the table

Making connections over the

dinner table isn’t just for date

nights, as a recent study of parents

revealed that the average family

dining table offers us a unique

chance to feel closer.

Over the course of the year, a

dining table will play host to 468

jokes, 572 conversations, and

1,456 meals. We’ll share 72 special

moments, and 57 disagreements,

according to the research

commissioned by McCain Foods.

With half of all parents who took

part reporting that it’s important

to sit with their family at the end

of each day, it’s no surprise that

more than a quarter said the

humble dining table is truly the

heart of their home – playing

host to important conversations,

providing extra workspace, and

creating a place to gather together,

in bad times and in good.

Mark Hodge, marketing director

at McCain, said: “We know that

eating around the table makes

mealtimes special. Bringing

families together at home couldn’t

be more important, especially in

the midst of the crisis we’re facing.”

Nobody quite knows when things

will ‘go back to normal’ – or what

normal will even look like. But if

nothing else, let’s continue to carve

out a special moment to reconnect

with those we hold most dear over

the dining table.

Writing | Bonnie Evie Gifford

July 2020 • happiful.com • 9


Sales of bucket-list

books boom

There’s nothing like a good read to stave

off boredom, and it looks like we’re

all on the same page with that one, as

booksellers saw sales soar by 35% this

past spring.

But what are people reading? Self-help

books to guide us through the times?

Biographies to inspire us to be the best

version of ourselves? Sounds tempting,

but adult non-fiction book sales have

actually dropped by 13%, while UK book

chain Waterstones saw a significant jump

in the number of classic titles being sold.

One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love

in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García

Márquez, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, F Scott

Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, and Sylvia

Plath’s The Bell Jar are just some of the

most popular titles flying into people’s

online shopping carts at the moment,

according to Waterstones, while Nielsen

BookScan – the official book sales

monitor – also noted a nationwide

increase in the sale of War and Peace,

The Lord of the Rings, and In Search of Lost


So what’s behind this sudden lust for

literature? Well, it makes sense that we

would want to escape to fantastical,

fictional worlds, and with many of us

now spending more time at home, it’s the

perfect opportunity to cross some books

off the bucket list – with Blackwell’s

bookshop in Oxford creating an ‘I Always

Meant to Read That’ reading group on

Facebook, where followers discuss

classics each week.

It’s good news, considering books

are a brilliant escape, not to mention

the wellbeing benefits they offer (read

more on p15). So, Crime and Punishment,

anyone? Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

July 2020 • happiful.com • 11

Take 5

Wordsmiths, assemble! It’s time to get those thinking

caps on and treat your minds to a challenge, with

this month’s puzzling picks

How did you

do? Search

'freebies' at


to find the answers,

and more!


With our literary theme in mind, hunt down the

12 well-known authors in the grid below.























Word wheel

Using the letters no more than once, make as

many words of three or more letters as possible,

always including the letter in the middle of the

wheel. Want an extra challenge? Set yourself a

time limit – three minutes, go!

5 = word wizard

10 = gaming guru

15+ = Shakespearean superstar











bottles that

biodegrade in

one year

pioneered in the


Bees are


during lockdown

as pollution

levels fall across

the UK

Cadbury ends

an age-old


chocolate should

be stored in

cupboards, not

the fridge!

Scientists create

reverse ‘solar

panel’ that can

make energy

from shadows

Crying it out

can actually

make you

feel better,

by releasing

oxytocin and





Play on

Whether you’re in need

of activities to entertain

kids, or you want to get

in touch with your inner

child, IKEA has just the

thing. It’s put together a

guide for building the six

best blanket forts in the

business. So what are you

waiting for? Get those

blankets and pillows at

the ready!















In a win for diversity,

Crayola is launching a

new set of 24 crayons in

July, which represent 40

different skintones. The

‘Colours of the World’

pack was created with

MAC makeup’s chief

chemist, with the aim

to allow children from

all around the world

to accurately draw



We may have been restricted on daily

exercise for a while, but it seems we

made the most of it! Nuffield Health

discovered that exercise helped 75%

of people in the UK cope mentally with

lockdown– with 76% of Brits trying out a

new form of exercise as well. And the best

news: 81% of these newly active people

plan to continue their exercise endeavors

once restrictions are lifted.


More like free food!

Warning: heartwarming

moment of the day alert.

With declining tourist

numbers and a dolphinfeeding

centre closed

on the Cooloola Coast in

Queensland, Australia,

dolphin Mystique has

taken to bringing ‘gifts’

such as barnacles and

shells in exchange for

food. The cheeky chap

presents items on his

nose up to 10 times a day!

How do you make big life

decisions? Well, according to a study

published by the Oxford University

Press, taking the debate out of it could

be for the best, because people

who use the toss of a coin end up

happier! So the good news is

if you’re prone to ‘flipping



Though it’s not

Heads or tails?

out’, simply flip a coin


always encouraged, it turns out

dropping a swear word in certain

situations can actually be good.

Cursing has been found to help

with pain management, reducing

stress, and can even help you get

more from your workout. Hell yes.

It’s in the small stuff

What’s the first thing to bring

a smile to your face each

day? And how much do

you take note of it? For a lot

of us, it seems the current

situation has changed our

perspective, with 54% of

people finding more joy in

the everyday ‘little wins’ than

ever before. The research

by Barefoot Wine revealed

that on average, Brits find

three moments like this

each week, and each one

provides us with a ‘happy

glow’ which can last up to 74

minutes! If you’re after one

of these little wins yourself,

48% had one when finding

money in an old pocket, 43%

had it when waking up to

sunshine, and 37% enjoyed

one when snuggling up with

fresh sheets. Time to get that

laundry on.

Courage is found

“in unlikely places


Photography | Hello Rivival

14 • happiful.com • April 2020

What is


Writing | Kathryn Wheeler Illustrating | Rosan Magar

Since time began, humans have found comfort in stories. They have the ability to

guide us through life’s biggest challenges, and offer comfort and an escape when

we need them most. Bibliotherapy is the practice that prescribes clients reading

lists based on their needs and circumstances. But how does it work, and how can

turning over a fresh page support our mental health? >>>

The very act of reading

forces you to step aside from

the chores for a while, and

spend time with yourself

How did you feel when ‘the

famous five’ discovered the map

for Kirrin Castle? When Cathy’s

ghostly arms broke through

Heathcliff’s window panes? When

Hagrid finally delivered the letter

from Hogwarts – “You’re a wizard,

Harry.” What book ignited your

senses, and transported you to

another place?

Books have the power to unlock

experiences that are usually beyond

our reach. They teach us lessons,

masterfully guide our emotional

responses, and reflect our own

realities back at us – so we don’t

have to feel so alone.

The right book at the right time

can inspire us and make us feel

seen. But why leave it to chance?

That’s the philosophy behind

bibliotherapy – a service where a

therapist prescribes reading lists to

clients, based on their needs and

situations, in the hope of prompting

them to unhitch the answers they’re

looking for.


Elderkin and

I thought we

had invented it

when we first

had the idea

in 2008,” says


Ella Berthoud,

as she reflects on where it all

began. “We then discovered that

people have been doing it since the

time of Plato! But we were always

passionate about giving people

the right book at the right time for

their circumstances, and had been

practising on each other since we

were at Cambridge together.”

Ella and Susan continued to

prescribe books to friends and

family before eventually realising

that it was something that they

could do as a profession.

“We bring the joy of books to

people who may have become

jaded from reading too much of

the same kind of literature, or

who have lost the habit of reading

completely, or who needed some

kind of literary boost that they

did not know how to find – like

a medical practitioner giving

someone the right drug, realising

that it is exactly what they need,”

Ella explains.

And research into the power

of reading agrees. A study by

Dr David Lewis showed that

reading for just six minutes a

day can reduce stress levels by

60%, lowering your heart rate,

easing muscle tension, and

soothing your mind. In addition,

reading before bed can help us

fall asleep, and a report by The

Reading Agency found that it also

increases empathy and a sense of

connectivity. But, from what Ella

has seen over the years, the studies

show just half of the story.

“People seek bibliotherapy for

all kinds of reasons, from feeling

like they are stuck in a book rut, to

having a real-life issue that they

want to address,” she explains.

“People come to us when they

are bereaved, when they are

about to go travelling, when

they are about to retire,

have their first child, are

considering having an

affair and don’t know

what to do – all kinds of

life situations.”

And Ella tailors each

session to her client’s

unique needs with a simple

process. The client fills out

a questionnaire where Ella

asks various questions about

their reading, and the current

events in their life. Once

it’s returned, Ella books

a face-to-face session –

16 • happiful.com • July 2020

either a video call or in-person

– where she and the client talk for

up to an hour about their answers.

Following on from that, she then

sends a prescription of six books to

the client – a list of books, and the

reasons why they have been chosen

for them.

“The very act of reading forces

you to step aside from the chores

for a while, and spend time

with yourself,” says Ella, as she

reflects on the specifics of how

bibliotherapy supports her clients.

“Being transported is very good for

an overactive mind, and because

reading a novel requires you to

maintain focus for an extended

period, it has a calming effect

akin to meditation. And if you are

reading a book that happens to

speak to your situation, then even


When I reflect on the books that

shaped my own life I first think of

Jacqueline Wilson’s The Suitcase

Kid as I navigated the hurdles of

divorce as a child, then Wuthering

Heights for my teenage angst, and

The Vegetarian by Han Kang as I

made my way into the big, wide

world. Ella points to Jitterbug

Perfume by Tom Robbins which she

read in her youth, José Saramago’s

Blindness the year before she got

married, and The Heart and the

Bottle – a children’s book by Oliver

Jeffers – which she read after her

mother died, and which helped her

understand grief.

Of course, no matter how

powerful they can be, books are

just one part of good mental

health – and while the sum total

of human experience is out there

for us to learn from and find


In 2016, a study by

researchers at the Gallant

Lab found that both

reading, and listening to an

audiobook, stimulate the

same regions of the brain,

to the same intensity. So if

flicking through 500 pages

isn’t your thing, or you want

something you can listen to

on-the-go, audiobooks are

an accessible, captivating

option, too.

comfort in, when the time comes

for professional help – be that

counselling or support from a GP –

it should be taken.

Read for pleasure, or for the

adventure, the thrill, and the

romance. Read about characters

overcoming adversity, thriving

through it, or living alongside it in

real and human ways. Cherish your

book’s crisp pages and creaseless

spines, or love them till they’re dogeared

and worn. However you do it,

and whatever you learn along the

way, find joy in reading – wellbeing

is an open book.

Find out more about Ella’s work at


It has a calming

effect akin to


July 2020 • happiful.com • 17

Can you feel it?

Plutchik’s Wheel is the visual tool that’s believed to help us track, and

even predict, our emotions. So why does it work, how can we use it,

and what’s the psychology behind getting emotional?

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

Do you ever have days

where you’re just…

Off? You can’t quite put

your finger on it, all you

know is that when you woke up

in the morning, something wasn’t

quite right. People might notice

and ask you if you’re OK, but you

don’t know for sure so brush it off,

and this mood continues to hang

around like a cloud over your day.

Sounds familiar? You wouldn’t

be alone. Emotions are tricky

things, and sometimes the only

thing that we can muster is the

vague assertion that we’re just not

feeling ourselves. But it might not

have to be that way. What if there

was a tool that could help us track

and identify what we’re feeling?

Let us introduce you to Plutchik’s

Wheel of Emotions.



Developed by the psychologist

Robert Plutchik in 1980, Plutchik’s

Wheel is built on the fundamental

understanding that there are eight

basic emotions: joy, trust, fear,

surprise, sadness, anticipation,

anger, and disgust. To help us

understand how our emotions

relate to, and can mould into,

each other, Plutchik translated his

thinking into a simple, colourful


Take a look at the wheel. You

can see that each emotion has

an opposite – for example, joy

and sadness, anticipation and

surprise – and how emotions can

evolve from one thing to another

– like apprehension to distraction,

serenity to acceptance. As you

work your way into the centre of

the circle, the emotions are more

intense, such as annoyance to

rage, illustrating how what we’re

feeling can escalate, prompting us

to identify the source.

Of course, a lot has changed since

the 80s (and we’re not just talking

about big hair and punk rock).

Psychologists have been debating

emotion theories over the decades,

with the most recent study – from

the University of California,

Berkeley, in 2017 – declaring that

the new number of emotions is 27.

That said, Plutchik’s wheel is still

relevant today for encouraging us

to understand how our emotions

may interact with each other, and

helping us to pinpoint what exactly

that niggly feeling at the back of

our minds might be, and where it

could have come from.


So we’ve covered the basics, but

if there’s one thing that we can all

attest to, it’s that our feelings aren’t

always straightforward.

18 • happiful.com • July 2020



































It can be easy to

want to get away

from intense

emotions, but

consider that

they’re actually

on your side

On the outer ring of the Plutchik

wheel, you can see emotions

without colours. These emotions

are the ones that are caused by a

combination of two others. For

example, we may feel optimistic

from a combination of interest,

anticipation, or vigilance, and

serenity, joy, or ecstasy.

We might apply this to our real

life by thinking about the things

that have come together to make

us feel a certain way. Take road

rage – we might feel annoyed

because of the bad driving from

other cars, at the same time as

we’re being vigilant and focused.

The result? A surge of aggression. >>>

July 2020 • happiful.com • 19

Tips for recognising and

communicating your emotions

Katerina says:

1. Begin by tuning in to your

body and seeing what data

is there – are there any

physical sensations, pains,

experiences? Pay attention to

what this might be telling you.

2. Use 'I' statements rather

than 'you' statements when

speaking to others – speak

for yourself, not for them. For

example: "I'm annoyed right

now," as opposed to "You're

annoying me."

3. Stick to the here and now,

rather than generalising

or going into the past. For

example: "I feel really upset

when I think about what my

boss said to me on Friday,"

as opposed to "My boss is so

irritating! They make me so


The more that we tune-in to

ourselves, the more that we are

able to track our mood and our

response to the things that occur

in our everyday lives. But that’s the

key – what we’re looking to do is

identify our emotions, not subdue


It’s a point that counsellor and

psychotherapist Katerina Georgiou

makes when considering how we

should deal with intense emotions,

such as those on the inner circle of

the Wheel.

“Stick with them. It can be

easy to want to get away from

intense emotions, but consider

that they’re actually on your

side trying to communicate

something important to you,”

she explains. “Feeling a feeling

isn’t the same as acting on it

and, paradoxically, if you allow

the feeling in, it’s more likely to

dissipate than if you try to block

it out.”

So often, we can fall into

the trap of believing that our

negative emotions should be

staved, or that they’re wrong.

“Which isn’t true,” says Katerina.

“It’s what you do with them that

matters – and acknowledging

them is more likely to lead you to a

productive outcome.”


Of course, though there’s nothing

wrong with negative emotions,

once we’re able to identify what

we’re feeling, and unearth its root,

it’s important that we learn how

20 • happiful.com • July 2020

There is one topic on which each

of us is the world's leading expert

– and that subject is ourselves

to deal with them in healthy and

productive ways.

“I think we often polarise between

cutting emotions off completely,

and outpouring them to the point

of rumination,” reflects Katerina.

“This is, to some extent, a cultural

issue. We live in a society – in the

UK, anyway – where until recently,

we’d been brought up with an idea

that we shouldn’t complain, show

off, or indulge, and should count

our blessings. Sometimes this can

be helpful, but it becomes a chain

when we’re in a situation that

requires us to access our feelings

and engage with them. But we can

also go the other way – especially

on the internet where there is a

disinhibiting effect – and we can

outpour emotions, which isn't

necessarily the same thing as

processing them.”

As with most things, it’s all

about balance. We need to be

mindful of others, realising who

the people in our lives are who

are most likely to be supportive

and understanding. But to put

it simply, talking helps – really

helps. In fact, a study of those

who lived to be 100 years old –

published in the US scientific

journal Aging – found that the

ability and willingness to express

emotions was a common trait

among those who had had long

and healthy lives. It’s a result

that speaks volumes and, while

opening up isn’t always easy, even

just admitting you’re not feeling

like your normal self could be

the first step to a supportive



“Regardless of how much or how

little education we have on various

subjects, there is one topic on

which each of us is the world’s

leading expert – and that subject is

ourselves,” writes Robert Plutchik,

in his 1988 paper The Nature of

Emotions: Clinical Implications.

It’s an optimistic message, and

something that is within the

reach of all of us. But for the

days when you don’t feel like the

world’s leading expert in yourself,

when you feel irritable or brash

or lethargic, give yourself time to

stop. Write down the things that

are bothering you, grab a cuppa

and call up a friend, meditate on

what has happened to you that

day, or reach out for professional

help from a counsellor.

Give yourself permission to feel,

and embrace the full spectrum

of human emotions that protects,

guides, and propels us through life.

July 2020 • happiful.com • 21

Go the extra mile,

it’s never crowded


Jay | Facebook @JayShettylW



Searching for inspiration? Look no

further than Jay Shetty

He’s the monk turned storyteller,

with a vision of ‘making wisdom

go viral’, and so far, he’s doing

a pretty good job of it. He’s got

more than 32 million followers,

and 5 billion views of his videos

encouraging people to find their

passions, and live their purpose.

As one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30, he’s made a big difference

to millions of lives around the world. So if you’re in need

of some motivation and inspiration, this ‘urban monk’

could help you discover your true path.

Read: Think Like a Monk by Jay Shetty (Thorsons,

£16.99). Published 8 September 2020.

In Jay’s debut book out later this year, he shares

how, using the techniques he learned as a monk

in the Vedic tradition, we can overcome the

internal roadblocks and habits that stand in our

way, to allow a clearer path to uncovering our true

potential and power. With simple advice on how

to nurture our relationships, improve focus, and

reduce stress, Jay’s unique insight could make the

world of difference to your life.

Watch: ‘This isn’t love’ by Jay Shetty, available on


There’s a reason this video has more than 1.7

million views… At just three minutes long, Jay

packs in a wealth of insight and advice to inspire us

with the courage and confidence to create the lives

we want – and how a life of meaning, purpose, and

fulfillment takes time.

Listen: ‘On Purpose’ by Jay Shetty (available on

iTunes, and jayshetty.com)

Tune-in to Jay’s podcast where he discusses

everything from coping with change, to dealing

with difficult emotions, and giving yourself

permission to be you, featuring guests including

Alicia Keys, Robin Sharma, and Gabrielle Bernstein.

With new episodes every Monday and Friday, you

can get your fix of insight and wisdom twice a week!

Follow: Instagram @jayshetty

How to harness the moon’s

energy...with Grace

with Grace

Columnist Grace Victory explores the nature of cyclic beings, how to connect with

the lunar language, and how to make the most of this divine energy

I’ve been fascinated by the moon

for as long as I can remember.

As a child, I would spend hours

staring at it from my bedroom

window, always feeling curious and

connected to this enormous grey

sphere in the sky. When I realised

that the moon I was looking at

was the same moon everyone

else around the world could see, I

couldn’t believe it. It was then that

I realised how deeply united we are

through nature.

The moon’s enchantment

has always been a part of me.

Whenever I was sad, I would gaze

and wonder what was out there.

The universe made me feel small,

but in the best way – like my

problems would be OK, and that

someone, somewhere, was looking

out for me.

In 2017, I experienced a great,

big, amazing, but depressing,

spiritual awakening, and I felt

even more connected to the moon.

Some nights, the moon would

shine so brightly through my

bedroom windows that it almost

felt like she wanted me to speak

to her. So I did. And that’s when

I started to understand that the

moon has its own energy. It was

a ‘she’, firstly. A divine, feminine

energy that I could often feel

inside me. I began to call her

Mama Moon. She felt protective

but nurturing, warm but stern,

vast but simple. And I was curious

to find out how I could utilise this

connection to her.


Most of us are aware of the

full moon – it’s probably the

most commercial part of moon

energy, for many reasons. When

the moon is at its fullest, most

illuminating state, so are we – the

moon can change the tides in

the ocean, so we can’t be naive to

her changing the tides within us,

too. As humans, we navigate the

world blindly. But if we slowed

down, noticed the details, and

paid attention to what is going on

around us and within us, we would

understand that we, too, are a part

of nature.

Much like those with wombs,

the moon cycles through phases

each month. We are bright and full

at times, and other times we are

hidden and dark. We’re incredible.

And regardless of gender, everyone

has a womb space – it’s the place

our profound intuition resides,

below our navels, above our


Astrologers, healers, and the

spiritually connected teach that

the full moon and the new moon

energies are the most powerful, so

here we’ll take a look at how you

can get in tune with their energies.


A new moon is considered the

‘dark phase’ of the moon, and yet

the energies are a little lighter, and

represent growth, expansion, and

awareness – welcoming in the new,

and rebirth. This is the optimal

time to set intentions, and think

deeply about what you would like

to manifest and achieve. What are

your goals? What areas of your life

do you want to begin again? The

new moon is the perfect time to

draw a line under the last month,

and start writing a new life-script.


Two weeks after a new moon, light

from the sun gathers and builds

across the surface, until we see a

complete, full, shining moon. It

represents the culmination of our

energies, helping us to put into




New moon - 21 June

Full moon - 5 July

New moon - 20 July

Full moon - 3 August

The new moon

is the perfect

time to draw a

line under the

last month, and

start writing a

new life-script

fruition the intentions we set two

weeks before.

The full moon represents

completion and letting go. After

we utilise our full energies, what

follows is called a waning moon

(as the light decreases), and

represents moving away from the

things that are no longer serving

us, and shows us the shadows

and darkness that we are maybe

avoiding, or struggling to process.

The full moon is often a deeply

emotional time for many people,

and can coincide with headaches

and insomnia as we process

these emotions. But I look at the

full moon as a chance to see into

my subconscious, and to move

forward more positively, away

from the things holding me back.

The moon’s energy is potent

and powerful, just like we are

if we choose to believe it, and it

can be used as a way to connect

more deeply with ourselves,

and our feelings. Particularly

during a full moon, you can try

to harness that spiritual energy

through journaling, meditating, or

charging your crystals. Remember

that there’s no right or wrong

when it comes to the divine, so

experiment and find whatever

feels best for you.

Nature ebbs and flows, and

doesn’t worry about the outcome,

because it trusts its journey. Be

more like a tree, or a flower, or

Mama Moon.


Grace x

The great balancing act:

how to make time for

family and friends

Our connections with other people are truly joyful things, but balancing

how we spend our time with each special person can be tricky. From

dealing with jealousy to avoiding social burnout, how can we strike the

fine balance between pals and partners?

Writing | Rachel Miller

Having a partner you

adore and a couple of

very good friends is a

wonderful thing. But

sometimes, trying to divide your

time and attention between

everyone can lead to hurt feelings,

jealousy, and stress – especially

if you and your pal were superclose

before you started dating


But by just being a little bit

proactive, you can make sure all

the people you care about feel

tended to. Here’s how to ensure

you show up for all the special

people in your life.



When you first get into a

relationship, it’s easy to want to

spend all your time with your new

person, and all your time not spent

with them talking about them. But

the start of a new relationship is

likely when your friends are going

to be the most worried they’re not

going to see you anymore. So make

sure you’re ready to talk about a

few other topics, too. It’s not that

your friends don’t want to hear

about you and your partner, but

communicating, “I’m still the same

person and this friendship still

matters to me” early on, will go a

long way to ease any anxiety they

have about losing you.



Pick a day and time that works

well for both of you, put it on the

calendar, and treat it as sacred.

Standing hangouts are great

because they give everyone

something to look forward to, and

allow you to avoid the endless back

and forth of trying to find a day

that works. When everyone has a

lot going on, it’s all too easy to let

a few weeks and then a month or

two go by without catching up. But

a regular hangout will hold you

accountable, and ensure you stay

in touch.



Most of us don’t want to spend

time with someone who keeps

giggling at their phone or trailing

off mid-sentence because they’re

responding to messages. So don’t

try to be everything to everyone all

the time. When you do that, no one

gets your full attention and you’ll

just feel distracted and drained. So

whether you’re watching a movie

with your partner, or having coffee

with your pal, put your phone away

and give the person you’re with

your full attention.




Intimacy and fondness aren’t

transferable, and just because you

love your partner, or would trust

your best friend with your life,

it’s best not to assume they feel

the same way about each other.

If a friend wants to talk to you

about something, there’s a good

Don’t try to be

everything to

everyone all

the time

chance they’ll want to talk to you

alone. So do your best to treat

any group gatherings as a bonus,

not a substitute for a one-on-one





It makes sense that as we get

older, and get into more serious

relationships, there will be a

shift in our priorities. But even

if your friends get it, they might

still be pretty upset. If your pal is

disappointed that you have less

time and energy for them than you

used to, that’s OK. Just like you’re

allowed to change your schedule

to accommodate your relationship,

they are allowed to be a little hurt

that you’re not as available. So be

kind and patient, and don’t expect

them to get over it immediately.


When you’re stressed about

maintaining all your relationships,

it’s often easy to find more time by

cutting into your self-care routine.

But we all need time to ourselves

to do chores, cultivate hobbies,

practise basic self-care, and just

be alone with our thoughts. So if

the friend-dates and date-dates are

piling up, and you’re feeling burnt

out, give yourself permission to say

“no” to an invitation. Remember

that you can’t be a good friend or

a good partner if you never let

yourself recharge.

‘The Art of Showing Up’ by Rachel

Wilkerson Miller is out on 25 June

2020 (Orion Spring, £14.99).

July 2020 • happiful.com • 27


With pinging mobiles, chattering podcasts, and thumping music taking

over every element of our day, it’s no exaggeration to say that silence is

a rarity in the modern world. But, could switching off from these sounds

help us improve our physical and emotional health? We investigate…

Writing | Claire Munnings

Can you hear that? It’s

the sound of constant

noise. We’re bombarded

24/7 by sounds of some

sort – whether it’s car engines on

the roads beside us, people talking

in the queue in front of us, or a

radio blaring out in our kitchen.

And we’re also choosing to fill our

lives with sound, too. In fact, as

an increasing number of us turn

to audiobooks to ease our daily

journeys, music to motivate us

while we do the chores, and white

noise to help us sleep, it seems

many of us have simply forgotten

how to enjoy silence.

The World Health Organisation

called noise pollution a ‘modern

plague’ as long ago as 2011, and

things have only got louder since

then. So where has this obsession

with sound come from?

Joanna Nylund is a Finnish-based

journalist, and the author of a new

book called Silence: Harnessing

the restorative power of silence in a

noisy world. For her, quietness is

becoming an increasingly depleted

and endangered natural resource,

while noise is becoming a habitual

go-to for many.

“Paradoxically, noise has become

a way of tuning out the world,” she

explains. “It can certainly have

a calming effect sometimes – if

you’re choosing a podcast over the

chatter of fellow commuters, for

instance – but this isn’t always the


That’s because noise isn’t just

used as a welcome distraction

from intrusive sounds, but also as a

diversion from our own feelings –

whether we realise it or not. “Sitting

in silence with just your thoughts

to keep you company is a scary

prospect for many, often because

we know there are things in our

lives we haven’t dealt with,” Joanna

says. “Rather than stop to face

28 • happiful.com • July 2020

Noise isn’t

just used as

a welcome

distraction from

intrusive sounds,

but also as a

diversion from

our own feelings

– whether we

realise it or not

them, we instinctively choose to just

keep distracting ourselves.” The fact

that all these different sounds are

available at our fingertips doesn’t

help matters either.


The problem is the impact this can

have on our mental wellbeing.

Dr Arroll, a psychologist who

works for Healthspan and at a

private practice on Harley Street,

says that purposefully ignoring

emotions such as shame, guilt, fear

and sadness by using other forms

of distraction can have a dramatic

effect on our minds and bodies.

“Constantly ignoring our feelings

can have a negative impact on

our health in the form of anxiety,

depression, chronic fatigue,

and emotional burnout,” she

explains. “It is challenging to sit

with some emotions, but in my

view it is imperative that we do

so. It is only when we process

uncomfortable feelings, thoughts,

and experiences, that we can

arrive at a sense of acceptance and

move forward.”

There’s more, too – research has

found that the unnatural sounds

filling the air around us can

physically affect us in all sorts of

ways. In fact, in 2011 the World

Health Organisation calculated

that at least one million healthy

life-years are lost every year in

western Europe countries as a

result of traffic-related noise.

“Noise stimulates the nervous

system, which responds by raising

our levels of stress hormone,”

Joanna explains. “Constant noise

means constantly raised stress

hormone levels, making us

vulnerable to a host of illnesses,

such as cardiovascular disease

and strokes. Other physical impact

ranges from gradual hearing loss

and poor sleep, to high blood

pressure, to name just a few.”

Noise exposure has also been

connected to behavioural issues

and cognitive impairment in

children, and anxiety, poor

attention span, and short-term

memory problems in adults.


And so to silence.

We can see from the studies

quoted previously that quietness

is clearly good for our physical

being, and that it also contributes

majorly to our peace of mind,

and allows us to process thoughts

and feelings that would otherwise

go ignored. But, that’s not all. A

growing number of studies in the

past decade have examined the



Find it difficult to quieten your

busy mind? Whether it’s your

inner critic or a long to-do

list, this noise can be just as

overwhelming as external

sounds. Follow the below

exercise as recommended by

Dr Meg to enjoy stillness in your


1 Sit comfortably and close

your eyes. Feel the sensation

of air passing in and out of

your nostrils, flowing through

the back of your throat, and

travelling down into your belly

as it lifts and dips.

2 Thoughts will continue to

stream into your consciousness

– acknowledge them and

gently nudge them into the

ether. Bring your attention to

your breath and allow it to flow

at its natural pace and depth.

3 When you’re ready, slowly

open your eyes and re-enter

the world.

effects of silence on our brain,

with some very interesting results.

“A 2013 study on mice (with

whom we share 97% of our

working DNA) found that silence

actually grows brain cells,” Joanna

explains. “Silence also helps us

access the default mode network,

our brains’ preferred state of

operation. It’s what we normally >>>

July 2020 • happiful.com • 29


Embrace a sense of quietness

and switch off from the outside

world at one of these relaxing


Gaia House, Devon

Day, weekend, or week-long

silent meditation retreats are

available at this beautiful

setting. All use a programme

based on Buddhist traditions,

and sessions are guided by

experienced dharma teachers

from across the world.


Sharpam Trust, Devon

With a range of mindfulness

courses, plus silent retreats

for three or five nights, there’s

bound to be something to suit

your needs here. If you’re a

little nervous about extended

periods of silence, it’s good to

know that there is a chance

to connect with others at

certain points in your stay.


Vajrasana, Suffolk

Located in the peaceful Suffolk

countryside, this retreat is run

by the London Buddhist Centre.

It offers stays which feature

periods of silence alongside

a varied programme of

workshops, meditation, and

talks. lbc.org.uk

call ‘letting our minds wander’,

and generally involves letting

our brains rest from having to

perform a specific task. This

mode is essential to creativity and


Could it be time to think twice

about having that TV show on ‘in

the background’ then?


It seems obvious how we can go

about introducing more silence

into our lives. Surely we just turn

off all distractions, and sit down in

quietness for a few moments each

day, right? Well, yes, that would

work – but the problem is many of

us aren’t used to doing this, and it

can feel quite alien to some.

For this reason, it can be useful

to ease ourselves into the idea of

silence. “If you get nervous at the

prospect of relaxing in silence, or

just prefer not to sit still, I would

recommend a walk in nature, or a

trip to a museum in the off-hours,”

advises Joanna. “A quiet hobby,

preferably something you do with

your hands, creates a wonderful

kind of inner quiet, too.”

Dr Arroll agrees that getting

outside is a great way to connect

with yourself and the native

sounds around us. “Research

has shown that connecting with

nature and focusing on the natural

world lowers the stress hormone

cortisol and blood pressure, calms

our mood, and increases a sense

of wellbeing. Try to walk in the

mornings, and don’t take a device

with you. Notice the sights, smells,

and physical sensations while

you’re meandering to silence your

mind,” she suggests.

And of course, step away from

your phone when possible. “Trying

to limit your screen time goes

a long way towards increasing

stillness – to the brain, noise can

be visual just as well as audible,”

says Joanna. “I practise keeping

a ‘digital day of rest’ for 24 hours

every week. It’s amazing how

much head (and soul) space that

can free up, with room for stillness

to come flooding in.”

So, go on – take a moment to sit

back and enjoy a few moments of

stress-reducing, creativity-inspiring

silence. Your brain will thank you

for it.

Claire Munnings is a health and

wellbeing journalist. She enjoys

writing about how we can live more

mindfully, and introduce a sense of

calm into our days.

30 • happiful.com • July 2020

A positive outlook

Have you ever found yourself spiralling into negative thoughts?

One small problem can tumble into another, and before you

know it you might find yourself trapped in a negative thought

pattern. But it doesn’t have to be this way – you can shake up your

perspective, and learn automatic, positive responses instead…

Writing | Katie Hoare

Now, don’t get us wrong,

however you are feeling is

valid. And you don’t have

to react positively 24/7.

But if you find yourself dwelling on

the worst-case scenarios too often,

and persistent negative thinking is

affecting your wellbeing, the good

news is that there are tools out

there to help you break free, and

hypnotherapy is one method that

could help you stop the cycle.

When you first start out on your

journey to positivity, it can be

daunting, and even seem a little

unrealistic. But making that first step

towards change is actually a bigger

achievement than you might think,

because you’ve acknowledged your

negative responses.

To put positivity into perspective,

Lesley Lyle, psychologist and

hypnotherapist, suggests that

having a positive mindset is about

consciously noticing what is already

working well in your life. “It’s not

about being blindly optimistic

regardless of one’s circumstances,

but more about noticing what

is already going right in your

everyday life and enjoying that, >>>

July 2020 • happiful.com • 31

while still maintaining a realistic

understanding of the challenges

you might face.”

Lesley suggests that maintaining

a positive mindset is all about the

ratio. “In order to have a positive

mindset, we need to experience

more positive than negative

emotions (experts generally agree

this is a 3:1 ratio). The good news

is that even the briefest experience

of a positive emotion is enough to

make a significant difference to

our positive mindset.”

In fact, even the simple pleasures

in life – such as enjoying a

delicious cup of coffee, or listening

to birds sing – can bring us joy, and

it’s important that we consciously

notice these moments and hold

on to them. And this is where

hypnotherapy comes into play.

How does it work?

At times, we can get stuck in

negative thought patterns and

cycles that serve no use, but we still

unconsciously give these patterns

power to dictate our lives.

Negative thought patterns are

habits that we have learned, and

any habit can be ‘unlearned’. It

takes practise and patience, and

hypnotherapy can be an effective

tool in ensuring an automatic

positive mindset becomes an

everyday response.

Hypnotherapist James Brannan

explains that the brain is

constantly working to automate

responses wherever possible. So

when we have a learned, negative

habit, intervention is needed

to reinforce positive responses.

James says: “Sometimes your brain

will make snapshot decisions

about what something means, and

how to respond to such things in

Negative thought patterns are

habits that we have learned, and

any habit can be ‘unlearned’

the future. Your brain automates

certain responses in order to free

you up to engage with new things


“This is great in one way, because

it means we can keep moving

between focuses and attend to

many things in life. However, the

downside is that we sometimes

end up with responses that we

don’t like doing and feeling, and

yet they run unconsciously.”

The practice of hypnotherapy can

help change this automatic pattern

by activating those responses (in

a safe, comfortable environment

such as the hypnotherapist’s

office or your home) and then

introducing them “to new brain

cell networks”, by the power of


James says: “Rather than firing

round the same old loops and

keeping the old responses going,

when present brain cell activity

gets connected to other brain cell

activity, then things change. Using

hypnotherapy, it’s like we can join

32 • happiful.com • July 2020

a person in the maze they

are stuck in, grab them by

the hand, lead them out and

introduce them to new areas.

We do this by activating the

original problem and feeding

in new thoughts, images, ideas

and feelings.

Hypnotherapist James’ top

tips to practise self-hypnosis

at home:

• Do it in the morning while

your mind is refreshed.

This way the hypnotic

state isn’t interfered with

by sleepiness, so we get to

enjoy it more.

• Let an audio track guide

you if preferred – you can

find loads of options on


• Start by writing or thinking

of three things you can

feel grateful for. A state

of gratitude is a state of

wellness and balance.

Gratitude for the food you

have today, the choices you

have, and the little luxuries

of modern life.

“Once done, when a person

tries to activate these original

thoughts, it activates all that’s been

introduced as well. They can’t go

back to their old pattern without it

now triggering the new one.”

Hypnotherapy is effective in this

instance because when you are

deeply relaxed, or in a ‘trance’-like

state, you are more susceptible to

suggestion, and therefore more

likely to adopt a new habit, the

‘learned’ response.

Self-hypnosis is key

In maintaining a positive mindset,

regular practise of self-hypnosis is

key. A daily dose of self-hypnosis

helps you establish your new

habits – in this case, reinforcing

the positive mindset as the new

normal. Self-hypnosis allows you

to enter into a deep relaxation, and

uses statements spoken in your

mind, to reinforce the change you

want to make.

Before you start, have three

affirmations that you can repeat

to yourself – such as “I reject all

self-doubt from my life, and I

embrace, confidence, positivity,

and prosperity” or “Today I will be

happy, healthy, and strong.”

To enter self-hypnosis, find a

comfortable space where you’ll

be uninterrupted for about 10

minutes, close your eyes, and let

your muscles totally relax – if it

helps, tense your muscles first to

really feel the tension dissolve.

Slow your breath, and focus on

its calming rhythm. It’s important

to visualise yourself in a situation

where you are achieving your

goals, to see yourself with these

new habits in place.

Now focus on repeating two or

three affirmations that you can

truly connect to. Embrace the

change you feel in yourself when

you’re saying these words.

Techniques to try at home

Lesley says: “Think about three

different scents that evoke happy

thoughts or memories. Explore

what it is that most appeals to your

senses. Then repeat using the same

process to consider three sounds,

sights, tastes, and physical feelings.

You can repeat the whole process

several times if you wish. You are

likely to find this exercise evokes

many different positive emotions.”

The power of smell can be

invaluable. Have you ever entered

a room and smelt something so

strong it roots you in the spot, but

has the ability to take you far and

wide to where you first smelt that

particular scent?

“Sometimes we are aware of how

we don’t want to feel – anxious,

stressed, upset – but fail to consider

how we would like to feel instead.

Positive psychology categorises

positive emotions into 10 that are

universally recognised – love,

inspiration, hope, gratitude, awe,

amusement, pride, interest, joy and

serenity,” Lesley says.

“Choose a positive emotion from

this list that you would most like

to feel at this time, and induce a

state of self-hypnosis. Visualise

a situation in which you would

be most likely to experience this

emotion. It could be an actual

memory or something of your own

imagination. For instance, you

might remember an occasion that

evokes feelings of amusement or

pride, or imagine how serene it

would feel to be lying on a tropical

beach. As in the previous exercise,

explore aspects of what you might

see, taste, hear, feel or smell.”

Bank these feelings, so you can

tap into them when you feel a

negative thought pattern arising.

Regular practice of selfhypnosis,

and support from your

hypnotherapist, will equip you

with a mental toolkit to maintain a

positive mindset, and thrive from it.

To learn more about creating a

positive mindset, visit

hypnotherapy-directory.org.uk, to

find local and online therapists.

July 2020 • happiful.com • 33

How to let

laughter lead the way

It’s well-known that laughter is a great stress-reliever, and a regular

dose of hysterics can do us the world of good. But what happens when

we’re feeling low and struggle to find the ‘funny’ side?

Writing | Teresa Marks

Artwork | Charlotte Reynell

In the words of philosopher and

psychologist William James:

“We don’t laugh because we’re

happy, we are happy because

we laugh.” As he observed more

than a century ago, laughter makes

us feel good. And today, we’re still

exploring the many health benefits

and embracing concepts such as

laughter yoga and laughter therapy.

Laughter prompts a plethora

of physical and emotional

changes in the body. It triggers

our bodies to release the ‘happy

chemicals’ dopamine, oxytocin

and endorphins – so we’re literally

flooded with positive emotions.

At the same time, it reduces stress

levels and creates a relaxation

response. We take in more oxygen

which stimulates our internal

organs, strengthening our immune

system, and it even increases our

tolerance to pain – the internal

shift is palpable. In fact, merely

anticipating laughter can jumpstart

some of the positive changes

in the body, so it’s no wonder

we turn to humour as a coping


Psychologist and hypnotherapist

Lesley Lyle says: “One of the main

functions of laughter is that it

relieves stress, which explains why

some people instinctively laugh

when hearing bad news.”

And it’s used effectively in

therapy sessions, too. “Clients

who have low mood or depression

find it therapeutic to engage

with these positive emotions

during hypnotherapy sessions,

particularly when they struggle to

do so in everyday life.”

So, how can we reap these

amazing benefits, and bring more

humour into our lives?



It might feel strange ‘deciding’

to laugh more (isn’t laughter

spontaneous?), but to change

any aspect of our lives requires

a shift in our thoughts, desires,

and beliefs. Make the conscious

decision to laugh more and

picture the outcome – a life

filled with fun, frivolity and

playfulness. You’ll find that

your inner child comes out to

play more often, and space for

laughter will emerge. Lesley says:

“This can be done in numerous

ways, such as being with certain

friends, watching funny films,

or playing with friends/children/

pets. Laughter can also be

scheduled by participating in

laughter yoga sessions, where

laughter is purposefully induced

through specific group exercises.”



Whether you turn to slapstick

comedy, dad jokes, or your

pet’s playful antics, make a

list of what really makes you

laugh – and start banking them!

Save funny videos on YouTube,

compile a list of comedy films

you can’t get enough of, and

record your favourite stand-up.

You can even create a ‘humour

jar’ – fill it with jokes or comic

strip clippings that make you

chuckle. By creating your own

laughter first-aid kit, tailored

specifically to your humour,

you’ll have something to turn to

on those difficult days.


Plan in playtime alongside your

other responsibilities, and stick

to it. Schedule time to catch up

with friends, arrange a comedy

night, and join that weekly

laughter yoga group. Treat it like

a doctor’s appointment – even

when you don’t feel like doing it,

you know it’s going to make you

feel better. Plus, how often have

you laughed at something and

then found yourself in a lighter,

giggly mood where everything is

funny? Make a date with humour

and see where it goes.


If you find it difficult to connect

with your goofy side, try to bring

playfulness into your life little by

little. Spending time with the kids

in your life can be great inspiration

– you’ll quickly find your own inner

child delighting at care-free play.

Roll down a hill, see how many

marshmallows you can get in your

mouth, or bounce on a trampoline.

Say yes to the next fancy-dress

invitation, and challenge yourself

to step outside of your comfort

zone. Goofiness is not just for kids!


Reflecting on the things that

brought a smile to our faces is

a wonderful way to relive those

moments. The very memory of

something that made us laugh can

make us laugh again! Get yourself

a pocket-size notebook, and start

jotting down every time you

laugh. Read the journal each night

and reflect on all that positivity

permeating your life.


Lifting other people’s spirits is

the quickest way to lift your own.

And you really don’t need to be a

comedian to get people giggling.

Creating an environment for fun

and laughter is often enough to

bring out the jovial side in people.

So try to be the initiator of fun:

suggest a family board game, recall

that great anecdote or memory

together, act the fool. Your

willingness to look on the playful

side of life will remind those

around you that it’s OK to find

humour in all situations.

And it’s always worth

gaining some perspective, and

remembering that life on this

Earth is as deeply profound as it

is absolute nonsense. We all go

about our lives doing the daftest

of things. Step back and see the

ridiculousness in it all. Welcome

the humour in being imperfectly,

awkwardly, human.

Embrace your

blue mind

If the crystal-blue

waters of the ocean

are calling you, and

you find peace when

you’re drawn to lakes or

the sea, you could be

experiencing the power

of ‘blue mind’

Writing | Fiona Thomas

When I’m stressed I

get snappy. On one

such day several

years ago, I’d been

standing on the precipice of a

bad spell (I’ve lived with varying

degrees of depression and anxiety

most of my adult life), but I was

determined to stay on solid

ground. I made a list of the things

that might make me feel better,

and asked my husband to help me

do the most important one: make

a visit to the beach.

The next day we packed the car

and buckled up. I was emotionally

drained, but hopeful that seeing

the choppy, sparkling North

Sea would bring me back to life.

But when my husband tried

to start the car, my beachside

resuscitation was cancelled. The

battery was dead.

36 • happiful.com • July 2020

Rolling tides ease us into a meditative state

and give us a sense of perspective on life,

which tends to minimise worries effectively

With hours to wait until the repair

service arrived, I spent the day in

tears and couldn’t explain why. My

deep sense of longing to be near

water was overwhelming, and quite

honestly, a bit embarrassing. That

was until recently when I found

out that there is a name for the

powerful effect that water has on

our mental health; it’s called ‘blue

mind’, and I’m 100% on board.

Marine biologist, Wallace J

Nichols, coined the term, and gave

a TedTalk on the subject. “The

term ‘blue mind’ describes the

mildly meditative state we fall into

when near, in, on, or underwater,”

he says. “It’s the antidote to what

we refer to as ‘red mind,’ which is

the anxious, over-connected, and

over-stimulated state that defines

the new normal of modern life.

Research has proven that spending

time near the water is essential to

achieving elevated and sustained


Wallace has also written a book

on the subject called Blue Mind:

How Water Makes You Happier, More

Connected and Better at What You

Do. It blends cutting-edge studies in

neurobiology and psychology, with

personal tales from people who

have experienced the power of the

blue mind in real life.

Most of us know that getting

outside is good for our mental and

physical health, but visiting the

seaside or a lake is considered by

some to be the optimum version of

nature therapy. In fact, a 2016 study

found that increased views of blue

space are significantly associated

with lower levels of psychological

distress, a result which was not

true for green space. One reason

for this could be the colour blue.

Experiments show that blue light

can lower heart rates, and a Tokyo

railway line saw a 74% reduction

in suicides as a result of installing

blue lights.

Research shows that ruminating

thoughts and feelings of anxiety

can be quashed by observing the

expansive nature of our oceans.

Rolling tides ease us into a

meditative state and give us a sense

of perspective on life, which tends

to minimise worries effectively.

Watching the ocean is a stark

contradiction to the environment

we typically inhabit in our daily

lives. Flashing phones, tense

meetings, and noisy cities are

replaced with a near static

landscape, which remains

mostly unchanged as we gaze

on peacefully. As the emptiness

envelops us, our brains naturally

relax. When small surprises appear

— a seagull, a wave — this delivers a

hit of dopamine that enhances the

feel-good factor.

Wallace calls this regularity

without monotony, which is “the

perfect recipe for triggering a state

of involuntary attention in which the

brain’s default network — essential

to creativity and problem solving —

gets triggered”. Ever wondered why

your dentist has a giant fish tank in

their waiting room? Studies show

that looking at aquariums can relax

patients who are about to undergo

oral surgery. Subjects who looked

at aquariums experienced a drop

in blood pressure, heart rate, and

improved mood.

According to the blue mind theory,

being in or on the water is just as

powerful as watching it from a

distance. Hydrotherapy has been

shown to reduce psychological

stress, while swimming releases

endorphins, encourages deep

breathing, and leads to a meditativelike

state. Surfing is so healing

that it’s often used in recovery

programmes to replace the high that

comes with substance abuse. Kayak

fishing is a water-based activity that

has been particularly therapeutic

for soldiers and veterans with

PTSD. The combination of physical

movement, learning a new skill, and

the blue mind effect can break the

cycle of traumatic recall, helping

to replace painful memories with

positive ones made on the water.

The main issue is that access to

natural water sources is a barrier

to entry for some (house prices

are notoriously more expensive

in coastal areas), but there are

alternative ways to tap into the

blue mind effect. A hot shower can

ease anxiety, while a cold shower

can invigorate the mind and body.

Anything that recreates the sound

of water is likely to ease stress and

have a calming effect. I personally

like to play rain sounds or crashing

waves in my headphones when I

find myself tossing and turning in

the night. Even looking at videos or

images of water can go some way to

recreating the powers of nature in

your own home.

Fiona is a freelance writer and author,

whose book, ‘Depression in a

Digital Age’, is out now. Visit

fionalikestoblog.com for more.

Be faithful in small things

because it is in them

that your strength lies


Photography | Rayyu Maldives


How I fought

my anorexia


Rebecca was trapped in a cycle of despair as her

eating disorder steadily destroyed her life – but

eventually she found a way to break its hold

Writing | Rebecca Quinlan


was standing at my

own front door,

terrified, unable to

move. My mum and

sister tried to get me

inside, but I just froze. It

was 4pm on Christmas

Day 2010. While most

people had spent the

day with their families –

eating, drinking, opening

presents and playing

games – I had been in

hospital, where I had

spent the past six months

receiving treatment for

anorexia nervosa.

I was allowed home for

two hours on Christmas

Day, my first time

out of hospital in six

months. But I couldn’t

go inside. Anorexia had

destroyed every part

of me, physically and

mentally. I was having

panic attacks five times a

day – and Christmas was

no exception. I burst into

tears on the doorstep.

How had anorexia got

me to this point? I was

sectioned, being tube-fed,

and unable to step into

my own home.

For years anorexia had

been my God – I had

worshipped it and obeyed

its every command.

But now I had hit rock

bottom. I was broken.

I have had three

admissions to hospitals

for treatment of anorexia,

and that Christmas was

during the third. Between

June 2008 and July 2011,

I was in a revolving door

– I went into hospital,

was sectioned, tube-fed,

forced to gain weight, but

when released I instantly

lost weight, and within

four months was back at

the brink of death.

At each admission my

liver was at the point of

failure, my heart was

minutes from packing in.

Each time I pushed my

body to the point where

I couldn’t walk or talk, or

barely even breathe.

And the admissions never

got any easier. During my

first, I was very defiant. I

broke all the rules. I hated

everything and everyone

making me gain weight.

All I wanted was anorexia,

and I was determined that

I would lose all the weight

they made me gain, and

more. Which is exactly

what I did.

It was only during my

third admission that I

started to hate anorexia.

When I hit rock bottom

that Christmas Day, I

knew that something had

to change. I couldn’t keep

going like this. So, instead

of fighting for anorexia, I

decided to fight for life.

I wasn’t ready to give

up anorexia completely,

but I wanted to be able

to manage it. I wanted to

have friends, and go out

with them for meals. I

wanted to sit round the

table at home and eat

dinner with my family.

These were things I had

missed out on for years,

and I was desperate to be

able to do them.

So, slowly, we gradually

started re-introducing

liquids, and eventually,

after nine months of not

eating food, in March

2011 I started to eat again.


July 2020 • happiful.com • 39

Yes, I wanted a life, but

anorexia had such a grip of

me that I knew if I was left to

my own devices, the illness

would have its way

It was terrifying, and

there were times when I

couldn’t do it, but I kept

trying. I wanted to be

able to have a life and do

‘normal’ things – and this

meant eating.

Having spent years of

feeling utterly helpless

and hopeless, and

wanting to run from life,

now I was beginning to

feel hopeful, and wanted

to live life. Anorexia still

held a strong position in

my life but I didn’t want it

to take over again.

But I knew that once

out in the real world,

I wouldn’t be able to

fight it. Without the

restrictions and rules

of the hospital, I knew

I would not be able to

stop myself losing weight

again. Yes, I wanted a life,

but anorexia had such

a grip of me that I knew

if I was left to my own

devices, the illness would

have its way.

That is where the

Community Treatment

Order (CTO) came in.

After my year-long, third

hospital admission, I was

released under a CTO in

July 2011. A CTO is a bit

like being sectioned but

allows you to live in the


There are conditions in

the CTO that you must

follow; a set of rules.

If you don’t, you can

be recalled to hospital

immediately for as long

as the doctor deems


My CTO says that if I go

below a certain weight, I

will immediately be sent

back to hospital. This

threat motivates me to

maintain my weight, and

I am now in my seventh

year on the CTO – and I

would not be where I am

today without it.

I had very little leeway,

but now I can see this was

a good thing. Anorexia

pushes boundaries, it

likes you to eat as little

as possible, and be as

low a weight as possible.

But the CTO completely

stopped this. It was there

in black and white; this

was the weight I had to

stay above and there was

no negotiation.

Because I have stayed

within my weight

boundary, I’ve spent nine

years free of hospital. And

40 • happiful.com • July 2020

Rebecca blogs at


Rebecca is fundraising for Beat

and you can support her at justgiving.com/


Courage doesn’t mean

you don’t get afraid.

Courage means you

don’t let fear stop you

the longer the CTO has

kept me out of hospital,

the more time it has given

me to start experiencing

life again, breaking that

cycle and letting me start

to live.

The more time spent

out of hospital, the more

I have realised that I do

want more from life, and

my thought processes

have started to change –

which is key to initiating


Previously, recovery

had never been an option

because I was in and out

of hospital, and anorexia

dominated my life. But

now I have completed my

undergraduate degree,

worked full-time as a cook,

completed a Masters, and

am now working parttime

in admin at my local

general hospital while also

giving talks to university

students about eating


I go on holiday, go out

with friends, and can eat

dinner in a restaurant. I

am far from completely

recovered, but I have made

huge progress and built a

relatively ‘normal’ life.

When I started on the

CTO nine years ago, I was

just 1kg above the bottom

of my weight-band, and I

am now 10kg above. Yes,

the progression is slow,

but without the CTO I

don’t think there would be

any progress at all.

I want to campaign for

the greater use of CTOs.

I believe they should be

used as a fundamental tool

in anorexia treatment.

They can be cost-saving,

and, most importantly,

life-saving. I believe

their potential for

success in preventing the

development of severe

and enduring anorexia,

and in helping recovery,

could be huge. If there

was a measure that would

prevent cancer becoming

terminal, it would be

used without a second’s

thought. CTOs have this

potential with anorexia.

CTOs can offer anorexics

the key to life.

I have come so far from

that Christmas Day when

I couldn’t even go into my

own house. Yes, it is still

a struggle, and things can

still feel very scary, but I

will get there. And if I can

do it, anyone can. Courage

doesn’t mean you don’t

get afraid. Courage means

you don’t let fear stop you.

The CTO has helped me

develop courage. And with

courage, you can achieve

anything you set your

mind to.


Rebecca struggled with

anorexia for more than

10 years. Her hospital

admissions stabilised her

condition, but there was

an inevitable relapse after

discharge. Christmas day

was a low point, yet also a

turning point as she decided

to fight for herself. She had

felt helpless in the face of her

anorexia, yet the boundaries

of the CTO helped her to

maintain healthy practices.

Over time, with the help of

the CTO, she succeeded in

making effective changes

and real improvement in her

life. It’s worth recognising

that setting firm

boundaries and

sharing these with

others can often

help give us more


Graeme Orr | MBACP (Accred) counsellor

July 2020 • happiful.com • 41

Ask the experts

Sonal Shah answers your

questions on eating for skin health

Read more about Sonal on


QStress is

having a real

impact on my

skin, and I’m getting

more breakouts than

normal. What can I do?

Managing the stress as

A best as you can will help,

as stress triggers a hormone

cascade that can stimulate

acne. Acne is not really caused

by toxins trying to force their

way through the skin; it’s

actually caused by the immune

system’s overreaction to

bacteria that normally live on

the skin.

Face mapping for acne

can give us more of a clue

as to which organs may be

out of balance. For example,

breakouts along the chin and

jawline are hormonal and

linked to gut and liver health.

Breakouts on the forehead

are linked to kidney function

and possibly inadequate

hydration. Breakouts on the

cheeks are usually linked to

the lungs and respiratory

system. Combatting acne is

a multifaceted approach –

taking supplements containing

zinc and vitamin A, and

herbal remedy echinacea,

has shown improvements in

clearing up acne.


My skin feels

really dull and

dehydrated –

are there any foods

that can help?


Firstly, I would question if

you are getting enough

water and fluids – adults need

at least 1.5 litres of fluids a day.

Secondly, foods with natural oils

can help hydrate the skin and

prevent dryness. Consuming

these oils daily is a must, and

can be found in foods such

as avocados, olive oil, and

flaxseeds. Thirdly, colourful

vegetables with dark coloured

pigments from yellow-orange

to green-purple do contain

more nutrients beneficial for the

skin, including vitamin C and


Chomping on carrots,

peppers, sweet potato, and

berries will provide these

nutrients. In addition, water-rich

foods such as cucumber and

watermelon contain minerals

like silica and lycopene, which

will have your skin glowing and


Nutritionist Resource is part of the Happiful Family | Helping you find the help you need

Top tips for better skin:

1. Drink more fluids and cut

back on coffee, fizzy drinks,

and squash. Replace these

with healthy vegetable juices

and water. Consider using

superfood powders, such

as Klamath powder and

Moringa powder, to provide

nutrients for the skin.

2. Soak the body in Epsom

salts, which naturally contain

minerals like magnesium. This

has a detoxifying action as

the skin’s pores open in the

bathwater. Magnesium also

relaxes muscles and eases


3. Cut back on processed

sugars, and look at how

many portions of vegetables

and fruit you’re consuming

now – add three more to this

and you should see a positive

improvement to your skin.


My eczema is

aggravated by

stress. I’m doing

what I can to relax,

but are there any

changes I can make to

my diet to help?

Eczema is an

A inflammatory response

and to better manage this,

anti-inflammatory foods

should be consumed. These

include essential omega

3s from oily fish, flaxseeds,

and chia seeds for example.

Cutting back on coffee, sugar,

refined wheat products, and

dairy can help symptoms, too.

Consuming more foods

that support the gut and

liver function, such as

cruciferous vegetables and

green veggies (which contain

magnesium, an anti-stress

mineral) can help, in addition

to consuming alkalising beans

and grains, like adzuki beans

and quinoa, which are easy

to digest.

Vitamin C, zinc, turmeric, and

ginger have all been shown to

help improve eczema.




Empathy, escapism, insight, or to expand your mind, a good book can be like

a friend in troubled times. In this entirely subjective list, we’ve compiled mustread

books from our readers and colleagues, which have made a huge impact

on their lives in times when they needed it most. Whether you’re looking for a

sympathetic ear, a guiding hand, or just a sign you’re not alone, without doubt,

you will find it in the pages of one of these incredible books...

Writing | Rebecca Thair, Kathryn Wheeler & Bonnie Evie Gifford

44 • happiful.com • July 2020




Girl, Woman, Other

Bernadine Evaristo

(Penguin, £8.99)

Joint winner of the Booker Prize 2019,

Girl, Woman, Other follows the lives of

12 people as they navigate questions

of class, race, sexuality, gender,

and friendship.

Your Erroneous Zones

Wayne W Dyer

(Piatkus, £9.99)

If you’ve ever been plagued by

self-doubt, this book is a must-read.

Exploring how to overcome the

things holding us back, the ‘father of

motivation’ helps us to move forward.

The Power of Now

Eckhart Tolle

(Yellow Kite, £10.99)

With Oprah Winfrey calling it “one of

the most valuable books [she’s] ever

read”, this read encourages us all to

live a healthier and happier life by

connecting to the present moment.




Depression & Other Magic Tricks

Sabrina Benaim

(SCB Distributed Publishers, £13.99)

With a video of one of her poems

having more than 5 million views,

Sabrina Benaim’s debut book draws

together a collection of poems on

mental health, love, and family.

Welcome to the NHK

Tatsuhiko Takimoto

(Tokyopop, £8.99)

Tackling themes around depression

and isolation, the series gives a

unique view into young people’s

struggle to connect and find their

place in society.

There is No Right Way to Meditate

Yumi Sakugawa

(Adams Media, £9.99)

An uplifting guide on how to lead

a more peaceful life from awardwinning

artist Yumi Sakugawa,

featuring stunning illustrations, and

ways to connect with the moment.




Body Positive Power

Megan Jayne Crabbe

(Vermilion, £12.99)

For anyone in need of inspiration

to show yourself the self-love and

acceptance you deserve, this is

your go-to guide to embracing

yourself, just as you are.

Michael Rosen’s Sad Book

Michael Rosen

(Walker Books, £6.99)

A sincere and moving account of

Michael's grief following the death

of his son, Eddie, from meningitis

at the age of 19.

All That Man Is

David Szalay

(Vintage, £9.99)

In this collection of intertwined

short stories, David Szalay explores

masculinity as he guides us

through the different stages of a

man’s life, from 17 to 73. >>>

July 2020 • happiful.com • 45


The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (Faber & Faber, £8.99)

A semi-autobiographical classic, The Bell Jar was first

published in the UK a month after Plath’s own death

by suicide. It follows college student Esther as she

moves to New York for an internship, but her time

is unfulfilling. Struggling with her personal identity

and societal expectations, and based on Plath’s

own experiences in a psychiatric facility, readers

get a glimpse into what life was like living with

depression, suicidal thoughts, and mental health treatment in the 50s.


It’s Not OK to Feel Blue (and other lies)

by Scarlett Curtis (Penguin, £14.99)

Following the success of her Sunday Times best-seller,

Feminists Don’t Wear Pink, Scarlett Curtis curated

this powerful, funny, and often poignant collection

of mental health stories from more than 70 people.

Including words from Emma Thompson, Matt Haig, and

Poorna Bell, this is a heartfelt and honest look at mental

health, why it’s OK to be overwhelmed, and that it’s OK to be human.


Flow: The


of Happiness

by Mihaly


(Rider, £14.99)

What makes

life truly

worthwhile? For more than two

decades, Mihaly investigated this

very subject matter – studying

where concentration and

enjoyment meet. Covering issues

such as family relationships, the

pain of loneliness, and how to

make our lives meaningful, Flow is

an accessible insight into modern


Happiful’s Jo says: “It made me

rethink a lot of the things I do…

This book doesn’t play to my

insecurities about being weak if I

don’t take up the gauntlet.”



Playing Big by Tara Mohr (Arrow, £9.99)

It’s a pattern you see so often – women with so much

talent and potential, but unable to recognise it. We’re

afraid to put ourselves out there, and hold back, but

it doesn’t have to be this way. Happiful’s Kat says: “It’s

about negotiating fear and self-doubt to help you

build confidence and ‘play big’ in your life.” And that’s

something we should all feel empowered to do.

Secrets for the Mad by dodie (Ebury Press, £16.99)

YouTuber and musician dodie’s debut book is a

collection of anecdotes and life lessons exploring her

experience with mental health. Diving into everything

from relationships to suicidal ideation, this candid

account feels like listening to a friend sharing the

experiences that made her the person she is today.


The Portable

Veblen by



(Fourth Estate,


Veblen is

an amateur

translator and people-pleaser

under the wrath of her narcissistic

and controlling mother. Her

fiance Paul is a neuroscientist

and the son of ‘good hippies

and bad parents’. As Paul

navigates the shady world of

pharmaceuticals, Veblen tries to

mend broken family bonds. A

story of dysfunction, love, and

morality, The Portable Veblen puts

conversations about mental health

subtly at the forefront.

46 • happiful.com • July 2020


We’re All Mad

Here by Claire


(Jessica Kingsley



For some people,

socialising is

like breathing. But for others, it

doesn’t come so naturally. If you’ve

ever felt crippled by self-doubt

in social situations – whether at

university, work, parties, dates or

even on social media – then this

book from award-winning blogger

Claire Eastham should be your go-to

guide for getting through it. With

her fantastic sense of humour, and

bringing in her own experiences,

We’re All Mad Here explores exactly

what social anxiety is, and how you

can lessen its hold over you.


Gorilla and

the Bird: A

Memoir of

Madness and

a Mother’s

Love by Zack




People are often afraid to mix

mental health and humour, but

Zack McDermott fuses the two

seamlessly in this story of a young

man recovering from a psychotic

break, and the relationship that

saves him. One day Zack wakes

up convinced that his life is being

filmed, and the people around

him are actors. Raw, emotional,

and with its dark humour, we join

Zack’s journey of recovery, with the

unrelenting support of his tough

but big-hearted mother, Bird.


Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail

Honeyman (HarperCollins, £8.99)

When it comes to debut novels, Gail Honeyman

couldn’t have hoped for a better response to her

award-winning fiction, with more than 2.5 million

copies sold and captivating audiences worldwide.

The book follows unusual and endearing Eleanor

Oliphant as she recovers from past trauma, and

makes new human connections following a lifetime

of isolation. And while it’s a tale covering themes of loneliness and

trauma, it’s also incredibly uplifting, moving and hopeful, recounting the

small acts of kindness that, actually, make the biggest difference of all.


Reasons to Stay Alive

by Matt Haig (Canongate Books, £9.99)

With suicide being the biggest cause of death among

UK men under 45, it remains a vital topic to broach

with our loved ones, to ensure no one is suffering

alone. Whether you’re struggling yourself, or looking

for insight to help others, this Sunday Times best-selling

memoir is essential reading.

One of the leading voices in mental health writing, Matt Haig opens up

about his depression and anxiety. Taking you on a journey from his lowest

moments, to the series of events that helped him learn to live again, Matt

speaks about mental health in a touching, reflective way that peels back

the stigma and lets us know we’re not alone.


Winnie-the-Pooh: The Complete Collection of

Stories and Poems by A A Milne (Egmont, £40)

First published in 1924, this much-loved collection

of stories, featuring the world’s most famous bear,

still has a place on our bookshelves, and in our

hearts. As the UN ambassador of friendship, there’s

a lesson or two to be learned from this unassuming

bear and his friends. Those living with depression

may see themselves in the withdrawn nature of Eeyore, and those with

anxiety might recognise Piglet’s fears. But through every story runs the

central message that, with hope, kindness, and friendship, we can work

towards overcoming the things that challenge us.

Follow Pooh and his friends as they set off on adventures, and get

themselves into all sorts of trouble. From the importance of being

yourself, to the power of love and acceptance, be inspired by the sweet,

simple mantras of these children’s classics that break down barriers and

stigma, and are bound to leave you touched and hopeful.

July 2020 • happiful.com • 47




Could saying a few words while tapping your body ease anxiety? That

is the result emotional freedom technique (EFT) aims for. Happiful’s

Kat Nicholls puts tapping to the test to see what it’s all about

As soon as my alarm

goes off, I get a familiar

feeling in my chest. It’s

Monday morning, the

week ahead is going to be busy,

and I’m feeling anxious. But a

few hours later, I’m feeling a little

calmer and ready to join my Zoom

call with Charlie O’Brien – clinical

hypnotherapist, life coach and

EFT practitioner – for my first ever

emotional freedom technique

(EFT) session.

Having written about EFT before,

I already had an idea of what to

expect – tapping acupuncture

points on your body while

repeating statements about a

problem you’re encountering.

But experiencing it first hand

(quite literally) is another matter.

What makes it so powerful is the

way it ‘updates the brain’s learning’

– as outlined in Dr Peta Stapleton’s

TEDx talk, ‘Is therapy facing a

revolution?’ Dr Stapleton explains

that the combination of accessing

a difficult memory or feeling while

in a ‘contrary’ state (relaxed), and

repeating the process, updates

our brain’s learning. The secret to

getting into that relaxed state is in

the tapping.

A 10-year research trial by

Harvard University has revealed

that stimulating these acupuncture

points sends a signal to the

amygdala in our brain to calm

down. With just one hour of

tapping, our stress hormone

levels can be reduced by 24%. For

comparison, if we were to lie down

and rest for an hour, our stress

hormone levels would only reduce

by 14%.

Before our session, Charlie

told me about her own tapping

experience as she was training to

be an EFT practitioner.

“I tapped on a ‘feeling’ I got in my

stomach if anyone ever mentioned

my abusive ex’s name. Over the

years I’d worked on the trauma,

but this horrible feeling still clung

on and I decided it was time to

completely release myself from the

past trauma.

⁣“It worked. That’s all I can say.

Ever since that day I’ve not been

able to recall that nasty feeling

in my stomach. That person no

longer has control over me, and it’s


The idea of being able to tap away

a problem is an enticing one, and

I knew the quest to be free from

anxiety was my white whale.

We began our session by talking

about anxiety, and specifically

how I was feeling there and then.

Charlie asked me where I could

feel anxiety in my body (in my

torso, mainly my chest), how it

felt (fluttery, like butterflies), and

where my anxiety levels were on a

scale from 0 to 10 (about a four).

Charlie then showed me the first

tapping point, the ‘karate chop’ on

the outside edge of my palm. We

tapped this and repeated a ‘set-up

statement’ to get us in the right

48 • happiful.com • July 2020

Charlie O’Brien is a clinical hypnotherapist, life coach and EFT practitioner

The idea of being able to tap away a

problem is an enticing one. I knew the quest

to be free from anxiety was my white whale

headspace. We repeated it three

times before our first round of


Starting at the inner eyebrow

we tapped, moving to the outside

of my eye, under my eye, under

my nose, my chin, under my

collarbone, under my arm and

finishing at the top of my head.

Following Charlie’s lead I repeated

simple phrases about feeling

anxiety while I tapped.

After this we paused and did a

quick breathing exercise. Charlie

asked me where I was on the scale

(down to a three) and where I

could feel the anxiety in my body.

To my surprise, it had moved. I

could now feel the ‘fluttery’ feeling

in my throat, ears and head. With a

nod and a smile, Charlie explained

that tapping moves sensations

around the body and this was a

good sign – it was on its way out.

We did another round, and this

time I felt like I was going into a

meditative state, feeling utterly

relaxed by the end of it. I wondered

if this would be the end of the

session but no, Charlie wanted to

take things deeper to truly unpick

whatever it was my anxiety was

clinging on to.

As we talked, I explained some

deep-rooted fears relating to

anxiety, stress, and its relevance to

work. And so, we tapped on this.

Stating the problem so clearly feels

counterintuitive, but by repeating

the statements I became almost

desensitised to them. By the end I

wasn’t totally released of anxiety,

but Charlie said the deeper issues

often took more work.

Before bed that night, I did

another round of tapping myself.

When the alarm went off the

following morning I waited for the


If you haven’t got time for a full

round of tapping, or you’re in

public and want to be discreet,

use a couple of fingers to tap

the inside of your wrist, moving

to the inside edge of each

finger (where the nail meets

the skin). At each point, say

the problem you want to tap

on out loud, or in your head.

Repeat until you feel calmer.

inevitable anxious feeling in my

chest to rise… but it didn’t.

So, do I think tapping has taken

away my anxiety completely? Not

yet. I don’t believe my journey with

anxiety is over, but I’m excited to

add tapping to my anti-anxiety

toolbox and see where it takes me.

Learn more about Charlie’s work at

charlieobrien.co.uk, and visit therapydirectory.org.uk

for more information

about EFT.

July 2020 • happiful.com • 49

Yesterday is not ours to recover, but

tomorrow is ours to win or lose


Photography | Bailey Mahon

50 • happiful.com • July 2020


I was a

prisoner of

my mind

Terrifying thoughts of violence tormented Julia

throughout her life – until a diagnosis of OCD, and

the love of her husband, enabled her to finally

banish the fears and misery

Writing | Julia Harrison

Thinking back as

far as possible,

I can only count

the number of

truly happy, anxiety-free

days in my life on the

fingers of one hand.

I was an anxious child,

a worried teenager, and

a screwed-up adult. It

seemed to me that I was

responsible for everything

that went wrong around

me. I was a perfectionist

and an overthinker. But it

was more than that. I was

different, and I didn’t want

to be.

Like so many people, I

had a difficult childhood. I

grew up not knowing who

I really was, and feeling

that I didn’t really fit in. I

know now that these were

the ideal conditions for

my illness to take root

and grow.

My thoughts were my

downfall. From the age of

14, I began to experience

thoughts of harm towards

those I loved the most. I

would watch a news story

about murder or abuse,

and would be gripped by

a very real and sickening

anxiety. “What if I were

capable of this? Would I

do such a thing?”

I had an overwhelming

fear that my thoughts

were me. I carried this

false belief for more than

40 years, and it threatened

to endanger and

contaminate every loving

or kind instinct I had.

I married in 1983, and

followed my vocation to

teach. I know that I was,

and still am, a natural

and gifted teacher. I

was popular with my

students and I genuinely

wanted to help them fulfil

their potential. I thought

perhaps I had arrived in

my own life at last!

Then the accusatory

thoughts would begin.

“Could I be trusted

in a position of such

responsibility?” This

destroyed the joy I

experienced in my job. My

dysfunctional brain told

me I was a bad person – at

times my false sense of

guilt was overwhelming.

This is fairly typical of

the experience of people

with obsessive compulsive

disorder intrusive

thoughts, sometimes

called ‘Pure O’.

OCD contaminates

and dismantles the lives

of ordinary, decent

individuals. There

are many strands of

OCD – contamination

OCD, religious OCD,

relationship OCD – and

they are all, without

exception, cruel and


Unfortunately, I had

never heard of this mental

illness, and 30 years ago

doctors were probably

unaware of it, too. Then,

in my late 40s, I was

researching something on

the computer and came

across the term “intrusive

thoughts”. I began to read.

On the screen I saw a

description of myself and

my life. I felt an enormous

relief, and an outpouring

of emotion. I had an

illness. It had a name. I

was not the evil person I’d

feared I might be.

You would think that

following such an

epiphany everything

would be sorted. I would >>>

July 2020 • happiful.com • 51

For Julia, telling her

husband about her illness,

and being accepted and

loved unconditionally, was

the key to her rescue

seek help, have treatment,

and be ‘cured’. I would

finally be rid of this big,

ugly monkey I had carried

on my back for so long.

Think again.

My intrusive thoughts

continued and

intensified. I was too

afraid, perhaps just too

weary, to seek help.

My son had his own

problems with anxiety

and depression, I had

gone through a painful

divorce in 2006, had little

money, and was busy

coping with day-to-day

survival. Looking back, I

was at the bottom of my

own list of priorities.

When my close friend

Pamela died from

cancer in August 2014,

something made me

realise that this was the

time to take action. I had

a meltdown. I couldn’t

speak, I couldn’t eat, and I

couldn’t stop crying. I had

reached my limit. It was

grief, but it was also the

fear that I was wasting my

life. Pamela loved her life,

and had lost it. I had to

find mine. I owed it to her.

I was still tormented

by OCD when I met my

second husband. If ever

I could be happy it would

be now. I had a loving,

equal relationship with a

man who valued me. But

I did not tell him about

my illness until after our

marriage. I think I was

too afraid to risk another


We visited Paris shortly

after our wedding in

2013 – something I had

always wanted to do.

This holiday was full of

new experiences, sights

OCD contaminates and

dismantles the lives

of ordinary, decent

individuals. There are many

strands… and they are all,

without exception, cruel

and destructive

and sounds. These are

powerful triggers for my

OCD, and it wasn’t long

before the fear and doubts


I was in the Metro and

began to think: “What if

I pushed someone on to

the tracks in front of the

train?” Of course, this

thought is followed by

the compulsions stage –

checking mentally that

this could never happen.

What is even worse is the

follow-up question: “What

if I did that, and can’t

remember/didn’t realise

I had done it?” This is a

gut-wrenching feeling. It

never gets any easier to

deal with.

I think telling my

husband about my illness,

and being accepted and

loved unconditionally, was

the key to my rescue. I

began to value myself and

believe that I deserved a

chance of a good life.

I walked into my GP’s

office in May 2015 and

said: “I have OCD. I need

help. I want a diagnosis.”

The final barrier was

broken, and three

months later I received

a diagnosis of OCD

Intrusive Thoughts.

The sense of relief was

enormous. I was given the

right medication for my

illness, and I agreed to


52 • happiful.com • July 2020

The therapy was tough – but I was

determined to give it everything I had. It

was exhausting, it was exhilarating, it was

gradually helping me to see the real me

My therapist was

great. As the weeks

went by, I felt more and

more comfortable in

the sessions. I opened

up more, and realised

that he had heard it all

before, was not shocked

or horrified at the things

I described, and could

reassure me I was an OK

person, and was not a

danger to anyone.

The therapy was tough

– but I was determined

to give it everything I

had. It was exhausting,

it was exhilarating, it

was gradually helping

me to see the real me. I

liked what I saw.

I faced my worst fears

and realised that my

anxiety would decrease,

that it was possible to

walk away from an OCD

experience without

compulsions, without

thinking again and again

about what happened,

or what might have


My life since then has

been so different. I still

have intrusive thoughts

(as we all do from time

to time). I still have bad

days. I still wish I didn’t

have this illness. I’ve

been able to talk about it

to my family, my friends,

my colleagues, and the

responses have been

positive and supportive.

I will never be OCDfree.

But I am a free

person now. I am no

longer imprisoned in my

own mind, by my own

thoughts. I turned 60 a

few months ago, and I

am looking forward to

the best days – which I

believe are still to come.

A few weeks into my

therapy I decided to

write a book about

my life with OCD, my

therapy, and my new

life after therapy. I

self-published this in

January 2017, under the

pseudonym Martha Jane

Middow. Apart from

the birth of my amazing

son, this is the greatest

achievement of my life,

so far. It helped me so

much to write it, but

my main motivation

was to help others who

have OCD. To point to

the possibility of help,

health, and hope for the


‘Stuck in the Loop: My

Showdown with OCD’

(£4.60 from Amazon,

or free through Kindle



Julia’s inspirational story

truly overcomes adversity.

Her strength drives her

through the process, striving

to work through her personal

challenges and accept them

as part of herself, with the

support and love from the

people around her. Through

her experience, Julia

is able to bring

her authentic

self to the world,

and she is clearly


Rav Sekhon | BA MA MBACP (Accred)

Counsellor and psychotherapist

July 2020 • happiful.com • 53

The great gift of human

beings is that we have

the power of empathy


Photography | Morteza Yousefi

Happiful reads…

From much-anticipated sequels, to saying thanks to real heroes - we

share four upcoming books you won’t want to miss

Writing | Bonnie Evie Gifford

Love it or hate it, Twilight

has made an impact on

the literary, film, and

fandom scenes since its

debut in 2005. The international

best-selling series went on to

enthrall a generation of teenage

fans, and now nearly 15 years

later, a new, highly-anticipated

companion book is slated for

release this August.

Telling the iconic love story

of Bella and Edward from a

previously untold point of view,

until now, fans have only heard

Bella’s side of things. In Midnight

Sun, for the first time readers

will see the story unfurl from

vampire Edward’s perspective,

sharing a new, decidedly darker

side of events.

Must reads

Women Don’t

Owe You Pretty by

Florence Given

Out 11 June

In her debut book,

artist and writer Florence aims

to teach you how to protect your

energy, understand that you’re

the love of your own life, and

realise that today is a wonderful

day to dump the outdated

narratives supplied to us by the

patriarchy. Filled with witty

illustrations and an unwavering

confidence, this explicit book

shares uncomfortable truths that

are bound to get you thinking.

From their initial unnerving

and intriguing meeting, to new,

details about Edward’s past and

inner thoughts, readers are set

to see the defining struggle of

Edward’s life in a whole new way,

as he seeks to answer: how can

he justify following his heart, if it

means leading Bella into danger?

In a year filled with unexpected

change, the chance to relieve

a part of our pasts and be

transported back into a world

that captivated millions of

readers worldwide, can feel like

a pleasant respite. Whether you

were a fan of the original series,

or are looking for a little (muchneeded)

escapism, Stephenie

Meyer’s latest novel is bound to

be a talking point for months.

Skincare: the

ultimate nononsense

guide by

Caroline Hirons

Out 25 June

Known as the authority on

skincare, Caroline’s debut book

looks to share her knowledge

with the world. With more than

100 million views on her blog

and 13 million on YouTube,

Caroline cuts through the jargon

to help readers of all ages and

skin types, who want to feel

fantastic, get the lowdown on the

facts and myths around how to

get good skin on any budget.

Midnight Sun

by Stephenie


Out 4 August


Dear NHS: 100

stories to say

thank you

edited by

Adam Kay

Out 9 July

Featuring the true, personal

stories of 100 household

names and their experiences

with the NHS, 100% of all

profits from Dear NHS will

be donated to NHS Charities

Together, to help fund vital

research and projects, and

also to The Lullaby Trust, to

help support parents.

From Stephen Fry to Dawn

French, Emilia Clark to Louis

Theroux, and many many

more, contributors have

gathered together to help

remind us that no matter who

you are, what your health

needs are, or how much

money you have, the NHS is

there for you. Changing and

saving lives, read moving,

hilarious, hopeful, and

impassioned stories from

those who have experienced

first-hand the help offered by

the heroes in our NHS.

Simple snacking

Quick, easy, and healthy snacks to enjoy all day long

Writing | Ellen Hoggard

When you get a midmorning


and the cupboard is

calling, more often

than not you can find yourself

drawn to a tasty biscuit with

your cup of tea, or something

else sweet you’ve picked up at

the shops. And there’s nothing

wrong with that – in fact listening

to your body and what it needs is


Some people won’t call

themselves snackers – I am not

one of those people. Unless I’m

absolutely swamped at work, or

busy with personal plans (not so

frequent right now) I will have at

least one treat at some point.

And like anyone else, what I

choose to snack on will vary

day-to-day, depending on what I

have in the house and my mood.

Sometimes, I enjoy a slice of

banana bread, other times, I’ll opt

for a cereal bar, and there are days

when a cup of coffee will tide me

over until lunch or dinner.

The thing is, shop-bought snacks

can get expensive and aren’t

always the healthiest option.

Preparing your snacks at home

ensures you keep costs down,

and you know exactly what

ingredients are used – plus they’re

a great way to experiment in the


Here are two quick and easy

recipes, using ingredients you’ve

likely got in the depths of your

cupboard. Whether you’re a sweet

or savoury snacker, or you’re looking

to keep your partner, flatmate or

children from stealing your stash,

there’s a winner here for everyone.

TIP: Plan your meals and your

snacks every day. This saves time,

money, and reduces waste.

Fruit & Nut

Chocolate Buttons


• 200g dark or milk chocolate

• Small handful of dried

cranberries and raisins

• Small handful of cashews,

pecans and almonds

Choose your favourite fruits and nuts

– make it your own!


• Break up the chocolate and place

it in a microwave-safe bowl.

• Melt the chocolate in the

microwave in 30-second

intervals, stirring regularly to

ensure it’s melted and smooth.

If you don’t have a microwave,

melt the chocolate in a bowl over

a pan of hot water, stirring until


• On a lined baking tray, drop 15–

20 small spoonfuls of chocolate,

evenly spaced, about the size of

a 50 pence piece. Gently place a

few cranberries, raisins and nuts

on each button.

• When finished, place the

chocolate buttons in the fridge to

set for a minimum of 15 minutes.

• Once set, remove from the

fridge. Gently take each button

from the baking sheet and store

in an air-tight container, ready

to enjoy with your mid-morning


Our expert says...

Fruit & Nut Chocolate Buttons

Choosing good quality dark

chocolate and eating modest

quantities may offer greater

health benefits than milk

chocolate! This is because dark

chocolate contains up to two or

three times more flavonoids – an

important antioxidant helpful in

supporting cardiovascular and

cognitive function.

Dark chocolate may also have

some neurological benefits,

due to dark chocolate releasing

serotonin, a neurotransmitter,

which is responsible for

regulating our mood, happiness

and anxiety. When choosing

chocolate to eat, look for products

that are 70–95% cocoa to make the

most of its health benefits.

Crunchy Baked Chickpeas


• 400g tin chickpeas

• Olive oil

• 1 tsp sweet smoked paprika

• ½ tsp cumin

• Salt and pepper

Don’t have any chickpeas? Swap for

broad (fava) beans.


• Preheat the oven to 220C/200C

Fan/Gas mark 7.

• Drain and rinse the chickpeas

Find a


near you on the

Happiful app

until the water runs clear. Lay

the chickpeas out on a kitchen

towel and gently pat until dry.

• Transfer to a baking tray and

drizzle with a little olive oil. Give

them a shake to ensure they are

completely covered, and add

your spices, salt and pepper.

Shake to coat.

• Bake on the middle shelf for

30–35 minutes, shaking the tray

regularly to keep the chickpeas

from sticking. Remove from the

oven when golden brown. Leave

to cool fully before serving.

Crunchy Baked Chickpeas

Chickpeas are an excellent source

of plant-based dietary protein

and fibre, which helps to make

you feel full and curb those

food cravings! But that’s not all.

Studies have found that eating

chickpeas may also help support

cardiovascular health and lower

cholesterol, thought to be due to

their high soluble fibre content.

Chickpeas are also high in

vitamins and minerals, including

folate, calcium, magnesium and

potassium, making the humble

chickpea a highly nutritious

addition to your diet, and a great

alternative to eating crisps and

salted nuts.

Amie Butler is a registered nutritional

therapist and registered UK

metabolic balance coach,

specialising in gut health and

digestion. Based in

Whitstable, Kent, Amie

offers face-to-face, online,

and telephone consultations.






Reader offer

On an annual subscription using

code HAPPIREAD at shop.happiful.com

58 • happiful.com • July 2020

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HAPPIREAD, which expires on 20 August 2020. For full terms and conditions, please visit happiful.com

“I only had you

for three months,

but you

were my


gift ”

Her three-month-old daughter’s death

was a devastating loss that changed

Annabel Karmel’s life for ever. Here the

UK’s best-selling children’s cookery author,

shares, for the very first time, a heartfelt

letter to her firstborn Natasha, disclosing

the depth of the grief she endured 32 years

ago, and the legacy that her baby girl left


As told by | Gemma Calvert

Warning: please be aware this article contains

details that some readers may find distressing.

I’ll never forget the day I

discovered I was pregnant. I

was 29 and had waited two years

for that news. No one knew

why it took me so long to conceive

– sometimes it just takes time –

but I excitedly fell straight into

preparing for your arrival. I created

a nursery at our little mews house

in St John’s Wood, north London,

and decorated it with blue and pink

florals, and curtains with big bows.

My pregnancy was blissful, and

when you arrived on 3 August,

1987, weighing 6lb 2oz – little but

healthy – the joy I felt as a first time

mum was indescribable. You were

so, so wanted, and I was over the

moon. Life was perfect.

You were three months old when,

one evening, I checked on you in

your nursery and spotted your little

hand twitching, then saw your

eyes roll back. I rushed to see an

out-of-hours GP who lectured me

on how first-time mothers worry

unnecessarily, so I returned home,

feeling guilty for disturbing him. If

only I’d listened to my instincts.

The following morning, I knew

something wasn’t right. Your

father had already left for work, so

I bundled you into a blanket and

drove you to another doctor who,

after examining you, confirmed

something was very wrong. >>>

July 2020 • happiful.com • 59

You were so, so

wanted, and I was

over the moon

I sensed you were sick but never

dreamed it would be so serious that

you would need immediate treatment

at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington

for various tests and an emergency

CT scan.

The doctor’s voice was deadpan

as he delivered the news: “Your

child might die. If she doesn’t,

she will never be the same again.”

He explained you had contracted

encephalitis, an uncommon but

serious viral infection, most likely

caused by a kiss from somebody

with a cold sore. It had spread to the

brain, causing irreversible swelling.

I could hear my heart thumping

in my chest. Nothing made sense.

I thought: “They’ve put men on the

moon, surely they can find a way to

save you.” I felt powerless and scared.

An ambulance rushed you to Great

Ormond Street Hospital where,

overnight, you deteriorated and

were moved to intensive care to

be attached to a ventilator. Day

and night, I never left your side. I

remember living in hope, praying,

and trying to stay optimistic,

because what’s the alternative until

you’re told the worst?

That day came on day five. The

doctor explained that the thinking

part of your brain was gone, and a

decision was made to take you off

the ventilator. The machine was

disconnected from your tiny body,

you were put into a little dress, then

handed to me. Every time I heard

you take a breath, I clung to the

hope that maybe – just maybe – the

doctors had it wrong, that you would

live. Yet my hopes were short-lived.

After four hours, you died in my

arms, and as I cradled your body

everything felt very final. At that

moment, my future felt obliterated.

It was the worst pain of my life.

Returning home, where all your

things were exactly as I’d left them,

walking through your nursery

where I could still smell you on the

bedding and the baby clothes, was

heartbreaking. Soon after, your

grandmother would remove those

belongings, fearing that keeping

them would be too much of a painful

reminder. I guess a mother never

stops trying to protect her child.

The day after you died, a massive

storm caused trees to fall and

plants to become uprooted, and

I remember looking out the

window, thinking how the world

outside matched how I felt inside –

completely discombobulated. In the

same breath, I couldn’t believe life

was carrying on.

In the weeks and months that

followed, I slipped into a black

hole. I never dreamed about you

or sensed you were there. You

were very much gone, and the

grief I felt was like nothing I’d ever

experienced, as though a load

was weighing on top of my head,

physically pushing me down.

I found it impossible to motivate

myself, I felt so physically sick with

grief that my appetite disappeared,

and I struggled to sleep. Whenever I

did achieve rest, I’d wake and relive

the shock of your death as though I

was experiencing it for the first time.

People often don’t know what to

say to those grieving a loved one,

let alone a mother who has lost her

newborn daughter. Consequently,

I felt very isolated and alone, so I

stayed at home a lot. When I did

60 • happiful.com • July 2020

The day after you died, a massive

storm caused trees to fall and

plants to become uprooted, and I

remember looking out the window,

thinking how the world outside

matched how I felt inside

venture out, people who didn’t

realise what had happened would

innocently ask: ‘How’s your little

one?’ prompting my tears to well up.

Going outside to exercise made

me feel a little bit more normal, and

three months after you died I was

on a tennis holiday when I missed

my period, took a pregnancy test

and it read positive. Suddenly I had

hope. Of course, no baby could ever

replace you, but the idea of becoming

a mother again, to get back the future

I’d lost when you died, kept me going.

Knowing a baby was coming made a

huge difference to my mental health,

and when Nicholas arrived on 6

August, 1988 – one year and three

days after you were born – slowly my

sanity returned.

Of course, I worried the same thing

would happen to Nicholas as you,

but once he passed the age of three

months, I relaxed more. But while

he was a healthy child, Nicholas was

difficult. He wouldn’t sleep and was

a bad eater.

My career as a harpist had ended

after you left, when I could no longer

play music. I realised I wanted to

work with children, and opening a

playschool was my next dream – to

help other little ones.

To give Nicholas the nutritional

reserves he’d need should he ever

fall ill, I began formulating my own

recipes. I shared a few with mums

at the playgroup, who all responded

with hugely positive feedback,

and some even suggested I write a

cookbook – which made me laugh,

but I soon realised that a book to help

mums nourish their children would

be a superb legacy to you. So I began

to write, and teamed up with the

chief nutritionist from the Institute of

Child Health to ensure all the recipes

were based on nutritional research.

That book, which I dedicated to

you, eventually became a best-seller,

and sold more than 5 million copies

worldwide. After that, 46 more books

followed, and you’ve been the driving

force behind every single one.

Natasha, I would never have done

any of this if I hadn’t loved and lost

you. You were only with me for

three months, but you made such a

deep impression on my life. I’m so

grateful to you for what you’ve given

me – a gift of love and passion for

my career. When you died, I could

only see badness and negativity, I

didn’t believe any good could come

from it, but it did. You’ve helped

millions of parents to feed their

children, and keep those children

healthy. What a gift.

Since you, I’ve been lucky to have

three lovely, healthy children –

Nicholas, 32, Lara, 30, and Scarlett,

28 – who have all been my saviours.

When I look at Lara and Scarlett I

sometimes wonder what you would

be like as a young woman, and

imagine the family dynamic with a

girl – you – as the eldest sibling.

You never know what happens

after death, so I do believe that, one

day, I might see you again. For now,

though, you’ll live on in my memory

and – my first child – will always

have a special place in my heart.

Love Mummy x

‘Weaning Made Simple’ by Annabel

Karmel is out now (Bluebird, £16.99)

July 2020 • happiful.com • 61

How to create a

mindful garden

It’s time to sow the seeds of a more sensory natural space

Writing | Eliza Nicholas

Illustrating | Rosan Magar

In today’s world, incredible

advances in technology allow

us to connect with our loved

ones, wherever they are, but

that can also come at a cost of

feeling overwhelmed by being

permanently connected and

constantly bombarded with

information. But, fortunately,

there is no doubt that time spent

interacting with nature can be a

welcome tonic for the mind and

body. Mental health charity Mind

explains that spending time in

green spaces, or growing food and

flowers, can have positive effects on

mood, reducing feelings of stress,

and helping us to feel more relaxed.

If you’re keen to take up

gardening, and want to develop

a relaxing green space of your

own, it can be tricky to know

where to start. In order

to create an environment

that helps you switch off

and become more mindful,

it’s useful to think about the five

senses when planning your space.

By considering sound, sight,

taste, touch, and smell, you can

begin to develop a sensory garden

that helps you

tune-in to your


and provides a

necessary break

from the stressors

of daily life.


Natural noises, such as rainfall and

birdsong, are recognised as being

peaceful and calming. Rather than

listening to them via an app, you

can easily tune-in to the real thing.

Hanging bird feeders in sheltered

spots, or placing a bird bath, will

encourage and support wildlife

numbers. Installing a bubbling water

feature will mean gentle background

noise in your garden, too. You should

also consider that certain plants

and trees, such as long grasses and

willow, will create peaceful sounds in

the wind, and that more dense foliage

can help to block out unwanted noise

from nearby roads.


Growing plants you can eat is

a magical process. It’s hugely

satisfying, and allows us to nurture

and observe the development from

small seeds to kitchen ingredients.

Having an ongoing supply of

spinach, beans, or salad leaves

means you’ll spend less money at the

supermarket, and avoid considerable

amounts of plastic packaging. You’re

also likely to waste less food, having

appreciated the delicate growing

process. If you’re a tea drinker, then

it’s wonderful to grow herbs, such

as mint, that can be infused in hot

water for a relaxing brew. You can

also research other botanicals

that are great for cocktails and

decorating cakes.


Getting your hands dirty in the

process of planting and tending

to a garden is a mindful practice

in itself, but you can also enhance

the experience by introducing a

patchwork of textures into your

space. Try choosing different

plants with soft, shiny, waxy, or

hairy foliage. A mixture of cobbles

and smooth tiles can be used

to create pathways and patios

in order to provide a range of

textures. If you’ve got space, think

about incorporating a springy

lawn to walk over barefoot, or run

your fingers through for an instant

connection to nature.


Scent is often the first thing we

associate with a garden, given the

wonderful fragrance produced by

many beautiful flowers. Depending

on your preference, you can

grow lavender and jasmine for

the ultimate relaxing scents. Try

roses, sweet peas, or honeysuckle

for sensuous summer smells, or

citrus fruits and tomato plants for

wafts that are zesty and uplifting.

Of course, stimulating smells

aren’t limited to flowering plants.

Autumnal leaves, rich compost, and

freshly cut grass are all nostalgic

scents that can help ground us, and

identify changing seasons.


When working on a computer,

there’s something inspiring and

refreshing about a view of trees

or other greenery through the

Natural noises,

such as rainfall

and birdsong, are

recognised as

being peaceful

and calming

window. Create this for yourself

at home by transforming your

overgrown space or concrete patio

into a luscious, green oasis of

calm. Of course, colours have a big

impact on our mood, so consider

this when selecting flowering

plants and decor for your garden.

Typically, white and purples induce

thoughtfulness and reflection,

while hot colours, like orange and

yellow, are linked with joy and

excitement. You can get brilliant

glazed terracotta pots, patterned

cushions, and even outdoor rugs

to add a splash of colour and

something special to look at. For

truly unique features, try upcycling

furniture for your outdoor

space. Old wooden drawers or

crates can work well for miniature

herb gardens, or add an old mirror

to elongate your space – whatever

will bring a smile to your face.

Using the five senses can be

a helpful starting point when

creating a special spot for

unwinding. However, if you’re

still stuck for inspiration, try

wandering round other gardens or

natural areas, such as woodland.

Here you’ll experience plants,

materials, sounds, and smells that

you can often replicate in your

own garden. Just remember, you

don’t have to have a large outdoor

space in order to feel closer to

nature. A conservatory, balcony,

or even window box, can be ideal

for growing plants, developing

your green fingers, and boosting


Eliza Nicholas is the founder of

Rocket Garden Design, an initiative

prioritising wildlife and wellbeing.

Based in London, she helps people

discover their green fingers and create

spaces that bring them closer to

nature. Follow on Instagram


July 2020 • happiful.com • 63


How abusive people create self-doubt in their victims

Have you ever been forced to

question your version of events? To

wonder if your memory is playing

tricks – or your own eyes and ears?

For victims of gaslighting, the seeds

of doubt are sewn deep, but the

good news is they can be uprooted

Writing | Andrew Pain

The wine was flowing, the

dinner party in full swing

and, as usual, my wife was

holding court. She was describing

her experiences undertaking

a Postgraduate Certificate in

Education, with a work placement

on the Isle of Sheppey, when she

referenced the local drug abuse

issues. “95% of people on the Isle

of Sheppey are drug addicts.”

I shuddered. This is how things

always went. She’d start off with

a great story, then take it too

far. The people around the table

looked at each other in disbelief.

No one dared say a word (they

never did), and she carried on


Later that evening, I summoned

the courage to question her:

“Darling, you were in great form

last night, but… are you sure

about that 95% statistic? It doesn’t

sound quite right.”

Her glare cut through me. “You

pedantic t**t!”

My mouth went dry, and my

heart was racing. As expected,

she’d not taken this well and it

was going only one way: rage then

violence (it always did).

“Why can’t you just enjoy the

evening?” She said. “You do this

with the kids, always f***g picking

at them. Now you want to have a

go at me?”

I could hear my young daughter

crying upstairs, woken again by

the shouting – it was all my fault.

My wife stormed out the house

and I breathed a sigh of relief –

at least I didn’t get hit this time,

but I’d been stupid for being so

As with many victims of gaslighting, I

reached the point where I was struggling

to make decisions for myself

pedantic. So what if the stat was

wrong; it probably wasn’t that far

off, right?

Gaslighting: in abusive

relationships, abusers skilfully

take control of your every thought

by pouring doubt into your mind,


• What they said

• What you did or said

• What the people around you


• Events in the past – “No it didn’t

happen like that, it was like this”

• Your traits and skills – “No, you’re

not talented – you never were” or:

“You have some talent, but you’re

so arrogant about it”.

Bit by bit, the onslaught wears

you down and the stories your

abuser spins in your mind have two


1. To ensure that you doubt


2. To ensure that you trust your

abuser completely, and follow

their every command.

For a victim of gaslighting, it

can become harder and harder to

speak out, because every negative

situation, every problem that arises

is twisted to convince you that

you’re at fault. And when you hear it

enough, you start to believe it, too.

The abuser will often isolate

the victim from their friends and

family, which makes them all

the more reliant on the abuser,

with no one to speak up and say

that what they’re being told, and

how they’re treated, isn’t right.

Their support networks crumble

away, and it becomes increasingly

difficult to break free from the

gaslighter’s control.

My ex-wife convinced me that my

family wanted me to remain as a

little boy, and in order to mature,

I had to cease contact with them.

On the odd occasion when they

would still visit, my ex’s behaviour

made the situation unbearable

and humiliating – making it the

more appealing choice to have less

contact with us all together.

When people would question

her behaviour, I became my wife’s

greatest excuse-maker to justify

it all. “She’s tired.” “The kids are

wearing her out.” “She’s working

through some stuff.” “She’s under a

lot of pressure.”

As with many victims of

gaslighting, I reached the point

where I was struggling to make

decisions for myself, out of fear for

picking the wrong thing – I lost my

confidence and self-esteem, which

again keeps victims trapped in this

destructive situation. >>>

July 2020 • happiful.com • 65

It’s easier to just hold back your

thoughts and feelings, and instead

agree with the gaslighter’s ideas and


In my own life, I felt like I’d

become a manipulative liar,

focused entirely on keeping my

wife calm, hiding my mistakes, the

kids’ mistakes, forward-planning

in absurd detail to out-manoeuvre

anything that might go wrong. I had

become a control freak, ruled by

paranoia and panic, and I no longer

trusted my instincts.

The term “gaslighting” originated

in Patrick Hamilton’s 1938 play,

Gas Light, where a manipulative

husband drives his wife to insanity

by causing her to question what

she experienced. Gaslighting takes

many forms, from convincing the

victim that they have mental health

issues or major personality issues,

to undermining their confidence

and self-esteem. When a victim

challenges their behaviour or

actions, they are told that they’re

over-reacting, are being too sensitive,

or always imagining things.

When you’re on the receiving

end of gaslighting, it’s hard to see

beyond it because your abuser

knows you – your strengths,

weaknesses, and motivations, and

will consistently work to keep you

unsettled and unsure of yourself,

convincing you that you’re making

it all up. But you're not – and it’s not

your fault.

Are you the victim of gaslighting?

If in doubt, try to take a step back

and see the situation with a clearer

perspective. If it was a friend in your

shoes, experiencing what you are

experiencing, what would you say

to them? Would you have serious

concerns about what they are going


Andrew is a TEDx speaker, blogger,

domestic abuse campaigner, and

co-leads a pilot project to support

men caught in domestic abuse.

Watch his TEDx Talk on YouTube

• Find someone to talk to who

you trust, who is outside

the situation. Abusers will

isolate their victims so their

gaslighting goes unchallenged,

but when you talk to someone

who can help you see things

for what they are, the walls

built by the gaslighting

abuser become more shaky,

eventually tumbling, and the

dominance of the abuser folds

in on itself.

• If you feel it’s safe to do so,

having an open conversation

with your partner can help

to address the issue – they

might not be aware of their

behaviour. You could try

relationship counselling, with

an unbiased third party who

can help mediate the situation.

• There are numerous places you

can go to get support and further

information – this behaviour

is emotional abuse, so if you

are concerned for your safety

please do speak to the National

Domestic Violence Helpline –

0808 2000 247. They can discuss

what you’re experiencing, and

talk you through how you can

address the situation.

I am now happily remarried

and repaired, with all family

relationships restored. There are

no mind games now, and living

without fear is liberating and


There is life beyond abuse; the

separating and moving forward

takes time, and can be challenging,

but there is life after abuse.

66 • happiful.com • July 2020





They can all be life-threatening, yet anorexia, bulimia, binge-eating, and similar

disorders are often misunderstood – or simply dismissed as ‘a choice’ or

attention-seeking. Here we bust the myths surrounding these serious mental illnesses

Writing | Sarah Young

Eating disorders have

the highest mortality

rate among psychiatric

disorders, with anorexia

leading with the highest number

of deaths among adolescents. The

UK’s foremost charity for eating

disorders, Beat, believes that

around 1.25 million people in the

UK are sufferers, and research

from the NHS information centre

shows that up to 6.4% of adults

display signs of an eating disorder.

Rising numbers of inpatient

hospital admissions for eating

disorders reveal the crisis

unfolding before our eyes, and

yet so many myths and damaging

stereotypes still surround this

serious mental illness.

As an eating disorder survivor

myself, I want to bust 10 of

the myths surrounding eating

disorders, to break down the

stigma and misconceptions, to

ensure people can get the support

they so desperately need.

1. You have to be thin to have

an eating disorder

This is perhaps the most

pervasive myth surrounding

eating disorders. Sensationalist

reports in the media often

pick the most extreme cases

of anorexia nervosa, and

show unnecessary images of

emaciated people – often young

women. We see this so often that

many people assume you have

to be very thin to have an eating

disorder. Yet anorexia only

accounts for around 8% of eating

disorders. Bulimia accounts for

around 19% of eating disorders,

binge-eating disorder (BED) for

22%, and the most common

eating disorders, OSFED (other

specified feeding or eating

disorder, formerly known as

EDNOS – eating disorder not

otherwise specified) accounts

for around 47% of cases.

There is no weight criteria or

guideline for any eating disorder

other than anorexia, and most

people with eating disorders

are at a normal weight or

above. This doesn’t mean that

their eating disorders aren’t

serious: there are severe

medical complications with

all eating disorders, regardless

of weight. We also have to

remember that eating disorders

are mental illnesses, and what

is going on in people’s heads is

not necessarily reflected on the

outside. >>>

July 2020 • happiful.com • 67

2. The only eating disorder

fat people can have is BED

This is an utter fabrication,

created and perpetuated by our

fatphobic society, which sees fat

people as over-eaters, when the

truth is a lot more complex. Many

fat people suffer from restrictive

eating disorders, and many thin

people suffer from BED. No eating

disorder has a ‘look’.

3. Anorexia is the only

serious eating disorder

This is perhaps one of the most

harmful myths, as it means

that many people who are very

ill are often overlooked by

those around them, and can

be deterred from seeking or

getting help, due to the belief

that they are not sick enough.

Bulimia is associated with

severe medical complications,

such as dehydration (which can

lead to kidney failure), absent

or irregular periods, digestive

and bowel issues, severe tooth

decay and gum disease, fits

and muscle spasms, and heart

problems (such as irregular

heartbeats or heart failure).

OSFED also comes with the

risk of dangerous medical

complications, such as

electrolyte and chemical

imbalances, organ failure,

osteoporosis, malnutrition,

heart disease, and type II

diabetes mellitus, and/or

gallbladder disease.

All eating disorders can be lifethreatening,

not only through

medical complications, but also

because there is an increased

risk of suicide.

4. Gaining weight means someone has recovered or is better

Often when people see

someone who has an eating

disorder gain weight, they

think that they are better, but

eating disorders are primarily

a mental illness, with often

serious secondary physical


Those with eating disorders

can have fluctuations in weight

due to recovery attempts,

or due to changeable eating

disorder behaviours. It could

be that the person gaining

weight is in recovery, or has

been re-fed in hospital.

But while they may be

healthier physically, it doesn’t

necessarily mean that much

has changed mentally. Just

because someone looks well,

doesn’t mean that their eating

disorder isn’t screaming at

them inside their head.

68 • happiful.com • July 2020

5. It’s all about weight

On the surface, people with

eating disorders fixate on

weight, and the disgust they

feel about their bodies, but

below that are a multitude of

driving forces.

Trauma can be a catalyst,

as can a build-up of smaller

negative events or factors.

Eating disorders are often

about those who have them

feeling in control: of their

bodies, of their choices, of their

lives. It can be about numbing

the pain of trauma. It can be

about taking up less space,

about disappearing. It can be

about remaining childlike, to

avoid adulthood for a variety

of reasons. It can be about

becoming unattractive after

sexual assault or rape. The

triggers for an eating disorder

are extremely varied and

personal, and go far beyond


6. It’s a choice

Eating disorders are severe

mental illnesses, and no one

chooses to have one. Research

suggests that there is a genetic

factor in the development

of eating disorders, and it

appears that a combination

of genetic predisposition and

environmental factors create

the perfect storm for an eating

disorder to emerge. With the

extensive suffering that they

bring to those with eating

disorders, and their families

and friends, it is absurd to

think that anyone would ever

choose to have one.

7. It’s for attention

Most people with eating

disorders go to great lengths to

hide their illness, and those who

don’t shouldn’t be discouraged

from being open by being

labelled ‘attention-seeking’.

Those who are talking about

8. Men don’t get

eating disorders

Many people see eating

disorders as something that

affects young white women,

but eating disorders do not

discriminate: they affect people

of all ages, sexual orientations,

ethnicities, socio-economic

statuses, and genders. In fact,

25% of people with eating

disorders are male, although

this could be higher because the

stigma means that many men go

undiagnosed. Men may tend to

be more secretive because of the

fear of not being taken seriously,

being laughed at, or being seen

as weak. No one with an eating

disorder should be made to feel

ashamed for having one.

their eating disorders have a

greater chance of seeking help

than those who keep it secret.

Eating disorders are not a phase,

or a lifestyle choice, and often

people who experience them

feel a great amount of shame.

9. It’s a diet gone wrong

Although dieting can sometimes

trigger an eating disorder, eating

disorders are not just “a diet

gone wrong”. While dieting can

negatively impact both physical

and mental health, it’s different

from having an eating disorder.

10. You can’t recover

Because of the genetic factor,

people might think that this

could make recovery impossible.

This isn’t the case, and although

genes do play a part, they are

only one factor in the mix.

Research suggests that 46% of

anorexia patients fully recover,

while 33% improve. Research

into bulimia suggests that 45%

make a full recovery, with 27%

improving considerably.

After suffering for almost a

decade, I made my first tentative

steps towards recovery in 2012. I

have been in remission for more

than five years now. Recovery

from an eating disorder is

absolutely possible, and

although it’s a difficult journey,

it’s 100% worth it.

Sarah talks about body image,

body positivity, and eating disorder

recovery, as well as chronic illnesses,

on her Instagram @bodypositivepear

July 2020 • happiful.com • 69

To be good, and to do

good, is all we have to do


Photography | Filip Baotic

Dealing with


Have you ever had the urge to pick at the skin

around your nails, or even found you’ve been doing it

unintentionally? The need to pull at your own skin might

sound like a bad habit, but it’s actually a compulsion

many people struggle with. And the good news is that

help is out there for those with dermatillomania

Writing | Katie Hoare

Have you ever noticed

you’ve done something

to physically hurt

yourself, but without

meaning to? I have. I suffer

with dermatillomania, and until

recently, I didn’t even know the

condition existed.

Over the years I simply accepted

that this was my bad habit, but as

similar disorders come to light –

such as the hair-pulling condition

trichotillomania – I started to

think that maybe there was more

to it...

What is dermatillomania?

Closely related to obsessivecompulsive

disorder (OCD),

dermatillomania is characterised

by the repetitive and compelling

act to pick or rub at one’s skin. Not

limited to fingers, it can extend

commonly to the face, and often

the legs, as in my case.

Dermatillomania, skin picking,

excoriation disorder – it comes

with many names, but for me, it

follows one pattern: pick, bleed,

shame, anger, pick. Since I can

remember, I have picked the skin

on my fingers until I’ve caused

significant damage. Often, it was

a subconscious act, and I wouldn’t

even realise I was doing it.

It’s not just the soreness that

comes with dermatillomania, but

the shame, guilt, and frustration

that has followed me around for

years. I get stuck in a cycle of skin

picking, which I’ve personally

found is triggered by worry, stress,

or anxiety.

Motivational hypnotherapist

Nicola Menage explains that

dermatillomania is often triggered


is a habit that I

have learned, and

it’s become part

of my life. Habits

can be ‘unlearned’


by a feeling of being out of control,

under extreme pressure or stress,

and can be rooted in childhood

experiences. She recently saw a

client who was struggling with

constant skin rubbing, that led to

sores and consequently feelings

of self-consciousness, anxiety and

irritability. >>>

July 2020 • happiful.com • 71

Often, this urge comes from struggling

with negative thoughts that manifest

into harmful behaviours

“The condition started when

the client was working for a high

street bank. He reported how he

felt self-conscious that customers

were judging his competency

while he was still learning the

complicated procedures and

systems. He would rub so hard

that he caused his skin to chafe

and create red sores that started

to bleed. The frequent rubbing of

his skin affected his confidence

at work, and in social situations

when he felt he was put under

pressure, or being observed.

“During the hypnosis session,

it emerged that as a small boy

my client became a junior

golf champion, and was in

competitions from the age of six.

His stepfather encouraged his

talent, but there was a conflict

between them in how to respond

under pressure. His stepfather,

who was a competition kickboxer,

would encourage him to be an

‘aggressive competitor’, which was

out of character for the client who

was naturally shy, and preferred to

be calm and take his time in highpressure


Chloe Kind is also no stranger

to dermatillomania, and her

condition extends to using tools,

and picking the skin on her face. “I

pick things that aren’t there. And

then before I know it, I’ve made

myself bleed.

“For me, it’s worse when I go

to bed, and first thing in the

morning. I know it’s related to

stress, or when I’m nervous, and

I think it’s my body’s distraction

technique. I can stand for hours

picking my hands or face in the

mirror before I become aware that

this is what I’ve been doing.”

And no matter how many times

our well-meaning partners gently

nudge our hands apart, the picking

will continue. “If my husband tries

to stop me, it immediately irritates

me. Like I haven’t finished the job.

I will continue to pick until my

mind is satisfied.”

Much like Chloe, I have

noticed that my skin picking

habit has become worse with

age. As we grow older, become

more independent and take on

responsibilities, life-affirming

decisions, and even the

responsibility of sharing our lives

with another, we bring a new sense

of weight to our shoulders. This can

trigger stress, anxiety and feelings

of overwhelm, and naturally, we

turn to habits that we have learned

in the past when things are tough.

In Nicola’s client’s case, it became

apparent under hypnosis, that the

extreme pressure of the junior

golf competitions meant he had

to perform outside of his natural

calm character, and being under

constant observation triggered an

anxiety that has stayed with him

into adulthood. “He developed

an aversion to being observed or

put under pressure. He also felt

pressure to please his stepfather

for his mother’s sake.”

72 • happiful.com • July 2020

How can we stop skin picking?

Much like myself, Chloe didn’t

know that dermatillomania was

a ‘thing’ until she read about a

fellow sufferer. “I had just accepted

that that was the way I was. It was

normal to me. So it provided some

comfort that I wasn’t alone.”

Chloe says the only method that

has curbed her constant picking

is having a gel manicure, but even

then she’ll find a way around.

“Having my nails painted nicely is

the only way to stop myself picking

my fingers for a few days, but it

rarely lasts a week. Then I’ll resort

to tools, like my tweezers.”

For me, I have to wrap my

fingers in plasters so I physically

can’t get to them. Gloves are also

useful, although they have been an

interim solution for me. As I have

discovered, dermatillomania is a

habit that I have learned, and it’s

become part of my life. Habits can

be ‘unlearned’ though...

How can hypnotherapy help

with skin picking?

Hypnotherapy can interrupt that

familiar urge. By using the power

of suggestion when a person is in a

deep relaxation or hypnotic state,

the therapist can ignite the trigger,

and introduce healthy alternatives

to replace the urge to pick.

With Nicola’s client,

hypnotherapy helped to establish

a sense of safety and security in

everyday life, and high-pressure

situations. “We applied certain

trigger words and breathing to

calm him down. Accompanied

with an individual hypnosis

suggestion which included

direct and indirect subliminal


“He listens to hypnosis regularly

to reinforce feelings of mental and

physical calmness, safety, security

and to have the confidence to be

himself without feeling constantly

under scrutiny. His scratching

obsession has significantly

decreased, he feels more relaxed in

social and work situations.”

Techniques to try at home

For immediate distraction from

skin picking, try to:

• Keep your hand busy. Use a fidget

spinner or any small object that

you can busy your hands with.

• Use plenty of moisturiser, meaning

that your skin is less likely to be

dry or have flaky bits to pick.

• Cover your hands with gloves.

• Cut your nails short so you have

less grip on your skin.

• Ensure you wash your hands

regularly to avoid infection.

If you struggle with picking as an

automatic response, it’s important

to identify your triggers, and the

emotions that accompany them.

Often, this urge comes from

struggling with negative thoughts

that manifest into harmful


Nicola suggests using

mindfulness and breathing

techniques when you feel the need

to pick. This way you can regain

control over your breathing, and

focus on the calming rhythmic

motion of it. “Practise slowly and

gently blowing out an imaginary

candle – at home, in social

situations, on the train.”

She notes that to truly recover,

it’s important to understand that

people aren’t constantly judging

you. “Focus on the other person,

listen to other people, be present

– rather than focusing on yourself

and worrying about what people

are thinking of you.”

Techniques to try at home

For further support, you can find

a hypnotherapist in your local area

or who offers online sessions on

our Happiful app. You can also

speak to a trained counsellor if

you’re struggling with the urge to

hurt yourself intentionally.

July 2020 • happiful.com • 73

6 ways to

practise self-love

Though times may test us, treating yourself with love and care can make

the world of difference to your wellbeing. And for those with additional

challenges, such as an illness or disability, it’s not always an easy task – but

here we share some tips on how to bring more self-love into your daily life

Writing | Anna Gaunt

Self-love undoubtedly plays

a key part in our mental

health and wellbeing,

and it’s easy to see why.

Valuing ourselves and our bodies

can motivate us to make healthier

life choices, such as eating well,

engaging in leisure activities that

bring us joy, and having healthy

relationships. These choices

can contribute to greater life

satisfaction which, in turn, can

improve our overall wellbeing.

Still, it’s not always easy to practise

self-love, especially when you’re

faced with extra challenges, such as

an illness or disability. But here we

share some tips to help you on your

way to your self-love journey...




You can’t solely rely on the love of

others around you for your own

happiness, which is why selflove

is so important. However,

surrounding yourself with people

who love and support you can also

encourage you to love yourself

– and shows that you know you

deserve that positivity in your life.

Keep your biggest fans close – the

people who respect you, the people

who see your potential, and the

people who encourage you to fulfil

it. Listen to what these people love

about you – instead of dismissing

their compliments, take note of

them. Try to see yourself through

the eyes of people who love and

support you.



Everybody has abilities and

limitations, but this can seem

even more prevalent when you

have an illness or disability. Try

to focus on the things that you

can do, rather than what you

can’t. Focus on your ability to

see colours, or to breathe fresh

air, to make someone else smile,

or to dance (even if you’re not

very good at it!). Remember that

hobbies don’t always have to bring

you money or ‘success’. Figure out

what it is that you enjoy doing,

rather than what others enjoy

doing, and do more of it.


It’s easy to blame or criticise

ourselves when we make mistakes.

We often punish ourselves for

forgetting to take medication, or

not drinking enough water, or

other choices that can negatively

impact us, especially with an

illness or disability. It’s important

to remember that nobody is

perfect. To be human is to make

mistakes. Forgive yourself as you

would forgive those you love.



It’s well known that social media

can have a negative impact on

our relationship with ourselves.

When you’re only seeing people’s

highlight reels, it’s often easy

to falsely believe they’re living

a perfect life, so it’s no wonder

that a survey carried out by

disability charity Scope found

that 62% of social media users

feel inadequate when comparing

themselves to other people’s

posts. But social media can

be an incredibly positive and

supportive community, too – it’s

just about ensuring you take out

the toxicity, and instead fill your

feed with inspiration.

Unfollow social media

accounts that make you feel

bad about yourself, and instead

follow those that encourage

or entertain you. Some great

accounts that actively encourage

self-love on Instagram include:

@bodyposipanda for body

positive inspiration;

@katieabey for positive self-love

slogans; @thetummydiaries,

@bryonyehopkins and

@sophjbutler for a dose of

realness, embracing scars, and

food and exercise with an illness

or disability. And of course,

@daily__hedgehog, because who

can’t learn a bit of self-love from

those spiky little creatures?


Practising self-care is not only

great for your health, but also

great for self-love. Loving yourself

is easier when you actively take

care of yourself, and nourish your

wellbeing. Although, everyone

has different needs, so self-care

can take various forms. It might

be eating healthily or indulging

in foods that you enjoy, getting

an early night or going out with

friends, going for a run or going

for a lie down. Listen to what your

body needs, and honour it as much

as you can.


Creating boundaries in our

work and social lives is vital to

our mental and physical health.

Despite this, not all of us do it.

Many of us feel guilty for saying no

to a work task, or a social event –

especially people with an illness or

disability, as many of us don’t want

to be seen as incapable. But it is

important to listen to your physical

and emotional needs. Setting limits

to protect yourself and your energy

from harm is an important part of

loving yourself.

Whenever you need a little

reminder of the importance of

self-love, think of this quote from

Buddha: ‘You, yourself, as much

as anybody in the entire universe,

deserve your love and affection.’

Anna is a disability activist, and a

freelance writer specialising in health

and wellbeing.

You can’t use up creativity. The

more you use, the more you have


Photography | Joel Wyncott

5 fun activities – you can

do at a distance

Staying in touch with friends and family has never been more

important, so how can you keep things exciting?

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler


Based on the Radio 4 show that

asks guests to pick eight tracks,

one book, and one luxury item

to keep them entertained while

stranded on a desert island – doing

your own version is a great way

to share the songs that shaped

your life, and learn more about

your nearest and dearest. Create

a group chat, assign one person

each night to share their selection,

and listen to each track together.

You’ll soon be singing along to

old favourites, and you may even

unearth some new gems.


OK, so real travel is off the cards

at the moment, but that doesn’t

mean you have to miss out on new

experiences. Pick a country for the

weekend, and embrace the culture.

Look up traditional dishes that

you can whip up at home, watch

films set in the country, or have a

competition to find out who can

find the most obscure fact or most

interesting tradition. Bon voyage!


Bring the uplifting power of the

Bake Off into your home by hosting

your very own competition.

Choose a recipe, and set a time

for each household to get baking.

Keep up-to-date with how

everyone’s getting on by livestreaming

with each other, or

share results afterwards, and let

the judging commence. And to top

it off, you’ll have a freshly baked

treat to enjoy. Win-win.


If you want to put your brain to

the test, completing a murder

mystery is the perfect way to add

an investigative element to your

remote socialising. Each player is

assigned a character, with a factsheet

detailing their background,

when suddenly, murder occurs!

Work together to find clues and

discover who the murderer

is. Red Herring Games offer a

wide selection of virtual murder

mysteries to work through. So

what are you waiting for? The

game is afoot!


If pyjamas have become your

new uniform in lockdown, just

know that you’re not alone. That

said, getting dressed up can make

us feel fresh and fancy – and we

all need a bit of that these days.

Across social media, thousands

of people are now donning their

finest attire for #dressupfriday.

We’re talking black-tie, ballgowns,

and hair combed to perfection.

Why? Because why not. Strut your

stuff, and show us what you’ve got.

Living life with

panic attacks

When anxiety escalates, we can find ourselves

in the midst of a panic attack – which can be a

terrifying experience. Here, we share inside tips

from someone who’s been there first-hand, on

how you can spot your triggers, ride it out, and

reclaim control from your panic attacks

Writing | Fiona Thomas

Having lived with an anxiety

disorder for almost a

decade, I’ve experimented

with various ways to manage the

symptoms. Yoga, meditation, and

switching to decaf coffee help

me maintain a clear head, but

sometimes a panic attack will come

out of nowhere.

Understandably, some people are

so terrified when they have their

first panic attack that they end up in

the back of an ambulance. But once

you’ve had one – or several – it gets

easier to sense when one is lurking

in the shadows, waiting to pounce.

I don’t have one specific trigger

that causes my panic attacks. In

fact, the differing circumstances of

each one don’t make much sense at

first glance. The first panic attack

happened on a train, the next one

in the middle of a sports massage.

Then I began having them when I

worked in a sandwich shop (always

when I was cutting cucumber for

some reason, that was weird),

and the most recent one made an

appearance on a long-haul flight

from Australia.

It was during that last one,

suspended in mid-air, when I had

the revelation that everything

was going to be OK. Now that I’m

isolated in a similar way in my

little flat, separated from all my

loved ones, I’m counting down the

days until my next panic attack

makes an appearance. But I’m

certain I’ll be ready to ride it out.

While this is just my personal

experience, here are my thoughts

on how I’ve learned to live with the

unpredictability of panic attacks.


By the time my most recent panic

attack was in full swing, I was

trapped. I was 40,000 feet in the

air, stuck between two sleeping

passengers, and – let’s be honest

– where was I going to go? The

toilet was more cramped than my

seat, and there was literally no

other option, so I had to stay put.

I normally deal with panic attacks

by going outside for fresh air, but

with that solution off the cards, I

had a moment of clarity. The only

way out was through. I was going

Try (and I know this

will feel impossible)

to remember that

the more you push

back against a panic

attack, the more

intense it will become

to have to endure the ‘peak’ of the

panic attack for it to naturally ease

off on the other side.


This inflight epiphany of mine was

only possible thanks to my history

of panic attacks, so it might be

hard for you to truly believe that

you’re going to survive. Try (and

I know this will feel impossible)

to remember that the more you

push back against a panic attack,

the more intense it will become.

Imagine you’re swimming in the

sea. Instead of fighting the current,

surrender, and let the waves carry

you along until calmer waters

appear. Most panic attacks last a

few minutes.


• Racing heart

• Feeling faint or lightheaded

• Shortness of breath

• Sweating

• Nausea

• Shaking or trembling

• Chest pain

• Dizziness

• Churning stomach

• Ringing in your ears

• Feeling disconnected from

your body

• Feeling of dread



Panic attack symptoms vary

from person to person. Common

ones include chest pain, nausea,

increased heart rate, muscle

tension, chills, and a fear of

dying. For me, it normally starts

with a heightened awareness

of my breathing, which leads

to shortness of breath. As the

feeling intensifies, I break out

in a cold sweat – I’m drenched

head-to-toe in seconds. When

the attack peaks, my vision blurs,

my ears ring, I get dizzy, and I

normally feel like I’ve blacked

out for a moment. It feels like I’m

about to die, but panic attacks

are not dangerous. It’s simply a

misplaced surge of adrenaline,

and it will not kill you. Quite the

opposite in fact; it’s a normal

survival response.


During a panic attack, all I want is

to be able to catch my breath. But

telling myself to ‘breathe deeply’ is

a pointless task, because the more

I focus on my breathing the more

aware I become of every laboured

inhale and exhale. No, distracting

myself from the breathing always

works more effectively. When I

was trapped on the plane, I did

this by listening to a Sia album. I

purposely chose the tracks that I

knew all the words to and busied

myself by silently lip-synching my

way through fear. You can also try

reading a magazine, or observing

small details around you.


You might want to put your panic

attack behind you as soon as it’s

over, but I would encourage you

to think about the circumstances

leading up to the attack itself.

You may be able to identify one

or several factors that could have

triggered it. My train panic attack

wasn’t due to travel anxiety, it was

stress-related because I was in the

middle of relocating to a new city.

My work panic attacks were due

to lack of sleep. And my mid-flight

fiasco? I’d grossly overdone it on

the Sauvignon Blanc during my

trip. Other triggers include health

worries, medication, caffeine, low

blood sugar, money worries, social

anxiety, or relationship problems.

Like every mental health concern,

talking to a professional might help.

Visit counselling-directory.org.uk

to find out more about the 13,000

counsellors offering online and

telephone support.

July 2020 • happiful.com • 79





Jack Monroe, award-winning cookery writer and campaigner

against hunger and poverty, is still figuring out her ‘new normal’

in 2020. Although she’s experienced some tough times and

severe trolling of late, Jack has found a way to turn extreme

negativity into personal strength, while testing her professional

abilities, and championing good food for bad days...

Writing | Lucy Donoughue

While many people

across the UK were

busy celebrating the

Queen’s Diamond

Jubilee and the Olympics back in

2012, Jack Monroe was writing

the essay that would mark the

beginning of her career in the

public eye. Hunger Hurts was

an honest and heartbreaking

depiction of a single, starving, and

suicidal mum living in poverty,

and explored the day-to-day

struggle of keeping herself and

her son fed and healthy, with very

little means.

Jack’s words resonated with

others finding themselves in a

similar position, and during the

eight years that have followed,

she’s developed the popular

budget recipe website Cooking on

a Bootstrap, regularly speaks on

poverty and austerity issues, and

supports the Trussell Trust food

bank charity. She’s now also in

the process of writing her seventh

cookery book, to sit alongside her

other titles including Tin Can Cook,

Vegan(ish), and A Girl Called Jack.

Jack’s most recent offering,

Good Food, Bad Days, What to

Make When You’re Feeling Blue,

is possibly the one book that

everyone should buy right now.

Part-memoir, part recipe book, it

offers up thoughts on how to feed

yourself when you’re feeling at

your lowest ebb, with Jack sharing

her own experiences with mental

illness throughout – as well as

comforting, lifting, and soothing

recipes including marmite, honey

and peanut butter popcorn, jaffa

cake mug cake, chicken porridge,

and lemon curd ice cream.

However, the launch of Good

Food, Bad Days didn’t go strictly

to plan, with the coronavirus

lockdown and mass cancellations

of events, drastically changing

Jack’s professional landscape,

and eradicating all work bookings

from her diary.

80 • happiful.com • July 2020

“In the first period of lockdown,

I lost the equivalent of a year’s

salary in the space of two days,”

Jack explains.

This loss of security around

future income triggered some

deep anxieties. “I live under the

spectre of poverty all the time,”

she says. “It dogs me. I just wish

it would leave me alone now, but

there’s always that niggling fear

that what I do isn’t permanent –

there’s no ongoing contracts or

weekly regular work. Every job has

to be treated like it’s the last one

I’m ever going to get, and I have to

give it my absolute best shot.”

Jack never takes anything for

granted and, like so many of us,

looked to diversify what she could

do in lockdown in order to keep

afloat. She sold photography, and

then received a call about cohosting

a TV show.

Daily Kitchen Live, a two-week

BBC One morning cooking show,

was a both a financial lifeline and a

ray of sunshine at what had begun

to feel like a very grey period for

Jack. She’s deeply grateful the

opportunity came along.

“I adored every second of it!”

she shares. “I learned so much

through that show, and grew

in confidence. All the things I

thought I couldn’t do – like copresent

and read an autocue – all

the things I’ve made excuses about

to production companies for years,

I had to do.”

The programme was a huge

success, bringing in 1.6 million

viewers. The achievement was a

big one for Jack, who lives with

severe adult ADHD and is autistic,

which, she says, can sometimes

have an impact on what she feels

able to do, and how she can be

perceived by others. >>>

July 2020 • happiful.com • 81

“Having ADHD means I approach

everything full-throttle; I throw

myself into what I’m doing, and

then can about-turn weeks later

and change my mind,” Jack

explains. “Being in the public eye,

it’s a difficult personality trait for

people to get their heads around.”

Jack regularly talks about

personal experiences like this, as

well as her depression, anxiety,

and what it’s like to live with

chronic pain. Good friends of hers

have advised her in the past not to

give so much of herself away when

it comes to what she shares online,

as they worry that exposing her

perceived vulnerabilities could

give critics and trolls ammunition.

“It’s quite hard though,” Jack

reflects. “When you’ve spent eight

years spilling your guts out on

the internet, to suddenly decide

to scoop them up and put them

back inside yourself one day. It’s

just who I am. I don’t want to shy

away from talking about difficult

subject matters, even if it is to

my own detriment. I often say to

friends and family, ‘I’m not a bag

of Liquorice Allsorts, you can’t just

pick the ones you like, you either

take the entire packet or you leave

the bag on the shelf.”

It’s understandable that those

close to Jack want to protect her

from online abuse, as the impact

can be so severe. In the weeks

before we speak, Jack’s hair

began to fall out, she thinks in

response to stronger medication,

and a period of personal and

professional stress. She now has

a glorious buzz cut (her sixth time

shaving her head completely), and

is rocking it.

I’m not a bag of

Liquorice Allsorts,

you can’t just pick

the ones you like,

you either take the

entire packet or

you leave the bag

on the shelf

Part of the stress may well have

been her recent issues with social

media – but Jack hopes she’s found

the sweet spot in managing this,

after enduring a slew of online

spite and hate.

“I recently got to the point where

I was being harassed and bullied

quite badly, and I had to make a

decision as to whether to involve

the police and lawyers,” she reveals.

“I would get up in the morning

and read everything mean that

was being said about me, and use

that as something to flagellate

myself with, and prop up the

negative thoughts I have about

myself. It became a compulsion, I

had to see what was being said.”

Jack made a conscious decision

to delete all social media apps,

and has replaced scrolling with

exercise. “I hate exercise though!”

she laughs. “I’m naturally a

sloth-like person when I’m not

bouncing around the kitchen. But

now, instead of scrolling, I go on

the rowing machine, or if I find

myself thinking about mean things

that have been said about me, I’ll

literally stop and do 50 crunches,

or go to lift some weights.

Photography | Patricia Niven

82 • happiful.com • July 2020

“It’s stopped me from going down

a rabbit hole of negative self-talk,

and burns off the rage. It releases

endorphins, and distracts me.”

Jack says that as well as the

mental benefits, it has changed

her in other ways. “I’m physically

fitter than I’ve been at any time

in my life. I’ve literally taken that

external negative talk, and turned

it into my own personal strength.”

‘Good Food For Bad Days: What to

Make When You’re Feeling Blue’ by

Jack Monroe, with foreword by Matt

Haig (Bluebird, £7.99)




• 2 large onions, or 240g frozen

sliced onions

• 6 fat cloves of garlic, or 2 tbsp

garlic paste

• 1 large leek, or 140g frozen

sliced leeks

• 1 large carrot, or 1 x 300g tin

sliced or baby carrots

• Oil, for frying

• 1 x 400g tin of borlotti beans

• 400ml chicken or vegetable stock

• 1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

• 1 tbsp wine or cider vinegar

• 200g kale, spinach or other dark

leafy greens, finely chopped

• Salt and pepper, to taste

The veg in this bowl can be

changed to suit whatever you

have in the fridge or cupboard at

the time, so long as the quantities

of each remain roughly the

same. You can swap the carrots

for potato, parsnip, squash or

any other sturdy root vegetable;

the greens for finely shredded

cabbage or leafy greens, any

beans, any grains; and the onions

and leeks are interchangeable.

It’s more of a formula for a bowl

of balanced goodness than a

prescriptive recipe. I make a

version of this depending on

whatever I have to hand, always

slightly different but comfortingly

familiar, and packed with vitamins

and gentle nutrition. It’s my pickme-up

after any period of illness

or exhaustion, and it’s popular

with the whole family. I call it our

‘recalibration supper’, but it’s good

for any time of day. It can be

eaten cold over pasta with cheese

on top, but it’s best served hot and

by the largest bowl you can find.

• First peel and finely slice your

onions or measure out the

frozen onions. Add the onion

– in whatever guise – to a large

nonstick pan. Peel your garlic and

halve it lengthways, then add to

the pan, or add the paste. Thinly

slice your leek and carrot and add

those too, or chuck in the ready

sliced veg. Drizzle over a little oil,

and season with salt and pepper.

Cook over medium heat for 5–6

minutes to start to soften.

• Drain and thoroughly rinse the

beans and tip into the pan. Pour

over the stock and bring to the boil.

Reduce to a simmer, then stir in

the tomatoes and vinegar. Cover

and simmer over low heat for 15

minutes, until thick and glossy.

Toss in the greens and wilt for 30

seconds (spinach) to a few minutes

(kale and spring greens).

• Serve warm with bread and

butter, torn up and dunked.

• Keeps well in the fridge for up to

3 days. Can be frozen for up to 3

months. Defrost completely and

reheat through before serving.

July 2020 • happiful.com • 83



Find joy in the little things. Listen to the podcast bringing families

together, explore the beauty in your local area, and discover the

app that helps you express yourself through music



How Do We Know We’re Doing It

Right?: Essays on Modern Life

Modern life is full of choices. But

how do we know what our best

life looks like? And what if we

get it wrong? Journalist Pandora

Sykes explores the questions,

anxieties, and agendas that

consume our lives, to help us find

our own path to contentment.

(Out 16 July, Cornerstone,





Although we may not

be able to visit the traditional

karaoke bar, we can still sing

our hearts out and put on a

show. Join together with your

household, or a group of friends

over Zoom, and belt out your

favourite tunes. You may not be

pitch perfect, but singing can do

wonders to lift your spirits.

Wonderful walks


With many of us taking

advantage of our hour

outdoors to go on a walk,

you may have found a new

love for rambling. Now we can safely venture a little further afield, you

might be looking for new surroundings to explore. The Ramblers share

hundreds of walking routes around the UK, to help you enjoy the great


(To find a walk near you, visit ramblers.org.uk)

Karaoke night

(Find the lyrics to your song

choice at youtube.com)



‘The Good Stuff with

Deborah James’

Brought to you by award-winning

podcaster Deborah James, and

her two children Eloise and Hugo,

‘The Good Stuff’ is here to help

families stay positive while staying

inside. Deborah and her kids

investigate research on all things

positive, and share good news

sent in by people at home, as well

as stories from around the world.

(Listen to the podcast on iTunes

and Spotify)



Lionel and Lilo the


Did you know hedgehogs

can smile? Lionel and Lilo are

proof they can! These spiky but

sweet hedgehogs will bring a

prickly handful of positivity to

your Instagram feed with their

uplifting captions and cute


(Follow @lionelthehog on


The Litte Box of Positivty | Instagram: @summersdalepublishers, Lottie Murphy | Instagram: @lottiemurphy_, Lionel | Instagram: @lionelthehog

6 9


Cove: music for your

mental health

Music can be a great tool to

help us express our emotions. Listed on the

NHS app library, Cove helps encourage

self-expression when you are struggling

to talk about how you feel. You can pick a

mood, then tap to add chords, melodies or

percussion. Let your creativity flow.

(Download from the App Store)

7Now in the beginning of

it’s third series, The A Word follows

Joe Hughes, a 10-year-old who is

autistic. The series gives an insight

into complicated relationships, as

Joe and his family discover their

version of ‘normal’.


The A Word

(Available on BBC iPlayer)



The Little Box of Positivity

There are times we can all use a little pick-me-up. The Little Box of

Positivity contains 52 beautiful cards of uplifting quotes and inspiring

affirmations to brighten your day. Spread the happiness by sharing

the words on your card with a friend.

(£12.99, view the full range at summersdale.com)

Win The Little Box of Positivity!

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

with your answer to the following question:

What date is the International Day of Happiness?

a) 17 February b) 20 March c) 30 July


Samaritans Talk To Us

Samaritans are there for anyone who needs

someone to listen, every day of the year. In

July, Samaritans branches across the UK and Ireland hold

events to raise awareness of the services they offer in their

communities. Show your support and thank them for

being there.

(July 2020, get involved at samaritans.org)



Pilates with Lottie Murphy

If you’re looking for a

change from the usual

fast-paced workout,

pilates is a great

alternative. Lottie Murphy

shares video classes to help you relax, unwind, and

develop strength and flexibility.

(Search Lottie Murphy on youtube.com)


Competition closes 16 July. UK mainland and Northern Ireland only. Good luck!

I am. I have

Megan Crabbe | Joseph Sinclair






• Listen • Like • Subscribe •

Listen to conversations with Shahroo Izadi, Fearne Cotton, Megan Crabbe,

Jamie Windust and many others who share their passions,

and reveal the moments that shaped them


When love

becomes an

unbearable burden

A father tells, for the first time, how he struggled

to come to terms with his child’s non-binary

sexuality, depression, and suicidal impulses

– and how their journey to understanding

showed him how to become a better parent

Writing | S Suresh

“ You two created

this beautiful

miracle with the

help of God!”

exclaimed a stranger,

looking at our fourmonth-old,

Kav, in 2002.

That miracle of ours, who

recently turned 18, tried

to take their life earlier

this year. This is the story

of how Kav was pushed

to that brink, and my

journey coming to accept

Kav’s gender identity, and

mental illness. I hope what

I share for the first time

here, will help others.

As a child, Kav was

happy, sociable, and a joy

to be with. How then, in

the span of a decade, could

they be diagnosed with

depression and anxiety?

The three years of middle

school turned out to be

some of the worst in Kav’s

life. Kav was, and still is, a

deeply caring, empathetic

person. Middle school

girls can be mean when

they gang up against a

“goody two shoes” child.

The very qualities we

cherish came to be Kav’s

nemesis with a clique of

girls. Kav withdrew into a

shell – being present, but

not visible.

In a small class of about

20, Kav’s drama teacher

included everybody in

a play, but forgot to cast

Kav. That insensitive

act, the inability to fit

in or create meaningful

friendships, and the

bullying, chipped away at

Kav’s self-confidence. To

this day, they are working

on reclaiming their sense

of self.

Around the same time,

Kav was questioning

their gender identity and

sexuality. I vividly recall

12-year-old Kav saying:

“Appa, I don’t feel that

way about boys… the

way I am supposed to…”

While I didn’t dismiss

Kav’s feelings, I failed

to give it importance or

understand that it was

one of the reasons they

were bullied.

None of this affected

Kav’s academic

performance, which met

my expectations as a

father. Kav also secured

admission to two private

high schools, neither of

which they were keen

on attending. Kav picked

the school of my choice,

presumably yielding to

pressure from me.

The summer before

high school, Kav cut

themselves for the first

time. On the advice of a

friend of ours, Kav started

seeing a therapist and

psychiatrist. That my

child preferred discussing

their troubles with

strangers was difficult for

me to digest.

Within six months,

Kav started taking

antidepressants. I hated

the idea of my child

needing medication for

mental illness, but hoped

that Kav would quickly

be weaned off them. I

also thought high school

would be different, and

that with therapeutic

help, Kav would bounce

back to normal. But in

the end, neither came to

pass. >>>

July 2020 • happiful.com • 87

Depression is a brutal

ailment… It is like rot that

steadily eats away at a

wooden platform causing

it to collapse one fine day,

without warning, at the

lightest of touches

In August 2016, during a

regular therapy session,

Kav’s therapist called me

into the room. I knew

something was amiss as

soon as I walked in. Kav

had cut themselves with

an intent to end their own

life. I was devastated. Kav

saw the deep agony in

my face as their therapist

discussed what happened.

She advised additional

treatment in the form of

an Intensive Outpatient

Program (IOP).

That week was one of

the worst of our lives.

We had to process the

fact that our child had

taken their suicidal

thoughts to the next level.

By not acknowledging

the suicide attempt, I

naively tried to will the

problem away, while Kav

developed a deep sense

of guilt for putting us

through this. The weight

of being a burden likely

played a significant role

in Kav’s behavior, as they

tried to show us a happier

version of themselves

while continuing to suffer

in silence.

The IOP program

provided Kav with

additional coping skills.

Kav met other high

school students in similar

situations, and had an

opportunity to interact

with some of them in

a safe setting, allowing

them to make friendships

among kindred souls.

Kav continued to explore

gender identity, and at

one point declared they

were “gender fluid, biromantic,

and asexual”. I

was completely lost in that

complicated definition.

During this time, Kav

found solace in reading

young adult fiction. They

started a YouTube channel,

xreadingsolacex, where

they review books, and

discuss their gender

identity and mental illness.

The year that followed

actually felt normal,

making me believe that

we may have seen the

worst. I was foolish to

underestimate the vicious

nature of depression and

its continued grip on Kav.

Kav graduated in 2019

with good grades, but

only due to a superhuman

effort. Kav told me: “It

takes twice or thrice the

effort for someone with

depression to accomplish

the same task compared

to someone like you.” I

heard what Kav said, but

never listened.

After graduation,

Kav enrolled in a local

community college. I was

relieved that Kav chose

to continue their higher

education. However,

community college did

nothing to improve Kav’s


Kav cut themself again,

just before Christmas.

They shared this with us

in January. Sitting together

as a family, we worked on

improving the strained

lines of communication,

and things started looking

up. Then came the fateful

Monday in February when

Kav overdosed. How did

Kav come to a point of

absolute hopelessness,

where they felt this was

the only option they had?

Depression is a brutal

ailment that saps the will

of a person, one happy

strand at a time. It is like

rot that steadily eats away

at a wooden platform

causing it to collapse one

fine day, without warning,

at the lightest of touches.

It is hard to identify one

specific cause for Kav’s

breakdown. Friends and

family who carelessly

misgendered them

frustrated Kav for not

88 • happiful.com • July 2020

I am doing my best to give up my biases

around mental illness, and re-learn

everything about depression. I am

learning to untether my burdensome

love for my child

respecting who they really

are. The drama teacher

who forgot to cast Kav, and

the high school principal

who pitied them for being

an atheist, both failed Kav.

The bullies who damaged

their self-esteem.

Tellingly, I failed Kav as

a dad through my own

inadequacies. I failed to

willingly acknowledge

Kav’s gender identity.

I underestimated the

gravity of their mental

illness. It was I who

named them Kavya, a

beautiful word that means

poetry in Tamil. When

they wanted to be known

as Kav, I ought to have

realised that a name is

but a gift parents give

their child; that the child

should have the freedom

to change it if the gift does

not work for them.

Everything I did for

Kav stemmed from my

abundant love. I realise

today that my love must

have felt stifling, with

conditions attached to it. I

failed to have the sagacity

to realise good parenting

goes beyond providing a

good education.

Kav is exceptionally

gifted, and has much

to contribute to the

world. Their considered

views on social justice,

gender equity, and

proper representation,

demonstrate wisdom

far above their age.

Currently, Kav is in a

Partial Hospitalisation

Program and getting

personalised treatment

and I am fervently

hopeful that they will

heal. Their recovery may

not be linear, but I am


Kav’s therapist said:

“What was, and is,

cannot be”. It is a deeply

insightful message, but

not just for Kav. I am no

longer skirting the issue;

instead I am doing my

best to give up my biases

around mental illness

and re-learn everything

about depression. I am

learning to untether my

burdensome love for

my child. And I stand

ready to support my

non-binary lesbian child,



S Suresh’s story is one of

bravery. It is always difficult

to watch someone we love

struggling with depression.

We want to fix them. And

having a child who has

suicidal tendencies brings up

so many feelings – especially

guilt, as parents wonder if

this is their fault.

Love though, is never a

burden. We just need to be

aware of when our desire

for a child to get well might

add to the pressure they are

feeling. Giving someone

space when we want to be

constantly by their

side, is possibly

the most generous

yet challenging

act of all.

Rachel Coffey | BA MA NLP Mstr

Life coach

July 2020 • happiful.com • 89

Mental health


Artist, designer, and cosplayer

Amber Guzman’s world is full of

colour and creativity. But life with

muscular dystrophy isn’t always

easy. Here, she shares her tips to

tackling the difficult days, and how

she finds empowerment in dressing

up as her favourite characters

Follow Amber on Instagram


Photography | Martin Guzman, @thedga

Mental health matters to me

because… with everything going

on in the world right now, it’s

very easy to fall into a hole of

depression. Being a disabled

woman, I’ve had to work hard

to not let bad thoughts bring

me down. Helping your mental

health is just as important as

working out your body for

physical health.

I first became interested in cosplay

when… I went to a convention

in California called Anime Expo.

Cosplay was definitely not as

big when I was in high school

in 2003, so when I went to this

event for the first time, and saw

the few who did actually dress

up, I was astonished! It was

such an amazing way to bring

the characters we all love to life,

and I was instantly hooked. I

always had a love for dressing

up, especially for Halloween.

Cosplay gives me an opportunity

to dress up without it having to be

a special holiday.

When I am in cosplay I feel…

empowered and strong. It allows

me a chance to escape what is going

on with me physically because of

my illness, muscular dystrophy.

When I have people come up to me

and say that they love my cosplay,

and that they want to try it too, that

really motivates me to continue

on this journey. When I finish a

complicated costume, it shows me

that I am not as weak, physically or

mentally, as this illness wants me

to feel.

When I need support I… thankfully

have a wonderful husband and his

family by my side. They help me

each day, not only with my illness

but with my happiness too. They

have been with me through thick

and thin, and I couldn’t ask for a

better support system. I also have

an amazing group of supporters on

my Instagram page cheering me on

with my everyday life. They are an

outstanding group of creative people

who share their love of costume and

fashion with me. Their comments

keep me feeling like I can accomplish

anything I put my heart into.

Three things I would say to someone

struggling are…

• We need these times of hardship to

show us how good the great times

can be.

• The closer you get towards your

goals, the more you will discover

how amazing you really are, and

that is something no one can take

from you.

• Never be afraid to cry.

The moment I felt most proud of

myself was… last year at Anime

Expo. I was an invited guest to this

event that I’d admired for so long.

There were tons of amazing people

who also had disabilities, who came

all the way to see me, and told me

how much I have helped them with

their struggles. It showed me that

I had a strong voice in this huge

community, and helped me to

realise that I was able to help others,

like me, who struggle with their

physical disabilities.

Photography | Caique Silva

You can cut all the

flowers but you cannot

keep spring from coming


2018 • happiful • 91



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