Limbic Emotion-Detecting Wearable

I’m not techy and if honest a bit weary of tech, and seem to have a special gift of breaking it ! So, I was understandably sceptical and also curious to be approached by Limbic to pilot their emotion-detection wearable device as a way to enhance CBT and the client/therapist experience. This is a world first and I think really exciting !

The client has a wearable device (linked with an app on their phone) which detects times of stress and change in mood and then prompts the client to log what happened, the intensity of the emotion (with emojis !) and CBT type questions to consider. This valuable information is fed into the client’s dashboard which I can see and use in session. This is an alternative to the client keeping thought records and perhaps easier to identify triggers, patterns and therefore targets for treatment.

Interesting times ahead, and looking forward to trying this as a therapist and from the clients experience.

Mental Health Awareness Week

This week marks Mental Health Awareness week with a focus on Body Image. I’m sure there’s very few of us who haven’t struggled with this to a greater or lesser extent, myself included.

Having been a bit bigger than my peers in my 20s, without the pressure of social media I struggled to get fashionable clothes (most High St shops did the odd 14 if you were lucky !), and definitely felt my self-esteem was wrapped up in my body and how I perceived I looked to others.

Therefore, I really feel for young people today with images of ‘perfection’ just a click away, and for my age group now a new dialogue of ageing gracefully, au natural or trying to hang onto that youthful look.

My belief is while eating disorders, body dysmorphia are serious conditions, it all starts with acceptance of self, and liking ourselves. Images are enhanced and manipulated, and the idea of ‘perfection’ unrealistic. Our body may have curves and wobbly bits, and that critical voice may kick in when you look in the mirror, but that image does not define who YOU are.

CBT can help to challenge this negativity and enable you to be body positive ; Life’s too short.

Feeling CALM with the Connor Brothers.

Last Thursday I was thrilled to attend a dinner at The Artists Residence London, in aid of CALM (Campaign against living Miserably) a leading movement against male suicide. The Connor Brothers, http://www.theconnorbrothers.com, are fictional twins, but in real life great friends who produce fabulous pulp fiction images with words that resonate at several levels. Mental health issues are something they are passionate about and it was great to meet them and Ben at CALM to learn more about this important issue. The food was pretty fab too.

Tell Me Beautiful Untrue Things
An example of The Connor Brothers work who hosted a dinner with CALM at The Artists Residence London.

It is my experience that men tend to be more reluctant than many women to get help and therapy. Sadly that culture about ‘man up’ ‘stiff upper lip’ carries on, and I was shocked to learn that suicide is the single biggest killer for men under 45. I appreciate all clients find it difficult to ask for help and make that first contact with a therapist, GP or mental health services, but if you are struggling whatever your gender it’s ok to say ‘help’, and let that lip wobble.

‘Pure’ is pure Joy!

Once in a while a ground-breaking TV programme comes along about mental health. ‘Pure O’ as its sometimes called, part of the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) family on Channel 4 is just brilliant. Pure O is categorised by unwanted intrusive thoughts which are distressing. Their content can vary from blasphemous, highly sexual or murderous, and abusive.

The thoughts are frequent and upsetting. The person fears that if they disclosure the content of the thoughts, they risk rejection of friends and family and partners. So, you can see why people who have this form of OCD are reluctant to seek help.

This brilliant comedy drama played by Charly Clive follows Marnie a 22 year old woman who moves from her rural Scottish town to London to find out what is wrong with her and discover herself. She has frequent sexual thoughts and images relating to men, women, and family members often triggered by those around her.

OCD drama on Channel 4-Marnie (Charley Clive) and friends in 'Pure'
Marnie (Charley Clive) and friends in ‘Pure’

Sadly, some tabloid journalism have labelled this as ‘soft porn’, but what it does is explicitly show the kind of distressing thoughts and images many people are trying to live with.

We ALL have unwanted thoughts just pop in our mind and images, sometimes triggered by a reference to that even/person/thing but these don’t upset us. For the person with ‘Pure O’ thoughts are highly upsetting and secretive due to the highly personal nature, which leads to avoidance of those situations. For example , if you have thoughts about harming your child in some way, the tendency can be to ruminate on ‘what does this say about me, ‘it must mean that I really want to hurt my child’ and then you start to avoid contact with them and take especial precautions whilst being understandably very distressed and anxious.

The irony is, that the content of the thoughts are often the opposite of what we would want in real life. Thoughts are just thoughts, not actions; subconscious desires a sign of us being bad/evil/a paedophile. Marnie (I’m only a few episodes in) having tried to have sex with a woman and then joined a sex addicts group has realised she has ‘Pure O’ and is now seeking therapy.

CBT is effective at helping the person to manage their symptoms and medication can help in addition. So do check out this ground-breaking drama, which doesn’t take itself seriously and doesn’t sugar coat the experience. If this sounds familiar and you want someone to talk to about your unwanted intrusive thoughts do get in touch, help is out there.

OCDaction and OCDUK are great websites for further information.


Mindfulness

Mindfulness can be described as ‘being present, in the moment without judgement’ and is increasingly recommended for improving your mental health and as part of psycho-therapeutic treatment. When we are mindful, we are in the moment, aware of thoughts feelings, emotions and behaviours but without judging them, and not thinking abut past, past but being very much in the present.

An example? Well, I was reminded of this a few weeks ago. I’ve loved ‘The Who’ since my teens and was thrilled to see them at London’ sO2 Arena. A mass of people, OK, I was really far away (see photo) but could see and hear Pete Townsend wind-milling his guitar, Roger singing lyrics I know so well from singing badly in my car and fabulous drumming from Zac Starkey. Loud, fabulous rock music, and consciously tried to be in the ‘now’ to imprint the concert as a memory in my long term.