As we wave the dregs of the last 12 months down the plughole and prepare to celebrate Christmas, I've realised that a huge amount of positives have come out of the negatives that I've endured... So I thought I'd write them down and share them - if nothing else, because I can refer back and chivvy myself up if things start going wonky again in 2015.
This is the reality of a lack of funding for mental health. The over-burdened services, pared down to the bone. There are no beds left, there is little access to counselling, psychotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy... All I have to offer is a listening ear. That, and a tissue.
The Christmas period serves up an array of situations that can trigger an anxiety attack. For many of us, spending time with our extended families can cause an increase in stress which may lead to downing that extra glass of mulled wine to get through the day.
Mental health is an economic problem. It is a problem that this country cannot afford to ignore. While we have made considerable progress in the last decade, mental health continues to be a sensitive issue.
Your habits, whether negative or positive, determine your perception of reality. Your memories are not stored in isolation from everything else in your mind...they live alongside your feelings, your thoughts, andyour desires. As your feelings, habits, and goals in life change, your memories also change in accordance with them...
I don't like my labels. I didn't ask for them, and I would certainly rather I didn't have them. But I do. They don't define me, and they're not all I am, not by a long shot. But accepting them, rather than fighting them, has brought me just that bit closer to being able to manage them. So go ahead, label me, it helps. Just don't judge me.
How come some people always seem to be upbeat? They always seem to be smiling, nothing fazes them and yet they inhabit the same world as us. What is it that they're doing perhaps differently? What is the best way to have a great day?
Children nowadays face a lot of societal pressures. We expect them to be achievers in school or sports, have many friends and be better than the next kid. Parents tend to push their children to mingle with other kids, putting them in the spotlight. However, this does not only increase your kid's shyness, it also makes them feel insufficient and affects their overall confidence level.
When you lose someone, you often find yourself in a cliché firing line as, 'It was their time to go', 'Time is a healer' and 'Everything will be okay' are shot at you. Of course, people are trying to help as best they can (which is appreciated immensely), but it is so difficult to digest anything positive when things are painfully raw and you are suffocating in grief.
There is a significant prize here for all concerned. For people with mental health problems, a chance to find appropriate work in a supportive workplace; for employers, the opportunity to support the mental health of all staff; and for the wider economy, the potential to deliver a significant change to our society.
Each time you engage in a habitual behaviour, you are rewarded with a small amount of a brain chemical called dopamine. This chemical produces the internal experience of "this is how it is supposed to be." The more you do something, the more likely it is to become an unconscious habit.
All this busy activity distracts us from the fact that even though Christmas is meant to be a joyful affair, it also happens to fall at a tricky time of year (for those of us in the northern hemisphere). A time of darkness and decay. A time of introspection and reflection - activities that make for potentially unsettling pastimes.
When a horror movie is over, we feel a sense of relief. Phew! But our past memories can do better than any horror blockbuster, for they have become golden classics that we keep playing, watching and screaming, weeping, cringing, getting upset about, over and over again, without wanting or knowing when or how to exorcise and switch them off.
That blasted phrase is the imaginary pot of gold at the end of the rainbow we've been using to bludgeon ourselves and our self-esteem with for years. It doesn't exist. How could it?
Fermented foods such as sauerkraut and yoghurt are rich sources of probiotics and prebiotics, compounds that the beneficial flora in our digestive tract feed from and thrive. They also play an important role in detoxification.
Getting out of bed early is a slightly contentious topic nowadays. How could I possibly get up earlier. I'll be exhausted. I work all day. Please, you're just making excuses. We can all get out of bed a little earlier.