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COVID 19 … Enough to make you want to pull your hair out!

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During Covid-19 we've heard the concern about the impact the pandemic is going to have on people’s mental health. It’s enough to make you want to pull your hair out. I have found myself thinking a lot about people who literally pull their hair out. People with trichotillomania. “Tricka what?” you ask. Trichotillomania comes under the umbrella of Body-focussed Repetitive Behaviour Disorders.

Treatment of trichotillomania can be hard to find, but people find ways of managing the disorder and living with the impact it has on their lives. People with trichotillomania go to great lengths to disguise the damage from their hairpulling, and many find it incredibly anxiety-provoking to tell another person about their experience or seek help.

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COVID weight gain jokes can harm people with eating disorders

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In SANE's COVID mental health series, Sophie talks about the impact of 'quarantine-15' jokes. She warns they can harm people living with eating disorders and offers her advice.

If you have been spending more time on social media throughout the COVID lockdown, you definitely aren’t alone. Social media platforms have been a well-established part of western life for over a decade and the variety of avenues grows by the year.

Some have been problematic and potentially even harmful. In this instance, I’m talking about the memes and jokes that emerged about weight gain in quarantine.You may have seen them too – jokes about signing up for weight loss shows, statements about gaining the “Quarantine 15” and even before and after images of a photoshopped barbie doll.

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Care farming: creating community in nature

Liz-Everard-and-Julia-Westland Hocking Fellow, Liz Everard, and Flourish Australia Mental Health Consumer Representative, Julia Westland.

Liz Everard, 2019–2020 Hocking Fellow, reflects on how COVID highlighted the potential of nature-based interventions.

When I started my Hocking Fellowship project in late 2019, I intended to research a number of therapeutic or care farm communities that exist in the United States and Ireland. My aim was – and still is – to explore how this model of care could be provided in the Australian context. Unfortunately, the COVID pandemic has put my travel plans on hold. 

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My life with schizophrenia: 'I’m here to do my best and make the most of my life.'

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SANE Peer Ambassador Greg Ralls is a professional engineer, husband, father and author, who lives with schizophrenia. He shares some of his experiences in this Q&A guest blog.

When were you diagnosed with schizophrenia and what was your first reaction?

A psychiatrist made the diagnosis in 2005. It was a while coming, as the symptoms first surfaced in 1997 and my first-episode of psychosis happened in 2000, during which time I found myself deeply in crisis.

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Managing your mental health during COVID

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In SANE's COVID mental health series, Anita shares her thoughts on managing your mental health during the pandemic.

Anita is a SANE Peer Ambassador who lives with bipolar 1. She is a wife, mum, small animal vet, writer and mental health advocate. She took some time out to answer a few questions for us.

Q. What concerns you most about the impact COVID will have on your mental health?

A:  If I didn’t have access to the medication that keeps me well, that would be a concern. But at this stage, I think that’s unlikely to happen. I’m acutely aware of my privilege and am fortunate to have access to high quality, consistent mental health care. So, I’m not that worried about myself. I’m also nearly 14 years into my experience with my bipolar 1 disorder, so I have a lot of insight and know when to seek help.

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Has COVID created a new understanding of complex mental health issues?

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In SANE's COVID mental health series, Lisa talks about living with depression and anxiety. She shares her thoughts on how conversations have changed during the pandemic.

Has there been another topic of conversation over the past few weeks besides COVID? Gone is the simple “Hey, how are you?” replaced by “How are you coping?” and “Are you staying sane?”. It’s that last one that gets me. And I’m just as guilty as others because I’ve heard myself ask a version of that very question: “How are you dealing, in amongst the crazy?”. 

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When the carer needs care during COVID

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In SANE's COVID mental health series, Sarah reminds carers to take time to care for themselves. Here, she shares some of her own self-care tips.

It’s 3 am and I can’t sleep. At the moment, I’m busily trying to juggle my work as a psychologist with family commitments, assisting my parents to care for my brothers (who both have schizophrenia diagnoses), and staying fit and well myself. It's challenging, but I'm grateful that I have family and friends who provide me with regular, unconditional support. 

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Fight/Flight/Freeze: How I'm living through COVID-19 as a trauma survivor

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I know I am not alone in saying that the COVID-19 situation has triggered pervasive feelings of powerlessness, entrapment and uncertainty. I also know that I am not alone when I say that, as someone with a history of trauma, these feelings are very familiar and extremely difficult to tolerate.

In working through my trauma, I have learned that when we’re confronted with situations that remind us of our trauma, or where there is any sense that we are in danger, our fight or flight system kicks in. For me, this manifests as extremely high anxiety levels, excessive nervous energy, and frantic efforts to gain control.

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Managing BPD during the COVID shake-up

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In SANE's COVID mental health series, Carissa shares her experience of living with BPD. The COVID shake-up reminded her how far she'd come and that she would be ok.

Oh dear. I thought it was all coming back. The panic attacks were present again. The periods of dissociation throughout the day. The trembling crying. The isolation. COVID really had thrown a spanner in the works for someone like me.

When you have lived experience of borderline personality disorder (BPD), it’s so easy to jump back to the mindset of defining yourself when old symptoms start to show. My brain was slowly trying to convince me that I was sick again.

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How to make working from home work for you - Our top tips

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The last few weeks have been a rollercoaster for all of us. The COVID pandemic has left us with no choice but to quickly adapt to major changes in our routine. One of these changes has been remote working.

Kitchen tables are now makeshift desks, team meetings are held from balconies, plugs and leads are strewn across sitting rooms – and small people climb on us or furry friends race around our feet.

If you’ve found yourself having to work from home right now, it might be quite an adjustment. There are some great work from home tips available across the internet, but we wanted to find some unique ideas to share with you.

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