Mental Health

Jon

Mental Health Awareness Week

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Trigger warning: suicide, OCD, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, addiction
 
cube public domainEverybody has a brain, which means everybody can get mental illness. Mental illness is an umbrella term for variations in how the brain functions—anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, eating disorders, and addiction, are all forms of mental illness. Mental health is essentially, by definition, the absence of mental illness – but that does not mean that, with treatment, a person can not have a mental illness and also have good mental health—though it may take more work.
For instance, my friend Mark had obsessive compulsive disorder, a form of mental illness. With a lot of work, he has overcome the challenges of having OCD. Mark maintains that no specific changes will work for every person: a combination including or excluding any of therapy, medication, diet, exercise, journaling, medication, behavioural strategies, and more [1], will work different for each person. Each person’s experience will be different, and it is important to not draw conclusions, make assumptions, and to make unsolicited recommendations to a friend or family member with mental illness.
Mental illness may be unpredictable, both for the person living with it and those around them. Some mental illnesses increase the risk a person will engage in risky, life-threatening, or suicidal behaviour. This is why medical ID jewelry for mental illness is important. If you are in crisis, it is important to seek medical care immediately, but also to be aware that you may not be in the right place emotionally or psychologically to communicate your needs. A medical ID bracelet for mental illness, including eating disorders medical ID, anxiety disorder or depression medical jewelry, or schizophrenia or bipolar medical alert products can help to ensure the people who most need to are aware of your diagnosis, and can help keep you safe.
Kerri

Women’s Health: Thoughts for International Women’s Day

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Figure 8 shaped ribbon, pink, with pink text stating march 8th Women's DayIt makes sense that Mother’s Day and International Women’s Day are in the same month in the UK, doesn’t it! Perhaps March is also a good month to consider how to protect yourself, or encourage a woman in your life to do so, by going for that overdue medical check-up or that breast exam or mammogram, or pap test that is being put off!
How else can women focus on their health this month?
  • Learn about women’s health concerns:
    • Many women do not realize that signs of a heart attack may be different in women, as Carolyn shares on our US blog.
    • While we often think about breast cancer, cervical cancer, or ovarian cancer when it comes to woman’s health issues, women should also undergo routine colonoscopies and other tests to check for colon cancer.
    • Conditions like osteoporosis can be caught early (known as osteopenia) so long as bone scans are done routinely. Taking supplements of calcium and vitamin D (as recommended by your doctor) may also be good ways to prevent osteoporosis.
  • Check in with your emotional/mental health
    • Postpartum depression is a diagnosis unique to women who have just given birth. If you have a new little one at home, but are still feeling the blues, check in with your doctor for resources and mental health support.
    • Anxiety and depression are common in women as well—if you believe that you are not feeling right, act on it and get the support you need!
    • Stress is real, and for women who are simply doing too much—raising kids or grandkids or nieces or nephews, working, maintaining a social life, and trying to assist in keeping the household running!—things may get overwhelming at time. Learn ways to reduce stress and cope with it.
    • Do not be afraid to ask for help!
  • Relax when possible, and take time to socialize!
    • It is important to take time out, no matter how busy you may feel you are (or even no matter how NOT busy you feel!)
    • Read, watch TV, colour, go for a walk, take a bath—these are all ways you may find helpful to unwind: leave us your tips in the comments!
    • Visiting with friends is also important, and something that often happens a lot less as we get older—why? Take time to see old friends and make new ones!
    • Exercise is also important and maybe hard to get—maybe grab a coffee with a friend and then go for a walk at the same time?
These are just a few tips to stay as healthy as possible—what are yours?
Have a happy International Women’s Day, and for the mums out there, Happy Mothers Day, too! And if your mom has a medical condition and would benefit from wearing medical ID, consider a My Identity Doctor Medical ID Gift Card so she can pick something to help her stay safe. Contact us to learn more, and make your gift a thoughtful one that’s also easy to shop for!
Kerri

Self-Injury Awareness Day: The Facts

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Trigger warning: Self injury, self-harm, suicide, 
 
clip art of a plaster/bandage with a pink heart on centre portionSelf injury, also known as self harm (which LifeSigns UK defines different to self-injury), can affect anyone—no matter their age, gender, race or religion, or socioeconomic status. Self-injury is an unhealthy coping method used when the burden of one’s feelings are too great. In this situation, some people turn to self-injury as a physical release to an emotional problem. Different issues can contribute to a person beginning to self-harm: poor body image, low elf-esteem, perfectionism and desire to achieve well (often in regard to school grades but also in other areas of life); others may have endured trauma or abuse, however many who self-harm do not fit these categories. Anything that may be causing emotional distress may lead to a person resorting to self-harm as a coping mechanism. [1]
Self-injury is not the same as being suicidal. Self-injury, by definition, is “deliberate, non-suicidal behaviour that inflicts physical harm on your body”, and is “aimed at relieving emotional distress”. [1.1] Cutting, burning, and poisoning or drug overdose are all common forms of self-injury. [1.2]
In the UK, you can reach out to LifeSigns UK for help in dealing with your self-injury. Know also that your GP, counsellor or mental health professional can provide you resources and assist you in developing better coping mechanisms. Some alternative coping behaviours suggested by LifeSigns UK include writing, creating something, listening to music, or going for a walk. [1.3]
If you know someone who self-injures or you think may self-injure or be at risk, learn more about how you can help in the right ways.
If you are affected by self-injury, some medical conditions may make wearing medical ID jewelry important, especially as you are working on alternative coping methods. To learn more about alternative coping methods, finding resources and support, and Self Injury Awareness Day, visit LifeSigns UK.
Kerri

Tag your bag for the journey: Medical bag tags

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If you’re an avid traveler, you know the importance of keeping tags on your luggage. One trip, I could not for the life of me find a luggage tag in my house! Fortunately my suitcase made it successfully through both flights, but I can’t say I wasn’t just a tiny bit nervous because it seemed like I was tempting fate! But, how well do you identify your medical items as yours?
 

medical bag with red ID tag

Certain items, like blood glucose test kits, zip cases for medications, oxygen tanks or compressor bags and CPAP machines, wheelchairs or walkers, or nebulizer compressors are important, especially when travelling. Any bags that contain medical supplies should be readily identified so that if they are lost, the urgency to return them and their contents is known. Our red medical ID key chains also double as excellent bag tags. I have one attached to my nebulizer bag—if someone finds it somewhere and does not know what it is, they will at least know that it is medical equipment, and hopefully take it somewhere where they will find a way to contact me and return my supplies! 
 
Most of us are very careful with our medical equipment—but, especially in the hustle and bustle of travel, things happen. By outfitting your equipment or medication bag with a medical tag, such as our bright red ones, you can have the peace of mind that anybody who finds your bag can get it back to you. A tag can also help people identify where to find the medication that you might need if you cannot get to it yourself. Our tags come in both plastic and aluminum versions, as well as a red-emblem stainless steel version. While all of our products are light, I have the plastic red tag on my nebulizer bag—it’s low profile and stays out of my way, but is bright enough to see when needed. Since this small carry bag for my neb stays within my carry-on bag most of the time, I don’t test the tag’s durability too much; however, if you are really rough on your bag (like I am on my backpack!) you may prefer the aluminum version for your journeys.
 
And, unlike those those paper-insert plastic tags that sometimes only last one trip on your suitcase before the plastic cracks, these sturdy little tags will hold up to whatever you throw at them, just like the rest of our products. 
Kerri

Getting Stress in Check: November 2 is Stress Awareness Day.

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Stress can make us feel not at our best. It can cause mental and physical fatigue, and simply make our bodies feel not feel our best—if you have chronic illness, which can be another source of stress, it can also cause difficulty managing certain diseases. Lung disease like asthma can be made worse by the body’s stress response, causing increased inflammation—this might also affect people with other inflammatory conditions like inflammatory bowel disease or arthritis. If you have diabetes, you may have experienced having more difficulty controlling your blood glucose levels during times of stress.
Stress Awareness Day calls our attention to stress, and the impact it can have on our health, and how we can choose to manage stress, rather than stress managing us! Stress Awareness Day also encourages us to reduce the stress we experience in everyday life—we all have stresses, but they do not have to overwhelm us constantly as long as we practice good self-care.
Self-care does not have to be complicated—simply it is a way to take a break and unwind! Here are some common self-care strategies used to decrease stress:
  • Writing or journaling
  • Creating art or music; singing or playing a musical instrument
    • Anti-Stress or “zen” adult colouring became a phenomenon a couple of years ago, and is still a very popular way to manage stress
  • Exercising—simply going for a walk counts!
  • Progressive muscle relaxation or meditation
  • Taking a long bath
  • Going to a cafe with a friend to chat
If you have chronic disease, wearing a medical ID bracelet or necklace might help you to feel more protected in case of an unexpected medical situation, and alleviate stress. We have a variety of colours and styles to choose from—all engraved in bold black print for your peace of mind.
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