Charity Corner: Heads Above The Waves

Welcome back to Charity Corner. This is my new series where I will be using my blog as a platform to lend a voice to different charities and organisations of all sizes, backgrounds and causes. In today’s Charity Corner, I speak to director – Hannah Morgan – at Heads Above The Waves, which supports people dealing with mental health issues.

What is the mission of Heads Above The Waves?

We’re a Not For Profit Community Interest Company (bit of a mouthful!) that supports young people dealing with self-harm and other mental health issues. We encourage people to use creative coping techniques to replace their negative behaviors, and to speak to people about their problems and access help when they’re struggling. We tackle stigma through merchandise with positive designs on, we share stories, places of further support and coping techniques on our website and across our social media channels, and we speak at conferences and gigs/ music festivals, as well as delivering workshops, PSE days and training.

What is the story behind the creation of your charity?

Si struggled with self-harm as a teenager and had used drums and playing in bands as a coping technique. I had dealt with addiction and alcoholism after being bullied growing up and after the death of several family members and friends. We met with another friend, after Si voiced that he wanted to create some form of support for young people that spoke to them on their level, which he felt hadn’t been around when he was growing up. Thus Heads Above The Waves was born! Si got some funding through his work at the time to print a small run of t-shirts with a positive message on them. These were aimed to get people talking and break down the stigma around mental health. That’s grown into a website, various social media channels, school workshops, events and speaking at national conferences!

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Jazz is a Disney, tea and pop culture enthusiast with a passion for blogging. Also a proud introvert.

I will never be cured…

I don’t want to make this a blog post that’s meant to get views and comments, it’s not me trying to do anything… except talk. I just need to get it out there and whatever happens, whether it gets 1 view or 100 views, then that will just be.

I’ve always been an anxious person. Ever since I was really little. When attending the kids’ parties in Primary School, I barely left my mother’s side. I’d sit with the parents rather than go to play with my classmates. My mother would push me to go and play with them because she knew it was important, but I didn’t like being away from her. When I was 10, I was officially diagnosed with anxiety. I didn’t understand what that was at first, I just called it nervous. There’s a big difference between the two, believe it or not. Having anxiety and having anxiety issues are also two different things.

For a while, maybe three years, I thought that’s all it was going to be was anxiety. Then, when I was in year 8 and had my first breakdown, I was diagnose with borderline depression which then turned into clinical depression. I was just 13 when this happened. So I’ve been dealing for quite some time. Then, when I was 16, I had another breakdown and that’s when I received a third diagnosis of cyclothymia, which is a form of bi-polar. Lesser talked about, but just as important to be recognised. The thing is, cyclothymia is one thing, but to have anxiety and depression with it, it’s almost like a more severe case.

Having cyclothymia can be difficult. It’s exhausting and people don’t understand. Unless a person knows me very well and knows my story, they generally just think I’m just an annoying person. But it’s like being on a pendulum. Swing one way to manic, and I’m hyper, I talksofastthatifyouweretotranscribeitthenitwouldbelikeakeyboardismissingaspacebaraNDTHENSOME TIMESICANGETLOUDUNINTENTIONALLYTOOanditrytobequietanduseanormaltoneBUTTHENIGETLOUDAGAIN and it really bugs the fuck out of people. They’re like “why can’t this kid calm down? Why is she so annoying?” and often I can pick up on myself being annoying and I try to stop it, but it just doesn’t happen.

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Jazz is a Disney, tea and pop culture enthusiast with a passion for blogging. Also a proud introvert.

How to Make Self-Love Your Valentine This Year

Valentine’s Day is scarily close already and while it’s a cliché to shower your partner or crush with additional love for this alleged special day, there’s another special someone you also need to pay attention to… you!

We often forget the meaning of self-love and to participate in the act of caring for ourselves. Like love in general, it should matter more than just on the 14th February, but if it’s going to be a thing, then maybe this day is one you pay in particular attention on giving yourself love. There are so many different ways you can practise self-loving, but here are some of my examples to get you thinking.

Invest some time for yourself

It can be 30 minutes, an hour, or even a whole day! Just take time out for yourself. This can be dedicated to doing one thing or multiple activities, but you time is essential and it can do you some real good to spend time with your own thoughts. And I’m sure you’re a pretty interesting person to spend alone time with.

Treat Yo’Self

Seriously. It’s okay to do it! It doesn’t have to be through materialistics, though there’s nothing wrong with that at all. You could run yourself an amazing bubble bath, paint your nails, eat some ice cream, read a good book, binge a bit of Netflix… just give yourself a little something. I love to run a bath full of LUSH products, put some music on as well as a face mask and just relax before putting on a pair of my favourite PJs. It’s soothing and a great way to spend time alone.

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Jazz is a Disney, tea and pop culture enthusiast with a passion for blogging. Also a proud introvert.

The Anxiety Files: Save Your Ablesplaining

You have no idea how long I’ve wanted to write a post about this. Before this blog even started. Back when I had a personal blog which was pretty gross and just full of 15-year-old me’s thoughts. But to find the words, to not just use the post to slam the people, one person in particular, who tried to explain my own conditions to me. To try and make a judgement of what I’m going through, despite being an abled person, or at least more able than me. They were ablesplaining.

For those who may be a bit confused what ‘ablesplaining’ means, ‘splaining’ is a contraction of ‘explaining’ and is a term which often sprouts up in the social justice sphere. ‘Splaining’ is an “explanation” used in a very patronizing way. The ‘splainer may feel passionate about an opinion and belief that outways the actual lived experience and chooses to inform everyone of this “fact”.

So, when I say “ablesplaining” it basically means that someone who is abled (or more abled than the person who has the lived experience they are discussing) is trying to put forward alleged facts about a condition, despite not actually experiencing it for themselves.

The amount of times people have tried to ablesplain my condition to me over the past 11 years is actually shocking, but there’s one particular incident which I can vividly remember and still, even after five years, gets to me.

I’ll set the scene. I was friends with a few people older than me. We ended up falling out for reasons I don’t need to get into, but this girl – Carrie – (fictitious name to save her identity) decided to attack me through text at around 3am one night. Bare in mind, Carrie was a university student and I was just 16 years old and in a very hard time of my life with my conditions of bipolar, anxiety and depression. I was also going through a very hard family issue, which I didn’t hide. Carrie was texting me about how much of an awful person I was.

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Jazz is a Disney, tea and pop culture enthusiast with a passion for blogging. Also a proud introvert.

Why the ‘TRIGGERED’ meme needs to stay in 2016

Memes can be fun and really be a great ‘inside joke’ to social media users, but sometimes the internet does take it a step too far, which is why I’ve decided to discuss one of 2016’s biggest meme trends; the ‘triggered meme’.

For those who don’t know what memes are, Google describes it as “an image, video, piece of text, etc., typically humorous in nature, that is copied and spread rapidly by Internet users, often with slight variations.” If you are a social media user, such as myself, there’s a very high chance you’ve seen one in your time online. There’s no harm in having a joke and a laugh, but when it comes at price of people being hurt, that’s when it needs to stop.

Here’s an example of the ‘triggered’ meme…

What participants of the joke telling (mostly millennials from what I have seen) have vastly ignored or overlooked the actual meaning of “trigger” and why it’s actually not funny at all.

‘Triggered’ is in fact a legitimate psychological term in which refers to emotions that surface in response to stimulation which brings up a traumatic past experience. Trigger warnings (also known as content warnings) are particularly placed on the internet ahead of content which may be of a explicit nature or that could contain potential triggers for people with past trauma.

Although not always, more often than not triggers happen to people who have PTSD. For some people, a trigger can be identified with past traumatic experiences and therefore they are able to pinpoint why they are triggered. For others, it’s a total mystery.  Despite the cause of triggers, those who experience them tend to recognise patterns within the kids of things which trigger them over time. I’ve definitely had (and still have) some things which can trigger me and cause a panic attack.

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Jazz is a Disney, tea and pop culture enthusiast with a passion for blogging. Also a proud introvert.

Panic Attacks and Anxiety: my tips & tricks on coping

panic attacks and anxiety
I may or may not have mentioned this before, but I suffer with anxiety, bi polar and have had battles with depression. I’ve suffered with anxiety since the age of 10 meaning it’s been about 11 years since my diagnosis and how long I’ve been coping with panic attacks and dealing with them.
For a long time I was totally oblivious to the fact that so many more people suffer with similar issues and the fact that 1 in 4 people suffer with a mental health issue. It was barely talked about and my peers during school made me out to be “the freak” and not normal. Times have changed and so many more people are admitting to the fact that they too have their own issues to deal with. There wasn’t much information for me to gain access to at a young age, unlike nowadays, but despite the fact that many people are speaking out about similar issues, I feel like instead of stepping back because there are many blogs like this one, that it’s important to still share my experiences and methods of coping because the more posts = the more chances of someone who needs help can get it, even if it’s just via a blog post.

I’ve had a lot of different methods suggested to me over the past decade but these are the ones that I tend to stick to most.

During a panic attack

During a panic attack it’s definitely not easy to think rational, but if you are familiar with your panic attacks (ie: how they feel, the triggers,etc.) then it’s easier to try and reach out to that tiny rational percentage of your brain to push yourself to do something to help yourself. I’m usually always with a member of my family or friend, so my first port of call would be to inform them of how I’m feeling. I then follow these steps to get myself to a somewhat calmer situation as quickly and hassle free as possible.

Take myself out of the situation – If I’m in public or a place I’m unfamiliar with, I try and take myself out of the situation. Whether it’s going to a public restroom or find a more spacious area. I find that having a panic attack in public / a crowded place makes the entire thing much more stressful and the addition of paranoia of people being able to see you. Back in school, I was given a pass by my head of year which excused me from lessons when I felt the verge of a panic attack so I could go to the toilets or just go outside and breathe and be myself. Some teachers were even kind enough to let me take a friend. If you’re in school then I would definitely recommend a parent/guardian-teacher meeting being arranged and discussing options such as this one. It helped me so much.

Water – I feel like water helps me a lot. My mouth dries and my hands clam up and even if I only have a sip of water, the cool sensation of the water against my hands somehow makes me feel that little bit calmer. I wouldn’t recommend any other form of drink because, for me personally, my senses are heightened during a panic attack and so I would be able to taste a flavour very strongly and with my stomach being in knots from the panic, it would make me feel sick. I try and make sure I have a bottle of water wherever I go not only for hydration reasons, but in case a panic attack is on the horizon,

Deep breathing – This can be difficult as I tend to hyperventilate and shake a lot but I will build up to a deep breath during hyperventilation by taking a slightly bigger breath each time until I feel I can take one big deep breath and then exhale. Once at that state, I try to mimic the breathing of CPR but instead of filling a casualty’s lungs, I fill my own to the brim and then slowly let it all out. This not only calms my breathing but lets my brain try and get back to more rational thoughts.

Letting myself panic – That may sound weird, but if I know I feel anxious and a panic attack is building up, I let it happen. To let all those intense emotions and feelings stay bottled up tends to make the situation worse. Of course, I try and avoid getting into the state altogether, but if I feel like I’m already at panic stage, I just let it happen. Panic attacks are not going to kill you so just let it happen and run its course as you try to handle it as best as you possibly can.

Post panic attack 

The whole feeling after a panic attack feels like you are a walking wounded after a great war between yourself and your mind. It can be exhausting and overwhelming and it’s 100% normal to not feel okay straight away. When I reach back to a somewhat rational state of mind, I try and make sure that the aftercare is something I can make priority to prevent myself feeling so anxious again.

Hydration – I keep drinking the water because normally my mouth gets so dry that it takes a while to wet my whistle again. I keep drinking the water as part of relaxation and not to feel like I’m going to pass out. If I feel a little better I may opt for a weak cup of tea.

Sleep – I personally get exhausted after a panic attack and try to keep myself in a relaxed situation and try and get sleep as soon as possible. If I’m at home or able to get home quickly, one of the first things I do is go to sleep or if I don’t need to go back out, I put my PJs on and then go for an hour’s nap. If I have to stay out/have work to do I try and make compromises so if there’s anything that needs my input that it’s minimum and made easy or postpone whatever it is I need to do. Sometimes I need to just sit down and just think or listen to music or just close my eyes for a few minutes to regain normality around me. Putting myself in a busy situation straight after the incident tends to make my anxiety thrive again so I try and do as minimum as possible.

Talking – I normally need to talk out my reasons for feeling anxious and usually with a person I trust which is normally my mother. If not, I’ll find someone who I’m with (ie: a friend, someone at a course I could be on, a receptionist when I was at school) and just talk through my feelings and try to rationalise with myself with someone’s opinions and inputs.


Preventing anxiety

There are various things that trigger my anxiety. Whether it’s public transportation, an appointment, going somewhere new, venturing out in a big location,etc. And I know that, especially on days where I don’t feel 100%, I need to have different things to keep myself in a calm situation.

Charged phone – Not because I’m crazily obsessed with technology (that’s another story) but if I need to get in contact with someone (ie: my mother or stepdad) to talk to me while I’m anxious or to get me out of the situation, then I need to have a charged phone. Sometimes I take my actual charger with me if I know there’s going to be a powerpoint at my destination. If not, I take a power bank which keeps my phone charged on the go.

Music –Especially on public transport, I feel like music is a must. Music I really like always makes me feel comfortable and at home and in a safe place. I don’t know why, but music is like a magical thing for many reasons. So I like to have a pair of earphones and my favourite artists lined up on my phone.

Medication – I have been prescribed medication by a psychiatrist and doctor, so I ensure to take this everyday. I know not everyone has anxiety to that level where it needs to be medicated by a professional, but there are over the counter medications such as Kalms which can help you feel more relaxed and not as anxious.  Sometimes anxiety can be so mild for some people that all they need is some herbals such as herbal tea,etc. so I definitely recommend that first before trying medication. If you are prescribed medication, I know some people tend not to take it as they feel like it dehumanises you. I highly recommend you take any prescribed medication. You are a human. Anxiety is a chemical imbalance. You are merely restoring the correct amount of the right chemicals to make yourself feel better again. A diabetic takes insulin or medication. A person in pain takes a pain killer. You take these medications to make yourself feel better, whether it’s physically or mentally. If your medication makes you feel ill, please notify your GP and they may be able to help find a different medication which doesn’t make you feel so poorly.

Talking – Sometimes, on down days, I need to talk about how I feel. Whether you have a member of your family, a friend, a co-worker or even a charity. @Hope4MentalHelp on Twitter has a list of various helplines and charities around the world and if you’re based in the UK I highly recommend Mind charity for any advice and leaflets for information.

I really hope I have been able to help some people with this blog. Do you have any methods you swear by? Leave a comment blow.



Jazz is a Disney, tea and pop culture enthusiast with a passion for blogging. Also a proud introvert.