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How to be a good ally in 2020

Given the current political climate, it might feel like we’re regressing in attitudes towards queer people. But right now I have a sense of hope that this new decade will bring about even more positive changes than the last one. The 2010’s saw an increase of worldwide acceptance for LGBT+ people, with 18 countries legalising same sex marriage!

Even as I write this, I’m reading about how heterosexual couples can now have civil partnerships. Although it might not seem like it on the surface, this feels like another progressive step towards an equal and inclusive society.

Although LGBT+ people make up a small percent of the UK population (7%) it’s important for us as individuals and as a society to be aware of and accepting of queerness. With the current UK population sitting at about 67.7 million people, that’s approximately 63 million potential allies who could be doing their bit to help spread awareness and tolerance.

As we move forward into a new decade, we all have a chance to carve out better paths for ourselves and future generations, and contribute to the ever-changing values we hold as a society. You might be thinking, “what can I do? I’m just one person, I can’t make much of a difference!” Well, if we all aim to make one small difference, it will all add up to something much bigger

                      You can…   

…Be curious

Be genuinely interested in some ones different experience. Go into conversations with the aim of learning something new about who they are and what they feel, not with the view of convincing them your way is better.

….Be open to change

Not just social change, but change within yourself. Be open to the possibility that hearing different viewpoints or opinions might change how you think and feel about things, that it’s possible your values and beliefs could evolve into something different. Let go of the concept that change is bad thing.

…Speak out

If you hear negative talk or see prejudiced behaviour towards a specific group of people (e.g. trans, bisexuals etc.), call them out on it & let them know that kind of talk and attitude isn’t acceptable in today’s society. If those people aren’t challenged about what they are saying or doing, it’s unlikely they will think twice about doing things differently next time.

…Celebrate the positives

See or hear about something inclusive and progressive happening in the news? Share the sh*t out of it! With world news at our fingertips, it’s easy to get swept up with all the negativity that goes on out there and forget that there is good stuff happening too. Spread the positive vibes with the hope that the more that people see it, the more ordinary and commonplace it will feel to be queer.

References

https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/culturalidentity/sexuality/bulletins/sexualidentityuk/2017

https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/uk-population

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_in_LGBT_rights

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4 Things you didn’t know could be caused by anxiety

1) Exhaustion

Do you sometimes feel completely drained without knowing why? Do you often feel like you’ve got no energy to do the things you want to?

Worrying all the time about all sorts of things is exhausting! If you’re feeling fatigue, it might be due to constant worries draining your precious energy. When I say exhaustion, I mean both the physical and emotional sides of it. In fact, physical tiredness with no apparent cause can be a symptom of emotional fatigue.

Other aspects of emotional exhaustion can include not feeling any motivation or drive to do day-to-day things and/or achieving bigger life goals, having trouble concentrating, being absent minded, quick to anger or irritability, and having difficulties getting to and staying asleep.

2) Binging on TV shows

Maybe you’re really excited to watch the new show that’s just dropped on Netflix….

.or maybe you’re trying to distract yourself from worrying about stuff by having a constant source of information coming at you. It could be that you’re trying to focus on the show rather than the worries you have about your life and the people around you.

When you’re anxious, having a distraction ready can be a good way to manage until it passes, but if its used long term as a coping mechanism, its not going to help resolve what’s causing the anxiety.

3) Being overly organised

Being super organised might just be part of your personality, or you might really enjoy coordinating and sorting your things into their proper places. However this is not always the case. If you have noticed lately that you’re putting more and more effort into organising and planning, but aren’t too happy about it, this could be a sign of anxiety.

For some people, control over how things are planned and where stuff goes can be a sign that you are feeling out of control with worry. When we don’t feel that we are in control of our lives, we instinctively do things that help us to get that feeling of control back.

This is called self-regulation; sometimes we self regulate with healthy stuff (crying/listening to music/ moderate exercise) and sometimes not (smoking/alcohol/junk food). For some people, organising their possessions and/or their daily schedule is a type of self regulation.

4) Poor memory recall

Some background info on how our memory works:

There are 3 stages to memory; (1) information gets taken into our brains through our senses, it then needs attention to pass through to our (2) short term memory and then to (3) long term memory. If the information going in (e.g. what we see and hear) doesn’t get enough attention in the moment, it wont be able to be stored into memory and will just disappear (decay).

So if we are anxious or preoccupied about something and thinking about that instead of what’s happening in the moment, we can’t give enough attention to our present moment. This results in our brains not creating memories of what has just happened. Whether it’s being at work, being out and about, or those precious times spent with loved ones.

So if you find yourself not being able to remember much of what has happened during your day, like constantly forgetting what you came into the room for, or not remembering what was said during that conversation you just had, you could be feeling more anxious than you realised.

References

https://www.healthline.com/health/emotional-exhaustion#symptoms

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotional_self-regulation

Atkinson, R.C., and Shriffin R.M. (1968) Human memory: A proposed system and it’s control processes. In Eysenck, M.W., and Keane, M.T. (2005) Cognitive Psychology. East Sussex: Psychology press.

FAQ—Coronavirus and therapy

FAQ—COVID-19 and therapy

UPDATED 25/03/20

Q Are you still doing face to face sessions?

A In line with government, NHS and membership body guidelines, I will not be seeing anyone for face to face sessions for the time being unless certain criteria are met (we can have a discussion about whether this would be the right option for you).

I will not be taking on any new clients for face to face sessions.

Q What are you doing to minimize risk?

A Personally, I am taking extra precautions to frequently and thoroughly wash my hands at every opportunity,  frequently using anti-viral hand sanitizer and avoiding shaking hands.

Within the counselling space, after each client I am disinfecting all hard surfaces that clients might touch, and temporarily minimizing my soft furnishings. The distance between us when seated is approx 6ft, which is the recommended length for ‘social distancing’ measures.

Furthermore, I am asking all clients to use the provided anti-viral hand sanitizer at the beginning of each session and all clients have access to a sink to wash their hands if they wish to.

Q What can I do to minimize my risk?

A Keep up to date on official NHS guidelines and government guidelines and do what you feel is best for you.

Q What happens if you or I have to self-isolate?

A If you need to self-isolate, I ask that you let me know as soon as possible so we can make appropriate arrangements. Similarly, if I need to self-isolate I will get in touch with you as quickly as I can so we can make preparations. If this happens, you will have a choice of options: to switch our sessions to video call (online) for the isolation period, put them on hold as necessary or end them altogether.

Q How would we do video calling (online) sessions?

A We would use the VSee software/app, which is free and secure video calling software designed for professional use. You can download/install and sign up at www.vsee.com or find the app on iOS/android. Online sessions will need to be similarly set up to face to face sessions, meaning we both will be situated in a quiet, private space that is free of distractions and where we are able to sit comfortably. *Note: video call quality is often best when using a wired connection to a PC/laptop*

Q Can I switch to online sessions as a precaution?

A Yes of course we can switch from face to face to online sessions if that is what you wish to do. Just let me know if this is the case for you.

Q What should I do if I feel unwell before an upcoming session?

A If you feel unwell in the days before our session, let me know and we can discuss how to proceed. If you feel unwell on the day and a session can’t take place (face to face or online), I may charge a £25 cancellation fee in accordance with my existing cancellation policy.

Sexless relationships: more common than you think and ways you can move past it

Research suggests that as many as 3 out of 10 people are in a sexless relationship (Relate, 2018). Whilst it’s important to acknowledge that some people are happy being in a sexless relationship, there are many people who are NOT happy about it!

So why is it so common? And what can be done about it?

Well, it’s complicated! Loss of intimacy in a relationship can happen for lots of reasons… being busy with or being too tired from work, stressful life events, mental health issues, physical health issues, having kids, mismatched sex drives & incompatible sexual desires etc.

Although it’s likely that one of you in particular is the main reason for sex not happening, both parties can feel upset with the situation. The partner wanting more sex might feel rejected, unwanted & unloved by their spouse; they might feel confusion as to why sex isn’t happening, or angry that their basic needs are not being met. The one not wanting sex might feel guilt over not being able to satisfy their partners needs; they might feel ashamed that they can’t perform, and like they are a failure and a let down.

So what can you do if you are unhappy in a sexless relationship? Proactive steps to take:

Communicate

Talk to your partner about how you are feeling… but don’t just blurt it all out and expect it to be problem solved.

Set some time aside to talk. Take it in turns to speak & really listen to what the other person is saying; be honest and respectful in what you say. If it’s hard to talk, try writing it down in a letter or email.

Re-evaluate

Take some time for yourself to really think about the relationship that you have… are you happy with the other aspects of it? Or is something amiss there too? This can really help to figure out if this is an isolated problem or if there are bigger issues at play.

If the relationship is suffering, you will have to decide whether you want to stay and fix things, or to come to terms with it being over and leave.

Then either

Commit…

If you decide that you want to stay and work on the relationship, think about what you both could do to get the relationship back on track; this part really depends on the reasons behind the lack of intimacy for you, but also needs both of you to make the commitment to work on things.

You might decide to seek out couple counselling and/or individual counselling to work through any mental health issues or newly identified problems in the relationship; seeking professional help means things can be worked through in a safe and confidential space.

Make time for intimacy; schedule regular date nights, get a babysitter in, maybe cut back on overtime at work, do whatever you need to do to make some time for each other.

or say goodbye

It can be hard to call time on a relationship, especially if you’ve been together a long time and don’t want to have wasted it on someone who didn’t work out. Ultimately, it’s better to have shorter, happier relationships than longer, miserable ones.

 

References

https://www.relate.org.uk/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/2018/9/17/over-quarter-relationships-are-sexless)