What Te Kā And Maleficent Can Teach Us About Holistic Trauma Healing

* cw sexual assault *

There are probably a few great films that get trauma healing right, but there’s MANYYY that get it completely wrong and serve to traumatise viewers by not even hinting at any hope for trauma healing in the future; not cool. For the sake of this post, I’m going to focus on two films. They both originate as Disney films, and they both go above and beyond in their care to actually get human psychology — and specifically trauma psychology — right. Let’s begin.

Moana.

This movie is maybe my absolute favorite of all time. It’s feminst, there’s no romantic love plot (what a beautiful breath of fresh air!) and it’s all about women helping other women heal. Oh and a cry out for environmental activism. What’s not to love?

Moana is largely about Te Fiti. She’s a central character even though we don’t see her much; her trauma is really fuelling the plot line of the whole movie. Te Fiti was essentially “raped” by Maui in the beginning, when he stole her heart (literally.) Because of this, the entire ocean’s islands are in crisis — Moana’s island of Motunui can’t catch any fish, the trees and plants are dying, and no one can figure out why. Moana decides the only way to heal the island is to return Te Fiti’s heart — and she believes, for good reason, that Maui, who stole it, is the only one that can do it.

But anyone who’s been through trauma like this knows that the attacker, the thief, is not the one who is going to heal you. Maui treats Te Fiti like an object — stealing the heart, wanting to put it back when that ends up not getting him exactly what he wants, as if her sacred, precious heart is just a cog in a machine.

Te Fiti needs Moana. She needs someone strong enough and brave enough and kind enough and patient enough to actually see her; not pin her down and force the heart back in. She needs real, deep healing after such a horrific event.

My favourite part of the movie is seeing the wrath of Te Fiti in the beginning of this scene and how it looks like she could just maul Maui, but then sees her heart and realises that is more important. I feel that way about the people who have traumatised me; like you little piece of total sh*t, get the f*ck away from me; I matter more.

In the end, Te Ka, who we originally are led to believe is another thief trying to steal Te Fiti’s heart, but ends up actually being the traumatised version of Te Fiti herself, gets her heart back, no thanks to Maui and all thanks to Moana, and the ocean’s islands are restored. The earth is in harmony again. Trauma healing almost always has far-reaching benefits.

Now. Maleficent. MWAHAHA.

This is a lesser known film, so if you haven’t seen it, please watch it! It is a sequel to the original classic, Sleeping Beauty. It is the true story of Maleficent, known as one of the evilest of evil Disney villains of all time. It stars Angelina Jolie as Maleficent and Elle Fanning as Aurora. Yeah. You can watch it on YouTube.

This clip is when Maleficent’s wings are stolen. I find it unbelievably painful to watch. I guess because I’ve been there. The prince cutting off her wings symbolises him raping her and taking her innocence (she’s only 16 here). He was her first love, and she trusted him. And he violated that in the biggest way possible. Her wings were her life; her transport, her freedom, her safety mechanism, her independence, her essence. And he took all of that in one slash.

Maleficent is so seethingly angry at this horrific wrong that she makes it her life’s mission to get revenge on the whole kingdom, but especially the prince, who by this time is the king and has married and had a baby, the princess Aurora.

This is perhaps the saddest part of this whole narrative. Instead of being able to live her actual dreams, she is now psychologically forced by the impact of severe trauma to get revenge, to make the king’s life and all the people in the kingdom’s lives, a living hell, like he had made her life. This just absolutely breaks my heart. In the end, though, her and Aurora create a bond that is strong enough to make up for this (I’ll try not to completely spoil the end here!). And I also believe that the act of fighting for yourself after enduring a trauma can bring out a strength and a love of self and an ambition that you may not have reached otherwise.

After watching Maleficent, I urge you to go back and re-watch Sleeping Beauty and see how you experience the entire movie differently, knowing that Maleficent isn’t evil, she is traumatised and wants revenge.

So, what do we get from these films? What can we extract about how to holistically heal trauma the right way?

  1. The person/people who broke you is not the person/people who will heal you. Do not view them as a saviour, as a prince, or, god forbid, as your true love. This is harder than it seems, because of a fun little thing called trauma bonding. We think that because someone took something so valuable from us, that they are the only ones who can give it back. Wrong. I’ll write more about that in a future post.
  2. There are many different kinds of perpetrators. Maui represents the clueless, ignorant, egotistical, self-aggrandising type; and King Stefan represents the evil, self-serving, wanting-to-become-king-at-all-costs, sinister type. There are obviously a million more types. But we can all understand these two, I’m sure.
  3. “Trauma is not what happens to us, but what we hold inside in the absence of an empathetic witness.” — Peter Levine, a trauma expert. Not being seen and holding it inside you can destroy you, as it nearly did for Te Kā and Maleficent.
  4. You have a right to be angry, and should take time to actually feel that anger. Te Fiti and Maleficent are both livid after their respective traumas. They take time to feel the pain, the anger, and, naturally, they try to get revenge. This isn’t bitchy or crazy; this is normal, it is self-loving, and it is a necessary part of the healing process.
  5. Most of us will not be able to get revenge in the drastic ways Te Fiti and Maleficent have, because we, unfortunately, do not have access to magic, or a benevolent, human-like ocean (damn.) But we have a different magic; it’s called intuition, it’s called karma, it’s called post-traumatic growth, it’s called sheer will. Use it all to your benefit and you’ll get all the revenge you need, in the form of a totally kick-ass life. But also, speaking of magic, the brain doesn’t know the difference between what’s real and what’s imagined; so using dark magic on your attackers/perpetrators in your mind can actually help you heal. It’s also super satisfying 😉
  6. Women who have been through trauma are the strongest forces on this planet. They can shut down entire oceans, entire kingdoms, entire worlds. They can destroy your world. They cannot be messed with.
  7. Trauma must be validated. This is really first and foremost in trauma healing. Someone trusting, loving, and brave needs to see your trauma and validate it for what it was and what happened to you. This is absolutely crucial.
  8. Your body knows more about your trauma than your mind does. Through my work with the International Trauma Healing Institute, I’ve learned about and begun my certification in the Somatic Experience method of trauma healing, which is allowing your body to process trauma somatically. Find out where where your trauma is stored in your body and you can greatly accelerate your healing process.
  9. Trauma is often created in the wrong relationships. Trauma is often healed in the right ones. Te Fiti’s heart was stolen when Maui got too close. It makes sense that she would never, ever want to let someone get that close again. Something about Moana, though, let Te Ka know that she could trust her, and she let her get close enough to return the heart to her. Maleficent’s wings were stolen by a prince who told her he loved her but really wanted to exploit her for his own benefit. Maleficent gets her wings back when she and Aurora work together to heal each other.
  10. You are worthy of healing. It would be easy for Te Fiti and Maleficent to say, “I’m ruined. Oh well. That’s it.” But imagine if they had done that. Te Fiti had the sole power to restore the entire island community of the ocean. Maleficent had to restore the forests, and be the voice “for those in the shadows,” as she says. They had shit to do. So do you. So do I. The world needs us.
  11. It’s important to note that getting revenge, helping someone else heal, and finding true love (remember, neither of these loves (between Te Fiti and Moana and Maleficent and Aurora) are romantic love! They are the love between comrades, friends, teachers, students, etc.) don’t automatically heal you. Te Fiti and Maleficent are still traumatised by what happened to them. That’s okay. Now that they are in a safe place, with safe people, and they can heal properly, but we don’t get to see that whole process. They each have breakdowns, anger, confusion, grieving, and shame in their future. They will survive the rise from the ashes just like they survived the trauma.
  12. Romantic love is never, ever worth losing yourself for. Read that again.
  13. We should always question who the real villain is. Not all villains look like villains. Not all heroes look like heroes. Pay attention.
  14. Act when your intuition tells you something is wrong. If something feels off about someone, IT IS. Do not keep quiet. Do everything in your power to address the trauma around the time it’s happening, if you possibly can. Don’t wait to get help. The arc of the moral universe is long, and it bends towards justice (thx, MLK Jr.), but don’t be afraid to help it out a little.
  15. You will be okay. Trauma healing takes time, and you will get to the other side. Just channel our new friends Maleficent and Te Ka.

Love to all,

Sarah ❤

Food for the Brain Foundation Fundraising Dinner

I’ve given public speeches before, but none were quite as vulnerable as this one. I had never disclosed information about my own mental health to a room full of rich, white, did I mention rich? people who we were trying to extract money from. But here I was.

The speech was only allowed to be about 3 minutes as we had a lot else going on that evening, but my boss wanted me to say something about our Step Forward Fund, which is a new program aimed to allow low-income people, often in poverty, get a fully-paid treatment plan at the Brain Bio Centre. This includes all biochemical testing, all supplements, and all therapy appointments. It costs about £1,000 to put one child or adult through the program, which really isn’t that much when you think about it.

I thought I’d share my speech here for those interested. It was an emotional one, because the subject is SO close to my heart, and is still sort of subconsciously shameful, because I feel like it SHOULD be.

“Hello, my name is Sarah Diamond and I’m a team member at the Food for the Brain Foundation and the Brain Bio Centre. I come from a line of strong, creative women who have used the power of nutrition to heal — my grandmother, for example, healed stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer using nutrition. I had been battling severe anxiety and panic disorder since before I can remember, and thought I would feel that way forever. Inspired by my grandmother’s story, I started researching and found the Brain Bio Centre, all the way in London. After learning that nutrition could have the same positive effect on my mental health as it had had on my grandmother’s physical health, I knew I had found something big — something you can’t just find anywhere. I immediately asked if I could volunteer for the charity and clinic remotely, and after a year and half of this, I was on a plane from the US to London to come work here.

The Step Forward Fund, which I’m helping with, is a new project aimed to help low-income people suffering from mental health disorders — anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, autism, ADHD, and more — get access to the Brain Bio Centre through a fully-funded treatment plan. Clients get access to revolutionary biochemical testing, world-class supplements, and of course our incredible nutritional therapists, who know how to interpret symptoms and plan a path forward, out of the dark. As you’ve heard, 1 in 4 people in the UK suffers from a mental health disorder and the lowest 20% income bracket are 3x more likely to develop a mental health disorder. Some have been suffering for years or even decades in silence, after conventional medicine just wasn’t cutting it, not knowing where to turn, thinking that no one cares and that they are in this for life, just like I did.

First I’d like to share a short clip of a previous client, Eddie, who experienced huge success in the Brain Bio Centre.  [shows clip]

So, we get some really incredible results, as you can see.

Claire, one of our first fund clients, has suffered from bipolar disorder for over 22 years. She has periods of okay functioning followed by mania, where she has to be hospitalised, and then experiences severe depression. She says, “Both the mania and depression are quite extreme, particularly the mania for which I almost always get hospitalised, not because I’m a danger to other people, but because I’m a danger to myself.” She says, “I want to stop this cycle, and I’m doing everything I can.”

We’re only in the early days of this program — she has only been in the fund for under a month but is already reporting much better sleep — which as we all know can hugely affect energy levels and overall well-being.

With your generous donation tonight, we can reach a helping hand out to these people, to help them live the lives they’ve always dreamed of — and deserve.”

These are two of my “mama bears” at work who look after me, I love them to bits. The office is quite international; Olga (left) is Peruvian, and Alejandra is Argentinian. We also have team members from India and Italy, and of course the UK 🙂

All in all, I gave a speech about the importance of getting people in need quality mental health care at the fundraising dinner for the organisation that carried me through the hardest mental health time of my life thus far. I was completely candid and open about my struggles with anxiety and panic disorder since I was little. I feel like I grew up tonight. That future self I had always dreamed of; I became her; I met her. I didn’t give a fuck if some old man in the room wasn’t comfortable with what I had to say; this shit needs to be said, so I said it. If people viewed me differently after learning I have a mental health issue, then great. It was emotional.

There’s also a video that was made that interviews me and other team members about the Step Forward Fund; I’ll post that here when I get the final version ❤

Love to all,

Sarah Diamond ❤️

Is Your Anxiety Hurting You or Protecting You?

A dear friend and I were talking and we, obviously, got on the topic of anxiety (I have very special friends :)). We were debating whether, when you get that pang of anxiety about doing something/going somewhere etc., whether it is a sign that you should or should not do that thing.

We decided it’s almost impossible to know, and obviously each circumstance is entirely different and needs to be assessed accordingly. But I was a little more defensive in my answer, based on my experience with this.

You see, my intuition and my anxiety are close. They do things together, and they’ve had 23 years to acquaint themselves with each other. I believe that, now, they work in tandem. They’re on the same team. They help each other send me messages I need to hear.

I think it’s up to you whether your anxiety hurts you or protects you. It’s up to you whether you are going to be a risk-taker or if you’d rather play it safe in any given situation. When we read that sentence, we instinctually think we should be in the former category, but the answer here isn’t that simple: my biggest regrets in life are when I went against what I knew I shouldn’t do and did it anyway, for the sake of a thrill or experience. Those aren’t times I look back on and say, yolo! Those are times I look back on with body-chilling anger, in disbelief that I knew I shouldn’t have done that, and shame that I went against full-body anxiety and a strong intuitive feeling to make someone else happy or, God forbid, “fit in.” I have about five of these. Pretty good. But I’d like to keep it at that — just five.

The best things I’ve done in life were relatively obvious decisions, both at the time and looking back. They were crazy, yes, but they weren’t scary, not exactly. They were exciting. There’s a difference. I don’t subscribe to the idea that everything worthwhile is outside your comfort zone. Maybe I have a big comfort zone — I do love sort of winging it in random countries and hoping I’ll be okay, and I absolutely love public speaking. Not everyone would love those things, I know.

Here’s a little antidote to help make this point, courtesy of Sarah Wilson’s incredible book about anxiety that has become my personal manifesto, First, We Make the Beast Beautiful. She writes:

“About twenty years ago there was a documentary made about the work of Dian Fossey, who followed a tribe of chimps for several years. It gets cited in various guises around the interweb by people interested in the role of mental illness in society. The gist is that in all chimp troops, there always exists a small number that are anxious/depressed and that tend to retreat to the outskirts of the troop, often socially disengaged. Fossey decided to remove these agitated chimps to see what would happen. Six months later the entire community was dead. It was suggested that the anxious chimps were pivotal for survival. Outsiders, they were the ones who were sleeping in the trees on the edge, on the border, on the boundary of the community. Hypersensitive and vigilant, the smallest noise freaked them out and disturbed them so they were awake much of the night anyway. We label such symptoms as anxiety, but back when we were in trees, they were the early warning system for the troop. They were the first to scream, ‘Look out! Look out!'”

Interesting stuff. One of my thoughts when reading this is, why is this my job?! What the heck were the other, non-anxious chimps doing?? Well, it relates to climate change, it relates to disease, it relates to everything ominous in the world, and there’s a lot right now. We know the answer: it’s what everyone is doing in these times of crisis we’re in now — they’re pretending it’s not happening. It’s not necessarily that they don’t care, it’s that they don’t want to have to care. We, on the other hand, don’t have a choice.

My anxiety makes me incapable of “pretending something isn’t happening.” That sucks sometimes, but you know what? It beats living in a world that’s literally just make-believe. We are kidding ourselves if we think we can continue on like this — both in the larger world and in our hearts and minds. Sarah goes on to say:

“As Nietzsche said, ‘He who has a why can endure any how.’ Our ‘why’ today might just be the very important task of crying out, ‘Look out, look out…we’re doing life wrong!’ We, the highly strung, are the advance party who flag to the troops that consumerism is hurting our hearts, that the toxins we’re being fed via Big Pharma and Big Food are making us sick and that… hang on guys! There’s no triumphant finish line in this mad, frantic race. So perhaps we could, um, back off. It’s we, the highly strung, who became meditation instructors, activists, and ranters.”

I love my anxiety. I truly can say that now. I’ve learned, with many years of trial and error and tailoring and really trying to understand its, erm, unique language, how to deal with it, how to embrace it, how to see it. It has kept me from doing things that probably would have annihilated the spark within me; it’s kept me from relationships that would have destroyed me, it’s kept me from talking to bad people, and it’s kept me from getting myself in bad situations in every area of life. It has my back. But it wants me to trust it. It wants my confidence, my knowing. I’ve learned that only when I get mad or frustrated or impatient with it, wanting it to go away, that it really revs up into something unmanageable and scary. If I put more faith in it, I can use it to guide me; I can use it as the secret manual to how to do life well that only a few get access to. I know that sounds sort of religious. Maybe it is.

”If I put more faith in it, I can use it to guide me; I can use it as the secret manual to how to do life well that only a few get access to. I know that sounds sort of religious. Maybe it is.”

Sometimes my anxiety knows better than I do.

On the flip side, my anxiety has pushed me to do things that were perhaps a little out there and ridiculous, but also so, so obvious and important, and fundamental to me becoming who I am. I was so worried about the food systems we exist in, and how it all worked, that I traveled all over the world in college to figure it out and actually get it, so I would have a better chance of doing something about it. Anxiety is also the voice that says, “How could you not do this? You can’t just sit around. You’re only here for a little while. There are things you need to do. Go do them. There are problems. Go fix them.”

When I was leaving for London three months ago, I was on the verge of a panic attack as I was leaving. I asked my Mom why my heart was beating so fast and I felt like I could punch something or run from a tiger or fling myself into outer space (lol!) I asked her why my body and mind must torture me like this, why can’t they just calm the heck down and let me manage this.

She said, because your body is trying to help you do something big. It’s getting you ready to go out and fight. Why would you be able to do that without this added energy? And you wouldn’t have made plans to leave without it pushing you.

Damn.

So, there’s the kind of anxiety that comes to help you do something, and then there’s the kind that comes to prevent you from doing something.

So, how do you know which one it is? Which anxiety is there to give you power to do something and which is there to give you power to walk away? That’s the intuitive part, that’s the part that takes long years to decipher. It’s really about asking this simple question:

2 types of risk:

Risk towards your success.

Risk towards your demise.

Which is this?

And you’ll, hopefully, have your answer. If you can’t decide, I hate to say it, but it’s probably the latter. If something could be towards your demise, you should probably quietly and quickly get the hell out of there. 

As my other favourite writer, in addition to my beloved Sarah Wilson, Gavin de Becker, wrote in his book The Gift of Fear: 

“You have the gift of a brilliant internal guardian that stands ready to warn you of hazards and guide you through risky situations.”

It’s called your intuition, which often manifests itself and tries to communicate through anxiety and panic. Your job is just to stop ignoring it.

So next time you are frustrated with your anxiety, I implore you to really think about what’s going on, and then decide what you’re going to do about it. It’s not always a bad thing. It’s there for you. Learning not to be scared by that nauseous feeling, those sweaty palms, that rapidly beating heart, that tingly feeling in your arms, and that stomach ache is step 1.

Step 1 is always the hardest.

Love to all,

Sarah ❤

Trauma/C/PTSD Playlist

 

Tomorrow, it will be a year since my no-good, very bad breakdown last year. I’m scared about this week. My life changed forever last year on May 28th. I’m doing a lot of self-care stuff leading up to this day, and will be probably forever and ever. So I finally put all the songs that have helped me out this last year in one playlist, to share with you, if you are in need of some extra fight. From Sia (so much Sia!!!) to Carly Simon, from new favourites to those loveable ballads that you just really need sometimes, these songs will help you out when you’re in a flashback, panic attack, anxiety episode, or a feeling of sadness about what’s happened to you.

Love to all, please take care of yourselves!!!!!!! ❤

Enjoy and please let me know if you have other recommendations in the comments!!!

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/0ygVyb79xFXYikbh4idpOl?si=hwoyXp8kTr-kEGOA2D_-eA

  • I Believe You — Fletcher

“It’s the sick to your stomach feeling with a

smile on your face; it’s the memory you

ignore but you can’t erase; are you holding

back something that you’re dying to say;

Me too; girl, I believe you; are you losing

your mind thinking what will it take to make

someone listen to you; me too; did you know

every battle that you’ve ever faced is making

you bulletproof; it’s a piece of yourself that

you let go; you want to scream but just can’t

find the air.”

    • Footprints — Sia

“I saw only two footprints in the sand, thought

you’d abandoned me and let go of my hand;

but you were carrying me,

carrying me to safety.”

    • Praying — Kesha

“You brought the flames and you put me

through hell; We both know the truth I could

tell. I hope you find your peace, falling on

your knees; I hope you’re somewhere praying.”

    • You Don’t Own Me — Hanne Leland

“Blazing through the night, ain’t looking back;

leaving you behind; took all I had, I’m fighting;

I thought you should know: you can take my pride,

leave me with the shame; you can talk about me,

call me names; you’ll never, ever own me,

you’ll never, ever own me; now watch me as I rise,

from ashes of what has been.”

    • Battle Cry — Angel Haze, Sia

“You’re the only person alive that hold the key to

your healing so you take it, and you run with it,

and keep going, even when your sun’s hidden,

because the time we spend in darkness when

the rain comes is where we often find the light

soon as the pain’s done; man they can’t do

anything that you’re about to.”

    • Strongest (Alan Walker Remix) — Ina Wroldsen

“I will be the strongest that he ever knew, I will be

there when he needs a love strong enough, I will

carry this ship for us, no matter how bad the storm,

I will be the strongest that he ever knew, and we’ll

leave you alone.”

    • The Ocean Chose You — Moana Soundtrack

This one is instrumental but you’ll see why it’s on here

when you listen to it 🙂

    • Blackbird — The Beatles

“Blackbird singing in the dead of night, take these

broken wings and learn to fly, all your life you were only

waiting for this moment to arise.”

    • You’re Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile (2014 Film Version) — Sia

“But if you stand for nothing you’ll fall for it all…And if you

stand for something’ you can have it all, cause if it’s real

your love will never die.”

(Ps I see this song as me claiming back my smile — the one

I have for ME and the people I love — from all the disgusting

men who have ever told me to smile.) 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Byegone — Volcano Choir

“The door is wide open; somewhere I heard you

scream; set sail.”

    • Golden Slumbers — Dua Lipa

“Once there was a way to get back homeward;

sleep pretty darlin’, do not cry, and I will sing a lullabye.”

    • Barbies — P!NK

“I wish I could go back to playing barbies in my

room, they never say that you gotta grow up quite

this soon; how fast things change, and now I’m

here and all I wanna do is go back to playing barbies

in my room.”

    • Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself — Jess Glynne

“I WAS RIGHT AND YOU WERE WRONG BEEN TELLING

MYELF ALL ALONG.” (I like to belt this part hehe) 🙂 🙂

    • Girl On Fire — Alicia Keys

“This girl is on fire; she’s walking on fire; filled with

catastrophe, but she knows she can fly away; she’s got

her head in the clouds, and she’s not backing down.”

    • Quiet — MILCK

“Put on your face, know your place, shut up and

smile; don’t spread your wings; I can’t keep quiet,

a one-woman riot; no I can’t keep quiet, for anyone.”

    • What About Us — P!NK

“What about all the broken happy ever afters?

We are children who need to be loved. What about us?”

    • I Hope You Dance — Lee Ann Womack

“I hope you still feel small when you stand beside

the ocean; whenever one door closes I hope one

more opens; promise me that you’ll give faith a

fighting chance; and when you get the choice

to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance.”

    • Piece by Piece – Kelly Clarkson

“Piece by piece he restored my faith that a man

can be kind.”

    • Over the Rainbow — Israel IZ Kamakawiwo’ole

“Someday I’ll wish upon a star, wake up where

the clouds are far behind me, where trouble melts like

lemon drops, high above the chimney tops, that’s

where you’ll find me. Somewhere over the rainbow,

bluebirds fly…And the dreams that you dream of,

dreams really do come true.”

    • Try — Colbie Callait

“Put your makeup on, run the extra mile, keep it

slim so they like you; get your sexy on,

don’t be shy girl, take it off, this is what you want,

to belong, so they like you; You don’t have to try so hard,

you don’t have to give it all away; do you like you?”

    • Rise — Eddie Vedder

“Gonna rise up, burning black holes in dark

memories, turning mistakes into gold.”

    • Kingdom — Michael Ketterer

“Let them be forgiven, let them be fathered;

welcome to the kingdom, my sons and daughters.”

    • Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel) — Billy Joel

“And you should always know, no matter where

you go, no matter where you are, I never

will be far away.”

    • Satellite Call — Sara Bareilles

“This is for the ones who believe they are the

cause of chaos.”

    • On My Way — Reo Cragun

“Don’t you look back, no don’t you slow down,

don’t you look down, we’re at new heights now.”

    • Warrior — Demi Lovato

“Now I’m a warrior, now I’ve got thicker skin;

my armour is made of steel, you can’t get in;

now I’m a warrior, and you can never hurt me again.”

    • Chasing the Sun — Sara Bareilles

“All we can do is try, and live like we’re still

alive; the gift of my heartbeat sounds like a symphony.”

    • Coming Around Again / Itsy Bitsy Spider — Carly Simon

“The Itsy Bitsy spider climbed up the water spout,

down come the rain, and washed the spider out;

out come the sun, and dried up all the rain, and

the Itsy Bitsy spider climbed up the spout again.”

    • Birdie — Avril Lavigne

“He clipped her wings when she was born to fly;

how can I escape this place, and go

higher; you can’t hold me down; so birdie, fly away.”

    • Fast Car — Jonas Blue, Dakota (originally Tracy Chapman)

“We’ve got to make a decision, leave tonight

or live and die this way.”

    • It’s Quiet Uptown — Kelly Clarkson (The Hamilton Mixtapes)

“The moments when you’re in so deep, it

feels easier to just swim down, and so they

move uptown, and learn to live with the unimaginable.”

    • The Light Is Coming — Ariana Grande

“The light is coming to take back everything

the darkness stole.”

    • Shine — Raiche

“I’ve been growing wings, now I’m ready

to fly. I could take over the world, believe it,

no giving up, I’m in control, I’m gonna

shine right now.”

    • How Far I’ll Go — Auli’i Cravalho

“See the light where the sky meets the

sea, it calls me; if the wind in my sail in the sea

stays behind me; if I go there’s just no

telling how far I’ll go.”

    • Found/Tonight — Ben Platt and Lin-Manuel Miranda

“Have you ever felt like nobody was there;

have you ever felt forgotten in the middle

of nowhere; have you ever felt like you

could disappear, and no one would hear;

well, let that lonely feeling wash away,

cause maybe there’s a reason to

believe you’ll be okay.”

    • Rise Up — Andra Day

“You’re broken down and tired of living

life on a merry go round; I’ll rise up, I’ll rise

like the day, I’ll do it a thousand times again.”

  • Brother — Kodaline

“I’ve got you brother.”

  • The Middle — Jimmy Eat World

“You know they’re all the same, you know

you’re doing better on your own, so don’t buy in.”

    • Keep Holding On — Avril Lavigne

“You’re not alone, together we stand;

keep holding on, cause you know we’ll make it

through; just stay strong, cause you

know I’m here for you.”

    • Wings — Little Mix

“Mama told me not to waste my life,

she said spread your wings my little butterfly;

don’t let what they say keep you up

at night, they can’t detain you, these

wings are meant to fly.”

    • Road Less Traveled — Lauren Alaina

“You won’t make yourself a name if you

follow the rules; if you trust your rebel heart

right into battle, don’t be afraid,

take the road less traveled.”

    • Church Bells — Carrie Underwood

“Jenny slipped something in his

Tennessee whiskey, no law man was

ever gonna find,

and how he died is still a mystery,

but he hit a woman for the very last time.”

  • Phoenix — Olivia Holt“It’s your time now,

let them see you rise; go and claim your kingdom,

slay all your demons, I know you know where

you belong; don’t look now, but you’re off the ground.”

    • Happily Ever After — Jordan Fisher, Angie Keilhauer

“Setting out for a new tomorrow, every

step we take brings a new hope, a new day.”

    • Lift Me Up— Kate Voegele

“So can you lift me up and turn the ashes

into flames, cause I have overcome

more than words will ever say, and I’ve

been given hope that there’s a light

on up the hall, and that

a day will come when the fight is won, and I think that day has just begun.”

    • Future Looks Good — One Republic

“You are the future, and the future looks good.”

    • You’ll Be Okay — A Great Big World

“You’ll be okay, the sun will rise to better days, and change will come,

it’s on its way, just close your eyes, and let it rain.”

    • A Million Dreams — P!NK

“We can live in a world that we design;

cause every night I lie in bed, the brightest

colours fill my head, I think of what the world

could be, a million dreams is all it’s gonna take,

a million dreams of the world we’re gonna make.”

    • High Hopes — Panic! At the Disco

“Didn’t know how but I always had a feeling,

I was gonna be that one in a million.”

    • Circle of Life — The Lion King Soundtrack

    • Thunderclouds — LSD

“Turn your fears into trust; there in the ashes

your soul cries out, but don’t be afraid

of these thunderclouds.”

    • Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken — P!NK

“There’s not enough rope to tie me down,

there’s not enough tape to shut this mouth.”

    • Death Of A Hero — Alec Benjamin

“That night I put my youth in a casket, and buried

it inside of me, that night I saw

through all the magic, now I’m a witness to the

death of a hero.”

    • Never Give Up — Sia

“I won’t ever give up, I won’t let you get me down

, I”ll keep getting up when

I hit the ground, I’ll find my way.”

    • Innocence — Avril Lavigne

“This innocence is brilliant, I hope that it will

stay, this moment is perfect, please

don’t go away, I need you now, and I’ll hold

on to it, don’t you let it pass you by.”

    • Requiem — Jump Little Children

“It’s up to you, for every passing day, to not

let the past pass away, and it’s

up to you, now that you understand, to

take those who don’t by the hand.”

    • I Lived — One Republic

“I hope if everybody runs, you choose to stay.

And I hope that you don’t suffer,

but take the pain, hope when the moment comes

, you’ll say: ‘I did it all, I owned every

second that this world could give, I saw so

many places, and things that I did;

with every broken bone, I swear I lived.

    • Nightingale — Demi Lovato

“I need a voice to echo, I need a star to follow,

could really use your melody, can you be my nightingale.”

A Breakdown As A Sign of Safety

May 2018 is when shit really hit the fan for me. Everything I hadn’t fully dealt with from my past came rearing ungracefully and unsympathetically into my life, and the daily, sometimes hourly panic attacks began. It was a hard as hell year but in looking back on that breakdown period, I realise that it couldn’t have happened before because my body and mind didn’t truly feel safe before then. I’m eternally grateful and in awe of that, and so thankful for everyone who held me while I collapsed for a bit. That time of healing is unfolding to be the sturdy foundation I needed to reach for the highest heights from. So if you’re breaking down, or if you’ve broken down before, remember that it’s a sign that your system feels safe doing so, and be proud and grateful for that. Many, many people in the world may never feel safe enough to breakdown. It’s important to do all we can so that they get the chance to fall apart, heal, and rebuild, too. It’s big stuff, folks. In the words of @beehonestart: You’ve survived the trauma. You’ll survive the rise from the ashes too.”

Onwards and upwards my friends. ❤

Body Image & Nutrition

Hello from London! This is my first published work from my new position at Food For The Brain, where I work in Communications and in making our nutritional psychology clinic accessible to people who otherwise would not be able to afford it. More on that later!
I was lucky enough to get to write about something extremely near and dear to my heart — body image. I have struggled with body image for nearly as long as I can remember, with probably my earliest memory being at about age seven when I told my dad I didn’t want any rice with dinner because I was worried about my weight. I mean, JEEZ, my heart is BROKEN for that little girl. This worry went on to manifest as extremely restricted dieting in high school that bordered on starving myself; and later transformed into bulimia in college. I hated both of these; I’m a feminist and activist and food waste champion! Not cool! But it’s a true mental illness, and very difficult to overcome. Through my work with a holistic nutritionist a few months after graduating college, I was able to get myself back. It’s a struggle still sometimes, of course — I’m only human, and we all have insecurities.
I now work at this incredible nutritional psychology clinic where we help people overcome all sorts of mental health disorders every single day. I’m beyond proud to be here. This article was written for the Mental Health Foundation’s Mental Health Awareness Week, the theme of which is body image this year. So I put together a little guide on how optimal nutrition can help people of all ages overcome the mental cycles that contribute to negative body image. Hope you enjoy!
Thanks for reading, and please let me know your thoughts in the comments!
Featured image pc to http://www.hercampus.com 🙂

Body Image, Food Choices and Nutritional Status; The Vicious Cycle

This year’s theme for the Mental Health Foundation’s Mental Health Awareness Week is Body Image, or how one thinks and feels about his or her body. Healthy body image begins with a healthy mind, and one of the key pillars of a healthy mind is through optimal nutrition for the brain. A lack of proper nutrition can propel the brain into poor function, which can then trigger negative eating habits related to an unhealthy relationship with your body.

People all around the world struggle with body image. The pressure from social media, celebrities, advertisements, magazines, and more can be intense and overwhelming. What these forms of propaganda fail to do is state the importance of true, sustainable health; they are often much more interested in selling a quick fix – the next low-fat, low-calorie gimmick to help women lose ten pounds quick or help men bulk up their muscles. No wonder that with all this information coming at us from all angles there is so much confusion around nutrition, health, and how we think and feel about our bodies. But why does this matter? What’s the big deal?

Well, most girls start experiencing body image shame at age six — a time of innocence, when their biggest concerns should be learning to read, write, make friends, and figure out the world; not thinking about what their bodies look like. During teenage years, one half of girls (one in every two) and one quarter of boys (one in every four) have tried dieting to change the shape of their body, including skipping meals and restricting foods. Body image and mental health is a vicious cycle. Unhealthy body image is a disaster for our mental health, and lack of mental health causes body image woes. The want to be slimmer, leaner, and smaller can cause eating disorders, addictions, and restrictive eating. People with these issues often are not getting enough of the essential nutrients they need to have healthy minds in the first place, which further fuels their inability to see their body as anything but a problem.

Having Optimal Nutrition Status Can Lead to Better Food Choices

 Without proper nutrition as a result of restricting one’s diet to achieve a better body image, the problem is actually being further fueled. Optimal nutrition allows for a healthy self-esteem and self-image, improved decision-making process, better cognition, and ability to rationally deal with all of life’s stresses. Without optimal levels of vitamin B12, essential amino acids, Omega 3, and magnesium, many functions of the brain and the body would be negatively impacted, making way for all sorts of mental health issues, including a poor body image.

The Role of B12 in Brain Health

Vitamin B12 is crucial for having a healthy brain. This is because without enough B12, the body cannot make enough red blood cells to properly carry oxygen throughout the body, which is vital for creating energy. Despite the fact that the brain weighs a mere 1.5kg, which is around 2% of the body’s entire weight, it is the most energy-hungry organ in the body, so it is crucial that there is enough oxygen supply in the body through healthy red blood cells.

B12 also plays an important role in protecting the nerves of the body, it does this by helping to form the myelin sheath – the outer protective layer of nerves. A lack of B12 can lead to damage to the myelin sheath, which consequently affects brain function. Symptoms of B12 deficiency include agitation, irritability, negativism, confusion, disorientation, impaired concentration and attention, as well as depression, panic disorder, psychosis, and phobias. Almost every single one of these symptoms can also be characteristics of someone with disordered eating and/or a poor body image.

Foods with high levels of B12 include organic free-range animal products, such as wild meats, sardines, trout, wild tuna, as well as organic dairy and eggs, but vegetarians and vegans, will need to supplement as adequate levels of B12 cannot be found in non-animal sources.

How Amino Acids can Stabilise Mood

Amino acids are the building block of protein, and they are intricately involved in the production of neurotransmitters that allow brain cells to properly communicate with one another. For example, the body makes dopamine, the pleasure neurotransmitter that triggers a sense of reward and satisfaction, from the amino acid tyrosine; and it makes serotonin, the calming neurotransmitter that is in charge of generating feelings of happiness and contentment, from the amino acid tryptophan. Protein is especially important for maintaining a healthy body image because having optimal amounts of it helps to stabilise blood sugar. This not only helps to curb cravings for foods that are unhealthy, such as refined sugars and processed foods, but it also offers the body a steady stream of energy throughout the day.

Omega 3; the Building Blocks of the Brain

Omega 3 fatty acids are crucial for positive mental health. The two main components  are DHA and EPA, or eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, respectively. They are an integral part of building the cell membranes of brain cells, and an Omega-3 deficiency can result in cognitive health problems such as poor memory and slow learning. About sixty percent of your brain is made of fats; so without enough healthy fats, the brain literally starts to malfunction. Although things are slowly changing, there is still a fear of fat; there is a widely-accepted notion that eating fat makes you fat, which couldn’t be farther from the truth; to the contrary, healthy fats actually help you stay fuller longer, helping to prevent over-indulging, which can often lead to a poor body image. We need essential fatty acids to survive. By cutting out healthy, high-fat foods such as good oils (olive, coconut,) nuts (especially flax seeds, walnuts, and chia seeds,) and oily fish (mackerel, salmon, sardines, sea bass, trout,) you are depriving the brain of its building blocks.

Further Support…

Imagine a world where the right foods that are good for your brain are not only widely known and accepted but are easily accessible and are consumed widely. Where advertisements show real, unretouched people who love their imperfect bodies and inspire the masses to do the same. Where body shaming, and the idea that thin automatically equals healthy are things of the past. Where the notion that a body can be healthy at any size, as long as that body is nourished and well taken care of, is celebrated.

Are you concerned about your body image and mental health? Many people are, and it’s important to reach out for help. If you’d like some support in this area, charities such as BEAT, MIND and the Mental Health Foundation, offer support and advice on how to address lack of self-esteem and poor body image. Alternatively, if you’re interested in speaking to a member of our team about how we can help you in improving your mental health through nutritional therapy, please call or email us using the information below.

Tried and True Natural Anxiety Remedies

“Here’s the deal: there are a number of processes in the body that, when compromised, broken, or otherwise dysfunctional can manifest as fatigue, worry, insomnia, low mood, poor concentration and attention, agitation, a trip to your psychiatrist, and a stop off at the pharmacy.” – Dr. Kelly Brogan, holistic psychiatrist

As emphasized by one of my favorite holistic psychiatrists above, there are certain chemicals our bodies need to function properly, nonetheless optimally. This BY NO MEANS is a post telling you to quit your antidepressant or get off anxiety meds. But getting certain chemical reactions in order might help, whether you’re currently taking pharmaceuticals or not. So here is a list of my tried and true natural anxiety remedies! None of these are prescription drugs, and have few to zero side effects, if taken correctly. Please let me know if you use any additional herbs/foods/vitamins/minerals, I’d love to hear! And WARNING! Some of these don’t do well coupled with a medication, so be sure to talk to your doctor if you’re combining prescription and non-prescription remedies.

gemma-correll-anxiety-comics-20

Magnesium Glycinate – Magnesium comes in many forms (citrate, taurate, glycinate, to name a few), but glycinate is the most easily used by the body. Magnesium used to be an abundant mineral found in many whole foods, but modern food processing practices have all but stripped it entirely from most diets, causing the majority of people to be magnesium deficient (womp). Magnesium plays a role in over 300 chemical reactions in the body, so you need this stuff to be, you know, like a functioning human being. Here’s the thing about magnesium — it doesn’t help anxiety, per se; the reason you have anxiety in the first place is because you are missing magnesium. So it doesn’t just help you not be anxious; being deficient in magnesium is causing you to be anxious in the first place. If you have ANY level of anxiety, you should be on at least 600mg (minimum! You CAN double this if you get panic attacks!) of magnesium per day. This is your baseline. Take it every morning with food, no questions asked. Just do it. Your brain and body will be like, holy shit, finally. Thank you. 

GABA – Gamma-aminobutyric acid is a neurotransmitter that helps send messages between the brain and nervous system (yep, pretty damn important). It plays an important role in behavior, cognition, and the body’s response to stress. Lower than normal levels of GABA in the brain have been linked to schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders. I’m telling you, get your hands on some a dis.

L-Tryptophan – this is an amino acid that has been linked to calming the mind. It’s a precursor to the brain chemical serotonin (all hail serotonin! cue singing angels), which helps regulate mood and makes you feel safe. Anything that can get serotonin where it needs to go to do its thing is really, really needed, y’all.

Folate – also known as vitamin B9 (honestly your best bet is just taking a methylated B-complex multivitamin, but I mention the two Bs most targeted for anxiety here), folate helps synthesize and repair DNA, keeping your genes expressing themselves optimally (I’ll write more on this concept later).

HerbPharm Anxiety Soother – this little guy tastes horrible (like, truly horrible – kinda like dish soap :/) but is SO EFFECTIVE. Just add a full squirt to a little bit of water (a citrus drink also works well) and take it like a shot. Miracles. I use this one the most if I’m feeling a panic attack coming on; it manages to calm me down enough for me to think rationally again (#bless). 

Ashwagandha – this is an ayurvedic herb used for thousands of years across Asia to soothe the agitated mind that has recently been making waves in the West. It provides neuroprotection, has anti-cancer effects (bam!) and staves off anxiety. Ashwaganda is an adaptogen, meaning it helps us adapt to our environments, including stressful ones. Yes, please. Take this bad boy up to three times a day — I promise you’ll notice a difference.

Inositol – also known as vitamin B8 (those B vitamins though!), Inositol is something I only very recently heard about through Dr. Leslie Korn, a mental health nutritionist. I’m telling you now — this stuff is going to BLOW UP. It’s a remedy for rumination in the brain, and has been linked to mollify OCD and severe anxiety. It also has links to treating PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), an extremely painful condition in the ovaries. Inositol can be found in plants and animals, but can also be made in a lab (the human kidneys each produce about 2g a day, so 4g total). It is extremely helpful in treating bipolar disorder, panic disorder, depression, binge eating and other eating disorders, schizophrenia, and, as mentioned above, OCD, by helping to balance certain chemicals in the body and brain. This stuff has the power of prescription drugs, with literally no side effects (unless you were to take more than 16,000mg a day. Even then, you’d probably just get a little dizzy). It’s amazing.

Lavender etheric oil – nervousness, stress, heart palpitations, insomnia, and headaches can all be treated with lavender. A few little drops on your pillow at night often does the trick. Lavender tea is also really wonderful.

Passionflower extract – this herbal remedy is an old Polynesian antidote for high levels of anxiety, and is even known as an aphrodisiac in ancient Polynesian cultures (ooh la la!) It can be mildly sedative, so I suggest taking this one at night.

Chamomile – a more well-known herb that is proven to reduce stress and anxiety, and is most commonly used as tea. What many don’t know, though, is that this unassuming herb is actually a powerhouse at knocking out anxiety when used in larger doses, as it contains high levels of Glycine, a nerve relaxant.

Omega-3 Fish Oil – for the non-vegans. Essential (meaning our body does not make them, they have to be obtained from external sources) fatty-acids are huge for optimal brain health. These can be a little pricy, but are so worth it. Make SURE you get ones that are refrigerated (not from the shelf of a CVS or RiteAid or the like) – those are knock-off and can actually be really bad for you because the oil could be rancid. Low levels of omega-3 fatty acids are linked to a variety of mental health conditions, most notably ADHD, depression, and anxiety.

There you have it! My tried and true natural anxiety remedies. They are the greatest, I swear by them. Let me know what you think in the comments, and have an amazing week!