Sunday, December 20, 2020

I’m practicing a load of joyful self-care for Christmas this week and thought I’d share.

 Well, this isn’t how I hoped Christmas would be. The news from all over is sucky. Hopefully the vaccines will soon put an end to this pandemic. I’m practicing a load of joyful self-care this week and thought I’d share.

Filing and painting my nails while watching reruns of Charmed. OMG, some of those plotlines are just FULL of holes!  And still love it.

Treat. I have bought every Christmas treat under the sun and am making my way through them, one at a time. It’s totally awesome. Evil, wicked, decadent – by January, I’ll have just ten teeth left 😊

Voice calling friends. Video is exhausting but voice means we can catch up and have a giggle.

I’ve ditched group chat and calls. I’m doing one on one because group chatter is just too difficult. It’s okay for business meetings but it sucks for personal.

Old fave film marathons, with snacks. Last week we watched the 2s: Predator 2, Terminator 2 and Aliens. This week we’re doing LA films: Repo Man, Point Break and Escape from LA

Playing with Tic Tac, petting Target and helping Swooner by repairing his favourite ‘bockses’. Cats rule.

Face scrub, clay mask and that goopy stuff in my hair. It involves jumping in and out of the shower for an hour, but I’m coming out sparkly new. And Target likes playing with the soapy stuff draining away.

Turning out a cupboard for recycle, chuck out and gift. Some outdated textbooks got the heave-ho and the kids down the street loved the animal encyclopedia.

Experimental black and white film marathons. Yesterday we watched three halves of terrible films! Totally, truly sucky. And we had a blast, laughing at how dreadful they were. We’ve also come across some totally fantastic films, like Lady in the Lake (1947)

Cooking up unusual dishes, like turning some solid pears in sauce, stuffing pastry with chicken and mushroom herby stuff, and working with fresh cilantro.

Ran in and out of Mr DIY and bought a load of photo frames. Am now going through the bag of old pics. Fun!

And finally, editing and uploading my books, fiddling about with blurbs. This may seem like work from the outside, but my fiction writing is exercising the inner me. I am hugging my inner Sith Lord with a new story too.

Wherever you are, I hope you are safe and well. Wishing you a Merry Christmas!

Image by Angeles Balaguer from Pixabay

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Grab this for free! -> Reaching Out: Your Easy Guide to Finding Affordable Quality Online Therapy by Ellen Whyte and Alvin Ng Lai Oon

Download for free from Kobo, Google Play, Apple, Amazon and more shops 

Reaching out for online mental health support but not sure where to start? Reaching Out is the guide for you!

Packed with useful information, and written in everyday English, Reaching Out will help you make informed decisions.

This short, easy text answers common questions such as:
•When is working online totally terrific and when should I avoid it?
•Should I look for a psychiatrist, psychologist, or some other mental health practitioner? What do all the titles mean anyway?
•How can I tell who’s professional and who is out to scam me?
•How secret are sessions?
•Do I need fancy software or can I just Zoom?
•How do I pick the right person to work with?
•Do culture and shared experience matter?
•What do I need to do to get the most out of therapy?

This practical guide is written by an academic and a practitioner, so you benefit from a wide perspective.

Dr Alvin Ng is a professor of psychology, the Founding President of the Malaysian Society of Clinical Psychology, and the author of journal articles and scientific publications.

Ellen Whyte is a Scottish-Dutch counselling psychologist in Malaysia. She has an international practice with clients based in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and North America.

As Alvin and Ellen take you through the basics, they also offer individual comments and insights. Sometimes they disagree!

Finally, while Alvin and Ellen are based in Malaysia, they write for an international audience. So, take advantage of global online therapy services, and read Reaching Out.

Download for free from Kobo, Google Play, Apple, Amazon and more shops 

Sunday, October 25, 2020

It’s Not An Intervention; It’s Gaslighting And Bullying

In the last few years I’ve heard the same story over and over. A person at work, uni or school is confronted by their friends who say they are ‘staging an intervention’ and then proceed to tell them where their character, behaviour, morals and general person needs ‘correcting’.

If that’s happened to you, let me suggest something. If you’re working in a small room, and someone comes in with an onion sandwich lunch that has your eyes watering, what do you do?

I bet you think first if it’s just you. And then, when you see your colleagues sniffing along with you, there’s a brief discussion where one of you is volunteered to go have a word.

When you do have a word, you very quietly take your colleague aside and say something like, “The sandwich is awesome, but uhm, in this lousy small office, it can be a bit over-present if you know what I mean.”

Then the other person says, “Eek, sorry” and deals with it.

Job done and everyone moves along.

So, I suggest that when you have a gang of people surrounding one person and attacking them, it’s plain old bullying. The fact that they use words like ‘intervention’ and go about ‘analysing’ your behaviour and saying they are only being absolute bitches because it’s for your own good is plain old gaslighting.

What’s interesting is that this modern bullying technique has a long history.  In recent history, Marxist-Leninist groups in Communist Russia, China and their allied countries weaponised criticism. They would set up a target and have their friends and colleagues harass them with accusations until they broke down. Victims were also made to self-criticize as part of the humiliation.

This same nasty mentality is what fuels the Flying Monkeys, the people who attack abuse victims by telling them they need to go back to their violent and controlling spouses, parents, bosses and partners.

In sociology, this practice is called mobbing.

My advice: don’t fall for it. If one friend has a quiet word, that’s great and you can take it under advisement. But when a gang goes for you, saying the meanest things they can while virtue signalling like mad, recognise them for what they are, tell them to get lost, and find a group of decent people.

Want to read up? Here are some articles and journal papers:

Top Chinese Officials Forced to Carry Out Self-Criticisms

Moving The Masses: EmotionWork In The Chinese Revolution

Cultural Collectivism and Tightness Moderate Responses to Norm Violators

Personality and Experience of Mobbing: Three Types of Mobbing and the Consequences at the Workplace

 Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Is This Secret? What You Need To Know About Confidentiality and Mental Health

If you're afraid of reaching out because you're concerned about privacy, check out this video. It covers the basic exceptions to privacy as well as the questions you should ask about security before you sign up with your therapist.

If you've questions, ask me!



Wednesday, September 9, 2020

How anxiety hijacks everyday events in order to push your inner fears

Do you find yourself obsessing over small matters and convinced they 'prove' you are useless/evil?  If so, be aware that this is likely to be anxiety at work.




Saturday, August 29, 2020

One-click for free weekly curated news and resources. I've started a newsletter! (discontinued 2021 - sorry, too busy!)


Here's the first edition, with a signup box underneath. It's weekly, I won't share your email address, and you can unsubscribe any time you like. Enjoy!

Hello from Malaysia!

The sun is shining, there's a delicious breeze and Target is snoozing on my desk. As tomorrow is our national day, Merdeka Day, we're spending the afternoon barbecuing and watching The Kennel Murder Case, a 1933 classic with William Powell - as it's a public domain film, you can download it for free here.

Meanwhile, welcome to the newsletter!  I'm super excited because I have been a news addict for years and now I can share the best goodies I find with you.

Interested in how nasty comments on social media affect readers? Check this out:
The Psychology of Shaming During COVID-19
Leaving a nasty post on someone's mask-less Instagram won't make you feel better - or make them change.
By Ashley Mateo
Take me there:

Do you ever look back and think, "Why did I think they were so attractive?" Check out the trickiness that is your brain!
New psychology research shows how your mindset can alter the way you perceive prospective romantic partners
By Gurit Birnbaum
Take me there:

Want to talk to kids about race? This is awesome!
Bill Nye Uses Science to Explain Why Racism Doesn’t Make Sense
Take me there:

An interesting glimpse into how the brain works that may help us all to make effective change:
Yale study shows why 'one day at a time' works for recovering alcoholics
By Yale University
Take me there:

Want a catch-up on what's new in sleep and depression? Check out this terrific journal article summarising current research:
Sleep, insomnia, and depression
By D Riemann, LB Krone, K Wulff, C Nissen
Take me there:

And to finish, one of my own pieces:
Pandemic Rage: Is It Hitting You?
Dealing with the stress of the pandemic and social media overload. A personal perspective
By Ellen Whyte
Take me there:

That's it for today. I'll send an email every week. If you get fed up or overwhelmed, just hit unsubscribe, okay?

Warm wishes,

Ellen's Blog Ellen's Blog
Come Chat! Come Chat!
Ellen's Web Site Ellen's Web Site

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Stressed or depressed but a bit shy to talk to a mental health practitioner? Here's what happens in the first session

Curious what happens in the first session? Read this!
If you live in a place where there aren't many mental health practitioners, or simply haven't been able to afford it, you might wonder what happens when you go for talk therapy. There is no standard approach, but if you work with me, here's what we do.

Before We Start
You contact me  (  to say you want to schedule an appointment. Maybe you tell me all about yourself, perhaps you don't say anything. I write back and we schedule a free 15 minute session.

The free 15 minute session
I work online via WhatsApp, Skype, Facetime, Messenger and Meet. Each has pros and cons, and some work better in some countries than others. So the first thing is to make sure the technology works for us.

Then we have a brief chat about what you want from sessions.

I work with stress, depression and anxiety which covers a lot of situations. However, should you have an issue that is outside of my scope, we talk about where you might find another person to help you. If I can recommend someone, I will. If you want, I will also ask in my groups for you.

If we can work together, I explain how confidentiality works, about the notes I send you, what we do if there is a lightening strike or other interruption, how billing works and more.

After our 15 minutes, if you want to have sessions, we make an appointment.  I then email you the confidentiality agreement.

First Session
The focus on the first session is to get deep background so that we know more about how stress and depression are affecting you, and what exactly you want to manage. Basically, you do a lot of talking!

Structured Conversation #1: Your Overall Health
I am not a doctor. But as some physical issues can have a big effect on your mental health, I will ask you to tell me a little bit about your health status. Like, have you had any accidents recently, have you suffered from a lot of pain, been very ill, are you on medication of any kind, and when you last saw your family doctor.

Depending on your answers, I might suggest you talk to your doctor. In fact, if you are depressed and you can't think of a reason why you might be so, I strongly recommend that you have a checkup, just to make sure there's nothing physically wrong, like a wonky thyroid. The checkup doesn't have to be fancy. Just go and see your family doctor. You can read more on that here.

Structured Conversation #2: The Stress In Your Life Over The Last Year

Life stress can have a big effect on mental health, but sometimes we lose track of how much stress we're under. This conversation is about figuring out what's going on your life.

In this conversation, I ask you questions about your personal life, your relationships, and your work life. You may recognize parts of it because it is inspired by Holmes & Rahe's social readjustment rating scale that was published in 1967. I will also explain what their intention was, and why my conversation with you has no scientific value.

Why do it if it's not 'scientific'? Well, if I ask you what's been going on, you might forget things or draw a complete blank. With this structured conversation, we cover a lot of ground easily and quickly.

Structured Conversation #3: Your Support Network and Primary Relationships
We talk about how you get along with your immediate family, your work colleagues, and your best friends.

I want to know partly because early learning and the way your parents raised you have an impact on the attitudes, beliefs and behaviour on the adult you. The other reason is that positive relationships are important for good mental health. If you feel you need to strengthen ties, we add that to our list of goals.

Structured Conversation #4 Your Sleep
How well you sleep has a direct impact on your mental health. It's very important, so we talk in detail over when you sleep, how well you sleep, whether you're getting enough or too much sleep, and more. If sleep is an issue, we talk about ways to improve your sleep.

Structured Conversation #5 How Exactly Does Your Stress and Depression Affect You?
As everyone is different, we discuss common signs of depression and see whether they apply to you. We talk about your appetite, energy level, concentration and your mood and emotions, including guilt, fear, sadness and anger.

You will recognize some of the questions because ask about the nine criteria described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders used by doctors. Although my Master's training included methods and techniques for helping manage depression, I am not a doctor and I do not diagnose. The purpose of this part of the conversation is purely to see how your stress and depression affect you.

Part #6 Putting It Together
At the end of the session, we put everything together so that we have a good picture of what's going on. Then we discuss how we can get into a happier space. During this part, I will make suggestions about various approaches and techniques that may be useful. It's all about fitting the right methods to your needs.

At this point, we'll both be tired, so we make an appointment for the next session where we kick off with getting in the effective change.

The Day After Our First Session
I send you the notes, highlighting the most important parts with an outline of how we're going to work. Also, an invoice! If you live locally, that's RM100 and if you're living outside of Malaysia, it's US$35 over PayPal.

I hope you found this interesting. If you've questions, do ask. I'm super busy today but will save this post and get back to it when I can.

Want to make an appointment? Just email me. My hours are 8AM to 4PM Malaysian time (GMT+8) on weekdays and I have some early hours on the weekends.