Urgent and Helpline Resources

I don’t endorse the following services but offer them here as potential resources in case you may need urgent assistance. You’ll see below this section resources I offer as recommendations.

Samaritans by phone on 116 123. The call is confidential and they’re available 24/7. OR email them at jo@samaritans.org if writing is easier for you than talking. They aim to respond to emails within 24 hours.

Breathing Space phone them on 0800 838587, open Mon-Thur 6pm-2am, Fri 6pm to 6am Mon.

Childline (for anyone under 19) 0800 1111, 9am-midnight. They are not offering overnight support right now.

Papyrus (if you’re under 35) by phone 0800 068 4141, text 07860 039967, or by email pat@papyrus-uk.org. They’re open Mon-Fri 9am to 10am, weekends from 2pm-10pm, and bank holidays from 2pm-10pm.

Consortium (for lgbt+) helpline is 07527 524034, open 24hrs. You can also use the same number to contct them via WhatsApp.

CALM (for men although their website indicates they support anyone) by phone 0800 585858 every day from 5pm-midnight, webchat every day from 5pm-midnight. They have a comprehensive drop-down menu for finding support regarding specific issues.

You can contact your GP for an emergency appointment.

If you are in danger or need immediate assistance because your life is at risk, call 999 or go directly to A&E.

If you need support and don’t know what to do or where to go, you can call 111 during out of hours and they can help signpost you to appropriate services.

Resources I Recommend

What speaks to each of us is highly personal. I offer the following recommendations in the spirit of sharing with you that which has offered me relief, insight, or a sense of connection. The book synopses are not my own, they’re the publisher’s.

If you struggle with disturbed sleep or bad dreams, I highly recommend Dr Justin Havens’ Dream Completion Technique. His video on this technique is short and easy to understand, highlighting how to use this simple but powerful self-help tool.

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön. Synopsis: How can we live our lives when everything seems to fall apart–when we are continually overcome by fear, anxiety, and pain? The answer, Pema Chödrön suggests, might be just the opposite of what you expect. Here, in her most beloved and acclaimed work, Pema shows that moving toward painful situations and becoming intimate with them can open up our hearts in ways we never before imagined. Drawing from traditional Buddhist wisdom, she offers life-changing tools for transforming suffering and negative patterns into habitual ease and boundless joy.

A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis. Synopsis: A Grief Observed comprises the reflections of the great scholar and Christian on the death of his wife after only a few short years of marriage. Painfully honest in its dissection of his thoughts and feelings, this is a book that details his paralysing grief, bewilderment and sense of loss in simple and moving prose. Invaluable as an insight into the grieving process just as much as it is as an exploration of religious doubt, A Grief Observed will continue to offer its consoling insights to a huge range of readers, as it has for over fifty years.

Love’s Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy by Irvin D. Yalom. Synopsis: Why was Saul tormented by three unopened letters from Stockholm? What made Thelma spend her whole life raking over a long-past love affair? How did Carlos’s macho fantasies help him deal with terminal cancer? In this engrossing book, Irvin Yalom gives detailed and deeply affecting accounts of his work with these and seven other patients. Deep down, all of them were suffering from the basic human anxieties – isolation, fear of death or freedom, a sense of the meaninglessness of life – that none of us can escape completely. And yet, as the case histories make touchingly clear, it is only by facing such anxieties head on that we can hope to come to terms with them and develop.

The Body Keeps the Score: Mind, Brain and Body in the Transformation of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk. Synopsis: The effects of trauma can be devastating for sufferers, their families and future generations. Here one of the world’s experts on traumatic stress offers a bold new paradigm for treatment, moving away from standard talking and drug therapies and towards an alternative approach that heals mind, brain and body.

Night Falls Fast by Kay Redfield Jamison. Synopsis: From the author of the best-selling memoir An Unquiet Mind, comes the first major book in a quarter century on suicide, and its terrible pull on the young in particular. Night Falls Fast is tragically timely: suicide has become one of the most common killers of Americans between the ages of fifteen and forty-five.

To Call Myself Beloved by Eina McHugh. Synopsis: Written in an engrossing novelesque style, the book recounts, with engaging honesty, the arc of one human journey in a Belfast-based therapy from 1988-1997. It shares what it is like to bare soul, both on a couch and in a group, making accessible a world that is usually private. And it gives brave voice to the fragile nature of humanity, standing witness to an ordinary ‘experience of the Troubles,’ to the human impact of terrorism and political war.

Being Mortal: Illness, Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande. Synopsis: For most of human history, death was a common, ever-present possibility. It didn’t matter whether you were five or fifty – every day was a roll of the dice. But now, as medical advances push the boundaries of survival further each year, we have become increasingly detached from the reality of being mortal. So here is a book about the modern experience of mortality – about what it’s like to get old and die, how medicine has changed this and how it hasn’t, where our ideas about death have gone wrong. With his trademark mix of perceptiveness and sensitivity, Atul Gawande outlines a story that crosses the globe, as he examines his experiences as a surgeon and those of his patients and family, and learns to accept the limits of what he can do. Never before has aging been such an important topic. The systems that we have put in place to manage our mortality are manifestly failing; but, as Gawande reveals, it doesn’t have to be this way. The ultimate goal, after all, is not a good death, but a good life – all the way to the very end.

The Mother Knot by Jane Lazarre. Synopsis: In this compelling memoir by a writer, mother, and feminist, Jane Lazarre confronts the myth of the “good mother” with her fiercely honest and intimate portrait of early motherhood as a time of profound ambivalence and upheaval, filled with desperation as well as joy, the struggle to reclaim a sense of self, and sheer physical exhaustion. Originally published in 1976, The Mother Knot is a feminist classic, as relevant today as it was twenty years ago.

This Jungian Life – a podcast. I like this podcast because they cover a range of subjects and provide lovely insights into human experience that involve metaphors, fairytales, and more. They analyse a listener’s dream at the end of each show. I’m not trained as a Jungian but appreciate what they offer and have personally benefitted from listening to them. Here’s the info from their About page: Eavesdrop on three Jungian analysts as they engage in lively, sometimes irreverent conversations about a wide range of topics. Join them for a new episode every Thursday as they discuss cultural currents, family dynamics, personal issues and more, and share what it’s like to see the world through the depth psychological lens provided by Carl Jung. Half of each episode is spent discussing a dream submitted by a listener.

Headspace and Calm are both apps I’ve enjoyed. Headspace is now offering 1-year subscriptions FREE to US and UK residents furloughed or unemployed. I’ve enjoyed Headspace’s guided meditations and particularly liked Calm’s soothing ambient music and sleep stories. If you contact a therapist through Welldoing, you may be able to take advantage of CalmHealth, an initiative in which you get 60 days of Calm through your Welldoing therapist.

A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.

Maya Angelou