THE BRAIN BUDDY HANDBOOK
You CAN help - Get Involved
At some point in their lives, most people will experience a thinking disorder of some degree. Usually there is someone close to them who knows how they normally think and behave. That person is the first to recognise the difference. Unfortunately, because of the stigma of MENTAL ILLNESS, many will just avoid the person and try not to notice their abnormal, and sometimes embarrassing, emotions and changed behaviors.
More than 90% of mental health problems can be overcome with early intervention. The distorted thinking needs to be addressed and corrected before it becomes habitual.
A BRAIN BUDDY is someone who acts like a fire-spotter or mental health lifesaver; a person who is prepared to help the sufferer by discussing the issues with them and getting them the help that they need. When thinking problems arise, the sufferer usually does not have the awareness, motivation or energy to get help for themselves.
It’s NOT Permanent - It WILL Pass
If I HAVE a broken leg, people don’t say, "I AM broken leg", They say, "I HAVE a broken leg". Unfortunately, if people have bipolar, they don’t say "I HAVE bipolar", they say "I AM bipolar". We are not our temporary illness; it is not our identity, it is just something we are going through. It is not our destination or a life-sentence. Beware of being labelled with a diagnosis. Your temporary condition is not YOU, it is just a temporary condition.
There are times in our lives when we are more likely to be mentally stressed. Most of life’s transitions are stressful. Leaving home, puberty, divorce, childbirth, redundancy, travel and bereavement are just a few examples. With the right support and proper brain care, we will pass through these times without needing medication and return to our normal lives without any long term effects. These times help us to recognise our warning signs and to exercise better self care. A Brain Buddy can watch for the early warning signs whenever they see someone going through a time of transition.
It’s Not MENTAL - It’s PHYSICAL
The human brain is a physical organ that operates like a computer. It manages our body and protects us from harm. It is more powerful than 200 million iPads. Our brain knows how to make blood, grow fingernails, fix a broken leg and balance the chemicals that our other organs need to function correctly.
The brain needs correct nutrition, hydration and rest in order to think properly and manage the body and its immune system. Like any computer, if it is not maintained properly, it will malfunction and need some corrective action. Most thinking disorders are actually the brain operating under excessively stressful conditions. Incorrect thinking and perceptions can lead to unusual behaviors. Normal thinking can usually be restored if it is quickly recognised as physical in nature and altered before it becomes established as a chronic thinking pattern.
A Brain Buddy will look past the outward MENTAL symptoms and recognise any PHYSICAL conditions which could be causing the brain to think erratically. Early intervention can be the key to avoiding long term mental health disorders.
Food, Water and Get Some SLEEP
The brain requires correct resources. If we run our motor vehicle on sub-standard fuel it will perform erratically. Poor performance is the vehicle’s early warning indicator. Some of our brain’s early warnings of poor nutrition are dizziness, brain fog, agitation, fatigue, edginess, mood swings, easily over whelmed, feeling flat, irritability, anxiety, exhaustion, sadness, fear, depression, lack of motivation, shakiness and trembling. The warnings of dehydration include lethargy, irritability, headaches, dizziness, insomnia, anxiety, confusion, dry eyes, dry mouth, poor concentration, nausea, sunken eyes, dark urine, hunger, sleepiness and seizures. Some warnings of sleep deprivation are poor decision making, irritability, aggression, anxiety, sadness, depression, attention deficit, poor thinking, lack of concentration, suicidal thoughts, sluggish behavior, hunger, zoning out, mood swings, burnout, easily stressed, not coping, poor performance, upset over trivial things and risk-taking.
These symptoms can be mistaken for mental health issues and, if left untreated, can become long term thinking patterns. Food, Water and Sleep are fundamental to brain function.
Get Professional Counselling
Many of our thinking problems are based on the stressful relationships and workloads we all encounter as a part of life. When appropriate, it is preferable to get professional help to talk through these issues and learn new ways of dealing with them. Trauma, particularly in our early years, can lead to self-destructive thoughts and behaviors. Shame is the engine that drives addictions and should be dealt with professionally.
Professional Counselling enables people to confront their problems with new tools and new ways of thinking. The earlier counselling begins, the more beneficial it will be.
A Brain Buddy can recognise and challenge irrational thinking, help to ensure optimum Food, Water and Sleep and get professional help to deal with the underlying problems. If a person’s brain does not have its core physical requirements met, the person will not have enough resilience and energy to seek outside help for themselves. Don’t tell them to go to the doctor or to look after themselves - DO IT WITH THEM.
Get Some Others To Help
As an example, a condition often diagnosed as Post-Natal Depression, can be a combination of interrupted Sleep, Poor Nutrition due to the breast feeding, Dehydration caused by milk production and constant personal boundary infringements by the baby. If you notice that a new mother is not coping well with her new responsibilities, you can organise for others to help with small sections of the problem. The helpers can ensure that the mother is fed well by bringing occasional meals, arranging some personal time to give the mother regular breaks and much needed sleep. These are small things that can make an enormous difference to the person’s mental health. These things can help to save a marriage and ensure that the new mother does not begin a cycle of diagnosis, stigma, medication and social isolation.
Brain Buddies are ‘people who like to help people’. They are constantly, but quietly, on the lookout for impending mental health problems and are there when it matters most.
BRAIN BUDDIES ARE LIFE SAVERS
What Our Brains Need:
Food for Brain Health
Eat a variety of coloured vegetables and fruit. A minimum of 3 colours per meal is recommended. Include lean proteins, fish 1-3 times a week is ideal. Use whole-grains instead of white flour foods. Limit the intake of highly processed, high sugared foods and drinks.
Eat regular, balanced meals and snacks to keep blood sugars stable. Every 4-5 hours is ideal. Eat breakfast within 60 mins. of getting out of bed.
Water for Brain Health
Drink an average of 8-12 glasses of water a day. Soft drink is not water. The colour of your urine should be a pale wheat colour as a guide to proper hydration. Limit sugary drinks to one small drink per day. Avoid or limit energy drinks, coffee and alcohol.
Sleep for Brain Health
Include activity or exercise during the day, outdoors if possible.
De-clutter your bedroom by removing electronic equipment, phones, computer, TV etc. Make your bedroom peaceful, dark and cool: ideal for sleeping. Develop a bedtime routine. Set a regular bedtime that will ensure plenty of sleep and a regular wake up time. Be mindful of high sugar, caffeinated drinks and food intake after 2pm.