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talk with andy - edition 3
Andy Garland Therapies - Counselling Cardiff - Mental Health Services Cardiff - Cardiff Therapists - Talk With Andy - LGBTQymru

As the resident therapist at the online LGBTQymru magazine, I'll be answering your questions on mental health and life. Here's my column from the third edition. You'll also find links to read the magazine in full below.

In response to COVID-19 lockdown, and in the absence of any other all-Wales on-line Pride events, LGBTQYMRU formed to bring about the first-ever Wales-Wide Virtual Pride. The team went on to establish Wales' first online magazine for the LGBTQ+ community. It's a completely bilingual publication available in Welsh and English.

You can subscribe to the free magazine by clicking here SUBSCRIBE. You can also read the third edition by clicking here READ NOW

If you'd like to submit any questions for the next edition email:

Andy Garland Therapies - Counselling Cardiff - Mental Health Services Cardiff - Cardiff Therapists - Talk With Andy - LGBTQymru

COVID has been such a testing time for many people, and has affected us in so many different ways. Cooped up together in homes all over the world, many of us have felt the strain on our relationships. Juggling chores, work and worrying about health, finances and the state of the world. This global crisis has left many of us also navigating a domestic crisis of our own behind closed doors.

The condensed amount of time spent together and shared environment has challenged even the most stable of relationships. I can see that you've been experiencing a challenge or two yourself Jazz. A survey by the UK charity Relate in April found that nearly a quarter of people felt lockdown had placed additional pressure on their relationship. A further survey by the charity in July, found 8% of people said lockdown had made them realise they needed to end their relationship. Though 43% said lockdown had brought them closer - good news!

Many of the smaller niggles in a relationship have been magnified tenfold during this time, so those 'hyper-critical' moments you describe, can have a greater impact. Relationships can be complicated and need to be worked on, regardless of a pandemic. Accept that this past year has been difficult, and that Coronavirus has put people under an extraordinary level of stress.

Ultimately, as human beings, we want to know we're being listened to. Think about setting aside some time each week to air your frustrations with each other. This will give each of you the opportunity to talk openly about your concerns and allow you to check-in on your feelings and emotions. This should help re-route misunderstandings and minimise any short temperedness.

If you accept that your own definition of normality has been turned upside down over this period, it can help you lower the expectations, not only on yourself but also on your relationship. As lockdown restrictions are nearing an end, and our freedom to live life in a relatively normal way restarts, find interests and activities that you can enjoy separate from your partner. Give yourself the opportunity to rediscover your life independently, and then share your individual experiences with each other in conversation at a later date.

Think about setting new priorities - since our idea of normalcy has already being flipped upside down, this could be the perfect time for you both to chat about what works well in your relationship and what could be improved. Finding a way to be open and honest with each other can steer you in a healthy direction, and you may even find that your relationship begins to thrive.

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Verbal and emotional abuse is never justified Olivia, so if you have regular concerns about specific situations, I would advise you to speak to the Police and report any abuse you may be experiencing. The ultimate advice here is to keep yourself safe and away from harm.

The ideal world is one where difference is accepted and celebrated, though unfortunately some people view being different as a threat. You don't mention if the abuse is physical, so I'm assuming it's a verbal attack. Verbal abuse is a way of attacking or negatively defining another person using words or silence as a weapon. It can take a variety of forms ranging from loud rants to passive-aggressive remarks.

I want you to remember that the abuse has nothing to do with your choice of dress code, sexuality or gender. It's the prejudices and personal experiences of the abuser that inform the abusive attacks on you - it's their stuff that they project onto you. Knowing this can help you understand that difference is yours to own, and should never be muted to conform to perceived societal norms.

If you don't know them, the most instinctive way to respond to a verbal abuser is to attempt to reason with them, however this is rarely effective, and this can put you in a place of harm. I'd suggest that you refuse to engage with a verbal abuser and refrain from trying to reason and argue with them. This will show the abuser that they are not acting rationally, and that you are not going to put up with the behaviour by interacting with the abuse.

Abuse is often about power, and the person who abuses you, uses that power to create fear and to intimidate - they are often looking for a reaction. I mentioned earlier that the main outcome is to keep yourself safe and away from harm. So, don't feel that you have to stand up to an abusive stranger, as this can be a dangerous situation to put yourself in. Maybe notice what they are wearing, and any other identifying features like height, hair colour, along with the location, date and time of day. Make a note of these, as this information will help you to report any abuse, should you contact the Police.

I appreciate that even a strangers comments can have a negative impact on how we feel. Though I'd like you to remember that you choose how important you make this stranger. Don't let them play a leading role in your life - let them be a part of the crowd - forgettable! Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that we are okay. I find writing down 3 positive things about yourself each day can help you refocus on your qualities, and what makes you special, ultimately what makes you unique. Just continue being you Olivia.

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