Ebooks   ➡  Nonfiction  ➡  Self-improvement  ➡  Mental health  ➡  Depression

From the Heart - Tools and Techniques for Breaking the Negative Cycle




From the Heart

Tools and Techniques for Breaking the Negative Cycle


Cheryl Joyce

All rights reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods without the prior written permission of the author, except for brief quotations embodied in critical reviews.

Text copyright © Cheryl Joyce (the author) 2016

The rights of Cheryl Joyce has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.


About this booklet

My story

Feelings – Thoughts – Behaviours

How do I feel and what am I thinking?

Addictions – What are these and why do we have them?

Changing Behaviour Tools and Techniques

a. Behaviour columns

b. Sorting Pyramid for changing behaviour

c. Positive Behaviour Pyramid for improving behaviour!

d. The Bubble Theory

e. The Alignment Xmas Tree

Coping Mechanisms

The Power of Empowerment


Helpful Contacts

About the Author

About this booklet

This booklet is suitable for those suffering from symptoms related to any of the following conditions:

p<>{color:#000;}. Depression

p<>{color:#000;}. Anxiety

p<>{color:#000;}. OCD tendencies

p<>{color:#000;}. PTSD symptoms

The tools and techniques contained in this booklet have been designed to help repair and maintain mental health and wellbeing. This happens when we change our negative behaviours into positive ones.

This booklet contains proactive, simple and easy steps that can help improve our health, reactions to difficult circumstances and have a better quality of life.

These tools were designed by me, to help me. However, I am sharing them, as it is hoped they may also help others who suffer like me. If there are any ‘similar’ tools and techniques available on the web, this is purely co-incidental.

In a moment, you will learn a bit about me –

Cheryl Joyce – Author.

I have been suffering from reoccurring depression for eight years. I’ve had enough. I never want to go back there again. I’m feeling good at the moment, as this time, I’ve been working through it to identify my behaviours and look at how to change them.

Please note, this booklet has not been sanctioned by any medical professional or mental health-related organisation. I don’t have a PHD, nor have I studied anything science based – neurological or psychological. I know a bit about behavioural, but this is because I have son who has Autism and have become somewhat of a ‘behavioural analyst’ over the years (Note: quotation marks, lowercase), and have endured six rounds of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

The number of people who have participated in the testing of these tools and techniques = 1. However I can tell you that the one person who participated in this study (this is me, btw!) has benefitted greatly from the use of these tools and continues to revisit them frequently to maintain their well-being.

This booklet has been written by me ‘from the heart’ to help those who suffer from these horrible conditions. I am a person, a parent, a mother, a hard worker. I am a believer, but also I am a non-believer. I’m human – sometimes I fail, and sometimes I succeed. I am no one really. I just have the desire in me to want to help others who are suffering like me, and like me; wish to help themselves get well.

This booklet should take no more than half an hour of your time to read (depending on many factors). I would encourage you to read right up to the end before you come to any conclusions. I don’t foresee that any of these tools would have a negative impact on people. They are designed to eradicate negative behaviours, not create them. Nevertheless, if at any time you are not receiving the desired affect (i.e. helped, or inspired to help yourself) as you make your way through the booklet, then please stop reading.

You may find one, some, or all of these tools helpful. If not, I am truly sorry for you. Keep searching for what works for you. Never give up, and I pray you find what works for you soon.

My story

I am a 37-year-old mum of three from Liverpool, UK. My mental issues started when I discovered my son had regressed and developed Autism when he was two years old. I had a happy childhood. And am very grateful to my parents who ensured this.

I have spent the last eight years fighting for my son. All I ever wanted was the best for him. But my quest came with a cost – my own mental health.

I knew I needed help when I found myself Googling ‘the gentlest way to die’…

It was two O’clock in the morning and I was sitting up, alone, with my computer. I was completely lost.

For most of my son’s life, every day has been a battle and I had got to the point where I just felt I wanted it to end. I had had enough. I wanted it over with so I wouldn’t have to carry on feeling like I did.

I would never regret anything for my son, but years of fighting for him has almost destroyed me. I had suffered breakdowns, considered harming myself and then, the only way, seemed to be to end it all.

It was my children, though, who ultimately saved me, and kept me going. I couldn’t leave them. And as I googled ways to take my life a verse popped up on my screen:

I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.’

Deuteronomy 30:19.

Having thought I would never have a tattoo, it inspired me to get one of an angel symbol which means “Choose Life”. Getting a tattoo made me feel empowered – It gave me a renewed sense of strength, as I was reminded of how strong I am. It also eased the urge to self-harm which I knew in my head, was wrong.

I have managed to get myself well, time and again, with counselling sessions, anti-depressants and by using these tools. Though I have had my issues with finding the right anti-depressant due to the side effects.

As much as the antidepressants help with the sadness, they also suppress the happiness. I would look around at my beautiful family, see the progress my son had made: but I couldn’t feel anything.

I have gained two dress sizes in weight, struggled to work, lost friends and became isolated, as people didn’t understand my behaviour.

I tried to come off the tablets many times, but this made me even worse. I broke down constantly. Negative thoughts distorted my view of my life… and that’s when I thought it would be easier if I wasn’t here.

Over the years I have tried mindfulness, hypnotherapy, alternative medicines, yoga and exercise, but I still struggle and miss trains to work because I become anxious. I sometimes have to get my manager to come outside and walk me into work, because I can’t do it on my own.

I started writing three years ago as an escape from the pressures and challenges of my daily life and have written and self-published a novel. However, this is not what this booklet is about, so I’m not going to name it. Just to say, I needed to write the book to prove to myself I wasn’t a failure.

My brain tells me such negative thoughts about myself that my view of myself (and situations I find myself in) are often distorted. I carry a hard copy of my book in my bag, and carry it with me always. When I need a reminder me of the strength I have inside, I dig it out, and it gives me the evidence I need to reassure me – I am not a failure.

Although sometimes I feel weak, at other times I can feel invincible. This is because we know nothing can hurt us more than our own pain and suffering.

This sort of stress can destroy marriages too but, thankfully, it brought me and my husband closer together – we go for walks up Snowdon in Wales, to remind ourselves that we are strong and we have a life worth living.

The battle goes on with my son, but we have now found a wonderful school for him where he is loved and is thriving. I will never feel angry or bitter towards my boy, but I am cross that every day since he was diagnosed I have had to fight for what is best for him and that shouldn’t happen.

I paid with my own health and that can’t be right. Because with more people being diagnosed with Autism I fear there will be more people like me. But I won’t give up sake of my beautiful family.

Feelings – Thoughts – Behaviours

After exhausting my GP (local doctor), trying lots of different types and strengths of medication and enduring six rounds of CBT, I still wasn’t getting the quality of life we all deserve. Why?

I had a ‘stay well’ plan and a range of coping mechanisms. I knew what my triggers were so remained vigilant at all times, yet I always seemed to end up back in that place where we never want to return.

My case was finally escalated to the local community mental health team and I had a memorable appointment with a Psychiatrist. I was expecting to be in there no more than five minutes. We would have a quick chat, I’d tell him how I was feeling and self managing myself, he would probably tell there was nothing more that could be done, or up my meds (which would in turn increase my side effects) and then send me on my ‘not-so-merry’ way…

Well. My appointment lasted for two hours. I got lucky, because I was the last appointment of the day and it was with the supervising consultant. A man, who probably charges £1,000 an hour, instead of going home for his tea, gave me his time for free.

The Psychiatrist told me something which stood out…

We can’t change how we feel, that’s impossible. We can change how we think, but this is very hard and takes years of practice. But we can change our behaviour. This in turn, will change our thoughts and our feelings.’

Dr Studer, Supervising Consultant, Community Mental Health Team

The point he was making, was that our behaviour affects how we think, and how we think, affects how we feel. So, we need to change our behaviour. See diagram:


Useful, Good.


I am helpful, kind, compassionate.


Being kind to others.


Being kind to others.

I am helpful, kind, compassionate.

Useful, Good.

could understand this, but there was just one problem…I had no motivation. p<>{color:#000;}. The Psychiatrist asked me to tell him about a time I had no motivation to do something, but I did it anyway. There have been many of these.

As a mother of a child with autism, I have had many encounters with education, health and social care. There have been times I dreaded going to appointments, but I went anyway.

His point was, the lack of motivation we feel is no excuse. Only we can change our lives. So basically, it’s in our hands if we want to be happy. (Of course we want to be happy!)

Let me tell you how I felt after realising my happiness was in my hands… I felt deflated. I didn’t want it to be in my hands because I couldn’t do this. I was in despair

How do I feel and what am I thinking?

So how did I turn this around?

Well, first I started with my feelings. I drew the following diagram, and wrote down how I was feeling:













I thought about why I felt like this, so wrote down – what are my thoughts?

No one understands

He’s making progress – It’s not enough

I wish he wasn’t like this

I can’t do this!

What’s written in his book, doesn’t make me happy

I’ve wasted so much time

I should be doing more for my son

I’m not good enough!

I’m not helping myself

Now, I could clearly see my thoughts were causing me to feel like this.

So what if my thoughts looked like this:

I help people and make them feel good about themselves

My son is in a school where his sensory needs are being met

I have so much love and support around me. I am very lucky!

People want to listen to me and find me “inspirational”

Happiness is the only thing a child needs to have a good life – My kids are happy!

People fall in love with my son as soon as they meet him

My husband said “I look stunning”

I wrote a book, and the people who have read it said they liked it!

I am valued at work! They give me flexibility

As you can see, I needed a bigger space for this. This told me the positive thoughts are there and there are lots of them.

So how would I feel if these were my thoughts?


















The Psychiatrist also told me:

p<>{color:#000;}. Stop thinking what you think you are supposed to be thinking.

p<>{color:#000;}. It’s okay to feel regret, disappointment and resentment as a mother, as if you accept this, you can get past it. If we think we shouldn’t think like this, we will continue to think it.

p<>{color:#000;}. The meds aren’t “happy pills”. They do not stop working and cannot change our life. No amount of meds will help us, unless we help ourselves.

p<>{color:#000;}. Revisit the things we used to like 8 years ago. Note, you may have grown out of them, naturally, like clubbing. – But you need to bring back the fun.

p<>{color:#000;}. Make it part of a routine. You need to give yourself time for you. This shouldn’t be a chore.

p<>{color:#000;}. Get more sleep. Think about your sleep hygiene, e.g. no caffeine after 6pm, no electronics after 9pm, complete darkness – turn off the clock light, etc.

p<>{color:#000;}. Eat more fibre – Your bowel issues are not a side effect, they are a result of a poor diet. Eating the right foods will give us more energy.

p<>{color:#000;}. Give support to others, but find the support for you.

Addictions – What are these and why do we have them?

Addictions can be characterised by ‘fear’ and ‘magnetism’. They are out of proportion with reality.

We need to acknowledge our addictions. Once we have acknowledged them, we can change our life and self-image.

These are mine:

p<>{color:#000;}. E-Cig

p<>{color:#000;}. Eating fatty foods and drinking sugary drinks

p<>{color:#000;}. Reacting negatively to mostly anything autism-related

p<>{color:#000;}. Hating myself

p<>{color:#000;}. Anti-depressants

The ways to identify your addictions are as follows:

p<>{color:#000;}. Look at how we feel when we have them –


When we have a sudden outburst of energy, or feel ‘on edge’. Whatever it is we are doing at that very moment, stop and think about it: How frequent do we feel like this? How do we feel? Have we tried many times to stop doing this and do we still carry on doing it?

These are our addictions.

p<>{color:#000;}. Another way to identify them is to look at when we act and feel ‘defensive’.

When we get defensive

These are our addictions

We are being controlled by external circumstances.

To help change this, we need to try to react differently. So, how else can we react to difficult situations in our lives?

I wrote a list of the different ways I could react, and narrowed it down to four ways that are guaranteed to result in positive outcomes. No matter how hard we argue with them, they cannot result in negative outcomes.

The four ways to react to achieve positive outcomes, no matter what, are as follows:










Our addictions can be changed. But we need to find alternatives for our addictions.

Know that this will take time, patience and love.

Here are my alternatives choices:

p<>{color:#000;}. E-Cig – Take deep breaths, do some tapping.

p<>{color:#000;}. Eating fatty foods and drinking sugary drinks – Eat clean.

p<>{color:#000;}. Reacting negatively to mostly anything autism-related – Trust in others, have faith everything is in hand.

p<>{color:#000;}. Hating myself – Make time for you, look after yourself.

p<>{color:#000;}. Anti-depressants – These are for medical reasons. Don’t question why you need them, just take them and don’t think about it for at least two years.

Remember, we will always want more. Addictions cannot be satisfied. Again, this is how we know they are addictions.

More money

More love

More success

More things

Even if we had more we would still want more.

We have what we have now. Now, appreciate the things that make us happy.

Stop following others, reading about ‘their’ lives. Value our life above anything.

Don’t compare to others.

Changing Behaviour Tools and Techniques

The following tools and techniques are helping me to change my behaviour. It is important to note, I’m not there yet. I’m not where I want to be, but I am working through them and they are helping me to self-manage. The difference this time is – I can now see how I will get there.

I am sharing these tools and techniques to ‘help and empower’ you.

You will notice these tools keep the focus on our positive behaviours. It is important we do not lose sight of these. Depression is not our identity, nor does it represent our personality traits. This has happened because society uses the term ‘depressed’ far too liberally.

A person may use the term ‘depressed’ to describe the way they feel, when they are feeling down. They may also use it when they merely lack motivation. It is actually a medical term.

It reminds me of something we face as parents of a child with autism. Some parents may say ‘I wouldn’t change my child for the world’. This is because they see the child’s autism as part of their identity, when in fact it’s not.

Autism is a developmental disorder that impacts on the brain. It is spectrum condition that ranges in severity. The personality they see is not their child’s autism, but the child themselves. If a child ‘doesn’t judge people on appearances’, this may very well be a quality they possess, but there is also a medical explanation for this. Autism affects the social part of the brain. This means the child could have no interest in social distinctions?

The point is, a person who suffers from depression and therefore presents as being ‘a negative person’ – there is actually a medical cause and effect that can explain this, and that same person, without his or her condition, may actually be a positive person.

Here are my tools and techniques:

I started with Behaviour Columns as this encourages us to list our behaviours. Note, these are not all negative. This gives us a place to start as we begin our journey to wellness.

h2<>{color:#2e74b5;}. Behaviour Columns

Guidance: Complete the columns with the relevant behaviours. This helps us identify where to start when it comes to changing our behaviour.

table<>. <>. |<>.
p<>{color:#FFF;}. BEHAVIOURS I LIKE |<>.
p<>{color:#FFF;}. BEHAVIOURS I DON’T LIKE |<>.
p<>{color:#FFF;}. BEHAVIOUR I CAN CHANGE | <>. |<>.

|<>. p<>{color:#000;}.  


|<>. p<>{color:#000;}.   |<>. p<>{color:#000;}.   |

h2<>{color:#2e74b5;}. S

orting Pyramid for changing behaviour

List your behaviours and sort them into the pyramid

Work through them one by one

If behaviours come back, go back to step 1

Cross  them out when you stop doing them

Note: You should start to feel better as you have less negative behaviours

Now try this again but this time with positive behaviours…

h2<>{color:#2e74b5;}. Positive Behaviour Pyramid for improving behaviour

List your behaviours and sort them into the pyramid

Work through them one by one

If behaviours stop, go back to step 1

This time tick them as you start doing them

Note: This will improve your positive behaviours!

h2<>{color:#2e74b5;}. The Bubble Theory

I used this as a communication tool to help me explain my behaviour to my friends and family. I found once I’d taken them through this, they understood. And they rewarded me with compassion from then on.

Guidance: Populate the smaller bubble with the things that are important to you at the moment. The outer ring is .

Explain that the things in your bubble are .

You need to ‘grow’ your bubble to include more of the things in the outer ring.

_H _

[] ere’s my example:

h2<>{color:#2e74b5;}. The Alignment Xmas Tree


Coping Mechanisms

I have a range of coping mechanisms and a ‘stay well’ plan. Sometimes they help me, and sometimes they don’t. However it is helpful to write them down so I can refer to them daily.

These are my coping mechanisms, you may share some of these, and you may have others. The important thing is you should write them down so you can refer to them whenever you need them:

p<>{color:#000;}. Take myself off to a quiet space

p<>{color:#000;}. Deep breaths

p<>{color:#000;}. Tapping (see www.tapping.com)

p<>{color:#000;}. Listen to calming music

p<>{color:#000;}. Do something fun? e.g. Spend time with my kids or do something which makes me happy

p<>{color:#000;}. Exercise e.g. go to the gym, climb a mountain, go for walks

p<>{color:#000;}. Write poetry – I have written a number of poems about my mental health. I do this to help me express how I’m feeling

p<>{color:#000;}. Talk to someone about how I’m feeling

p<>{color:#000;}. Sleep. When I’m feeling particularly bad, I put myself to sleep. Usually, I feel better when I wake up

p<>{color:#000;}. Watch a movie

p<>{color:#000;}. Say no to things that would cause me more stress

p<>{color:#000;}. Go to church or pray

p<>{color:#000;}. Take the day off work

p<>{color:#000;}. Go to my mum’s house, being in my childhood home helps.

p<>{color:#000;}. Get a hug off someone who loves me

p<>{color:#000;}. Facebook – don’t read the newsfeed. Instead, read posts by others who are suffering and the helpful comments they receive. You may find similar experiences. There are also lots of mental health community pages you can follow.

p<>{color:#000;}. Do a free online tarot reading such as this one:

http://www.free-tarot-reading.net/free – you don’t need to be a believer, tarot cards always give positive messages.

p<>{color:#000;}. Do some mindfulness. Here are some links to my favourite ones:

p<>{color:#0563C1;}. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/pages/mindfulness.aspx

p<>{color:#0563C1;}. http://www.freemindfulness.org/download

p<>{color:#0563C1;}. http://www.happy-buddha.co.uk/Guided-meditations.html

p<>{color:#000;}. Smelling pots – you can make these easily. Put some liquid scent onto a cotton wool bud and store in a small pot with a lid. This will hold the smell for as long as possible. Smell these multiple times, daily.

p<>{color:#000;}. Hand massage – wash your hands and lather the soap. Rub the soap up and down your forearms and into your hands. Take a while to wash your hands and prolong the moment as long as possible.

p<>{color:#000;}. Holistic medicine – There are lots of natural supplements that help. I don’t mean herbal supplements such as St John’s Wart. I went to a homeopath who gave me ‘Nat Mur’ to help with my emotions, and ‘Sepia’ for anxiety. I found these helpful.

As you can see, I have a lot of coping mechanisms. I didn’t know I had that many until I took the time to write them down. I hope you find my list helpful.

The Power of Empowerment

In order to help ourselves, we need to feel ‘empowered’. This will make us feel that it is within our reach and we CAN do something about it.

Here are some ways to to help us feel empowered:

p<>{color:#000;}. Being open is empowering.

p<>{color:#000;}. Educating others about the way your condition affects you, is empowering.

p<>{color:#000;}. Being able to recognise your addictions is empowering.

p<>{color:#000;}. Knowing how to identify your negative and positive behaviours, is empowering.

p<>{color:#000;}. Monitoring your behaviour is empowering.

p<>{color:#000;}. Knowing the ‘path to wellness’ is empowering.

p<>{color:#000;}. Knowing you can change negative behaviours, is empowering.


I would like to acknowledge my husband, Tony. You have been my rock, my tag-team partner and my hope. You are my everything. I love you more than words.

To my mum, you have been there for me every step of the way. You are fulfilling the role that God gave you – to be my special mum x

And to Rob – my confidante, my mentor, my spiritual guide, my boss and my friend. You have helped me, and continue to help me immensely. It is because of you, I am able to work to my potential.

Thank you!

Helpful Contacts

Click on the link to find a list of organisations that are there to help:

[+ http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/what-are-mental-health-problems/mental-health-help-you/other-useful-organisations+]

You may also contact me. I have a Facebook page, feel free to ‘follow’ or message me at:


About the Author


was born and raised in Liverpool and gained her degree in Imaginative Writing from Liverpool John Moores University in 2002. She married her childhood sweetheart, Tony Joyce, in 2007 and they have 3 gorgeous children, Liam, Isabella and Summer. Liam has severe autism. This self-help book was written to help and empower those who are suffering from mental health conditions. To contact the author you can email: [email protected]



From the Heart - Tools and Techniques for Breaking the Negative Cycle

The tools and techniques in this booklet have been designed to help and empower sufferers of depression, anxiety, OCD tendencies and PTSD symptoms. It is written in the ‘voice’ of someone who ‘suffers’ too, yet the author is self-managing and benefiting by applying the use of these tools in everyday life. This booklet is for those who, like the Author, want to help themselves get well, and stay well, for the long term.

  • ISBN: 9781370392728
  • Author: Cheryl Joyce
  • Published: 2016-10-31 12:35:22
  • Words: 4215
From the Heart - Tools and Techniques for Breaking the Negative Cycle From the Heart - Tools and Techniques for Breaking the Negative Cycle