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Depression

Depression involves your body, mood, and thoughts.  It affects the way you eat and sleep, the way you feel about yourself...

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Depression involves your body, mood, and thoughts.  It affects the way you eat and sleep, the way you feel about yourself, and the way you think about things.  A depressive disorder is not the same as a passing ‘blues’.  It is not a sign of personal weakness or a condition that can be willed or wished away.  People with a depressive illness cannot merely “pull themselves together” and get better.  Without treatment, symptoms can last weeks, months, or years.  Appropriate treatment, however, can help most people who suffer from depression.

Types of Depression

Depressive disorders come in different forms.  There are several different diagnoses for depression, mostly determined by the intensity of the symptoms, the duration and the specific cause of the symptoms.

  • Major Depression: Most serious type of depression, in terms of the number of symptoms and severity of symptoms.  You do not need to feel suicidal to have a major depression, and you do not need to have a history of hospitalization either, although both of these factors are present in some people with major depression.  There is no official diagnosis of “moderate depression.”
  • Dysthymic Disorder:  This refers to a low to moderate level of depression that persists for at least two years, and often longer.  While the symptoms are not as severe as a major depression, they are more enduring and resistant to treatment.
  • Adjustment Disorder, with Depression:  This category describes depression that occurs in reponse to a major life stressor or crisis.
  • Bipolar Depression:  This type includes both high and low mood swings, as well as a variety of other significant symptoms not present in other depressions.
Signs & Symptoms

Depression varies from person to person, but there are some common signs and symptoms.  Important to remember that these symptoms can be part of life’s normal lows.
Common signs:

  • Feeling of helplessness and hopelessness
  • Loss of interest in daily activities
  • Appetite or weight changes
  • Sleep changes
  • Irritability or restlessness
  • Loss of energy
  • Self-loathing
  • Concentration problems
  • Unexplained aches and pains


If you identify with several of the following signs and symptoms, and they just won’t go away, you may be suffering from depression.

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Divorce

The “D” in divorce stands for DISASTER, DISTRESS, DANGER, DENIAL, DISEMPOWERMENT, DISRESPECT...

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The “D” in divorce stands for DISASTER, DISTRESS, DANGER, DENIAL, DISEMPOWERMENT, DISRESPECT, DETACHMENT and DESTRUCTION in the dissolution of a marriage.
Most people end their marriage as the result of some disastrous event, life happening, or emotion that has caused the marriage to break down.  No one marries simply to get divorced.

Why do people get divorced?
  • They stop loving each other
  • They lose interest in being married
  • They don’t make enough effort within the marriage and at some point decide that “things are just not working out”
  • They grow apart.
  • They stop respecting each other
  • They have different needs
  • They are unfaithful
  • They stop having sex
  • They become emotionally disconnected
How to contain yourself during a divorce

Self-containment is important, as many people lose themselves when going through a divorce.

  • Anger
  • Bitterness
  • Resentment
  • Unresolved feelings
  • Issues
  • Hate
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Emotions
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Domestic Violence

1 in every 4 women in South Africa are assaulted by their boyfriend or husband every week.  Gender based violence...

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1 in every 4 women in South Africa are assaulted by their boyfriend or husband every week.  Gender based violence cuts across race, culture, religion and class.
It is a known fact that some men are also victims of domestic violence.  The prevalence of violence against men by their female intimate partner is not known due to under reporting by male victims.
Are you or someone you care about being abused:  physically, sexually, emotionally, verbally, psychologically and/or economically.

You have Rights

You have the right to protection:
Get a interim protection order
A protection order is an order made by court under the Domestic Violence Act 116 of 1989,

which can instruct the abuser:
Not to commit acts of domestic violence that you have specified such as not to enter certain parts of the house even if he is paying, not to call you names, not to physically abuse you etc
The abuser can also be ordered to provide compensation for financial losses suffered by the applicant at the time of issuing the interim( temporal)protection order. This may include loss of income, medical expenses, moving and accommodation expenses even if you are not staying with him. He can also be instructed to have no or specified contact with the children.  A protection Order can also tell the police to take away the abuser’s gun or other dangerous weapons and to provide an escort to fetch your belongings.
Lay a charge of assault
If your partner has physically assaulted you, you may go to a nearest police station and lay a charge of assault against him or her. Any police official will be able to assist you in this regard.
The duty of the police is to inform the applicant of her/his rights and to assist her/him (for example to find alternative shelter)
The court may order the police to seize arms or dangerous weapons

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Eating disorders

Eating disorders are abnormal eating habits that can threaten your health or even your life.

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Eating disorders are abnormal eating habits that can threaten your health or even your life.

They include:

  • Anorexia nervosa: Individuals believe they’re fat even when they’re dangerously thin and restrict their eating to the point of starvation.
  • Bulimia nervosa: Individuals eat excessive amounts of food, then purge by making themselves vomit or using laxatives.
  • Binge eating: Individuals have out-of-control eating patterns, but don’t purge.

People with anorexia nervosa have a distorted body image that causes them to see themselves as overweight even when they’re dangerously thin. Often refusing to eat, exercising compulsively, and developing unusual habits such as refusing to eat in front of others, they lose large amounts of weight and may even starve to death.
Individuals with bulimia nervosa eat excessive quantities of food, then purge their bodies of the food and calories they fear by using laxatives, enemas, or diuretics, vomiting and/or exercising. Often acting in secrecy, they feel disgusted and ashamed as they binge, yet relieved of tension and negative emotions once their stomachs are empty again.
Like people with bulimia, those with binge eating disorder experience frequent episodes of out-of-control eating. The difference is that binge eaters don’t purge their bodies of excess calories.
It’s important to prevent problematic behaviours from evolving into full-fledged eating disorders. Anorexia and bulimia, for example, usually are preceded by very strict dieting and weight loss. Binge eating disorder can begin with occasional bingeing. Whenever eating behaviours start having a destructive impact on someone’s functioning or self-image, it’s time to see a highly trained mental health professional, such as a licensed psychologist experienced in treating people with eating disorders.

Who is prone to suffer from eating disorders?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, adolescent and young women account for 90 percent of cases. But eating disorders aren’t just a problem for the teenage women so often depicted in the media. Older women, men and boys can also develop disorders. And an increasing number of ethnic minorities are falling prey to these devastating illnesses.
People sometimes have eating disorders without their families or friends ever suspecting that they have a problem. Aware that their behaviour is abnormal, people with eating disorders may withdraw from social contact, hide their behaviour and deny that their eating patterns are problematic. Making an accurate diagnosis requires the involvement of a licensed psychologist or other appropriate mental health expert.

What causes eating disorders?

What causes eating disorders?
Certain psychological factors and personality traits may predispose people to developing eating disorders. Many people with eating disorders suffer from low self-esteem, feelings of helplessness, and intense dissatisfaction with the way they look.
Specific traits are linked to each of the disorders. People with anorexia tend to be perfectionistic, for instance, while people with bulimia are often impulsive. Physical factors such as genetics also may play a role in putting people at risk.
A wide range of situations can precipitate eating disorders in susceptible individuals. Family members or friends may repeatedly tease people about their bodies. Individuals may be participating in gymnastics or other sports that emphasize low weight or a certain body image. Negative emotions or traumas such as rape, abuse or the death of a loved one can also trigger disorders. Even a happy event, such as giving birth, can lead to disorders because of the stressful impact of the event on an individual’s new role and body image.
Once people start engaging in abnormal eating behaviours, the problem can perpetuate itself. Bingeing can set a vicious cycle in motion, as individuals purge to rid themselves of excess calories and psychic pain, then binge again to escape problems in their day-to-day lives.
Why is it important to seek treatment for these disorders?
Research indicates that eating disorders are one of the psychological problems least likely to be treated. But eating disorders often don’t go away on their own. And leaving them untreated can have serious consequences. In fact, the National Institute of Mental Health estimates that one in ten anorexia cases ends in death from starvation, suicide or medical complications like heart attacks or kidney failure.
Eating disorders can devastate the body. Physical problems associated with eating disorders include anemia, palpitations, hair and bone loss, tooth decay, esophagitis and the cessation of menstruation. People with binge eating disorder may develop high blood pressure, diabetes and other problems associated with obesity.
Eating disorders are also associated with other mental disorders like depression. Researchers don’t yet know whether eating disorders are symptoms of such problems or whether the problems develop because of the isolation, stigma and physiological changes wrought by the eating disorders themselves. What is clear is that people with eating disorders suffer higher rates of other mental disorders – including depression, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse – than other people

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Emotional Wellness

Do you feel out of balance? What does Emotional Wellness mean? Emotional wellness is closely connected to the other dimensions of wellness.

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Do you feel out of balance?
What does Emotional Wellness mean?
Emotional wellness is closely connected to the other dimensions of wellness. In the most basic sense, it refers to your ability to handle emotions in a constructive way in order to enable you to maintain a positive emotional state.
Emotional Wellness helps a person achieve positive self-esteem, helping them satisfy relationships and providing resilience to meet life’s challenges.

Emotional Wellness is:

  • Increased awareness of one’s emotions
  • Acknowledge conflict as being potentially healthy
  • Being able to express feelings freely and manage feelings effectively
  • Being aware of personal limitations and the value of seeking interpersonal support and assistance
  • Being able to form interdependent relationships based upon mutual commitment, trust and respect
  • Being self-aware and self-accepting while remaining flexible and open to personal development
  • Being aware of and accepting a wide range of thoughts and feelings in themselves and others
  • Being able to manage feelings effectively to arrive at personal choices or decisions based upon the integration of feelings, thoughts and behaviour
  • Being able to maintain a generally positive approach to life that is rooted in one’s sense of personal responsibility for, and ability to manage, one’s life in personally fulfilling ways
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Family Matters

Families form the social circles in which we grow and from which we develop our beliefs, customs and attitudes. All of us come from families be they nuclear or extended...

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Families form the social circles in which we grow and from which we develop our beliefs, customs and attitudes. All of us come from families be they nuclear or extended these families serve to form our way of life, thought and believe systems.


However these relationships can be hampered by elements such as

  • Divorce & marital discord
  • Unemployment that contributes to poverty and can contribute to the disruption of a family
  • Parent Child relationship difficulties
  • Personal problems of individual family members and external environmental stress.
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Grief & Loss

The death of someone close to us is one of life’s most stressful and devastating events!  We need to remember that mourning a loved one is an intolerably painful experience...

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The death of someone close to us is one of life’s most stressful and devastating events!  We need to remember that mourning a loved one is an intolerably painful experience and it is normal to experience intense emotions and swift mood changes.
The period of grieving differs from person to person so there is not specific time limit.  Remind yourself that it takes time to heal and that grieving is not a weakness.  Grieving helps us to come to terms with our lost relationship and helps us to re-focus on the future.

Stages of Grieving

Most people experience the following three stages of grieving and not necessarily as set out. Some people will jump back and forth between stages and the length of time it takes to go through the different stages also varies.


Stage I – Numbness or Shock

Immediately after news of death, you will likely experience a period when you feel very little except a sense of unreality or numbness. This stage may last for weeks or months.


Stage II – Disorganization

Eventually, the shock begins to wear off, and feelings begin to come alive again. You experience physical symptoms such as tightness in the throat, shortness of breath and extreme fatigue. Emotionally you may feel  angry with your loved one for dying and then become overwhelmed with feelings of guilt.  You may need to review the life of the deceased person and the events leading up to the actual death and you may agonize over things you believe you did wrong or things you think you should have done for the deceased. Most frightening of all can be the feeling of losing emotional control.  This is painful period but is normal and a necessary part of grieving. Most people will recover but it can take weeks, months or  several years.


Stage III – Re-organization

Eventually, you will stop dwelling  on your loss, and will be able to focus on daily tasks.  The emotional pain is never completely forgotten but you may develop deeper connections with the important people in your life.

How to help a friend that is Grieving?

It is normal to feel guilty or helpless when faced with the inevitability of death, or feel there is little you can do to comfort the bereaved person. This is a natural feeling. There are, however, definite ways that you can help during the different stages of grieving.

  • Helping with Stage I – Be a supporter; you are there to be leaned upon. Help with practical things such as providing meals, helping with funeral details and assisting with the many confusing tasks that follow death.
  • Helping with Stage II – Be a listener; accept your friend’s need to vent emotions and to tell repeated stories about the life and death of his/her loved one. People need to talk about their loss.
  • Helping with Stage III – Be a friend; help people to regain touch with the world around them. Encourage involvement in social activities, special interest groups, hobbies, etc.

Few people can cope alone with the pain of bereavement. They need to talk about their loss and share their pain. This is a normal part of the grieving process. However, if reactions are extreme, encourage professional help and provide the support necessary to assist the bereaved to take this step toward help.

How to cope with your own Grief?
  • Be with caring people. Spend time with family, friends, neighbours, co-workers, and people, such as members of a self-help group, who have been through the experience of loss and grief.
  • Take enough time. Everyone reacts differently to a loss. It is hard to estimate a “normal” grieving period; it will probably take longer than you expect.
  • Express your feelings. Let yourself feel sadness, anger and other feelings. Find a way to express these feelings through talking, crying, etc .
  • Accept that your life has changed – you may not have the same focus and priorities. You may also need to change your routine.   Remember that this is a natural result of loss and grief.
  • Reach out for help. Don’t always rely on others to make the first move; they may be concerned about allowing you your privacy. Let people know when you need companionship and support.
  • Take care of your physical health. Be aware of any physical signs of stress or illness you may develop. Speak with your doctor if you feel your grief is affecting your health.
  • Support others in their grief. Offer support to other family members and friends who are grieving, including the children. Be honest with the children about what has happened and about how you feel. Encourage them to talk about their feelings.
  • Come to terms with your loss. Move towards acceptance of the death of your loved one. Work through feelings of bitterness and blame which may get in the way of moving forward in your life.
  • Make a new beginning. As the sense of grief becomes less intense, return to interests and activities you may have dropped and think about doing something new. Consider forming new relationships at your own pace.
  • Postpone major life changes. Consider waiting a year or so before making big decisions, such as moving, remarrying or having another child. Your judgement may not be the best while you are mourning, and the changes may add to the stress you are already experiencing.
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HIV & AIDS

The HIV and AIDS pandemic transcends colour barriers, social standing, and educational qualifications and has brought about suffering to both young and old...

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The HIV and AIDS pandemic transcends colour barriers, social standing, and educational qualifications and has brought about suffering to both young and old. HIV and AIDS is life as we know it today, it has become our reality!

You may ask these Questions?
  • There are too many stories out there relating to HIV and I would like to find correct information!
  • How do I assess if my behaviour is risky?
  • My sister has been diagnosed with HIV and we as a family would like to support her and do not know how to.
  • I have been stigmatised and discriminated against because of my HIV status. Where can I go for advocacy assistance?

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