It’s Time To Talk! (About Mental Health)

It’s that time of year again… It’s Time To Talk!

What is it?

As part of the Time To Change campaign, Time To Talk Day on 1st February 2018 raises awareness of mental health and illness and encourages people to discuss their struggles. It’s about beating down stigma, increasing understanding and reducing prejudice. It’s about saying that it’s okay to talk about these things. That you’re not alone.

I’ve dealt with, and still deal with, my own mental health issues. They will affect many of us over the course of our lives in some way, either affecting our lives directly or touching our lives through the experiences of friends, colleagues and loved ones. With chronic invisible illness, mental health often features close by.

I think there’s a difference between the ups and downs in life that will affect everyone at some point (often in response to an event) and long-lasting, life-affecting conditions, from depression and anxiety to bipolar and schizophrenia. But no matter what you’re going through, big or small, temporary or chronic, it’s okay. There should be no judgement or prejudice. Society has come a long way towards greater understanding, but there’s still a long way to go. It’s a continual process of growth and change.

My experience

Over the years, I’ve become more open in discussing the challenges I’ve faced personally, but there have been countless times that doing so has been harmful to me; people who don’t understand and offer hurtful or unhelpful comments whether intentional or not; when I was blackmailed the first time I told someone of an eating disorder when I was only 12/13 years old; those that are judgemental; having someone say I had nothing to be sad about because there are people starving in Africa; the feeling of being judged and labelled in general.

In contrast, I’ve also found, especially online, a lot of others in a similar situation. I’ve found people who are open, caring, compassionate, wanting to understand, patient and non-judgemental. Anxiety, eating disorders and depression have been featured throughout my life.  Anxiety and depression can be a crushing force in my life today. Being able to ‘get it out there’ is like a weight off my shoulders. They’re not things you can simply “get over”. They don’t disappear.

But… Talking about them for me doesn’t really help. I’m glad I can more easily say that I’ve struggled and still struggle with certain things, but I don’t often feel the need to talk more in depth about them. I’m at the point where I’m perhaps too self-reflective, too analytical and talking about things tends to exacerbate it. And if you feel the same then that’s okay, too. However, for those who live in fear and worry of letting others in, opening up to someone can make a world of difference. Sharing even small things can make people realise they’re not alone, and perhaps even stop the threads of mental health from being pulled until they unravel and the blanket is threadbare.

The point of the campaign is that it should be okay to talk about mental health anywhere, any time, without fear of judgement, criticism or prejudice.

Talking about mental health

Mental health is something that’s incredibly personal. The likes of depression, bipolar, anxiety and eating disorders can turn you in on yourself, becoming incredibly isolating. It’s up to YOU whether you want to tell anyone about what you’re going through. It’s also your call as to what and how much you share. From my experience, not talking about it can hurt relationships, just as talking about it can when the other person is ignorant or offensive. But you’ll find that more often than not the other person will likely have their own issues, and be more understanding and supportive than you could ever have anticipated.

Every experience I’ve had with talking and not talking has shaped me and made me more passionate when it comes to mental health. In particular, the negative experiences I’ve had have made me more driven to tell others about what I’m going through and to raise awareness and push for greater understanding. No one should be made to feel alone, bad, wrong, silly, ungrateful, or small for what they’re going through. There’s no comparison between your situation and that of others. Your experience is yours alone. With mental health, there’s often no particular “thing” to point the finger at in terms of why you feel the way you do. You just do. And that’s okay. It’s also okay to talk about it.

Often when we’re asked how we are, the response is along the lines of “I’m fine, thanks”. Do you ever wish you could say more, do you ever want or need to open up a little, share what you’re going through?

In the name of sharing, openness & honesty, if I were to talk to you right now I’d say that I’ve not been doing so great. My anxiety has been running rampant, my brain is mush, my body is exhausted & I’ve been feeling pretty low. Things haven’t been pretty. I’m riding it out and I’ll turn things around, but I’m skirting rock bottom again first and taking the less scenic route before coming back up for air.  If you were to talk right now, what would you say?

For me, Time To Talk isn’t just about sharing your experience to get support. It’s as much about increasing understanding and working towards creating a more tolerant, compassionate and non-judgemental society.

You can find out more about the Time To Change campaign here.

You can get help from places like :

Samaritans :

Telephone: 116 123 (Free 24 hours a day) Email: jo@samaritans.org Website: www.samaritans.org

Rethink :

Telephone: 0300 5000 927 (9.30am-4pm Monday to Friday) Email: info@rethink.org Website: www.rethink.org/about-us/ourmental-health-advice

Mind :

Telephone: 0300 123 3393 (9am-5pm Monday to Friday) Email: info@mind.org.uk Website: www.mind.org.uk/help/advice_lines

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25 Comments

  1. Erin
    January 31, 2018 / 4:23 pm

    A well written, and honest article. It’s so important that we recognise that there’s no shame in feeling this way, and that if we do, it’s important to reach out for help. ❤

    • February 1, 2018 / 3:55 pm

      That’s right, there’s no shame and it’s important people feel they can reach out if/when they want or need to. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment 🙂

  2. January 31, 2018 / 7:35 pm

    Thank you for such a candid post. Mental health problems are something that we really need to talk about, to help both ourselves and those around us in a way that is both supportive and constructive, without prejudice.. I find it difficult to talk about things, but find that writing stories and poems helps me to deal with my problems, and hopefully brings enjoyment to others at the same time. Keep up the good work.

    • February 1, 2018 / 3:56 pm

      I think it’s a fantastic way for you to channel what you’re going through and to spread a little enjoyment at the same time. Thank you so much for reading and the great comment 🙂 Caz x

  3. January 31, 2018 / 7:45 pm

    I agree, there seems to be little awareness of Mental Health problems. In answer to your ‘what would you say’ question – nothing! I would probably just make you tea and listen 🙂

    • February 1, 2018 / 3:57 pm

      Aw, tea and listening – that’s a lovely response! Hopefully in time things will continue to gradually move forward towards greater awareness and understanding. Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment 🙂
      x

  4. January 31, 2018 / 8:07 pm

    I am so sorry your anxiety is worse right now dear, we all go through that! Well not all of us but anyone who can relate… I literally thought for years that everyone was like this until I had a friend tell me she did not have any anxiety and ws trying to understand people who did. I was like, wait, that’s possible? It is so great to talk about it and blog about it, I definitely want to be more open on my blog about it too…. the fact is many of my closest loved ones don’t know my diagnosis, my mom I’m pretty sure knows I have anxiety but does not know it is actually social anxiety that affects me the most… I’ve been going back and forth about whether to tell her for a long time now…so the idea of talking to my mom about it before I blog about it is definitely necessary….thanks for sharing your story I know it’s scary but It will help people!

    • February 1, 2018 / 4:01 pm

      I struggle to understand how others can have a life without anxiety too, it’s strange, isn’t it? But it also means it’s possible, or at least possible for us to keep anxiety at a lower level. I would like to think that your loved ones, if and when you ever talk to them about your diagnosis, would be compassionate and supportive; they may struggle with not knowing how to help, but knowing you felt confident to confident in them would probably make them happy. That said, it’s totally your decision whether you do, and when and how you do. I remember when I first told my mother I had an eating disorder, which was so many years ago now and yet is still painful to think about; telling her about anxiety and such as well has actually brought us a lot closer together, even if I don’t tell her the ins and outs of it all, just knowing she’s supportive and in my corner is enough. I’m always here if you ever want to talk lovely 🙂
      Caz x

  5. January 31, 2018 / 9:46 pm

    This is such an important topic to talk about, well done you!! So many people have mental health problems and the more people that are informed about the topic, the better! 🙂

    • February 1, 2018 / 4:02 pm

      Thank you Laura – every little helps! 🙂

  6. February 1, 2018 / 2:32 am

    What a great post, Caz. The difficult times come and go, its never easy when our anxiety is very strong. Being able to be honest helps us though and is so important. I hope in time things feel calmer for you. Your kind support shines through all the time. I hope you can take really good care of yourself right now. Love Deborah <3

  7. February 1, 2018 / 4:02 pm

    That’s very kind of you, thank you so much! I’ll wish the same for you and hope there’s brighter days ahead for the both of us 🙂

  8. February 2, 2018 / 1:34 am

    Thank you for sharing this one!! Mental health is so misunderstood… It’s posts like yours that help advance the conversation <3

  9. February 2, 2018 / 7:47 pm

    Well done for writing this. Really helpful in spreading awareness about mental health, and you’ve shared some great tips. Sorry to hear you’ve not been too good. Wishing you some brighter days ahead xx

    • February 3, 2018 / 6:13 am

      Thank you so much Emma! Wishing you a restful, positive weekend 🙂
      xx

  10. February 3, 2018 / 8:09 am

    Beautifully written Caz and so honest too. I’m really sorry that you’re not in the best place at the moment and I wish I could give you a hug! Just remember that tomorrow is another day and I’m always here to talk whenever you need. I would probably say that I’ve not been my best either recently, I’ve been experiencing problems with my hand/arm and it’s made me panic about my condition worsening. I’m finding it harder to stay positive and I’m worrying so much right now. I also can’t believe how badly some people have treated you in the past when you’ve tried to talk about your mental health, a little understanding goes a long way! xx

    • February 3, 2018 / 10:58 am

      Oh Nat, I’m so sorry… I can understand why it’s affecting you so much with worrying things are getting worse and then thinking about the future. I will hold on to some hope for you that things will level out and get brighter, that the problems you’re currently experiencing with your hand/arm are temporary and don’t get worse. Sending big hugs your way.xx

  11. February 4, 2018 / 1:47 am

    Such an important topic. Definitely one that needs to be openly discussed more, so thanks for taking the time to make this post. <3 Hopefully people will continue talking, sharing their experiences, and being open to learning about what others are going through. 🙂

    • February 5, 2018 / 10:12 am

      I hope so too – every little helps in talking more, sharing, increasing knowledge & reducing stigma. Thanks for taking the time to comment 🙂

  12. February 5, 2018 / 1:50 am

    If you were to talk to me right, I would listen. If you were to say to me that you are feeling down. I will say that’s ok. There is nothing to be ashamed of. Take care.

    • February 5, 2018 / 10:13 am

      That’s very kind of you, thank you! And thank you for taking the time to read & leave such a lovely comment 🙂
      Have a lovely week. x

  13. February 7, 2018 / 7:16 am

    You GO GIRL!!!
    You have such amazing power to articulate your experience and thus elucidate others in a way that can’t fail to help.

    • February 7, 2018 / 4:25 pm

      Aw thank you so much Cindy, that’s appreciated – I do hope something, no matter how small, that I write could have a positive impact on even one person. Thanks for taking the time to read & comment – have a lovely week 🙂

    • February 10, 2018 / 5:57 pm

      Aw that’s awesome, thank you! I appreciate that more than you know Sheryl. Take care and have a lovely weekend 🙂
      Caz xx

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