Greetings everyone and apologies for my recent absence from writing blogs, it’s been a busy period for me and I have been focussed on keeping myself well which sadly meant the writing had to take a back seat for a bit. I haven’t had anything resembling a slip backwards in my recovery I am please to say, but rather a feeling that if I had tried to keep up with all of the commitments I had set myself, then I might find myself starting to slide.
Part of the reason for the busy period is most definitely a positive thing, I have found out that I am going to become a father in July this year which is amazing and a little terrifying as well! I am happy to say that I feel up to this adventure which is something I do not think I would have been confident about coping with this time last year.
So, what did get me to sit down and write today? Well, it is Time to Talk day on Thursday, an annual day promoted by the wonderful Time to Change organisation who helped me get in to writing blogs on mental health back in September last year. If you haven’t heard of them, please do check them out!
How it Helps
Time to talk day just encourages people to have a conversation about mental health. Simply put, the more people talk about it, the less stigma and shame is attached to the subject. I was very much one of those people who hid my illness for many years and I can’t help but contemplate the amount of time I may have wasted in this futile pursuit, instead of just getting stuck in to getting better.
My being more open about mental health and my experiences was scary to begin with but becomes much easier as the months go by. The experiences I have had have all been very positive and in some cases, were the complete opposite of what I had imagined they would be.
Benefits and Stigma
The benefits of a day like Time to Talk day just helps to normalise conversations about mental health problems. People with mental health difficulties are often kept from seeking help by the stigma they feel will be attached to them as a result of asking for help or being open about what they are experiencing.
My being open about my illness has had unexpected, beneficial results in the last week which has only reinforced my belief in the value of what people like me are trying to do by being open about our experiences. A colleague spoke to me confidentially about some concerns they had and wanting my advice on how to start getting some help.
I was caught somewhat off guard as this was a person who outwardly seemed to have it all together and this just reminded me of how I must have seemed last year to most people at work. The masks we wear can be very convincing! I was only too happy to give some pointers as to the options available to them but the conversation was not altogether positive. The main concern of my colleague was whether they would have to inform our employer about this and wanted to know if there was any way the company could find out if they sought help via one of the mechanisms provided through our benefits scheme. There isn’t, but this just hammered home the fact that most people are immediately concerned about the effect a mental health related problem could have on their career prospects.
This is a result of stigma, pure and simple.
How to do your Part
So, what to do? Simply have a conversation with anyone about mental health, ask someone if they know it is “Time to Talk” day and what their views are of the stigma’s surrounding mental health. If there is someone close to you that you are concerned about, just ask them, “How are you?” not casually and off handed, but REALLY ask them. If you are concerned about a problem you think you have, make this the day you reach out to someone. It can be anyone, a family member, a close friend, a colleague you know has had experience, someone anonymously like the Samaritans, you could even send me an email if you choose.
There are many ways and many people who will listen and want to help. If you need some help in starting a conversation with someone, there are some great tips on the “Time to Talk” web page.
Be brave and be caring out there! Together, we can really start making an impact and everyone has the ability and opportunity to make a huge difference to someone, you could even save their life.
Best Recent Podcast:
If you can look past the outrageous title of this Tony Robbins podcast, you will get an intriguing view of how nutrition could play a major role in combatting some of the symptoms of depression. I know for one I am ordering the book and having a crack at this.
What I am reading:
This is not for any personal development as such but I have been struggling to find the motivation to read recently so I have taken a different approach and read something light, entertaining and not dauntingly long. I’ve only just started this but have been a fan of Abi’s for a few years so looking forward to see how it turns out.