Time to Talk: Why it’s okay not to be okay
Sarah Hannah, Fellow Spoonie
2 February 2018
It’s thought that at least 1 in 4 people in the UK will deal with mental health problems each year. While Mind estimates that the overall number of people with mental health problems has not changed significantly in recent years, it does look as though the way that people cope with mental health problems is getting worse.
And this is a huge problem. Opening up about mental health and voicing how you’re feeling is far from easy, and it takes a lot of courage. Whether you choose to confide in a doctor, a loved one, a friend, or online… there’s no denying how daunting it can feel.
But it’s more important than ever that we we’re honest about how we’re feeling, and that we try to share some of these thoughts out loud. Especially if you’re living with a chronic illness. Yesterday was Time to Talk Day, and as Spoonies with both mental and physical health challenges ourselves, we’re here whenever you’re ready to talk.
We’re here to come together, to help stop the stigma around mental illness, and to share the fact that it’s okay not to be okay.
Nobody can know your journey better than you. And when it comes to chronic illness, you really don’t get it, until you get it. Talking about your mental health and your battles might not always be the whole solution, but it’s always a good place to start. On the other side, if you’re worried about a friend, loved one, colleague or even someone you only know in passing, don’t be afraid to reach out. Conversations change lives. Even if it’s just a small message, sometimes that’s all it takes to give someone comfort, and to let them know that they’re not alone.
Are you ready to talk about mental health? Here’s how you can do it.
Small gestures are important
As we mentioned earlier, sometimes the smallest gestures can mean the most. If you’re ready to talk about mental health or you’re worried about someone else, it can be difficult and overwhelming to know where to start. Some people might not feel comfortable with a face-to-face conversation, but something as small as picking up the phone or sending a text is a small way of starting conversations, and taking away some of the loneliness.
Choose your time and place
For many people, face-to-face conversations can seem particularly scary, especially if you’re thinking about opening up. Some find it easier to talk in a more relaxed setting where you can be side by side, such as driving, going for a walk, cooking, or relaxing on the sofa.
Make sure you’re somewhere you feel safe and comfortable, and where you’ll feel most at ease with talking about what’s on your mind.
Be as open as you feel you can
There are lots of misconceptions around mental illness, so being as open and as honest as you feel comfortable with can be a great way of letting people know what’s going on, and how you’re feeling. Sharing small details and helping your friend/loved one/colleague/doctor understand what you’re going through can help to build up trust and understanding.
Remember that it’s up to you how much you share, and you don’t have to share anything you’re not comfortable with.
Don’t treat them any differently
People with mental illness may choose to stay quiet for a number of reasons, but we should understand that many will keep their struggle to themselves out of fear of being judged or treated differently. If a loved one opens up to you about how they’re feeling, it’s important that you treat them as you always would.
They’re still the same person they’ve always been, and you should make sure that you still do the same things that you’d always do together. If someone is trusting you and opening up to you about their mental health, it’s important to make them feel safe, respected and comfortable.
We know that more often than not, chronic illness and mental illness go hand in hand. Battling with your health day in, day out takes its toll. Constantly fighting with your own body, taking brutal medications, battling pain and fatigue, and sometimes having to readjust your life goals and expectations is not for the faint hearted.
Some days will be better than others, but if you’re having a bad day, week, month, year… we’re here to talk. It’s okay not to be okay, and the more we can open up and have these types of conversations, the more we fight against the stigma or mental illness.
Love, Spoons & Positive Thoughts
The SHH Team x
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