So this week I was made up to be asked to do a talk about mental health for Time To Talk Day 2020 as part of a Well-being Week.
At first I thought great, what an opportunity to get people thinking and talking about mental health. For me I thought I’d talk specifically about depression and anxiety, but also I wanted to include something about getting people to talk about it.
Then came my unconscious, almost knee jerk reaction, “I can’t do this, people will know about my issues. Also who am I to talk about mental health etc.”
However the self doubt, self criticism and all the stuff I do to beat myself up is still there.
But, and it is a big BUT ( you’re thinking about big butts now aren’t you 🙂 ), by thinking positively and re-training our minds, rather than thinking negatively, like “all this hard work I’m putting in clearly isn’t working if I’m having these thoughts. There’s no way I can do these talks”.
I can think, “6 months ago there was no way I could even talk openly in public about my issues, now I’m thinking about doing sessions in front of a lot of people.” I know I want to help getting people talking and breaking those damn stigmas, let’s get out the comfort zone.
Now, I’m not doing this for a pat on the back, or a confidence boost, self gratification or praise – though there may be cynics out there that don’t agree with me, who cares right? – I’m doing this to show that we are not alone in the way we think sometimes. To show those supporting people with mental health issues, how their loved ones think and how they want to be treated, to gain a greater understanding.
The more people that talk about these issues and how they feel, the better for everyone concerned.
So anyway, with the support of my family and friends, I was able to do it.
I delivered three sessions, and before one of them I was so nervous I did a ‘stress test’ thing on my watch that my wife bought me for Christmas. Don’t know how it works exactly but it must check your pulse and stuff. I thought it only went up to 10 for super stressed, but I’m sure I was an 11! 🙂 The Spinal Tap of stress tests!!!
So I took a couple of minutes to do some mindfulness thinking and even though I was still nervous, I was able to get up and talk about my struggles and other things in front of all the people.
In the sessions I covered:
- The thought processes of someone with depression and anxiety
- What it looks like – the physical and emotional symptoms
- The dreaded ‘Spiral’ and what that can look like
- How best to approach and talk to someone that may be or is suffering with mental health issues.
I’ve had some really amazing feedback from the sessions, I really can’t thank people enough. Just goes to show that if we do put ourselves out there and start talking about mental health, there really are people that want to listen and more importantly, will benefit from the conversations.
However, Time to Talk Day is a fantastic initiative, that is really making a difference, but it really shouldn’t be something we do one day of the year. Talking to our family, friends and colleagues about mental health, or simply asking them how they’re feeling, should be as normal as drinking a cup of tea.
We are making headway, but there’s still so much to do around stigmas that sadly, people, like myself because I was just as guilty as anyone for attaching stigmas to myself and as a result not talking about how I was, still don’t feel comfortable.
Make a commitment to talk to someone to check in how they are. Doesn’t have to be everyday, doesn’t have to be a competition or a chore, just do it from a good caring place, you could just save someones life, plus I guarantee you’ll feel great for doing it 🙂
Take care of yourselves.