With less than a month until 'Time to Talk' day I felt it was important to discuss the national drive, whilst including personal conversations from some wonderfully inspiring people which I hope will demonstrate the true power that talking about mental health has.
Time to Talk day will be taking place on the 2nd February as part of a national drive to get more people talking openly about mental health which has sparked millions of conversations. This was an initiative created in 2014 by the organisation 'Time to Change' in an effort to change the way we all think and act about mental health problems.
'1 in 4' will experience a mental health problem in any given year, however stigma has resulted in a 'fear' to talk about this. A survey carried out by Time to Change in 2013 found that young people had experienced stigma from: 65% of friends, 50% of parents, 45% partners and 43% teachers, and the one that always resonates with me is 28% said that negative reactions from others had made them want to give up on life. This desperately needs to change.
It may seem daunting to start a conversation about mental health, and it can result in some incredibly difficult emotions, but it can most importantly change lives. This does not have to be some movie style big gesture starting a conversation by throwing pebbles at a window whilst playing a guitar and singing in the rain (by all means go for it, maybe without the pebbles though aye). It can be as simple as sending a loved one a text, asking how they are doing, making sure to include them, letting them know you are there if they ever wanted to talk. I have found that sharing posts from charities like Time to Change on social media has for me led to many conversations with people saying it's helped them to see that they are not alone and felt more able to openly talk about their own mental health.
At the end of the day it comes down to this, mental health is something every single one of us have and it is an incredibly important that we feel able to talk about this in the same way we do with physical health. A simple 'how are you' can make a huge difference. The more we talk, the more lives we can change.
Now it is time to hear some about some personal conversations about mental health that have been particularly powerful to that person and shows how life changing one conversation can be.
A weight has been lifted
"If I tried to write about a conversation I'd had about mental health that had been open, honest and powerful this time last year I would have struggled as I was somewhat of a closed book. Since beginning to volunteer with Time to Change last year I started to become more open. It is hard to believe that in such a short space of time just how many meaningful conversations I've had and unfortunately it's not possible to cover every single one, but they have all had such a massive impact. I have had countless conversations with both volunteers and staff at Time to Change and I cannot put into words just how thankful I am for these conversations, which have been incredibly inspiring and supportive. As a result of this campaigning I became more confident in delivering testimonies and I went on to share this with my boyfriend, best friend and many others. Though this was incredibly daunting, I couldn't have been more overwhelmed and comforted by the response I received. My best friend has since gone on to be more open about his own struggles with his mental health and remained incredibly supportive of everything I do. To my boyfriend, I think it all came as more of a 'shock' and my mind did its usual 'He is going to run for the hills', but instead he simply said "My feelings for you haven't changed, I will always be here with you through everything, never leaving your side....I don't want you to feel like you're fighting on your own anymore because you're not." I honestly feel incredibly blessed to have such a supportive partner. It feels like a massive weight has been lifted since accepting my health and becoming more open about it." - Jodie Goodacre
My Girlfriend Opened My Eyes
"Till this day I'll never forget the conversation that I had with Jodie about her conditions and how she's coped with them over the years, I'll always remember her saying, 'I don't know if i should tell you, because you'll end up running away', I replied with,'my feelings for you haven't changed, I will always be here with you through everything, I'm never leaving your side, so don't worry I won't run away!'. After telling me everything that's happened to her and how much she's struggled with stigma for the past couple of years and it opened my eyes because at the time I didn't know a lot about mental health, but after this talk it made me want to understand more, so I could help the women that I love be happy and that's all I want in the world. - Jordan Ongley-Knight"
To see more from Jordan please follow him on twitter @JordonOngley
Lets send stigma into the galaxy
"To have suffered and survived, your past has stamped many labels onto your being. Medications as your ingredients and triggers as your allergies, this is your brand new packaging. Selecting you out of thousands, people choose you and read your contents. However, you can’t escape questions of curiosity, jokes of insanity or the silent tumbleweed of awkwardness. Afraid of becoming a bad taste in the mouth, you stay silent and shrug to this fleeting moment of opportunity. Time out. Your soul whispers and your heart twirls, giving you that much needed boost to say something. You explain your rocky road with raw emotion and scars. Your story can answer those questions, destroy the snickers and revel in the silence. By sharing your life with others, you can double decker discrimination and send stigma into the galaxy." - Emma Kay
To see more from Emma please check out her blog here and follow her on twitter @EmKRobertson.
The domino effect of opening up
"A year and a half ago I entered a particularly difficult OCD episode. Out of the desperately miserable state I wad in, and contrary to my usual behaviour, I told my boss, and a friend at work. Then before I knew it, everyone at work. I explained what OCD is, how it works, how it affects me, and how much difficulty I was facing. This wasn't just beneficial for me- over the coming months six different members of our team (of 20 people) have approached me to share problems that they have been experiencing; some of them knowing it was a mental health issue and some of them not having realised with out what they had learned from my opening up. At least one has now gone on to enter CBT (which they previously knew little about and didn't realise could help them); another has challenged a social media joke about OCD and shared my blog on the topic, openly saying that they had previously held such misconceptions about OCD." - Barry Charleton
To see more from Barry please check out his blog here and follow him on twitter @bazcharleton
Fancy a cuppa?
"Very early on in my relationship with my partner, Ben, I realised that I needed to tell him about my diagnosis of Schizoaffective Disorder. I explained that I had something I needed to tell him, terrified that he would run a mile or view me completely differently. Once I plucked up the courage and told him everything, he responded with: "I was so worried, I thought you were going to end things! I will do some reading and get myself clued up so I can try help you as much as possible. Fancy a cuppa?" This completely changed my perception of how other people can view serious mental illnesses and we are still very happy 5 years later." - Laura Nuttall
To see more from Laura please check out her YouTube channel here and follow her on twitter @Lozzamogz
My best friend acknowledged my pain
"When I was in my first episode of severe depression I had very little insight into how ill I actually was and so any concerns that my best friend, Kate, raised with me, I completely dismissed it. My CBT counsellor suggested we write each other a letter so we could explain our thoughts and feelings. My letter basically consisted of my trying to persuade her that I was absolutely fine, which I can now see was definitely not the case! Kate's letter however was full of concern, love and support as she told me that she couldn't possibly understand how I was feeling but I should know that I could always talk to her if I wanted and if there was anything at all she could do then all I had to do was ask. I've had people tell me that I'm not depressed, that I'm not helping myself and that I just need to get out of the house/exercise/eat well/go for a walk which is purely the stigma talking. I'm lucky that my best friend acknowledged my pain, didn't pretend to understand but texted me every single day to ensure that I knew I always had her behind me. It's ok if you don't know what to say to someone who is struggling with mental illness but just acknowledge that they have a real illness and let them know that when they're ready you'll be there waiting." - Lynette
To see more from Lynette please check out her blog here and follow her on twitter @lynessie
It all starts with a conversation
"I never thought I would tell anyone about my OCD who wasn't a medical professional or close friend but when I told my tutor at college everything changed. I wasn't isolated, lonely and scared anymore. I was supported, looked after and cared about. By having that conversation, not only did I get the support and help I needed to do the best at my studies, but I was also educating him about OCD, without even realising. He definitely didn't know much about OCD, before having met me. By being open and honest about my compulsions and intrusive thoughts, he was able to see the true reality of OCD and not just what Facebook, films or TV shows portray it as. This conversation helped reduced the stigma around OCD, even if it was only with one person- everything has to start somewhere. It all starts with a conversation." - Nicole Woodward
To see more from Nicole please check out her blog here and follow her on twitter @thriftyvintage_
Life has changed for the better
"My parents always looked upon me as lazy, quiet, troubled girl who had dangerous mood swings full of rage and upset. I quit two jobs which led to my dad saying 'everyone with depression are so unreliable'. They saw my counselling as just 'a money waster and a waste of time'. I reached the point where I thought, something needs to change and change soon. Late last year after lots of counselling where I gained more confidence I finally took the step. I opened up to my parents, I told them everything about my struggles from self harm to panic attacks and suicidal thoughts. They were both shocked, they apologised and now they know , i'm not just lazy, i'm struggling. I am not unreliable, I am scared of letting people down. They both let me know that they are there for me, they allow me the space I need. The conversation with my parents was the biggest challenge, incredibly tough and nerve wracking but now with their new understanding my life has grown positively and changed for the better." - Jessica People
To see more from Jessica please check out her blog here and follow her on twitter @jessicapeople
He smiled, hugged me, and told me it's fine
"Telling my grandfather about my mental health was one of the most difficult and scariest things I've ever had to do. I was visiting him last December, pondering on finding the right moment to bring up the topic. My mental health diagnosis means a lot to me and I always felt like if my family didn't know of my diagnosis then they wouldn't understand why I behaved in a certain way. I found the courage and told him. I told him I was so worried about what I thought. But his response was wonderful. He smiled, hugged me, and told me it's fine. Since then, we talk regularly about my progress and how I feel. It's one of the happiest moments in my life!" - Laura J Davis
To see more from Laura please check out her blog here and follow her on twitter and instagram @lauradavis_96
There is no shame
"I'm going to be honest with you, having a mental illness is hard. Dealing with it is not easy, nothing worth doing ever is. But let me tell you something. There is no shame in admitting you are having a hard time. There's no need to at your very best all the time. It's okay to not feel okay. Giving in to your mental health issues or mental illness is not the end of the world. You may think you have lost a battle, but that is not what it is about. It's not about winning or losing battles, it's about winning the war. Self-care and self-love is so important. Because I know you are strong, you can do this. I believe in you and will always support you, appreciate you and love you. Because in the end our love will corrupt the lies our brain tells us. You are a star." - Marc Lamberts
To see more from Marc please check out his blog here and follow him on twitter @lambertsmarc
The power of sharing
"Conversations change lives- they really do. When I was 17 and at school I walked into the weekly assembly that we were all dragged along to. But today was different as a girl from the year above stood in front of us and shared her story and battle with anorexia. She told us the gory details of this horrible illness and hit the hearts of many, and through doing so she actively reduced the stigma that surrounded mental illness. This was the day that I decided to start doing mental health assemblies and decided to start sharing my own mental health story as she showed me the power ones story can hold." - The Mental Health Blogger
To see more from The Mental Health Blogger please check out her blog here and follow her on twitter @mblog101
It made our friendship stronger
"After reading my best friends testimony, I felt able to talk about mental health openly with no stigma attached. This has only made our friendship grow stronger and makes me want to join the battle against stigma and discrimination surrounding mental health." - Nassim Ferrag
Having support makes such a difference
"My partner told her parents over New Year about my Bipolar. I've been having a severe depressive episode and its left the pair of us exhausted. We'd worried before about how to approach them and what their reaction would be. However, they were excellent, they asked lots of questions and then fully got behind us and made sure to be as supportive as possible while we stayed with them. It was always such a stress feeling we needed to hide my condition. Their positive response means that we can both seek support from them and feel safe to let any facade of wellness down. Having supportive family and in laws makes such a difference in recovery and respite." - Anonymous
I was honoured that she shared her story
"Throughout school I would talk to this teacher about things that had been going on and how I'd been feeling. I would tell her as much as I could without causing great concern. Since I left sixth form I've stayed in contact with her and the other day when I was with her she told me that the reason she was so fond of me and would always talk to me to make sure I was okay was because when she was my age she took an attempt on her life and no one was really there for her. I felt honoured for her to feel like she could share that and feel less alone." - Abbie Brewer
To see more from Abbie please check out her blog here and follow her on twitter @AbbieVolunteers
You've got so much love around you
"I am actively involved in my local church and I volunteer in many areas. One of the main areas where I’m a key player is the Church Band (worship team). I was going through a severe bout of depression and my pain condition was spiking. I felt like I was just forcing myself through our services and practices. I pushed myself way too much physically and mentally and ended up having to take some time out from church altogether. I met up with my team leader to discuss my situation and how I would be introduced back into the band. It was in this meeting that I had the best piece of wisdom which I still stick by now. He then talked to me about the importance of looking after myself. He was harsh with me but it was what I needed to hear. Ever since I’ve been supported and encouraged to look after number 1 by this friend and he continues to challenge me to pause and reflect on how I’m feeling. If I’m not feeling 100% then I’m not capable of giving my total best in my guitar playing etc."- Rob Bowen
To see more from Rob please follow him on twitter @robscottbowen
I shall be ever grateful
"My depression and anxiety became really bad in the third year of my degree. I had tried to seek help from the university before but was told my grades were perfect, there couldn't be anything wrong with me. A year later, I was barely functioning and the same lecturer told me maybe academic life wasn't for me and I should look into doing something else, that I just couldn't handle stress. This made me feel even worse, I enjoyed the work I was doing, I'd always wanted to go into a career in medicine and research. Suddenly I was been told I was not capable. I felt useless and weak and didn't know what the point was anymore. As a pharmacologists, I'd study depression, it's pathophysiology, it's treatment. I knew it was real but all of a sudden I was doubting its existence, telling myself I was being pathetic. A conversation with a different lecturer, a lecturer who became a really great source of support helped me remember how valid and real depression is. She asked me, would I tell someone with cancer to just get on with it, get over it or why they needed medication? Of course me answer was no. And she then asked why should mental health be treated any differently. This conversation really helped me still feel like a valid human being and I shall be ever grateful to her for that." - Anonymous
I felt understood and supported
"2016 was the year I realised how important it is to be open about mental health. I began to discuss my personal struggles on my blog, and finally opened up to friends and family. The hardest step was opening up at work. I'd started a new job and didn't want to make a bad first impression. I had no choice but to tell my boss that I have weekly counselling sessions. He could not have been more supportive. A few weeks later I published a post about my experience with OCD. I was particularly proud of it so I decided to share it with my colleagues. What followed was an amazing discussion about OCD; they were kind, supportive, asked me questions and one colleague even confided that he has had similar experiences. In that moment I felt amazing. No-one was judging me, and I left work that day feeling understood and supported." - Mel Boyle
To see more from Mel please check out her blog here and follow her on twitter @geekmagnifique
It was a life-saving sentence
"It was 5am, raining and cold. There was someone sat on a bridge looking down. Sadly that someone was me. The story behind this is long but I had basically tried things that only led to experiencing stigma or ignorance without much benefit, making it harder to turn to other places for help. I had already gone to A&E and tried crisis services but it all seemed fruitless. As I sat there I had no idea what to do. I couldn’t phone for help – I felt too embarrassed – and it felt like a waste of time because no one could help anyway. I thought if I phoned I would be a waste of resources. Then my friend’s words echoed in my mind: “Forget what anyone thinks, forget their judgement. You must do what you can to stay alive and well. If that means calling for help, then go and call for help. You are strong for going through what you do.” We’d had this conversation some weeks before but this line in particular stuck with me. When she said that, it made me feel valued and validated – feelings that stigma had taken away. The fact that she had told me to ask for help & stay alive showed me that my life meant something. She showed me it was OK to ask for help, no matter how anybody would judge me, because at the end of the day asking for help to live in the face of intense pain was brave in itself. So I did it. I phoned for help. I was shivering from the cold, looking dishevelled and feeling desperate. I felt I couldn’t move from where I was. Services arrived and helped me get to a safe place. I am now doing much better and am so glad I had that conversation with my friend ages ago, where that life-saving sentence originated from. She showed me that my life is as valuable as anyone else’s no matter what the stigma says." - Goodbye Stigma
To see more from Goodbye Stigma please follow them on twitter @GoodbyeMHStigma
It turned my life around
"What got me to seek further counselling and help from my uni in general regarding my studies as well was a conversation I had with a friend at uni where I admitted that I was feeling pretty depressed about how poorly I'd done at uni so far and how I wasn't able to deal with my anxiety and what she did was listen and recognised how I was feeling and I remember her telling me that how I was feeling was not unique and that I should look into getting help from the counselling services and careers service to help me deal with my problems and move forward. She convinced me to seek help which I did and it turned my life around at uni and helped me on my way to getting counselling and volunteering for Time to Change" - Peter Shaw
To see more from Peter please follow him on twitter @pjshaw192
I knew I could ask for their help
"Talking to my family about my suicidal thoughts made me feel safer, less alone and more understood. Explaining to them that I think about suicide doesn't mean I will actually hurt myself. Personally I know I don't really want to die when I feel so depressed, I feel more like I don't want to exist. Talking about it has changed my life, I feel my family trusts me more, and I know that if I felt like I was going to hurt myself I could ask for their help." - Alice Daly
To see more from Alice please follow her on twitter @alice_daly
I hope society will become more accepting
"Conversations are a crucial aspect of life, the power of words is a force not to be reckoned with, talking allows us to understand other individual’s views, to embrace their experiences and knowledge. To eliminate stigma, more conversations need to happen. A memorable conversation I have experienced made me realise that I needed to go my own path from friends to start the recovery process. One friend had opened up about her experiences around the time I was about to start receiving help, I did eventually open up to them but didn’t receive the reaction I was hoping for, after a few months I could no longer hide that I was in fact suffering and when I opened up about it to them, it felt like there was more apathy than anything else, they focused on my other friend, it hurt. But this conversation allowed me to see their side and helped me to realise that what my now best friend taught me is true, everyone that comes into your life is a lesson or a blessing. I am blessed by their friendship in the past but learned not everything can stay forever, especially when life has different plans for you all. But I also learned from this conversation that amid everything, there is still the possibility of hope and remaining strong. Conversations don’t always have an immediate positive effect but eventually you learn why something happened the way it did. I am more open about my health now regardless of the reactions I may get but I am open in the hope of society to becoming more accepting." - Leanne
Let's do this together
"I told my boyfriend what was happening and he simply said "I don't completely know anything about what you're going through, but I really want to help you. I love you so much and i want you to be happy. I know it's difficult but it's possible if we work together. You're the most amazing, beautiful, caring person in the entire world. I'm always here for you to talk to me, no matter the time of day. Do not hesitate to call me if you are struggling okay? I need you to promise me you'll phone me if you need someone to talk to. You deserve to be happy and not struggling. I love you so much, let's do this together!" Having such an honest and open conversation really helped" - Chloe Richards
To see more from Chloe please follow her on instagram @richards2149
A two minute conversation that allowed me to accept myself
"During my university interview I was asked 'why do you want to study Health and Social Care?', my reply being 'I want to be the person that wasn't there for me'- nervously explaining that I had previously had an eating disorder. I remember how my tutors acted like it was nothing, no problem, no judgment, myself in complete shock. I was expecting a raised eyebrow and a scribbled NO on my application or a sympathetic 'you poor thing' but no, I was treated like I imagine every other student was. I had never received such a normal response, I felt like everyone else, a feeling I had longed for. A week later I got accepted, but I think even if I hadn't this two minute conversation allowed me to accept myself and my mental health a little more, a conversation that changed my life." - Nicole Williams
To see more from Nicole please check out her blog here and follow her on twitter @_nicolesjourney
She was proud and I was so relieved
"February 2015 was a pretty low point in my life - I had been battling depression and poor mental health for almost a year. I was in my final year at uni, and although I'd confided in some friends about how I was feeling and what I was going though, I didn't feel like I could talk to my Mum about it. We have a really close relationship, and I knew that she'd do whatever she could to support me, but I worried about causing her stress, and my depression managed to convince me that I was a burden. For many months, I kept my struggles hidden from her, but one night I decided that enough was enough, and that I needed her support. I was so exhausted and worn down by battling my mind, I knew it was time to reach out to my Mum and tell her what I was going through. I rang her and said that I had something to tell her, but that I was okay and I didn't want her to worry. It was hard to find the words to start the conversation- I'd imagined it so many times in my head. I told her that I had depression, and that I'd started taking medication 4 months earlier, and that I was on a waiting list for counselling. I felt an incredible relief as Mum told me that she was proud of me, and she promised that she was by my side every step of the way, and that we'd get through it together. Reaching out to my mum has been the best decision I could have made for my mental health. There have been some very tough times over the past 2 years, but I know that I have her unconditional love and support, and I couldn't be more grateful." - Liv
To see more from Liv please follow her on twitter @lr_242
Her smile was enough
"There is always someone to listen and make a difference! When suffering with severe depression there is nothing you can do but feel alone and afraid of how you are feeling. You want to tell friends and family members but are too afraid that they won't understand and so you keep it to yourself. Keeping it inside just puts you in a darker place and nothing but anxiety and panic eats you up inside. After months and months of trying to hide my feelings by pretending everything was ok I knew I had to do something to stop these thoughts. After contemplating suicide the next thing was to get help and see someone. It took months to pluck up the courage and then eventually I rang for a doctors appointment. I nearly didn't go but am so glad I did. I still remember the doctor sitting staring at me and I kept thinking please don't judge me! The doctor listened while I talked and surprisingly enough once I started I just couldn't stop. I even started to cry but didn't feel ashamed! The doctor was caring and although she didn't say much her smile was enough! After telling her my life story I felt so much better and actually felt the weight lift off my shoulders in front of her. I even admitted to suicidal thoughts which I hadn't discussed with anybody but here I was telling a stranger! She asked me if I would consider counselling and straight away I thought yes it can't be hard after what I've just sat through. Please do not suffer alone there are people to listen and help and now I am fine and no longer need anti depressants to get me through the day. Don't give up and don't look at yourself as being weak for feeling this way. The sooner you get help the better you will feel. I regret not doing anything about it sooner." - Anonymous
I expressed my truth
" 'The doctors have heard it all before.' The good old saying. True, with all due respect. I comprehend the message. I respect the sentiment. Whilst trying to find the courage to speak my truth, this wasn’t entirely helpful to hear. It done nothing for me. Rather, it made me more nervous. I’m a perfectionist with every sense of the word. For as long as I can remember. There had to be a “right” way of saying it. In the “right” tone. Using the “right” words. As, if it wasn’t “right” (whatever that was in my head), hell would break loose. So I’d practice the scenario in my head, each with different outcomes and responses that were humanly possible to deliver from the professional. Once again, I’d repeat the message, “The doctors have heard it all before.” But I had never said it before. He/she/they may be used to hearing it, but I was never used to sharing it. Sharing my vulnerability was to take practice. Patience. Understanding. And mostly from myself before I expected it from others. “Shame.” “Angst.” “Embarrassment.” These are words I had assigned (critically, negatively) to what I was feeling. Often making me bottle it, choke up on my words and leave, just as disappointed as the last time I tried to confront the situation. A moment arrives where you just express it. Perhaps you’ve reached a time of desperation. Perhaps you’re just ready now. Now was the time to practice aloud, what I had perfected in my head. Delivered, imperfectly; I expressed my truth. And the GP listened with patience and understanding." - Simba
To see more from Simba please check out her blog here and follow her on twitter @SimbaTalks
A conversation helped me realise my feelings were valid
"I would have to say the first time I opened up to my university counsellor about my anxiety is a conversation I will always remember. I'd never ever spoken to anyone about panic attacks before as I was so embarrassed by them, but she made me realise just how many students experienced them and helped me to feel valid again. That conversation really changed the way that I looked at my mental illness. Rather than seeing it as a hindrance, she taught me how to use it as fuel for my fire." - Lauren Chassebi
To see more from Lauren please check out her blog here and follow her on twitter @laurenevie_
The more people I talk to, the bigger my gang
"Confiding in somebody for the first time is a big step and an even bigger relief. However, your true support crew is for life, not just for Christmas. I have a brilliant anti-anxiety gang which includes four particularly fabulous people: my husband, my stepson, my mum and my friend Tom. If I'm struggling they check in. Sometimes they check in with each other. If I'm scared the bus is toppling over my step son won't laugh, he'll provide me with a response based on scientific fact to help me understand that it can't actually happen. If I'm in the throes of a panic attack, my husband will talk me down then show me YouTube videos of 'cats falling off stuff'. If I think I can't cope with a situation Tom will deliver a forceful Winston Churchill speech and hand me a stiff drink. And if I am feeling hopeless, my mum will remind me how strong I am and that she's always there for me. The more people I talk to, the bigger my gang. Luckily, nobody's cancelled their membership yet." - Lucy Nichol
To see more from Lucy please check out her blog here and follow her on twitter @Lucy_Nichol78
We ended up talking for hours
"I've recently started seeing someone new after almost two years of working together. During that time we've only known each other in a professional capacity, but after deciding to give it a chance, I found myself in a situation where I had to make a decision to open up about my mental health and how it affected me. After having a particularly anxious day because I forgot to take the rubbish out (of all things!) I told him that sometimes my anxiety can mean I'm a bit tearful or stressed or panicked, to which he replied that 'I was always really good at my job though'. Rather than getting wound up about the misunderstanding that because I had anxiety, I wouldn't be good at my job, I decided to use the opportunity to tell him that it can affect me in different ways, and that working hard helps me deal with my anxiety, but that also sometimes even though I came across like I was doing well and on top of things at work, it wasn't always like that. We ended up having a really good chat for hours about mental health in general and he opened up about a lot of things that I don't think many people knew. Just taking the time to have that first conversation has made a huge difference so far and I'm really thankful to all the people who've supported me to have that conversation." - Anonymous
We are resilient and stronger than we sometimes feel
"Meeting and hearing other people's stories at time to change events and my local branch of mind made me realise I really am not alone and that we are resilient and stronger than we sometimes feel we area when we struggle" - James 'Fabio' Woods
To see more from James please check out his blog here and follow him on twitter @jamesofthinking
You realise that you are not alone
"I am diagnosed with a personality disorder that causes me problems to say the least. But I do try and keep on top of it. I work full time for Aviva in Norwich as a motor claims handler. In August of 2016 I went off sick, I was having a manic episode. To cut a long story short I was off sick for 4 months, but my line manager always kept in touch, I had regular visits to the doctor and was seen by the mental health team. Whilst off I also had a Occupational Health Report done, with a return to work plan. I decided to return to work at the end of November 2016 and I sat down with my line manager and just talked about why I had been off, how my mental health affects my day to day life and how I felt returning to work. I was worried everybody would look and stare at me and then have a good old gossip. How wrong could I have been. My line manager was appreciative of me being honest and up front and my work colleagues were all so pleased to see me. I have a realistic plan in place for my return, not rushing or feeling rushed. Having spoken about my issues, I feel so relieved and I know I have the full support of my company. Talking to my colleagues, you realise that it's not just you that has issues. I did worry about the stigma, but that has now gone. Aviva are a company that fully support their employees that have mental health issues which has given me the confidence to talk about my issues and I now feel fully confident that I can talk to my line manager should I have any problems, with complete confidence. In being able to talk, the pressure is off thus not having to take the problem home, stewing on it and causing a build up of stress in my own head. I don't have to sit and worry. Life is so much easier and stress free. I've become more productive and slightly less stressed." - Dawn Swales
To see more from Dawn please follow her on twitter @purplehaze65
A realisation from one conversation
"The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four people is suffering from a mental illness. Often I've looked at my closest friends and tried to determine if this is a statistic that people can visibly see. In my head I logically know this is not true, however the stigma that even today is still attached to mental health problems still irrationally scares me. That's why the importance of one conversation with one person who understands is invaluable. I was diagnosed with mental health problems 3 years ago but it was only after one conversation with my mother that I truly felt I was able to ask for help. I'd reached my lowest point, I was spiralling out of controlling refusing to do school work, extreme mood swings (especially feelings of violence), I'd self harmed, lashed out at anyone who tried to help me and my weight had plummeted. I'd reached breaking point but I still didn't want to seek help. I was afraid of what my family would say, if I admitted I wasn't coping to them and to myself, what did that say about me - it felt like I'd failed. It was late one evening when my mum came upstairs and found me in a hysterical heap on the floor, exhausted and broken.
She came in and asked me if I was okay, and it was that simple question that resulted in me confessing all to her. I told her I didn't know what to do, I didn't want to get help, I didn't want the stigma of admitting I was having problems mentally. Now I'd had explosive arguments with my mum because of these problems before, where she'd ask me to seek help but I'd refused. However at this point something seemed to have changed. She helped me see that asking for help and going to the doctors wasn't admitting failure but was actually the first step in getting better. She made me see how lucky I was that I had a family around me that who wanted to support me and help me get better. She made me see that those who were ignorant to its existence only maintained this stigma surrounding mental health. That actually seeking help for it was the right decision for me but it was a decision I had to make for myself nonetheless. But no matter what I chose I would always have my family support. It was this simple conversation, this simple understanding, what now seems like a simple decision, which made me seek help and learn to cope with my mental health. My mother helped me see the stupidness of stigma and assumptions associated with mental health, and it was this single realisation from one discussion that have since helped me maintain a more stable lifestyle (still with the occasional slip up). But most importantly I am a much happier person because of it." - Anonymous
Why the world needs to see and hear this message
"This is going to be my first ever blog. I’m nervous….however since I released my book Seconds To Snap the wave it has created has been immense. It’s also shown me there is a huge need as I anticipated for mental health, mind maintenance and self-awareness not only to mitigate future pressures on the NHS – but also on families, relationships and friends. I suffered first hand with anorexia (a very complex psychological illness ) – which also came hand in hand with severe OCD, depression, high levels of anxiety, panic attacks, suicidal tendencies, intrusive thoughts, self hate, self-loathing, social isolation, insomnia, self-harming, lack of confidence, distrust as well as a massive terrifying episode of psychosis. There was not a moment back then when I expected to live let alone have a great and worthy life one day. However an incredible doctor gave me a tiny glimmer of hope to which I clung to in the hope it may be true. Without her and the other members of the team I would not be here today. Through huge amounts of intense inpatient treatment, medication and self-discovery I turned my whole life around to become a valuable member of society, a wife, mother and friend.
I love my life and am truly grateful each day and thankful to all the people who saved it. So when I wrote the book I wanted to help others come out of the shadow of fear and shame and to also offer them the same glimmer of hope that I had as it was all true. Also to thank the patients who were my family and friends, but also a huge acknowledgement to the staff and doctors who tolerated my crap each day to save me. I’m forever in their debt. Everyone needs hope – love – stability – early intervention and especially knowing that if they did get sick there would be help available in their home town with the same urgency as any other emergency. There should be a bed available in a hospital close to home. There is nothing more terrifying than a severe episode of mental illness – it must be a million times worse for child who can’t understand what’s going on. They need to be close to family each day for extra emotional support. It’s also very traumatic for the family when someone can’t access treatment or get a bed. And then the cycle of their own stress and anxiety starts. I asked a parliament member recently how he would feel if he had a heart attack that day and went to the hospital and was told – sorry you need to come back in a few months as there are no beds, or doctors. How would he feel?
As from my experience and everyone I’ve spoken to in the despair of mental illness you can’t afford to wait. You can die – it can be terminal. The brain is an organ and a very special one at that controlling everything about us. Neuroscientists are working hard each day to bring us more knowledge and insight into this incredible part of our body which contains such complexities like our personalities, thoughts, feelings and memories. It has to be triaged the same way as every other part of our body when it requires help and attention. So at the end of the day it’s all down to money for resources – there is not enough to go around, we can’t treat everyone when there is need as there is not enough money. If there is early intervention and insight with education regards mind health and everything associated with that – we can help stop the need for it in the long run. Thus less urgency for funds and less strain on the doctors, nurses and NHS.
I did an article recently as there was a child who had to wait 22 months for an appointment with CAMHS. UNACCEPTABLE!!! All due to lack of money as they had no doctors available for the appointments. The family as well as the child were hugely distressed. Another awful story was a young girl I had been told about had tried to take her life in January – the first appointment they had to give her was June!!! UNACCEPTABLE!!!!
Let’s get talks like mine into schools, workplaces, hospitals, universities across the globe. Mind health, mental health, self-awareness, meditation, mindfulness, body confidence, resilience all need to be taught and spoken about on a daily basis to prevent the devastating impacts they are predicting on the NHS by 2020. The way ahead needs to be predicted on our learnings of the past. So in short this is why the world needs to see & hear this message! It’s our society and I’m doing all I can to create change alongside some incredible people one day at a time." - Tina McGuff
To see more from Tina please check out her book here and follow her on twitter @TinaMcGuff
I hope these wonderful conversations inspire you to have a conversation about mental health on Time to Talk Day. Thank you to all of the amazing people who have contributed to this post, it has honestly been so overwhelming to see to many positive conversations you've all had! Keep shining like the stars you are!
I would love to hear what you are planning for Time to Talk Day and your powerful conversations - drop me a message at @JodieVolunteers
Sending positive vibes,