One good conversation can shift the direction of change forever. -Linda Lambert
As part of my role as a Time to Change young champion, I am currently taking part in the summer storytelling challenge. One of the recent themes was significant conversations around mental health, and the positive impact a particular chat (or chats) has had.
Despite being diagnosed with anxiety and depression in December 2016, I had struggled with my mental health for a number of years prior to that. Unfortunately so, probably due to lack of education and the fact that nobody around me noticed the signs, it was not until my few first months of sixth form that my struggles became more clear and I was able to talk to somebody about how I was feeling- that person being my mum. The conversation may have been long overdue, however, it was a massive relief to get stuff off my chest. Open and honestly. And not feeling like I have to hold anything back.
Recognising my consistent breakdowns and outbursts were becoming a huge problem, she sat me down at home and gave me the opportunity to talk about what and how I was feeling. What I was experiencing was confusing, frustrating and distressing and so it was initially very difficult to put into words.
After all, how do you explain to somebody else what’s going on in your head when you don’t even know yourself? For that reason, I needed a period of time to process my thoughts before being able to release them, and luckily for me, when the conversation did happen it went as well as I’d hoped. Probably better.
Having suffered with her own mental health problems for a number of years now, my mum could relate to many of the things I was going through. The tears. The hurt. The heartbreak. And everything else that comes with a mental illness. From the moment we started to speak about my mental health, there was absolutely no judgment on her part and all she wanted to do was find a solution and see me happy. See me back smiling, laughing, joking and having fun- not all this pain that overwhelmed me. Moving forward, no matter how tough things got, I knew I was not alone. In times of hardship, it can feel like the ‘world is against me’ or that nobody cares, but deep down I know that the people who love me will always be there to listen, talk and support me. Without that first conversation, I guarantee I wouldn’t be where I am now!
Should you be reading this and feel like you’re struggling with a mental health problem, my advice would be to confide in somebody you trust. Professional support is key in the road to recovery, nevertheless, you should never underestimate the impact a chat with family, friends, colleagues or anybody else could have on your life.
Speaking to somebody over a coffee, in the gym or over the phone may not seem like much, but it’s a much bigger step than you think. Finding someone who listens, understands and respects how you’re feeling is one of the best feelings you could ever have. Conversations have the power to change lives!
P.S I know I’ve not blogged for a while; the plan is to post more regularly from now on 🙂
Thanks for reading,