Wednesday 5 February 2020

#TimeToTalk: Thank You for Not Assuming I'm OK

This year’s Time to Talk Day is Thursday February 6, 2020.

I wrote recently about feeling flat which is something that happens from time to time. Many of my friends live with significant mental health issues and it would be easy for them to dismiss my accounts of when I am feeling low. It is a testament to them and the nature of our friendships that I feel safe sharing how I feel no matter how mild that might be compared to what are often dealing with.

My friend Aimee Wilson blogs at I’m NOT Disordered about her lived experience with serious mental health issues including borderline personality disorder, self-harm, and suicidality. My moods, issues, and problems are mostly trivial in comparison to hers but Aimee has always treated me with respect and empathy. The following exchange is a great example of this. It meant a lot that she did not assume I was okay but checked to be sure.

Martin: Hiya. I’m making some notes towards answering the questions at the end of your travel post. The ALL THINGS TRAVEL & MENTAL HEALTH one.

Aimee: Awesome! Some very big questions!

Martin: I was feeling a bit flat this morning actually, so this new piece inspired by yours has given me a little boost.

Aimee: Why flat?

Martin: Dunno exactly. Getting bogged down with the writing is part of it (but also the writing gets stuck when I’m not feeling so great so it’s not always clear what’s going on).

Aimee: Catch 22?

Martin: Definitely. I’ve come to recognise that I get this way every now and again. It mostly passes in a day or so.

Aimee: Hmmm. I guess rough days are kinda normal. It’s hard because being in mental health I hear things like that and instinctively think you’re struggling, but actually a lot of people have hard days and don’t have a mental health diagnosis. Just so long as you’re safe.

Martin: Thank you for not assuming I’m OK, if that makes sense.

Aimee: Of course! Just because you’re usually the support doesn’t mean you don’t need it yourself sometimes! And I’m here for you just as you are for me.

Martin: I feel better already! OK, I guess I’d better get some work done. Catch up later.

I checked back with Aimee a little later:

Martin: Our chat really helped motivate me and lift me from feeling low. Thank you.

Aimee: I’m glad it helped.

What Aimee did and said might seem simple — even commonplace — but it is precisely such “simple” conversations that are so important. As I’ve written elsewhere:

It’s extraordinarily valuable to me that I have several people who I know I can go to. I trust them and I trust myself with them. These are the people I know I’m safe with, that I can be vulnerable with if I’m feeling under the weather or something’s going on for me.

No matter who we are or what we are living with, we all need to feel that our feelings and problems are valid. It doesn’t take a lot to offer that sense of validation to someone. We can all do that. You can do that. Time to Change, the UK’s largest mental health campaign challenging stigma and discrimination has chosen the party game “Would you rather?” as the focus of this year’s Time to Talk Day, which is Thursday February 6, 2020.

Mental health problems affect one in four of us, yet too many people are made to feel isolated, ashamed and worthless because of this. Time to Talk Day encourages everyone to be more open about mental health – to talk, to listen, to change lives. We know that talking about mental health can feel awkward, but it doesn’t have to. This year, we’re using the popular game ‘Would you rather?’ to help break the ice and get the conversation flowing.

To get involved check out the Time to Change website. Share why you’re choosing to talk about mental health by using #TimeToTalk on your social media posts. Follow #TimeToTalk on Twitter and Instagram, and reply to and share posts.


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