It’s that time of year again. Yes, today, 7th February 2019, is Time to Talk day. I must admit that I have struggled to think of what to write about for this year’s Time to Talk day so where this blog post is going I have no idea. And that is OK.
Sometimes we have difficult conversations and we don’t know how the other person is going to react to what we say. This makes us hesitant to talk about the difficult things. That’s why Time to Talk day is important. It’s an ice breaker. It helps us discuss what isn’t always an easy topic; mental health.
I still struggle to talk about my mental health. I’m hesitant to say I’m struggling to those important people in my life. In fact they are sometimes the last to know what I’ve been going through. Yet I can blog about it to lots of people I barely know.
So why is it so difficult to talk to the ones we love the most? I think it has to do with how they will react. This is something out of our control and we don’t know if they will be upset, angry or any other emotion. Because of the stigma surrounding mental health still we are on edge as to whether we will face it from those we love the most. And we know that we could end up feeling worse if they don’t react how we hope they will.
So this year I think I might just share a few pointers for those who are listening to someone share about their mental illness. I don’t know if it will be helpful but I’ll give it a go.
1. Just listen: Sometimes it is simply having someone to listen without judging or making suggestions that means the most to us. If we ask for help then yes by all means try and help but we don’t always want that.
2. Be calm: It can be hard to do but staying calm will allow us to open up more as we see you are not reacting. Going straight into panic mode can make us feel guilty for talking and stop us opening up when we really need to.
3. Find an outlet: You are as important as the person with the mental illness who is talking to you. Therefore make sure you have support too. It will make you stronger for the person who is confiding in you.
4. Don’t guilt trip us: Telling us that we are making you feel bad or causing you stress will just make us stop talking. It will play into the negative thoughts we have and make us regret opening up and may even stop us from opening up to others.
5. Don’t shut the conversation down: If you say you don’t want to hear this then you can make us feel like we shouldn’t talk. If you’re finding it difficult suggest alternatives. Make sure that they know it’s OK to talk.
So those are a few tips to help you support someone who may start a conversation about mental health. Hopefully they might be useful. If you have any more ideas feel free to share in the comments or via Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.