It’s really important for everyone to talk. Whether young or old or in between, we all have things that affect our lives and our mental and physical health. Discussing these things can really help us in several ways. It seems like a very simple example but it’s very true that if we had a broken leg we wouldn’t hesitate to talk to a doctor and get help but we seem to struggle more with opening up about our feelings. Talking can help us to cope with the stresses of life. From little things to massive things, just talking to someone else can help us to feel less alone. It lessens the stigma around mental health problems as well. Have you ever noticed that when one person has been brave enough to speak about their feelings that it empowers others to do the same and the “taboo” around mental health issues is somewhat lessened? I definitely have. It can actually help to improve our physical health as well. Stress affects our physical health greatly. Talking can also help to strengthen relationships. Any relationship is built strong with good communication. The most important thing I have found though is that talking helps build a good relationship with ourselves.
This year Time to Talk is the 2nd of February and it’s a Thursday. I don’t know about anyone else so far this year but I feel like January lasted a decade and for some reason this week has only begun and I’m feeling like it’s already more than half way over and I haven’t completed anything so far on my never ending list of tasks I feel I need to complete. Even thinking of writing is a daunting task for some reason today, let alone sitting down with my laptop. I have told you this not because I want to focus on the negative but to highlight that it’s actually Ok to feel that way, it’s absolutely fine to talk about it or write about it, or express it any way that I need to, and it’s also possible that although I feel this way today, things can change and there are people that I can reach out to (and I have, you know who you are).
The fun part for me about writing anything is that I allow myself to get lost in research, I often seem to get diverted and end up finding out about things that are not related to the subject at hand but I do love my hours of just researching.
I did say I didn’t want to focus on the negative and I really don’t but it is also important for us to acknowledge what can happen when we don’t talk. If we ignore our mental health and our problems we can allow the situation to worsen. This can lead to things like self harming, self medicating on illegal substances, prescription medication or alcohol and in the worst cases it can lead to suicide. Lack of communication can lead to a substantial increase in depression, stress and anxiety. Let’s think back to the broken leg situation, would we walk around and allow it to become infected and become worse or would we seek help? And very much like a physical health problem, when we talk about our mental health we can discuss things like treatments and recovery plans. For some people a recovery plan could involve doctors and medication, for others it could be things like meeting with friends on a regular basis to catch up. Everyone is different and it’s absolutely normal for your treatment and recovery to be different to others. Also, life changes all the time, it’s totally fine to revisit the conversation and change the plan.
When we talk to others it gives them a chance to help us. It gives us a chance to express how we feel. Sometimes just saying something out loud to another person can take away its power over us. It helps to reduce stigma. I have personally felt less alone after discussing my problems with trusted friends or family and even a good doctor. It also helps us to problem solve. When we have an open dialogue with someone who we can discuss problems with, we sometimes find we had all the tools we needed, they might suggest a therapy group, or a therapist, or a community group that can help too. If we don’t talk we might never know. Finally, it can help to educate others about mental health problems and the importance of talking.