We know that conversations about mental health have the power to change lives. Our recent research shows how important open conversations in communities are to support everyone’s mental wellbeing. Here Nicky, Sandeep, Robbie and Joanne share their stories about the importance of mental health conversations.
'The first time I opened up about my mental health on social media, most of my followers had no idea that I was struggling – but it was surprising how overwhelmingly positive the response was.
Talking about my mental health has empowered me. The more I talked about it, the more I wanted to raise awareness, especially since there isn’t a lot out there about emotionally unstable personality disorder (EUPD).
But it wasn’t always easy. My first experience opening up wasn’t positive, but then I confided in my friend when I was in crisis and she was so supportive. So, open up to someone you trust, and if it doesn't work out the first time, try again. Sometimes the first time isn’t always successful. It could take a second or third time.
When it comes to listening, you can always ask someone how they are, but you have to listen to the response. Ask what someone means when they say they’re “fine”. Only by listening to their answer that will you really find out how they are.'
'I’m privileged and honoured to have a strong knit family. One day they said they were worried about me and they’d noticed changes in my behaviour – I was withdrawing, I wasn’t talking and I wasn’t eating.
That conversation was the turning point for me. I then had a doctor’s appointment and received a diagnosis. The conversation with my parents and receiving a diagnosis from the doctors showed me I wasn’t alone and that people could help me.
My family have been my rock. When I speak to them it feels like a weight off my shoulders. It feels like they know that bit more about my conditions and my problems. Because of my experience, they now know and understand more about mental health generally. My mum works in a school and a lot of students come to her and open up to her. She was able to use what I went through and turned it into a positive to help children at the school.
I try to talk about mental health at every opportunity I’m given. I go to a lot of events where people come together to share their journeys and help others. The more I do that and help others, the more I feel good. It feels very empowering and it makes me feel motivated and inspired.'
'I often found that I felt judged when talking about my Mental Health. How could a confident, loud and cheery guy suffer and why wouldn’t he show it. It wasn’t the done thing to go to a game of football, to the pub or out for food with friends, to talk about feelings. How wrong could one be?
Shortly after these feelings I found my lowest points, often wondering how I would find my way out. If I am quite honest with you, it wasn’t until I became more conscious of my feelings and serious about removing the stigma that I found it within myself to begin the sometimes ‘awkward’ conversations. Reflecting on them, they weren’t even awkward or daunting… it was my thoughts. I actually found my truest of friends through this process - the ones who understand that I have good days and bad, those who see ‘my’ signs and can intervene when necessary.
One thing is for sure, we are born with feelings - both positive and negative and such feelings can sometimes be unavoidable. Talking gave me the outlet to really finding my purpose in life - to help others.
Unwind, unload and let your thoughts and feelings out - feel your shoulders go down, the weight on those shoulders lift and the smile on your face rise (however slowly, be patient). Whether you find it easier to talk to a friend, family member, a colleague or somebody like Mind - just do it. Withholding those thoughts will only dig you further into a dark place. Shine bright, mental health is a continuum, you are in this place temporarily. Remember to prioritise your mental health as you would your physical health.'
'I have lived with mental ill health for over 30 years. When I was growing up, I never had anyone to talk to. It’s a relief just having a safe place to talk and not be judged. Now, I want to help those that feel alone and to encourage them to seek help when they can. I once reached out to a person as I needed someone to talk to. They just said ‘sorry, I can’t help’. They didn’t understand that all I needed was someone to listen, not to give me the answers.
My advice to anyone is to seek help when you can, and talk to someone. There are people out there who have been through the same thing. You are not alone.'
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