Yesterday was it’s Time To Talk Day 2020. A day to promote open and honest conversation about mental health and encourage us all to support others who maybe struggling. Coincidentally this coincided with my first personal counselling session (after my initial assessment). It has brought up so many things for me to think about already and I believe it’s something that will really help me but it also left me feeling like I’d been run over by a bus emotionally afterwards!
So why am I sharing this with you? Because previous to my being diagnosed with depression 5 months ago, I never really understood what depression was. I have many friends and family members who had and were going through it and I was always there to lend an ear or help if I could but like they say until you walk a mile in someone else’s shoes you are never really going to “get” it. I knew this from other experiences in my life like being a mum of a special needs son. Having friends in the same position was invaluable. Knowing they understood how hard it was, the long term lack of sleep, hospital visits, education and care concerns etc….. the list was endless and those friendships are priceless. So when you’ve never “been” there or walked in those shoes it can be hard to know how to react.
I was also lucky enough though to have many very close friends who despite never having been where I was were amazing and I love them for it. I did though also encounter many who were uncomfortable with our situation and would avoid me and my son.
A survey of more than 4,000 adults in the UK by mental health anti-stigma campaign, Time to Change, found one in three of us would avoid speaking to a friend who is struggling with their mental health to avoid an awkward conversation. Asked why, people’s top concerns were saying the wrong thing (39%), feeling uncomfortable (28%), or being rude (23%). Those are tough statistics
I never in a million years, thought that this person I am now would be me. I was someone who coped. I was told by others “wow you’ve been through so much, I don’t know how you do it!” And I probably started to believe it. I AM a strong positive mama. I keep going, support and care for others, right? But it seems that life will always catch up with you in the end, in some way or another if you don’t address events as they happen.
Going to the gp and getting support was the hardest thing I had to do. To me it was admitting failure and weakness. I still find it so hard to accept that this is not just a blip and that I’m ok really. I know though deep down it isn’t and I’m not where I want to be yet but inside I tell myself I’m a fraud and I need to pull myself together (exactly what you shouldn’t say to others but I say it to myself!). Why are we so hard on ourselves? Our own worst critics!
If you get to a place where making decisions, getting out of bed, dealing with day to day life is hard and your normally the one who is in control of family life, that’s not just hard on you, it’s hard on all your immediate family. The whole dynamics of family life change and no one really knows how to deal with that, least of all you when you feel so overwhelmed and if you don’t have loving support around you it can feel impossible to change.
I’m better than I was 5 months ago but I’m still finding things hard. So if you have a friend who stops socialising, who maybe is not on top of school events like they used to be, forgets everything: birthdays etc… always seems to be tired, doesn’t answer calls, her house is a mess, if you feel they are behaving out of character. Maybe they are feeling low.
More than anything let them talk and if need be just actively listen, let them feel your there for them, ask them how they “really” are, be ready with a hug and don’t judge…… they are probably criticising themselves enough already.