Since the Time to Change campaign began, this day called ‘Time to talk’ has been a valuable way to begin a conversation about mental health. But that conversation can be hard to begin, because how do we work out what we want to say? Imagine a time when you know you need to have a difficult conversation; maybe it’s a break up, or a problem with your boss, or your parents, but whatever it is the thought of starting it makes your heart beat faster and your palms sweat. We’ve all been there. So, you want to run away, but you know you can’t, because actually you have to do it, there’s no choice. Now imagine that you do have the choice, that if you don’t do it the status quo will be uneasily preserved, life as it is will go on, so actually, although it wouldn’t be ideal, you could get away with not talking about it. So, you don’t. And maybe you manage to not have the conversation for a long, long time, and although sometimes you think maybe now would be the time, maybe you could have it, your heart races and your palms sweat, and you leave it for another day, that day when you’ll be the most courageous you’ve ever been, and everything will be ok.
This is what it’s like to start the conversation about mental health. That isn’t putting a downer on it, or being discouraging; something that means you can’t motivate yourself, you can’t tell what’s real and what isn’t, you find it impossible to negotiate your relationships, or to feel any feelings that you wouldn’t simply describe as ‘black’ or empty’, can mean it is terrifying to even contemplate talking about it. It feels like falling without reaching the bottom, or being certain you’ll be broken by the fall, that the impact of a few simple words will end you. We shouldn’t underestimate how scary it can feel. But it’s worth taking the chance, feeling the fear and doing it anyway because it doesn’t have to be complicated, you don’t have to bare your soul and go into detail. Just make a start and see what happens.
Here are some things to try; find someone you trust, and say that you’re struggling, that you’re finding life hard. Do something nice for yourself, like having a coffee with a friend, or watching a funny film, or taking some exercise, or just taking a break from the usual. This can make it less stressful to let someone know how you feel, because it may help to lift your mood enough to have the conversation. Remember that we’re all made in God’s image, so God knows what it is to have struggles with our mental wellbeing. Try not to put the pressure of 'I should...' or 'I shouldn't...' on to yourself. You are precious and worth caring for. Take a deep breath, breathe out slowly, and start to talk. Because if you feel ready, then it’s time.