Let’s not just encourage someone to talk about their mental health, let’s practice to be good listeners. It’s easy for someone to say “ say how you feel” but how many times have we sat there knowing full well they aren’t listening to what you have to say.
When it comes to the need to talk about our mental health, we seem to put all of the responsibility in the court of the person who is already struggling. Sure, nobody can read minds, and people can’t expect specific help without asking for it. But mental health problems can make it harder to talk and ask for help in the first place. The responsibility of reaching out for help has to be matched – to provide safe spaces to talk, to listen, to not judge.
My experiences have taught me the difficulty of coping with unwanted and distressing thoughts. When I was dealing with unwanted thoughts, having to seek help felt like an overwhelming task when I was already just surviving.
I have often tried to reach out to people but felt like I am being a burden, why should they have to carry my pain too?
It can be very difficult for people to go there – to be with someone in their suffering – especially when they may not see the reality of it face-to-face, or don’t feel equipped to talk about such things. But this isn’t about having a degree in psychiatry, or even mental health awareness, we simply just want someone to talk to who isn’t going to judge.
We all have a personal responsibility to take care of our health as best as we can, and to try and seek support when we realise we can’t manage on our own. With my own mental health, my responsibility is to make sure I have people around me who I can rely on, be open with, and allow myself to be supported by.
Also as an outsider, with family and friends also suffering from mental health issues, we must take responsibility for putting our fears aside when people indicate they are in distress, get them to keep talking, and get them to share the load BUT let’s LISTEN, listen like we mean it.
Stop what you are doing, and listen, two minutes of your time can save a persons life, it can change their thought process, it can distract them from whatever they may be feeling.
I grew up with my Dad saying – “You have two ears, one mouth …use them in that order”
So instead of putting the responsibility on people to talk about their mental health, let’s educate ourselves about mental health problems, ask people about their mental health, and practice being good listeners – whether we have our own experiences of mental health problems or not.
Lots of love
Ms Bipolar x