November 12, 2012

Hayley, a Time to Change bloggerThe first step to overcoming your fears regarding mental health is to talk about it.

Coincidently, this is often one of the most feared responses. It is difficult to admit that a bit of us is not working properly, that we can't do it all by ourselves and that we need help. But getting that information out there is the best way to get help.

There are many different people you can talk to, but the best place to start is with the people you love and trust. With me, it was my parents. People who had known there was something wrong for some time. Then, it was the doctors. Then other family members, friends, teachers, and anyone else who I felt could help. Getting over that first hurdle can improve your life in ways you didn't even know where possible! So, how do you go about talking for the first time?

The key for me however, is to keep talking

With me, I planned and wrote out several ideas of what I was going to say. In the end, I just gave that list to my mum and dad, who helped from there. I found things moved fairly quickly from this point. The key for me however, is to keep talking. Making that first step is amazing but all that goodness can be lost if you close up about it again.

I need to talk every time I feel low, every time I go on that downward spiral and every time I feel good. I talk to my doctor regularly so that they can adjust my meds as needed. I am on a downward spiral my family phone me every day and visit when they can. Sometimes they can see that I am going downhill without me even realising, which makes them a fantastic support group.

The more we talk, the more people are forced to listen.

Having a mental health label can affect you in many ways. It can make it harder to get benefits in certain circumstances, employers look down on you, family can try to 'protect' you from the world and a zillion other scenarios. But if nobody speaks up, nothing can change. The more we talk, the more people are forced to listen.

One of my family members has Manic Depression. She, with the help of family, friends, and professionals, is able to hold down a steady job. Thanks to her, her employer has since employed a young person with mental health problems, because, again thanks to her, he was no longer scared about what that could mean for his company. It is entirely possible for us individually to change the world in our own little way. And if we all do it, imagine what we could do.

Many years ago, you could not talk about being gay. Look at where we are now

Many years ago, you could not talk about being gay. Look at where we are now, in many places gay marriage is legal and there is less and less stigma attached to being gay. Imagine the day when we can say the same thing about mental health. Gay marriage became legal because people had the courage to speak up and made themselves heard.

We can do the same with mental health. I have met people who were scared I was going to somehow flip out and murder everyone. But by talking to them, and inviting them into my life, I have changed their opinion. We can take away the fear surrounding mental health by just talking about it.

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Share your story

Too many people are made to feel ashamed. By sharing your story, you can help spread knowledge and perspective about mental illness that could change the way people think about it.



It is great to hear from someone with positive feedback about the support they received with regards to their mental health issues. This is most certainly the way forward as you initially broke the barrier by talking about your illness but the people you told responded positively and with much support. I believe, over time, the stigmas attached to mental illness can be gradually removed, so long as people can react as positively as those people did towards you. Not everyone's story is as productive as your's, my own included, but to read your experiences lifts my soul knowing that there are people out there that are willing to listen, to learn and to change their outlook on mental health and those it affects. Thank you for sharing your story! Kind regards Lola x

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