I am taking part in Yummy Mummy in Training’s Blog Every Day in August challenge.
Day 22 is: time for change.
I was properly stumped with today’s topic… but it sounded familiar, like it might be a slogan for something… And then I remembered.
Time To Change
is about removing the stigma attached to mental health issues.
You know how someone says they’ve been ill with stress, or depression, or they’re bipolar or have had a breakdown, and suddenly the room goes silent, shortly followed by “oh look, a shiny thing, all the way over there… bye…”
Time To Change is about making it ok to talk about mental illness.
When I had my breakdown
I found that I lost a lot of friends. A lot of people seemed to avoid me because they just didn’t know what to say to me. Many people didn’t understand why I couldn’t just pull myself together and get on with it. My own family still doesn’t really speak about mental health issues, despite the fact that at least 50% of us are completely barking. I’ve lost count of the number of conversations I’ve managed to stop dead in their tracks, both when I was ill and since, by daring to mention my mental health. And if I mentioned the medication I was on… well…
And then there are all the women I know who have suffered with PND, while their friends, co-workers and even family members have stood there, completely stumped as to what to say to them.
Here are some ideas of what you can say to someone when they are going through mental health issues:
- how are you?
- can I do anything?
- I’m in the shop, do you need anything? I can drop it at your door without stopping for an uncomfortable chat if you’d prefer.
- don’t be stupid, you can’t jump off that; there’s a cage all the way around it to keep people in! (my friend S said this to me when I told her I’d been planning to jump off an aerial balloon
- I’m free this morning/afternoon/evening if you want someone to come and watch a movie with you; we don’t have to talk if you don’t want to.
- I understand
- It doesn’t matter if you don’t feel up to doing this thing we said we’d do together; I am still your friend.
- You don’t need to explain
- Have you seen Penny from Accounts’ new hair cut?! It’s awful! (mental health problems don’t mean you can’t appreciate a good distraction from time to time)
Things to remember about a person with mental health issues:
- they are still the same person, with the same likes and dislikes. Being depressed does not mean they will suddenly enjoy musicals, if they never liked them before – same as if they’d broken their arm.
- any mental health issue at all does not suddenly make you stupid. Unless the person was stupid beforehand. A person’s IQ remains largely unaffected by their illness – same is if they’d broken their leg.
- don’t take it personally if they don’t want to see you. It’s not something against you (unless you’re a really crappy person); they just might not feel up to company – same as if they had the flu.
- they can’t just snap out of it – same as if they had anaemia, or a tooth ache, or liver failure, or any other physical ailment.