Can you believe this is the tenth year of #BellLetsTalk? I remember the first year it took place and I was so cynical about it. Now I’m just a little cynical. I think this is because while we’ve somewhat improved the stigma surrounding mental health it feels like we still have a long way to go.
I still feel uncertain when I post about my struggles online. While I would never judge someone else for being open and honest about their struggles, I always worry about being branded as someone seeking attention. And isn’t that why most of us keep quiet about our stories the rest of the year?
My goal this year is to tell a lot of stories. I’m slowly working on getting interviews lined up and I want every story I tell to be done with kindness and compassion, and really do justice for the people I talk to. So, for #BellLetsTalk I knew I wanted to do something a little bit different.
In December I put out posts on social media asking people, When you’re struggling with your mental health what do you wish someone would do for you or say to you? We talk a lot about the dark times we have but not what we need to get through them. Here are some of the amazing answers I received:
“I think it’s important to understand that sometimes there is NOTHING someone can do or say. I have been fortunate enough to have a fiance who knows that sometimes I just need someone to sit next to me, he doesn’t have to say anything or do anything. It’s just knowing someone else is there, and present in my life that helps me.” – J.W.
“I think it’s important to know that people who look happy on the outside may actually be struggling. I think we need to make a point of truly asking people how they are doing.” – L.B.
“My journey of healing began when I admitted that I needed help. I responded well when a nurse told me that I was not alone and shared she too struggled in a similar way. She also said that seeking help is a sign of strength.” – D.B.
“The biggest thing for another person to understand is that my depression isn’t about them. When I am in a depressed state it is hard for me to console them or reassure them of our relationship. It is best for the other person to understand and educate themselves on how to separate their emotions so they are not hurt by a person who is hurting.
Letting me talk out loud, without having to console their feelings is the best. Once it’s out the healing will begin and hopefully a balance will inevitably come back to the relationship.” – E.L.
“I knew what always helped me when I was in the middle of a panic attack was my boyfriend telling me I am strong. It was always a good reminder for me that I am bigger than my anxiety. I can fight it and not let it control my life. By him saying that, it also showed me that he knew this was a hard struggle that takes a lot to fight through it and not just something that you can just force yourself to just stop thinking about it like no problem.” – L.B.
“For me, what I would like is to be told it’s okay to cancel plans on friends. I always feel so guilty wasting peoples’ time.” – J.R.
“I would like just an open ear and words of encouragement. No judgement.” D.T.
“Tell me what you need me to do/take on/help you with/say. Sometimes, being given the opportunity to take back a bit of control and get something I need, helps.” – D.L.
So, let me ask again: when you’re struggling with your mental health what do you wish someone would do for you or say to you?