In some ways, we’re pretty fortunate to be living in 2018. Can you imagine living in the 16th century and telling your friend that you feel a bit blue?
They’d 100% snitch on you to the town elders or whoever was in charge and next thing you know, you’d be screaming “I’m not a witch!” as the crowd sets you on fire while defending themselves from your supposed spells.
The 16th century – what a hectic time to be alive in the worst possible way.
Thankfully, in the 21st century, we’ve grown smarter, taller (irrelevant but on average still true) and we’ve developed actual empathy and compassion for others.
This is why, if you’re having a bit of a moment with your own mental health, reaching out shouldn’t be daunting – it should be welcomed. It’s totally cool to actively seek help for your mental health, just as we would any other part of our body. Broken bones? Hit up a doctor. Feeling a bit in the dumps? Talk to someone – anyone – you feel comfortable enough to chat with.
If the whole concept of talking about your thoughts out loud seems a tad daunting to you, I’ve found a couple of approaches that could help you make that first step.
Jot It All Down
Okay, this might seem obvious or even corny, but my god does it work to clear out some bats in the ol’ attic.
Writing your thoughts and ~feelings~ down can, if not at least temporarily, give you a moment’s clarity and take you out of your own head. Once you can see what it is that’s weighing on you in actual written form (even if you just jot it down in the Notes app on your phone), you can sort out a plan of attack and go from there.
If you’re feeling gutsy, give your note to a close pal or loved one and go through it together – again, only if you’re feeling up to the task and if you have the right people around you.
Make A Call
If it’s getting to the point where you need to talk to someone about what’s going on in that noggin of yours, but you’re not yet ready to make the move in person, a chat on the phone is a solid alternative.
If you’re worried about friends or family knowing, which is a super common concern, you can start out by calling an anonymous hotline – that way you can get everything off your chest without ever having to speak to the person again.
But just remember too that friends and family who care about you are also an option. So too are sports coaches, teachers or adults in your life that you trust.
Ease Into It
A lot of people decide not to chat to someone because they think that as soon as they do, everything will change. Do you know how often I’ve chatted to friends about some deeply personal topics, which they’ve proceeded to listen to, walk me through it and then carry on with our friendship? Too many times to count.
Your personal situation might not affect those who love you as much as you think it might, and might not make them think any differently of you. Try easing into it, bring up a couple of your concerns with a close friend or family member and go from there. Don’t think you have to dive straight in the deep end. (How many clichés were in that paragraph? Seven? Well the point remains and I’m not wrong.)
Use An Unconventional Method
Sometimes it’s good to get creative in situations that make you uncomfortable.
This is an oddly specific example, but hear me out. Try inviting one of your closest, least judgemental friends around for a movie sesh. Chuck on a movie that deals with mental health (think Perks of Being a Wallflower; Blue is the Warmest Colour; The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; Silver Linings Playbook; Little Miss Sunshine etc) and simply sit with your friend and soak it in.
You don’t necessarily have to bring anything up with them at that moment, but it’s nice to know that you’ve both experienced watching a movie that deals with these themes that you’ll eventually want to talk about. If you do feel like you can talk to them during or after the movie, go for it.
The thing is, our minds can be pretty critical, and build the situation up to something you can’t comprehend doing.
If you have already built it up in your head and it seems like an overwhelming task, you could try Google, locate a profesh worker close to you and give them a buzz about a time to schedule in a chat. Even adding something like that to your schedule is a step and you’ll feel like you’ve finally got the ball rolling. (Clichés in that one? Only four? I’m getting better.)
To find out even more, head to headspace. They have places set up all across Aus, so you can chat to people who know what they’re talking about (and who probably won’t use as many clichés).
If you or someone else needs support in a crisis situation please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the police on 000 for emergency support.Image: iStockphoto / shironosov