Mental Health: How to start the conversation

I get told I talk a lot. I’m a prolific chatterer about everything and nothing. So, I decided to put this to good use and talk about something really important… mental health.

I became a Time to Change Champion to go out and talk to people about mental health and hopefully, help to break down the stigma. Sharing your own experiences to help others is really empowering and I’ve met some awesome people doing the same.

(Two awesome ladies I met through Time to Change celebrating my 30th with me ❤️)

I’ve been reading some epic blogs about it and think it’s really brave of these people to share. So thank you for doing that.

Did you know that just by writing a blog you could change someone’s life? Did you know that by asking how someone is can help too?

If you’re not much of a writer but want to help someone, here are some ways to start the conversation:

  1. Hi, how are you?’
  2. ‘How are you feeling?’
  3. ‘I know you’re not feeling so good right now but if you need to talk, I’m here’
  4. ‘Is everything ok? I’m here if you need me’
  5. ‘You’re not on your own, I’m here to listen’
  6. ‘Is there anything I can do to help?’

Just letting someone know that you’re there for them can really help.

When I get really low, really angry or really upset, my partner always says ‘is there anything I can do to help?’ Most of the time, there isn’t but just letting me know that he’s there, really helps. Because of my Alexithymia, sometimes j can’t even tell what’s happening with my moods. But it’s nice to know someone cares and accepts me.

So this 2018, if you haven’t already, start the mental health conversation. It only takes a ‘How are you?’ to make a difference ❤️

Daily Prompt: Conversation

Mental health, money & me

We’ve just come back from Christmas shopping & it was the hardest thing. Generally, 50% of people are traumatised by festive shoppers but this is different.

Because of my mood highs & lows, I tend to spend lots of money. I tend to spend more money than I can afford on things that I don’t really need but that make me feel better at that time. In short, I have no concept of money & will happily spend hundreds of pounds of money on clothes, presents, books. You name it, I’ll have a reason in my mind to buy it.

In the past I’ve racked up so much debt that it’s made my anxiety go through the roof but at the time of spending, I wouldn’t even think about it. A sense of how much or what on wouldn’t phase me.

I’d pay some of the bill off each month but always spent more than I paid back. One vicious cycle. One hideous problem.

This was me today…

Hiding how twitchy & upset behind the shades. They’re my saving grace on many levels. I’m not great with bright lights anyway but today was a case of doing some hiding.

Only when I met Karl did I actually tell him. I hadn’t told anyone before. I was ashamed of the habit I’d gotten myself into at University. It was the making of me & the breaking of my bank account.

And speaking of banks, all they did was extend my overdraft & credit card limits, despite me ringing at all times of the day to ask what I could do about it. I was like a drug addict going cold turkey.

My partner just so happens to be a whizz with numbers so he was straight into helping me, creating a budget, a list each month of what I wanted to buy that month etc. I handed over my cards to him & decided having a limited amount of cash so when i was spent up, I was spent up. Generally, it works well.

I’m:

  • Better with the concept of money
  • I only spend what I have on me
  • I value my money more
  • I’m more organised with what I want to buy
  • I pay my bills on time

However, mentally:

  • It’s like withdrawal
  • All I can think about is spending
  • I sulk
  • I try to rationalise it in my head but it’s like a Wimbledon tennis match

I’m trying. My partner jokingly always says ‘Why yes you are’. He also tells me I am doing well but I don’t feel it.

I have, however, shared my story with the mental health charity, Hafal. They’ve launched a money advice service with Lloyd’s Bank to help people like me. It’s UK wide & could really help if you’re like me & want help.

The website is called the Mental Health & Money Advice Service.Take look. It might not help you but it might help someone you know.

‘Locked door’ approach to mental health from employers

A survey carried out by Rethink Mental Illness has found there’s still prejudice/discrimination when it comes to employers hiring people with mental health issues.

According to the charity, the figures show:

  • 68% of employers hiring someone with severe mental health issues worry they won’t fit into the team
  • 83% of employers would worry someone with a severe mental illness couldn’t deal with the pressures of the job
  • 54% of employers surveyed wouldn’t know how to support someone with schizophrenia

The one that really made for eye-opening reading was:

“Only 43% of all people with mental health problems are in employment, compared to 74% of the general population.” – Rethink Mental Illness survey 2017

How can society do this to people who have illnesses they can’t help? Would they do the same to someone with a broken leg? The problem is, many employers aren’t sure how to deal with people who suffer mentally. Do you treat us differently? Do you treat us the same but keep an extra eye out?

Recently a lady in the US tweeted about how she needed to take a ‘mental health day off’ and what her boss’ reaction was. Read the article here. It went viral because he responded in such an accepting way and thanked her for reminding everyone of the importance of mental health sick days.

Email resposne

(Courtesy of metro.co.uk)

 

Programmes like Time to Change (of which I’m a Champion – Read my story) are helping to end this stigma and also helping organisations to understand what to do when someone needs help. Years ago, I faced discrimination and not great treatment after I was diagnosed with depression. I was made to feel bad about myself, the work I was doing and the fact I didn’t wear make-up to work to ‘make myself more presentable’.

All of the above is why I got involved and became a Champion. I’m proud of how far I’ve come in my career despite my mental health not always being up to scratch. Being accepted by colleagues and in fact, respected, really helps. I was thanked by someone who’d been having mental health issues for reassuring her that there’s no shame in talking about it. Because there isn’t.

For those who won’t hire someone with a mental health issue, thank you. You make us realise how awesome and how much potential we have. It might knock us down initially but when we find the right organisation, it builds us up bigger and better than before.

If this has happened to you, keep going. You can beat this and find the right job for you.

Stay positive 🙂