This week’s podcast is all about telling someone you’re struggling with your mental health. This can be a tricky subject to broach, whether you live with a mental health condition or you’re starting to struggle with something for the first time.
In the episode I share a couple of thoughts that can get in our way of telling someone, how to overcome them and then a range of ways you can tell someone you’re struggling.
There are lots of resources to go alongside this episode, so please do check out the links below and share this episode with anyone who you think would benefit.
You can listen wherever you get your podcasts or listen here:
Links and further reading:
- How to tell someone you’re struggling with your mental health (if you’d prefer a written version)
- Happiful have a great list of helplines and support groups
- Doc Ready – a website to help you prepare for a mental health appointment with your doctor
- How to navigate a doctor’s appointment for mental health
- Counselling Directory – to find a private counsellor
- Find online and telephone counselling support
- Supporting someone struggling with their mental health
So this week I wanna talk about the tricky subject of bringing up your mental health to someone when you’re starting to struggle. So I’m sure a lot of us can relate to this, whether you have a mental health condition that you live with or if you’re struggling with someone for the first time. Either way, I really hope this episode can help.
Hello everyone! Welcome back to the podcast. I hope you’re all doing okay. So, yeah, this is the first episode I’m recording after the Coronavirus outbreak and everything just feels a little bit surreal, let’s be honest. And I guess I just wanted to start this episode off by saying I really hope you’re all doing okay. I know this is impacting us in lots of different ways and I promise I didn’t plan this episode with the current situation in mind, but I guess it has come at a good time. Because today I wanna talk about talking. And how we can talk about our mental health when we’re starting to struggle.
So the reasons I wanted to cover this topic was one, because obviously I think it’s just really important, and two, because my blog that I have on this subject is one of my most popular blogs. The search phrase ‘how to tell someone I’m struggling’ comes up in my analytics time and time again and it’s just clear that this is an area that a lot of us need support with.
And I wanted to start by addressing the fact that it’s really not as easy as just saying ‘talk to someone’ because the very nature of mental illness can make reaching out and talking to other people feel like the most difficult thing in the world. I remember especially in my case when I had an eating disorder, my illness made me believe that I was absolutely fine and that getting help and talking to other people about it would be dangerous because it would stop me from doing what it was my illness wanted me to be doing. So, in that case, I really needed other people to reach out to me. And I’m thankful that my family did exactly that.
So I guess I wanted to highlight this and just point out that every situation is different and if you are finding it hard to reach out, then please don’t feel bad about it. I’ve found that there are often a couple of thoughts that can stand in people’s way when it comes to talking about mental health and I wanted to talk about these first before recommending a couple of different ways that you can broach this conversation and bring it up with people.
So one of those first thoughts is ‘I’m too ashamed/embarrassed to tell anyone.’ And I really, I get this. I so get this. As much as mental health is being spoken about more and more, the stigma is still lingering in the distance and, let’s be honest, some people still don’t get it. But a lot of people also do get it now. So I guarantee whatever it is that you’re going through, you’re not alone. You’re not the first person to struggle with this and you don’t have to do it alone. In fact, you might be a little bit surprised when you do open up about it, just how many people come out of the woodwork to say, ‘oh yeah, me too, I’ve had that struggle.’ I remember this was especially true for me when I first talked about anxiety online. I was shocked at how many people kind of came out in my Instagram messages to say, ‘yeah, I have this too, this is horrible.’ It’s amazing how isolating it can feel when you’re struggling with your mental health, but opening up just shows how we’re all connected and a lot of us struggle with the same things.
And if you are too embarrassed to speak to your family or friends, there are plenty of other options. You might want to find a support group online, or speak to a doctor, or even make an appointment with a counsellor. Just remember that people like doctors and counsellors are professionals, so they’ve seen and heard it all and they really are the best people to support you.
Another thought that can come up is ‘I feel guilty. I don’t want to be a burden.’ And again, I totally understand this and I remember thinking this as well, when I was younger, a lot. When your mental health is failing you, it’s really easy to fall into this negative way of thinking. You feel like you’re not worthy of help and support, or that you’re just gonna upset people if you do ask for it. And I just want to say that this is flat out not true. Everyone is worthy of support, including you. No matter how silly you might think your worries are, those who love and care for you will want to know when you’re struggling and they’ll want to help. And if you’re still not convinced, go to someone objective, like a doctor or a counsellor, or find a support group online.
Okay, so now we’ve covered those key thoughts that can often stop us from talking to someone, hopefully by now you might be in a position where you feel ready to tell someone that you need some support. But where do you go from here? So how do you do that?
Now, there are plenty of different options and whichever one you try will depend on your personal circumstances and whatever you feel comfortable with, but I wanted to share a few different options for you to consider.
So the first option is to speak to someone in person. So arrange a catch up with someone you think will listen and be able to support you with this. Decide where it is you want to meet, maybe pick somewhere that feels really safe for you, and prepare what you want to say. Knowing what you want to say can be really helpful and you can understand what it is you want to get out of the conversation. You might also find it helpful to print any information that you think might be useful to explain how you’re feeling. So, for example, if you found an article that really articulates and explains how you’re feeling in a great way, maybe print it out and bring it with you so the person you’re speaking to can have a quick read and get a better sense of what you’re going through.
Another option is perhaps a little bit old school, but I wanted to put it out there anyway, and that is by letter. Now, I find putting pen to paper really therapeutic and I think writing a letter to tell someone you need support is no exception here. Try and explain how you’re feeling and what it is you need. And you can either send the letter in the post or, if you happen to live with someone that you wanna talk to, leave it somewhere that they’ll see it. I remember doing this all the time when I was younger with my parents. If there was a subject that I wanted to bring up that I was too scared to do face-to-face, I would write a letter and leave it on the coffee table in the living room so that they could read it. And of course, that would then prompt a face-to-face discussion, but it just was an easier way of broaching the subject.
Another option is to speak to someone over the phone. If face-to-face feels too confronting to you right now, you might want to try a phone call as that’ll give you a bit more distance. Again, pick a time and a place that feels good to you and prepare what you want to say beforehand. You can always follow up this call with an email with more information or arrange a face-to-face chat if you feel more up for that after you’ve had this initial discussion.
Now, the next option is the one that I feel a lot of us will probably gravitate towards, and that is online. So sometimes just sending an email or a WhatsApp, a Facebook or Instagram message, just suits us better. I know personally, I’m much better writing about something than I am talking about it and just having the time to construct your thoughts and also include any helpful links is really helpful here. So remember that it can take time for people to see these messages, especially if it’s on a social media platform, they might not be on there all the time, so try and not to put too much pressure on when they’ll reply. And if you don’t get a reply for a long time, then definitely try a different approach or try reaching out to somebody else.
So those really are the main ways of bringing up this conversation with someone, but other options that I’ve mentioned already briefly is to join a support group. There are so many different options online for support and it’s such a nice way to connect with peers who are going through something similar, and having that sense of camaraderie and ‘we’re in it together’ can be really valuable, so definitely have a browse online and see what groups feel right for you.
Another option is to go to a doctor, which I’ve mentioned, but if that feels quite intimidating to you, then there’s this great website called docready which has some really helpful pointers for preparing for an appointment like this. And I’ve also written an article about how to prepare and how to navigate mental health appointments for your doctor, so I’ll make sure I’ll include both of those links in the shownotes if you need a bit more guidance and support when it comes to that.
And again, something else I’ve mentioned is booking an appointment with a private counsellor. So this means you don’t have to tell friends or family, you don’t have to tell your doctor, you can just go straight to a professional who is trained to support you with this. So one of the brands that I work for in Counselling Directory, which is basically like the Google of counsellors. You type in your postcode and you can find a counsellor near you to go and visit. Obviously, as we’re recording this right now, visiting a counsellor face-to-face might not be an option. However, lots of counsellors are now offering online support. So this might mean they can speak to you on the phone or they can use something like Zoom to do video calls with you, or they might even offer things like email support or messaging support. So, again, Counselling Directory does have a separate search for online and telephone counsellors, so counsellors who do offer this service, and again, I’ll pop the link to that in the shownotes if you want to check that out too.
Now, if none of those options sound right to you and it all feels a little bit too big, then another option you have is to call a helpline. So Samaritans obviously comes to my mind first because they’re one of the best known out there, but of course there are plenty of different helplines depending on your circumstances and your situation. But speaking to someone on the end of a helpline is a nice way to start the conversation with someone because you don’t know this person. The person doesn’t know anything about you and your life, they’re not gonna judge you or anything that you say, and they’re not gonna tell anyone else about it. So it’s a nice confidential space to just start those conversations and it might help you feel more prepared to take the conversation into your real life with people that you know and trust.
And finally, of course, if you feel like you’ve hit breaking point, and you’re worried about your safety or the safety of those around you, head to A&E. Call 999 and get support immediately.
And I do wanna also say here that if you’re on the receiving end of this conversation and you’re not sure what to do, then I’ve got a blog post that you might find helpful, which is all about supporting someone struggling with their mental health. Again, I’ll include this link in the shownotes. The shownotes are gonna be chock a block full with stuff here, so definitely go to bluejayofhappiness.com/podcast to check out all of these different resources.
And there we go! So a few pointers that I hope will really help you if you are struggling with your mental health right now. And I really would love for this episode to be shared to those who need it. So please do send this along to anyone who you think might benefit or share it one social media. You don’t even have to tag me, I swear I’m not doing this just to get shared! I just wanted the right people to hear this to be able to hear it. That’s all I want.
So there we go. I will leave you with all of that and I’ll be back next week. Until then, I hope you have a good week and please take care of yourselves.