Today is Time To Talk Day which arranged by the mental health charity Time To Change. The theme this year is: Conversations Change Lives. For me, raising awareness of issues invisible to the eye is something which I will always be passionate about. You cannot tell by looking at someone they have a mental health condition or any other invisible difference or disability. It is possible a friend, family member or loved one could be struggling with their mental health but by looking at them you would no idea.
Last year Time To Change very kindly posted my blog about anxiety for Time To Talk Day. For me, this year's theme is quite close to my heart as someone who has always found conversations and social situations harder. Having social anxiety can make opening up and having the confidence to confide in people difficult. I can find it hard to let people get close to me and it can take a while for me to have the confidence come out of my shell and it's been something I've always been quite self concious about. If you're someone who I lower my defenses to and let in, you are blessed with something which makes me feel safe. From keeping so much close to my heart and being too socially anxious to speak it has lead to me being socially misunderstood and I knew then I had to be brave and do something about it.
For a long time I thought all the crippling worrying, physical symptoms and thoughts were just me being me, but I known now my anxiety was there from a young age. Part of my anxiety has always been worrying something bad might happen to people I love and care about. Alongside a fear of being trapped in situations I can't get out of easily, e.g a crowd of people.
I struggled in silence and it took me to being an adult to finally know I had anxiety/social anxiety. I would hate for other people to wait for so long like I did and struggle so long by themselves. There is help out there if any of this blog resonates with you. I've found the people who work at Anxiety UK to be lovely.
I'm grateful to the people in my life who I've felt comfortable to confine in who have encouraged me seek help for my anxiety. The last few years have been quite challenging at times but special thanks to my boyfriend Matt for all his support, forward planning and reassurance when I'm going through a difficult time, I'm anxious or have a panic attack. It's going to be a long journey but I'm going to keep persisting and working at it through the cbt I'm receiving.
We all have a responsibility to talk about mental health, not just on Time To Talk Day, but every day. Some people might be scared of talking to someone as they are scared they will make mistakes or accidentally offend, but like everything in life it take time and practice. The more conversations generated the less isolated and alone people can feel. It's the same with invisible difficulties and disabilities: the more we talk about them the more awareness is generated. Also something which I talk about in my blogs is that everyone is different, no two people are the same. So my experiences of anxiety might be completely different to someone else's.
Alongside mental health conditions or any other difficulty may come issues with confidence. Confidence is something which I've always struggled with especially socially, but a little bit of encouragement and reassurance can go a long way.
You don't have to do a lot to help or be there for someone. It could be as simple as: taking the time to find out more, giving someone a listening ear, and then asking, "how are you?"
Until next time...