This week we’ll be taking a walk down memory lane. When was the first time I opened up to someone about the condition of my mental health?
To be honest with you, I can’t entirely remember. I have hazy memories of conversations in my early teens about the rise of depression and self-harm in my year group, but I had never suffered from either. Being aware of my mental health as I currently understand it is something that has come relatively recent to me. In light of this, I think I probably first opened up about my mental health 2 years ago as a fresher at uni to a friend.
It wasn’t a big revelation or discussion. I was just sort of like,
I feel kind of anxious about my life right now and I sometimes dread social gatherings because I tend to pick all of my interactions apart to a fault.
It would be naïve of me to think that everyone’s first honest conversation about their mental health went as smoothly or judgment-free as mine. Mental health and specifically, mental health challenges, can still be taboo topics. Perhaps your honesty about the condition of your mental health was met with indifference or discomfort by the person you had the courage to open up to. Maybe your first experience has held you back from opening up to others about what’s really going on or made you fear acknowledging any mental health challenges you may face altogether.
It would be naïve of me to think that everyone’s first honest conversation about their mental health went as smoothly or judgement-free as mine. Mental health and specifically, mental health challenges, can still be taboo topics. Perhaps your honesty about the condition of your mental health was met with indifference or discomfort by the person you had the courage to open up to. Maybe your first experience has held you back from opening up to others about what’s really going on or made you fear acknowledging any mental health challenges you may face altogether.
Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, it’s important to have a community of people with whom you are able to share your vulnerabilities. Even if it’s just one or two people, their support could be invaluable in helping you enjoy a healthier state of mind. So, how do you go about identifying the right people to be honest with?
1. Consider the people who have been honest with you about their vulnerabilities and shortcomings.
There’s nothing worse than the feeling of oversharing, at least for me. There are a number of people who you may have had an honest conversation about when it comes to your relationships, or money, or that random dream you had once. But these may not be the same people with who you feel comfortable discussing your mental health at this moment. And that’s okay.
2. Once you have identified these people, consider their contexts and the nature of your relationship.
As we mature, I think we come to the understanding that friends can play different roles in each others’ lives. It’s more than okay to have a friend who is more of a banter buddy than a heart-to-heart kind of pal. Both types of friends are just as important as one another. However, when it comes to your mental health, you have to decide who will play which role in this aspect of your life. Understanding the contexts of your relationship may aid in appeasing any anxiety you may feel about opening up to the right person.
3. Reach out.
Tough conversations are just that—tough. If you wait for things to ‘get better’ or for you to feel 100% about who you speak up to, you may be waiting forever. Vulnerability and transparency are always a risk, but when it comes to your health and wellbeing, it’s a risk worth taking. So, if you can, reach out. It may be uncomfortable, and your words may jumble together to form incoherent sentences in the beginning. But it’s okay. It’s the first step in the right direction.
Having honest conversations about your mental health whether it’s the first time or the thousandth time will probably always be a little bit uncomfortable— vulnerability always is. But, it’s also necessary. The MindMapper Blogging Community is here to show the importance of good mental health networks and being honest about where you are mentally in order to get better. To be committed to a healthy mental state, you have to be committed to honesty and accountability, be it with a partner, therapist, family member or friend. Take the first step in reaching out today.
“You’re often as loyal as your choices.”