The Impact of Open and Clear Communication
by See Change Ambassador, Jess McCaul
How many times have you found yourself on the receiving end of the ‘Hey! How are you?’ Irish special, and responded without hesitation ‘good, thanks how are you?’, when maybe you weren’t so good. Maybe you needed to say ‘you know what? I’m not okay today I could use a chat, things haven’t been so great.’ But you didn’t want to be a burden or a Debby downer or any of the other numerous negative thoughts that pop through your head telling you to just say ‘I’m good’, because that’s what people want to hear right? They don’t want to know about how bad you’re feeling or why you found it so difficult to get out of bed this morning. They have their own problems. Their own lives. They don’t want to know. There are so many excuses we come up with. All of which tends to be a little low expecting of our peers if we truly stopped to think about it.
Humans are social beings; we are wired for connection. We thrive off of it, we crave company and conversation and to be around others. Yet struggling with our mental health can strip us of all that. We can become isolated and lonely whilst we’re fighting that inner war in our head. Keeping it to ourselves because we don’t want to upset anyone or worry them. Wondering how honest is too honest to be when someone asks you how you’re doing. A question which seems so innocent and easy but can sometimes be all consuming for someone really struggling with their mental health.
As a society, we have come so far in our attitude towards mental health. The public conversation around depression and anxiety has never been louder. But as individual people, we need to start bypassing our thoughts and beliefs when it comes to talking about our mental health and have these ‘harder’ conversations on a personal level. We need to stop and say what we truly want to say. But why is it so important anyway?
It is so unbelievably important because there is power in sharing how you feel, and it helps challenge that stigma around mental illness. We need to start having these more honest, and let’s be real, sometimes tougher conversations. We owe it to ourselves and each other to show our vulnerability, that everything is not always rosy. To quote Meredith Grey “Not everybody has to be happy all the time. That’s not mental health. That’s crap”. Mental illness or not, nobody is 100% all the time. And there is no reason to keep pretending we are. I’m sorry to say, the secret is out. We all have days where we feel bad, with or without reason. It happens.
For me, I’ve found that because I’ve become so open about my mental health, that it gives confidence to those around me to talk about how they’re feeling. We don’t shy away from the ‘tough’ conversation. But I’m very fortunate, I know not every circle is like that. Although it could be. Just small changes here and there like texting a friend and saying ‘I’m not feeling too great, you free for a chat?’, can make such a difference. And make you feel less alone. I know for me it does.
The important thing? That we start talking about it. All it takes is one person to start a conversation. To be honest. There is power in that vulnerability and it can inspire those around you. There is nothing wrong with talking about mental illness, all it takes is one person to turn the conversation around.
If you are having a tough time at the moment and need to reach out for support, please contact any of the following