Thursday 1st February is the national campaign Time to Talk day organised by Time to Change. It’s an invitation for conversations about mental health to happen anywhere and everywhere on that day. At home, in the office, in schools, on social media. Anywhere.
Bit of background. Time to Change is a social movement run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, with funding through the Lottery Fund, Comic Relief and the Department of Health. Since 2007, it has campaigned with the aims of improving public attitudes and behaviour towards people with mental illness, reducing discrimiation, supporting people in challenging stigma and discrimination, while ensuring longevity of the campaign. The campaign tag line is ‘let’s end mental health discrimination’.
At the end of 2017 I signed up as Time to Change champion, which means that you offer to help in whatever way you feel comfortable with those aims. Could be writing a blog, speaking out on social media, highlighting discrimiation when you see it all the way through to running events.
Given I was already writing this blog and sharing on social media information around depression this seemed to fit. In fact while doing both these things I have become aware of this real drive to continue doing that and perhaps more. Raising awareness has really connected deeply within me.
For me, the next step was around talking. Writing can be hard and painful, but it’s under my control. I can take a break, can edit what I write before pushing Publish. By referencing back to what is important to me (self-care, as writing helps me and raising awareness to help) manages thoughts and doubts. They exist but you are not controlled by them.
So to tie in with the Time To Talk event and partly inspired by the Frazzled Cafe initiative that Ruby Wax runs, I thought of holding an informal conversation in a cafe. The very lovely Scarthin bookshop in Cromford, Derbyshire has a wonderful cafe and they agreed to support this by staying open after normal closing hours. This was amazingly kind of them (I don’t know if anyone will turn up!). It’s a warm, homely cafe set in the most amazing and charming bookshop, so a great setting for simple chat.
I expect talking will be a challenge, I have thought long and hard about this. If you read last week’s post you could wonder why I am doing this, if the assessment was so tough. I am sure I will ask myself that a few more times, but the two are different. Unlike the assessment this is something I wish to do. No-one asked me. It is important to me, even if only one person comes along that will be fantastic (although I hope more as a thank you to the cafe for hosting it)
Values and compassion. That is what will sustain me through the anxiety which is naturally going to arise from doing this. It’s about identifying what is important to you and then thinking about how the things to do, your behaviour align to those values. That can and will often mean that you do things which are difficult, even painful to you. The compassion is not turning away from that, but actually looking at why it causes you distress or troubling emotions. While talking openly about depression may be hard (I may even find it is okay, I don’t know yet), the flip side is that raising awareness and sharing to hopefully help others is important. That then allows me to choose to accept that anxiety.
Does that make sense? I hope so, it’s a way of thinking which can really make a difference. The ever insightful Dr Richard Bennett shared something with me the other day, taken from ACT, which sums this up :
“In your pain you find your values and in your values you find your pain.”
Next week I plan to write more about this, in the run up and after the event, to illustrate more around working with values and compassion. It’s fascinating to me and also massively helpful to the thought process.
Perhaps on 1st Feb or in fact any day, you could take a few minutes to have a conversation with someone about mental health. You never know how that chat might help.
More details of Time to Talk, including a map of events is available from here
The details of my event are : Time to Talk Conversation in a Cafe, Thursday 1st Feb 18:00-19:30 ,Scarthin Bookshop, Cromford Derbyshire DE4 3QF. More info: firstname.lastname@example.org