Too many people with mental health problems are made to feel isolated, worthless and ashamed. Time to Talk Day is a chance for all of us to be more open about mental health – to talk, to listen, to change lives.
I’ve written several times about my own struggles with mental health. I’m in a good place right now, but I remember all too vividly the worst days – the uncontrollable crying, the inability to get out of bed let alone leave the house, the nearly irresistible urge to just run away from everything and disappear.
What I have decided to share for the first time, however – because I think I should walk the talk about being open – is that anorexia and body dysmorphia also form part of my history. I thought I should mention it because to me it feels more taboo than depression. That in itself is reason to talk about it. I find this interesting. Why should it be so? Maybe it somehow seems more superficial, despite my knowing that this is worlds away from the truth.
Wherever you are today, tonight – start your own conversation about mental health. Be kind, always. Choose your words carefully. Try not to judge. You never know what battles a person is fighting.
And if you’re battling right now, I wrote this poem for you. Hang in there. It gets better. I love you.
i looked at you today
when you were contemplating alternatives
to semblances of normal; stiff upper lips
and the notion that if it’s not ok, it’s not over
you were wearing your usual colours
blue, grey, black
— like a bruise, blooming
you turned to me, and i had a fancy
i could smell salt; you spoke
under your breath, soft,
as if navigating some provisional distance
to get to anywhere but here
and i wanted to wrap you up
in a cocoon
as if to say don’t touch, not ready
tell the world you’re tired
you’ll come out when you’re ready
i know you’ll come out when you’re ready
– Written by Natalie Snodgrass Tan, Quiet Space Ltd