We Need To Talk About Mental Health... Justsayin'
What was essentially a made-up concept for this year's 36 Days Of Type challenge now seems far more apt during Mental Health Awareness Week and serves as a timely reminder of my own experience of mental health.
Just sayin' is commonly known as something you might throw onto the end of an insulting or offensive comment to try and take the sting off it or diffuse any possible comeback.
What if the negative culture around this phrase could be flipped on its head, and instead used to encourage people to open up about any issues they might be internalising and just say it out loud to someone. Something I can personally relate to.
For such a long time I thought that the daily struggles I encountered were just the usual, run-of-the-mill things that everyone deals with... so they're hardly worth talking about, right?
One of the main things I have learned is that mental health has no sense of scale, or a benchmark that has to be reached in order to qualify for help. It is simply the level at which you are affected and, for the first time, it had begun to get the better of me and it was finally time to speak up and ask for help.
Your problems may seem small in comparison to others but that doesn't make them any less important. In fact, these are often the kind of thing can can slip below the radar and if left to fester they could develop into much bigger issues.
As someone who professes to having a strong sense of self — meaning I'm usually able to methodically analyse and resolve my own issues internally — I was struggling to resolve the pressures of home, work, money and health in the way I usually managed to and towards the end of last year it started to affect me in a way I didn't see coming.
Now, there are people out there that can store incredible amounts of information, building "mind palaces" to store and retrieve an infinite amount of knowledge... I essentially became the exact opposite of that!
My memory simply began to fail me. Everything from remembering upcoming dates to what I was doing moments earlier and it was beginning to cause issues at home and work.
I tried to resolve things in my own practical way by buying a Field Notes journal to record my daily activity, logging what and when but this was simply a tool for recalling what had happened and not really getting to the root of the problem.
Sometimes this kind of thing can be put down to old age, and even though I did recently turn 40 (which may, or may not, have been another trigger) I don't really believe that was the cause.
In retrospect it was most likely the culmination of so many different factors playing on my mind, using up all my processing power and not allowing me to save any new data. What I needed to avoid was a full-on system failure! (Good use of a computing analogy there, don't you think?)
I do consider myself very lucky to have a supportive family around me (which I don't often fully appreciate) and when it came to finally accepting that I needed to ask for help my wife was right there to listen.
As is often documented — and something I freely admit to previously believing to be a bit of a cliché — but just opening up about whatever it is that's troubling you can 100% help. It doesn't necessarily lead to an immediate solution but it can begin that process and allow that glimmer of hope when things often seem very bleak.
My wife was the first person I opened up to about what was (and wasn't) on my mind she listened to what I had to say, we discussed a few of the issues troubling me to try and help where she could then offered me one clear piece of advice. Ironically, I can't remember it word for word and she probably put a bit more eloquently, but essentially she told me to...
"find my passion and just get sh*t done!"
... and if there's one other thing I've learned to ensure more of a stress-free life is to just do as your wife tells you.
Like I said, I'm very lucky to have someone so close at hand to listen to me and give me their support. I have also been quite jovial about my own experience, but that's just my writing style and in no way do I intend it to make light of the situation or dilute the importance of my message.
If you feel like you need to speak to someone but don't have anyone to turn to, please know there are so many people out there waiting and willing to listen... Justsayin' can make the world of difference.
Samaritans - 116 123
CALM - 0800 58 58 58
YoungMinds - 0800 018 2138
ChildLine - 0800 1111
No Panic - 0800 138 8889
SANE - 0300 304 7000
Get Connected - 0808 808 4994
... just to name a few.
There is so much help available online when you're ready to find it.