A 30-year-old Melton woman who suffers from anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) has urged others who have mental health issues to open up and talk to people.
Carly, who didn’t want to give her full name, was speaking today (Thursday) on Time to Talk Day – which was established seven years ago to encourage more open conversations about the topic of mental health, which one in four people in the UK have struggles with.
A survey carried out to coincide with the event found that over half of the adults interviewed would prefer not to tell anyone if they were struggling even if it would help to talk.
And two in people in the study felt that not talking about their mental health or emotions was important.
But Carly is grateful she opened up about her own issues which have had a bad effect on her relationships and working life.
“For many years I kept my feelings to myself which was very isolating,” she said.
“I found that people had very misguided views about OCD and self-harm particularly, often trivialising the conditions.
“I later opened up to my family and found a very supportive partner.
“Talking made me feel better.
“I avoided it for so long because I didn’t want people to worry or judge me.
“I now talk openly, even to colleagues when relevant, and it is surprising how many people can relate to the things that you say.”
Carly has has had problems of anxiety and depression since she was a teenager and admits it would often lead to self-harm episodes.
She had repetitive and vivid images of bad things that might happen if she didn’t do certain things and says the thoughts were constantly present and the compulsions took up all of her time.
Carly said there were services in the Melton area which have been very helpful, such as the Let’s Talk Wellbeing service.
She added: “The crisis team there have really helped me to manage more difficult times.
“The staff and doctors at Long Clawson medical practice have also been incredibly helpful.
“In the past I’ve found that GPs lack knowledge in mental health, but here they are compassionate and understanding.”
So what advice would Carly give to others to help them cope with mental health issues?
“During really bad times I premptively created a list of things that I knew could make me feel better and a step by step plan to help me avoid a crisis,” she said.
“I made a deal with myself that I would choose one thing off the list and do it, even if I felt I couldn’t.
“For example, go for a walk with the dog.
“Most of the time it helped.
“Don’t be scared to access services that are available to you and if you see a GP that doesn’t understand try not to take it personally.
“There are some great ones out there too and some services allow you to self refer.
“Talk to the people around you.
“Let them know that they don’t need to understand why you do/think certain things and they don’t need to fix it, just listen.
“There will be times that people say the wrong thing, but that isn’t your fault and doesn’t minimise the way you feel.”
Experts advise people not to shy away from talking to people who have mental struggles after the Time to Talk survey found that one in three people would avoid conversations about someone’s issues because it would be awkward, with many saying they feared saying the wrong thing.
Jo Loughran, director of Time to Change, said: “It’s not an overstatement to say that having a conversation about mental health could change someone’s life.
“It’s vital that we don’t avoid or delay these important conversations because of our own worries.
“You don’t need to have all the answers; if someone close to you is struggling, just being there will mean a lot.
“The more we all talk about mental health, the more we can remove the fear and awkwardness.
“This Time to Talk Day we’re urging everyone to take action on one day when thousands of others will be doing the same and continue that conversation throughout the year.”