Today is the first ever Time to Talk Day. People are being encouraged to start conversations and to raise awareness of mental health. Hopefully the more it's talked about the more people will come to realise that mental health issues are nothing to be ashamed of. So this is my contribution to the conversation.
I have never suffered from a mental health condition. Yet. I'm not naive or arrogant enough to think I never will. My mum went through a period of depression when I was 9 or 10 but I didn't know until she "admitted" it to me years later. It was a secret, something to be kept under wraps and not really spoken of. All I know is it was triggered by her feeling isolated when we lived in a village. She never talked of it again and died of breast cancer when I was 22 so we never had an adult conversation about it.
My brother suffered from depression too and he was a heroin addict. I don't know what came first - heroin is a depressive but did he start taking the drug because he was already depressed? He told me he felt driven to drugs but he never told me about his mental health issues. The first I knew of his depression was in the note he left. In August 2012 he became a statistic, another man lost to suicide. In 2011 6,045 people took their own life in the UK - 4,552 of them were men. The highest rate was in the male age bracket 30-44
Every day I wish that I'd picked up the phone more often, that when I'd asked "how are you?" it was more than a glib conversation opener and he could really have told me. Every day I wish there wasn't still a stigma to admitting you have a mental health condition and he could have told someone that he was struggling. Every day I wish somebody could have held his hand and waited with him, just being there until the darkness started to lift.
Nobody should be forced to talk if they don't want to of course but it's time for the rest of us to speak up and say we're here, we're ready to listen and we won't judge.
It's Time to Talk. Please.
Time to Change
The Samaritans; 0845 90 90 90
CALM; 0800 58 58 58
My blog about learning to live after suicide is called After Simon and can be found here