A relatively succinct post as I reflect on how writing this blog has been beneficial to me.
I first uploaded a YYCDI post on Sunday 5th May and I’ve maintained my commitment to weekly posts since, albeit with a couple of very brief Facebook posts sharing images whilst I was on holiday in August. In blogging terms, YYCDI is still very much in its infancy. I do have plans to try to grow the audience and I will be really pressing ahead with those ideas over the next few months, though the audience to date has primarily been family and friends, along with a few readers who have found the blog via a little Facebook advertising. Despite the relatively small audience to date, I’ve still found writing these posts to be hugely beneficial. The initial posts were very difficult to share though I’d reached a point in life where it was absolutely essential to do so. I’ve always been the type to keep feelings inside (by and large) and that has pretty much been the case for the past 20-25 years. It’s difficult to say what changed but I just got to a stage where I’d had enough of doing that and felt it was time to share my experiences, both for my own benefit and the potential benefit of others. I can honestly say it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
I always thought I could deal with keeping my thoughts to myself exceptionally well. I prefer to talk about other people rather than myself, I don’t like burdening people with problems, and I always believed I had a reasonably firm grip on certain issues. Turns out I didn’t. Writing about this took a huge weight off my shoulders; a weight I hadn’t previously appreciated the extent of. Suddenly, my story was out there, warts and all. There was no longer anything to hide; no longer anything to be embarrassed about. The detail was there for all to see and I suddenly realised I had been wrong to bottle it up for so many years. During the past 4 months, I have had many discussions with close friends and family members who appreciate what I’m doing and can identify with some (or all) of the subject matter. I’ve been astonished at just how many people this affects. People who I thought I knew really well and I believed to be confident and in control of their lives. It transpired that this isn’t the case. I’ve always said to my wife that we never truly know what goes on behind closed doors, even in the lives of those closest to us, and the same is certainly true of the mental state of mind of people we know and love. Some of these conversations have been really beneficial and cathartic for me and also for those I’ve discussed these issues with. It really is good to talk.
However, I’m a realist. I know that discussing issues of any kind, especially mental health, can be extremely difficult / nigh-on impossible to broach. God knows it took me years before I felt I could do it. Not everyone is the same and there will be people out there who will bottle this up for life, without ever confiding in anyone. What I’m urging you to do today is to reach out to someone if you’re affected by any of this. We live in an age where discussing mental health is less of a taboo subject and more widely accepted than it ever has been. You’ll know your family and friends better than anyone – consider if there is anyone in there with a good ear and an even better heart who will take the time to listen, without judging, and devote a little time to you. A brave move but certainly one worth pursuing. If you really don’t feel this is possible, consider online forums, specialist websites, established national groups (The Samaritans etc) – just about anyone who would be willing to listen. It’s a very scary step to take but it may prove to be one of the best decisions of your life. I can only speak from my own considerable experience but I’m willing to bet this is common to many – bottling it up does not help in any way shape or form. It doesn’t begin to eradicate the issues. Quite the opposite – it can eat away at you and make things far worse, often without you realising it. Please do try to conquer those fears and reach out. A relatively recent study which looked into the worries and concerns of a research group concluded that 85% of issues which people worried about never actually materialised and happened to them, and of the 15% that did occur, 79% of people were either able to handle the issues better than they expected, or the difficulty they encountered taught them a lesson well worth learning. The conclusion being that 97% of what you worry about is not much more than a fearful mind punishing you with exaggerations and misperceptions. You may or may not believe that though I certainly believe there’s something in it, so please do try to overcome those concerns and reach out to someone if you’re struggling…
Thanks again for taking the time to read this – I really do appreciate it.
Until next time.