Talking about our mental health can feel like the hardest thing in the world, but no matter what your problem is, opening up to someone makes it feel easier to manage.
How many times a week do you use the phrase “I’m fine”? It is without doubt one of the biggest lies around, up there somewhere with “I have read the terms and conditions” and “I’ll be there in five minutes.” So why do we say it? When I think about opening up, I’m reminded of what my dad told me when I was younger: “A problem shared is a problem halved.” It might seem scary, but talking about your problems is the best way to tackle them, so why do we feel like, when someone asks how we are, we have to fall back on this default reply, instead of just admitting something’s wrong?
We’re just being polite
Of course, sometimes “I’m fine,” is just convenient as a quick exchange when you’re making coffee in the morning, or before a lecture. When your friend says “You alright?” they never expect you to say no. When Joey Tribbiani asked “How you doin’?” he didn’t want an in depth discussion about all the things stressing you out. So we should pick and choose our moments, but it’s important to remember that the moments when we can open up and actually admit to not being fine do exist.
We don’t want to be a burden
More commonly, when it feels like the weight of the world is on our shoulders, we say “I’m fine,” because we don’t want to burden somebody else with it. It’s perfectly normal to feel like you’re ‘just being over dramatic’ when you’re panicking about deadlines or just feeling a bit down, but I guarantee most of your friends have felt exactly the same way at some point, and opening up to them is never as daunting as it might seem- they’ll probably be glad to know they’re not the only ones, too.
Opening up to someone means sharing the load.
We feel embarrassed
“But I’m, not depressed enough,” is one of the most common reasons people use to convince themselves not to talk or ask for help. They think breaking up with their boyfriend or failing an assignment is too trivial a reason to warrant feeling down, and so they save the support for people they say “really need it.” But trust me, no problem is too small to ask for help- whether it’s your friends, student services or a buddy scheme like Tyfy, there really is an answer to every problem.
We think it’ll go away if we ignore it long enough
I’ve been told on more than one occasion that “its sink or swim, and you’ve just got to swim.” Whilst people who always solve their problems on their own are impressive, it’s not always that easy, and putting on a brave face and ‘just getting on with it’ isn’t always helpful. The first time I really acknowledged I needed help, it took a friend making me contact student services, because left to my own devices I would have buried my head and hoped it went away. Sometimes it’s not sink or swim; sometimes you need a life jacket, and that’s okay.