Year of Wellbeing Blog: Jackie's story

Everyone has their own story to share about ways they have found to care for their own wellbeing, and the wellbeing of other people.

A team of bloggers have agreed to describe their personal journey. We hope their stories help and inspire others during our Year of Wellbeing.

 

Jackie's story

Year of wellbeing blogger JackieTime to Talk?

Seems to me that if you belong to a certain generation, growing up was a constant reminder of when it was not time to talk. Those well-used phrases are ingrained in our brains.

Shh, be quiet.

Children should be seen and not heard."

Don’t tell tales.

And it even extended to grown-ups apparently. I can remember my grandad asserting quite vehemently that a gossiping woman and a cackling hen were neither use to God nor men. I liked it. It had a rhyme and a ring to it, and the statement seemed reasonable enough to my childish intellect.

Yet take a look through the newspapers or scroll through social media on any given week now, and you will find no shortage of stories of people who should have talked but didn’t.

Those who keep quiet about an illness while it soundlessly takes them away, robbing friends and family of the chance to help, to share their feelings, or even say goodbye, for example.

Or victims of abuse who hold their silence over the years whilst the angst within them ruins their lives and the lives of those close to them.

And the those cases of suicide where people tell in a note, when it is too late, what they couldn’t put into words while time was on their side.

More mundanely, don’t we shun conversation daily? Many times I’ve been out with friends, and glanced around the table to see half of them busily clicking away on their social media of choice. Taking practised posed selfies and adding comments, showily telling what a fabulous time we’re having, instead of actually enjoying our evening together. Other friends quieten discontent children with a screen; their little fingers learn how to manouevre the controls of a video game before they can catch a ball. And I know many homes, where the TV is switched on automatically in the early evening and only switched off at bedtimes. Family dinners on laptrays while eyes are glued to soaps, news and, ironically, reality programmes. Watching other peoples’ lives, be they fictional or real, listening to their conversations, instead of making their own.

Time to changeTime To Change is an organisation founded in England in 2007 to reduce mental health discrimination and the stigma around mental health issues. Time To Talk Day takes place in February each year, is an initiative by national charity Time To Change. The main focus of the day is to tackle mental health problems by …. well, the name’s on the tin, really … by talking about them.

It isn’t imperative that the conversation be specifically about mental health. I love easy chats over tea and biscuits as much as the next person, and think we underestimate the value of gentle, pleasant talk like this. Friendly conversation surely promoties good mental health and isn’t this as important as the more daunting conversation which feels it’s way into delicate enquiry about someone’s already possibly compromised health? I think they’re two sides of a coin. One side inevitably picks up the daily trivia - the minor niggles, disappointments and upsets before they grow into troubles and resentments. The other side is harder work, a difficult subject to broach, but compared to suffering and being stigmatised by a mental health problem, how tough can those first awkward words be?

Cynics might question how much change a single day can realistically bring about, and they have a point. To make a real and lasting difference, Time to Talk Day 2019 needs to be just the start of a powerful enduring campaign to convince people to communicate - regularly. And for those in need to feel comfortable to speak out with the confidence they will be listened to and taken seriously.

The message that it’s always time to talk needs to be heard loud and clear. So let’s try putting down phones, switching off TVs and computers and forget about all the things we should be doing, mundane tasks that can wait.

Remember 1 in 4 people are likely to experience a mental health problem this year. By being generous and compassionate with your conversation, you WILL inevitably make a difference. I’m certainly ready to try.

 

About the author

Jackie Skipp is the Wellbeing Co-ordinator for ConnectWELL.

She has been employed by the organisation since April 2018; prior to this, she volunteered for ConnectWELL as an admin volunteer, and has volunteered for most of her life in many roles, predominantly for animal charities. Jackie has always lived in Rugby and although she harbours a deep yen to live near the sea, is worried she would miss Rugby too much. Her loves in life include family, live music and swimming, particularly outdoor swims.

Follow them on Twitter at @_connectwell or on Facebook ConnectWELL Warwickshire. Click here to find out more: www.wcava.org.uk/connectwell

 

Click here to find out more about Coventry and Warwickshire's Year of Wellbeing 2019.

 

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