Finding your voice on Time to Talk Day

On Time to Talk Day 2024, our Digital Communications Officer, Jo, opens up about discovering her own narrative. In an honest account, she reflects on supporting others with their mental health while avoiding the instinctive “Yeah, not too bad” response when asked about her own. Read on below as she advocates for genuine conversations, highlighting their power as essential bridges to better days.

As I sit at my desk, I try to think who I can contact, what content needs to be shared, or who might be willing to contribute a blog at short notice and share their story on this Time to Talk Day. Trying not to doubt myself, I realise, “Wait, what about me?” An integral part of my roles for the past decade has been encouraging others to be interviewed on camera, share their experiences, and eagerly sign the dotted line to feature on social media. I have been and always will be the champion of other’s narratives and an advocate for authentic storytelling. But now maybe this is a chance for the lens to turn inward.

What if I give it a shot to embrace my own voice? A fitting narrative for Time to Talk Day perhaps, but let’s not overindulge the moment too much! After all, I joined the Stepladder team in Second Step equipped to help men in Somerset with their mental health in the only way I knew how – communication and social media – with hopes of sharing important stories, highlighting support out there and information to help others open up and find their people within their community.

Let’s not leave the world behind

Now, I’m not one to preach too much about opening up, I don’t want a ‘pot calling the kettle black’ situation. I am one for burying it deep down. I’ll reply, “I’m all good, just a tough couple of days” when family try to reach me, and know I’ll often retreat if probed anymore past that.

Side note – anyone see ‘Leave the World Behind’ on Netflix? Yeah, that ending really spoke to me, or at least my interpretation of it. I knew right away that would probably be me, ignoring what was really going on in the world, switching my emotions off and distracting myself by putting Friends on.

Although I’m starting to understand what I should be doing to help tackle and improve my mental health, I realise I just don’t always know how to do it. Opening up and talking shouldn’t feel scary or like you can’t. Because we can. It might initially feel overwhelming, especially the process of where “do I begin” or the dread of over sharing and then worrying about it all the way home, but it might help get to the bottom of what am I actually struggling with.

What’s helping me lately is trying to pinpoint when I began to find everything just so bl***y difficult and try to rebuild from there – how I was once described as a chilled-out person I’ll never know! I definitely started to lose my way when I turned 30, I took “it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to”, to a whole new level. I’m not exactly sure why. It didn’t help that we’d spent a couple years in and out of lockdowns and Covid spread wildly across the news, derailing even the best of us. Amongst other things going on at the time, everything suddenly crumbled.

Feeling a pressure to put a label on it

The thought of feeling like you must unpack everything. Open boxes that have been closed off, and not being able to open social media without feeling pressure to put a label on what you’re feeling, all acts as a barrier to me.

We should just be able to have an open conversation and say, “actually today isn’t a great day” and for that to be recognised out there and not left rattling around in your head. It can be a relief just to share that and the other person get it, and it’s met with “do you want to talk about it?” I’m guilty of hiding behind “Yeah not too bad, you?” when sometimes a simple honest conversation can be that much needed bridge that connects us and sets up for a better day. You also never know how the other person is really feeling, that one open conversation from me could spark it back in someone else.

The Stepladder project has provided funding for numerous initiatives in Somerset through its Winston Innovation Fund, facilitating the establishment and launch of activities and groups aimed at supporting men’s wellbeing and fostering connections with like-minded individuals.

Visit our interactive map full of groups and activities across Somerset to get those conversations going with the right people!

Share this page