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Time to Talk Day 2018

Time to Talk Day 2018

Yesterday (Thursday, 1st February) was Time to Talk Day, an initiative by Mind hk to encourage Hong Kong to talk about their mental health – similar to R U OK Day in Australia.

So, obviously, I’m a little slow off the mark with this, given that the Day was yesterday. I can’t keep up…these days there are days for this and days for that, and I think it’s great that people are being encouraged to open up about important things like mental health; or encouraged to find information, support, connection, testing or treatment for various traumatic life events, illnesses, losses or gains (Multiple Birth Awareness week, for example). A quick Google brings me various lists of awareness days/weeks/months, and in Australia alone, I counted 42…and that didn’t include the well-known Movember, so it is clearly not comprehensive!

So, this slight digression into lists brings me, sort of, to why I’m writing this the day after Time to Talk Day, and not ON Time to Talk Day. I can’t keep up! One minute I remember, then next I’m distracted and, the thought’s gone. It wasn’t until I was on the train on my way home that my attention was drawn back to it. As I was scrolling through Facebook (or maybe Instagram) on my phone, I saw some #timetotalkhk posts by a couple of my therapist friends. ARGHHH!!! I forgot (insert eye roll and steady flow of negative self talk about how I ALWAYS do this kind of thing)! 

When I realised I’d forgotten, my first instinct was to rush home and post something, anything, to show my support. But the more I slowed down and thought about it, the less I thought this was a good idea. What occurred to me, as I continued my journey home, was that it doesn’t really matter if I’m a day late to writing my thoughts about Time to Talk Day, or mental health. What does matter is that I participate in keeping the conversation going. I can do that publically or privately; in my home or at work; on social media or in person. Mind HK has started the conversation by launching Tiime to Talk Day. Now, we (mental health professionals, doctors, teachers, students, friends, lovers, parents, children…anyone…everyone) need to keep talking.

 Confession: I did post something – a ‘repost’ of one of Mind hk’s pictures, with a caption saying that I wanted to say more about it later…I’m not immune to the pressure to get it right! 

While being distracted and forgetful at times is not a major mental health crisis for me, being on top of things is something I wish I was better at. If left unchecked it could easily spiral into a negative belief about my whole self, which could then spiral further and who knows where it could end up. To counter this forgetfulness, I write notes and lists, I repeat things to myself. I share with others (especially people with good memories!). Sometimes things still slip through the cracks, but if I have these things in place, I can see a forgetful moment for what it is – a lapse, a distraction – rather than a character flaw or worse. It’s one way I look after my mental health.

Time to Talk Day was created to help to raise awareness of mental ill health, and to reduce the stigma surrounding it. If we can feel free to talk about our mental health struggles and triumphs, we can reduce the impact of shame that comes with it. This, hopefully, will lead to more people getting the support they need. According to Brené Brown, shame researcher & writer, shame thrives on silence, and cannot survive being spoken. So, Hong Kong, let’s keep the conversation going. It’s Time to Talk.

I’d love to hear your mental health stories. How do you look after your mental health? When have you managed to rise up against shame? How did you do it? What replaced it? What difference did it make in your life?

If you’d like to share your story, but remain anonymous, you can email me your stories at alison@integratehk.hk. Otherwise, please post in the comments.

If you have no-one you can talk to, please call the Samaritans on 2896 0000 (in HK), Lifeline (Australia) on 13 11 14, or crisis hotline in your city.

Love Over Fear

Love Over Fear

In our first blog post, our counsellor, Ali, talks about conquering fear with love. We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.

I’ve been toying with the idea of starting a blog for some time now – but I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to write about, and how to tie it in with what we do here at Integrate hk. Well, today (while drinking my second coffee) I had a revelation. I suddenly felt compelled to write about love. Not romantic love. Human love. The love that people show for one another, regardless of who they are, where they’re from, what their story is, even whether or not they know each other. This type of love is kindness, care, compassion. Empathy.

As a counsellor, love is the crux of what I do. The place it comes from. The very heart of it. I don’t need to know my clients to love them. That is, to treat them with kindness. To care for them and show them compassion. To listen with an ear and an attitude brimming with empathy and Unconditional Positive Regard (thanks Carl Rogers!).

But I don’t want to talk about my clients or even my practice here (ethical issues aside!). The idea to write about love came from me thinking about fear. When I think about the things that are going on in the world at this moment in history, I am filled with dread and fear. Most of these events don’t affect me directly, but they still affect me. I’m saddened for the people that are being turned away from help because of where they’re from – because of fear. I am despairing for the displaced, the unloved and the unlovable. Fear and hate seem to be sweeping the world right now, so I figured the only way I can counter that in one small, but hopefully effective way, is to love. To show love, to talk about love, to encourage love.

This quote from Fred Rogers really resonates with me. Looking for the helpers is looking for the people acting in love. When we look for the helpers, we shift our focus from hate to love. And when we seek out love, we find love in little, every day things.

Lately I’ve been seeing love in the kind acts of friends – an offer of help, an encouraging word, a timely message. I’m trying to show love by doing the same for friends. For strangers, I’m trying to remember to do little things like smile when I meet someone’s eye, give up my seat on the train to someone who needs it more. Let people in when there’s traffic. When you shift your focus, where are you seeing everyday signs of love? How are you spreading love in small ways?