How do you feel today?

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They say you should do something scary every day. I’m not sure. Although I do know that I need the occasional exhilaration of putting myself in an uncomfortable position and overcoming my nerves to make me feel fully alive. Such opportunities came along a bit too frequently when I was a chief executive. But these days I probably don’t scare myself often enough.

Today is the annual Time To Change #TimeToTalk day. Last night, the choir I recently joined held an open mike session. And I decided to terrify myself at the last minute by offering to do a turn.

Although I can follow a tune and love to sing, I am not like the other wonderful acts that got up and entertained us. I have no special musical talent. But I can talk about stuff.

So I found myself standing there and explaining to a packed pub why I had decided to join the choir. Which is that singing with other people is really good for me. Since school choir days, I have yearned to sing again in a choir. I am full of wonder at being part of something greater than myself. I love having to concentrate really hard in order to follow the music. It moves me when a piece we have faltered over suddenly comes together in glorious harmony. Singing with others of a much higher standard helps me to raise my own game. It feels visceral yet sublime.

And I told them about my history of anxiety and depression, and the impact it has had on me, off and on, over 45 years since I was 15. I talked about stigma, including self stigma. And I told them them that I knew I wasn’t alone, because at least 1:4 people in that pub were like me, possibly more. I told about the research of the positive impact of singing on mental well-being.

And then I asked them to join me and celebrate Time to Talk Day by talking to someone else about mental health.

How did it go? Well, I was nervous of course. But they were lovely. I got clapped and cheered. There were a few tears. And some lovely conversations later. I shouldn’t really have expected anything else. The choir is amazing and our conductor MJ is not only a multi-talented musician. She is also an inspiring, compassionate leader. She gets the best from all of us, as singers but also humans.

If you have experienced mental illness but feel shy about telling people in case they judge you, maybe you could do something scary today? Please think about taking the plunge and talking to someone about it, what you do to cope but also how it is only one thing about you. Talk to a colleague, a friend or just someone you happen to bump into. Use Time to Talk Day as your excuse. And ask them about their own mental health. Listen really carefully to what they say. I think you will be pleasantly surprised by your conversation.

And how do I feel today? I think you can probably guess :):):)

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4 comments

  1. Hi Lisa, what a lovely story this is. It does take a lot of confidence to stand up and talk to any audience, however talking about something as personal as a ‘Mental Health’ issue takes courage as well. I don’t think there are enough conversations about the ‘Stigma’ attached to mental health, and the many pathways that consist within this area.

    It wasn’t until I started working in a Mental Health NHS Trust (non-clinical roles) that I realised just how many services came under the banner of Mental Health. So well done for having the courage to stand up at the open mike event and talk as you did, I hope it touched a lot of people.

    I have only recently experienced accessing services within mental health through caring for my Dad over the last 10 months. All of which I am recording on my blog (happy for you to take a look when you have time)

    Keep up the good work Lisa

    Regards Chris (deaniebeau) x

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  2. I will look at your blog, of course. And thank you for these lovely comments. It was a hard thing to do. But like many hard things, it felt good to get it done. And i know it helped few people, because they told me.

    Lisa

    Like

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