Two years ago I wrote a blog post about “Let’s Talk” an effort to encourage everyone to talk and learn about mental illness, and mental health. Bell devotes advertising time and financial support to “Let’s Talk” each year in January. In 2019, Let’s Talk Day is Thursday, January 31.
My post for Let’s Talk 2017 drew more responses, live and online, than any of my other entries. I still receive thanks for my words and my story. I’m happy if I helped just a few people overcome their embarrassment, their sense of shame. I hope I encouraged someone who needed to talk, to talk.
Talking about experiences that cause us pain and shame is an essential component of our journey through shadows and darkness to light. Having someone to talk to, someone who will listen and learn reinforces the truth that we’re not alone, even though we feel we’re alone. We discover we can trust, at least one person in the world, even if we fear the world is against us.
Storytelling in any context is sacred, and it heals. Personal testimony that is repeated becomes more hopeful with each telling. Sometimes we need to sort through our scrambled thoughts by hearing ourselves speak. Journalling can help, but there’s no substitute for talking to someone who will really listen.
Pastors know this. We know the best gift we can give people who are struggling is our attention. I’ve given that gift many times. I also count on friends who listen to me, without judging or offering solutions to my problems. At times I’ve needed professional help. I’m grateful for a therapist who “listened me through” a year of depression and anxiety. He hardly said a word. When our therapeutic relationship ended I could only remember a couple of suggestions that he had made. But I know I couldn’t have faced the week ahead if I had not spent time with him on Monday morning.
Two years ago I wrote, “I’ve concluded that depression is more common among church members than any of us wants to admit. The one-in-four statistic is as true in a congregation as it is in the wider community. One in four Canadians is, or has been, affected by mental illness in some way. There is some excellent information on ways to help, and a link, on this Let’s Talk web page.” This is still true. The link still works.
Let’s Talk. Let’s Listen. Let’s Learn.