I wrote this poem for last year’s Time to Talk Day (‘Time to Talk Day encourages everyone to be more open about mental health – to talk, to listen, to change lives’), and have made some tweaks to publish here now, on this year’s Day (6th Feb). I want of course to break down the stigma on talking about poor mental health but especially in relation to health conditions where you might not immediately think of this aspect of someone’s health.
Just a few weeks ago I was speaking to my Uncle, who has trigeminal neuralgia, a condition which essentially gives people pain in their face. Despite being in his early 80s, and therefore of ‘that generation’, and despite us being out for a fancy lunch, we had an amazing, down-to-the-bare-metal conversation about the lowest we have both felt. It turns out his condition has a very similar pattern to migraine so we were also able to exchange some notes on this. I know from data and reading blogs that I am not alone in my emotional reactions to having chronic migraine but actual, in person conversations have been few and far between. This has partly been because social occasions often make my symptoms worse but for this particular get together, I felt pretty good. Who knows, maybe this chat with my Uncle helped, somehow.
The good news is my Uncle has found some drugs which are helping his condition, and thanks to my lifestyle change of living on a narrow boat and my life with Tom, my mental health has also been helped. I now don’t feel like I did when I wrote this poem as often, and I’m ever grateful for the privilege in my life which has made it possible to lead this life.
If you also have ‘days like this’ – you are not the only one. If you haven’t already talked to anyone, please do take the time, as this campaign suggests. Here is a list of support available in the UK, as listed by the NHS, or start by talking to someone you know.