Time to Talk – about mental health & chronic illness

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.


  1. Thanks for sharing this, Naomi. You have brought the whole picture alive and I find your poem poignant and powerful – it’s hard to describe a difficult situation when you’re in the thick of it ; I’m sure many people will get comfort from your words.
    There may be people like me who are family members or friends watching the situation and feeling a little powerless and overwhelmed.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m glad you had a good chat with your uncle and that he’s been able to find some medications that can help some of his symptoms. Never underestimate the impact illness and pain can have on mental health. Chronic migraine has been one of the most debilitating for me with my own mental health, too. A fantastic post and a great poem from last year, albeit it painfully sad and relatable. ♥
    Caz xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cheers Caz. Yeh it was really lovely- he’s had a hard few years so was good he was able to talk about one of his troubles at least. They say migraine changes the chemicals in your brain to make your mental health poorer in and of itself so… if chronic pain wasn’t bad enough eh? Thanks for checking in 🤗

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That is a beautiful and poignant poem, Naomi, thank you for sharing. There have been times in my life where I got so angry with my sore eyes that I just wanted to rip them out to make the pain stop – and I was alone on those occasions. It was quite scary, looking back. I have never been offered counselling or mental health support alongside my chronic pain condition because GPs don’t know about it, and therefore cannot understand its impact on me. Fortunately I discovered meditation and reiki as a method for self care.

    I wrote a poem about my struggle as the spouse of a mentally ill person, you and your readers might be interested: https://spookymrsgreen.com/2015/11/11/the-beast-inside-your-head-poem/


    1. Thankyou for your thoughts. I have always had to seek out any support and the best I’ve had is from a friend with chronic illness who’s also a qualified therapist! I wouldn’t be where I am without her.
      Your poem is really beautiful, appreciate you sharing that

      Liked by 1 person

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