As it's Mental Health Awareness week, I thought I'd share a story about one of my very first clients.
We'll call him Ben.
Ben is your typical English bloke.
A tradesman. Hard-working. A big strong guy (6ft 3 I think).
Certainly not used to talking about his feelings... at least to start with.
I remember during our very first session him disclosing, ''Will, I've never done anything like this before''.
Ben came to me suffering with cripplingly low self-esteem & confidence issues as well as anxiety and panic attacks.
Twice a month we spoke on the telephone.
Twice a month for over 3 years.
Sometimes for 60 minutes, sometimes longer.
That's a lot of talking!
We spoke about everything: his goals, his fears, his work, his hobbies, his family.
Everything from his most inspiring visions of the future to his most painful memories of the past.
I would listen.
Ask some questions.
Challenge some of his limiting assumptions & beliefs.
Help him to clarify some ways forward.
Over time, Ben began to change.
He started to believe in himself more. He no longer questioned his worthiness. His anxiety levels returned to a healthy level & his panic attacks stopped.
I didn't see the change (we only ever spoke on the phone) but I could hear it in his voice, the excitement and joy for life returning.
Today he's in a happy relationship, a new career he loves, and most importantly of all - feels good about himself.
He's no longer a client but I email him occasionally to check in & see how he is. We've never met in real life (we hope to have a beer together one day when our calendars allow for it) but for those 3 years we were a big part of each other's lives.
At the end of every, and I mean EVERY one of our telephone conversations he'd say, ''Argh, it's just so good to talk, Will. It's priceless''.
If you're struggling with your mental health right now & not talking about how you feel - just talk.
It doesn't matter in the beginning who it's with, just start the process of talking.
No one can understand you if you don't say how you're feeling.
No one can help unless you tell them you need help.
No one can help you unless you help yourself first... and it starts by talking.