Talking is powerful. It gives freedom; to explore thoughts, gain clarity and ask and answer difficult questions. Talking therapies such as counselling and CBT offered me a way to offload and to recognise how my thoughts led to certain behaviours; but these were not always on demand. So, with the help of New Leaf Recovery and Wellbeing courses and some creative thinking, I learned some essential methods to manage my wellbeing – including how to self-soothe by talking … to myself.
When I first joined, I was not up to contributing to class discussions, but the staff were encouraging and friendly, and they didn’t require me to say anything to participate and learn. After a few months, I was the one piping up to share how I used to feel the same as them, but now, things are better. Now, a few years on, I talk about my story to inspire others. That’s how powerful talking can be.
Talking with my friends is great. It relieves stress, strengthens my relationships and helps me cope with problems. Sometimes, the solution presents itself when I talk to friends. Other times, my friends will provide the solution for me. But friends and family cannot be on call 24/7, so that’s where services like the Samaritans, Rethink Mental Illness or Mind in mid Herts come in handy. But sometimes I didn't feel like talking to anyone else.
But imagine this: aside from talking with friends and professionals, sometimes all I need is to have a talk with myself.
Talking positive and being kind to myself is something I find challenging. But I often hear how beneficial it is to “talk to yourself like you would talk to a friend”, so I do.
When spiralling, I go for a walk. It calms me…it sends me into a trance, where my mind can seek and speak. Inconsolable or not, walking ceases the tears and my thoughts become clearer. Questions pop into my head, and sometimes so do the answers. A similar experience to when I practice the mindfulness techniques that the college taught me.
And then there is journalling; I write and as if like magic the tension is relieved. The action of writing on paper extracting my voice; mysteriously evaporating the stress within. A rather addictive feeling.
Talking out loud, presenting to an audience and speaking up when something doesn’t feel right is something I have found difficult for most of my life. But, having no confidence and keeping my feelings in was detrimental to my mental health. Since reading books and articles out loud, I seemed to have suddenly gained a little more confidence and am now building up the courage to talk live on radio and on the stage.
And finally, my favourite talking therapy…talking to the dog. I grew up with dogs and found it comforting in my teens to tell them all about my horrible day. And now, with my very own puppy, I am finding more ways to feel less isolated. Dogs will happily listen to everything I say, they don’t talk back and they even wipe away any tears….and with their kisses melt all my fears.