How do I talk about the things I'm feeling?

How do you become the Strong, Unsilent Type?

Telling people about how you feel can seem like a daunting task, but these tips can help you begin the conversation. 

Table of Contents

Things to consider before you get started

Now that you're ready to talk, here are some things to consider before you begin the conversation:

  • Time and place. You might be surprised at how long the conversation lasts. And since this is such an important conversation to have, you want to make sure you can minimize interruptions. So be thoughtful about picking a location and allowing enough time to talk it out.
  • Medium. Are you a texter? Do you like video chat? Or do you prefer to talk face-to-face? Pick the medium that's most comfortable for you. 
  • Expect questions. Your friend or loved one will probably have questions like "How long has this been going on?," or "Did something happen to make you feel this way?" You don't have to answer every question, but think about what your comfortable talking about and ways you can politely decline to answer questions you're not comfortable with. 

What do I say?

You've decided you're ready to talk and you've identified the person you want to talk to. So what do you actually say? That depends on you and the person you're talking to, but here are some tips:

  • Be as open and honest as you can. Never feel obligated to share more than you're comfortable with. But understand that the more open and honest you are, the easier it will be for the person you're speaking with to understand where you're coming from.
  • Use tools! There are a lot of available resources to help frame your conversation and help others understand. You can take a mental health screening and share the results. You can share useful information from reputable sources like the National Alliance on Mental Illness or Mental Health America. You can even use relevant examples from TV shows, books, or movies. 
  • Tell them how they can help. You may just want someone to talk to from time to time, or you may be looking for help finding a therapist or other supports. Be clear about what you want (and what you don't want) so there's no confusion. 
  • Plan to follow up. They may be surprised by the conversation or need time to process what you've told them. Make sure to thank them for being willing to listen and establish a plan for following up. 

 

 

 

 

What can I expect afterwards?

friends hugging

If you've had a conversation with a friend or loved one about your mental health, you're probably wondering what's next? Here are some things you can expect:

  • Relief. Keeping our feelings to ourselves can be an incredible burden. By opening up about your feelings and experiences, you may feel as if a weight has been lifted. 
  • Questions. It's natural for the person you're speaking with to have questions to help them better understand where you're coming from. You don't have to answer anything you don't feel comfortable answering, but you should be prepared for questions.  
  • Different reactions. Most people will know someone or know of someone who has had similar feelings or experiences to yours. Some may have even experienced the same things themselves. However, other people may not understand. Be prepared for different reactions.
  • Follow up conversations. View this conversation as a great start and anticipate continued conversations in the future. 
  • Additional steps. Having a support network of friends and family is essential to mental health treatment and recovery. Your conversation is a great start! But it's often helpful speak with a professional like a guidance counselor, a therapist, or your primary care doctor. 
  • Things will take time. Don't expect immediate resolutions after one conversation. Mental health conditions are treatable and can get better over time. By having a candid conversation about how you feel, you've taking a big step toward feeling better. But understand that it may take some time to find the right combination of treatment and strategies that work best for you. 

 

 

 

Contact

Phone

Informational and referral hotline 211

24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All calls are free and confidential. Interpreter services are available in multiple languages.

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