Whether you are living with a mental health condition, recovering from a traumatic event or significant loss, or simply living through a painful period in your life, friends and family may not know what to say and therefore try to keep conversations away from whatever may be causing the emotional pain. They may believe that by talking about it, they could be making you feel worse. They may feel that by keeping the conversation ‘light’ they are helping to make you feel better. But in my experience, this is not the case.
When asked “Isn’t it difficult to talk about when your husband was nearly killed by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan?” Well, it’s not fun to talk about it, but talking about it is nothing compared to living it and living with the consequences of that day. In fact, even talking about it now, years later, provides me with some relief. For so many years I felt like I should have ‘gotten over it’ by now or that I was making it a ‘bigger deal’ than it needed to be so I tried to keep it to myself. However, I think had we felt more comfortable to talk about it (not just with a therapist) it would have helped us heal.
So if you are ever worried about bringing up the difficult situation that a friend is going through, while it will be difficult to talk about it, talking about it is likely nothing compared to living it and not being able to talk about it. Or if you are the one that needs to talk, sometimes we need to initiate the conversation with people we trust and let them know they just need to listen.