Time to talk

58

It’s humpday once again and the weekend is just coming into view! I hope you’ve had a great week and, if you haven’t, well that’s ok, too. In fact, it’s far more than ok. Maybe you’ve had a week of highs and lows. Perhaps it was all lows. Let’s talk about that.

Last Thursday was the first of February. It was also known as ‘Time to talk Day 2018’. This was a wonderful initiative brought about by ‘Time to Change’ whose mission it is to change the way we think and act about mental health. They are supported and run by mental health charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness.

I’m really proud to work for a company who recognises the importance of addressing mental health. At the start of February QVC sent out an email to all of its staff letting us know that they are making mental health a priority not just for the first day of the month but for the entire year ahead. There are posters up all around our building and we’ve been given advice on what to do if we need to talk and how to do it via telephone, email or in person.

I felt compelled to post this image of the #timetotalk poster on my social media. Below is a paragraph I wrote to accompany it and I was deeply touched by the amount of people who got involved by sharing their own experiences.

“I can’t say for certain but maybe my brother, Noel, might not have lost his life to suicide at 33 back in the 80s if public perception had been what it is now. My father, before him, also received treatment for a condition which would now be treated in a completely different and more compassionate way. My life is affected on a daily basis by mental health and I know I’m not alone. If you’re feeling alone please know you’re not.”

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Even mentioning the circumstances surrounding Noel’s death was, for many years, something I felt that I maybe wasn’t supposed to talk about publicly. As though it was shameful. There was also a feeling that I shouldn’t upset people by talking about something as shocking as this, that it was something to be swept neatly away so as not to make anyone else uncomfortable. The same with my dad’s many years of severe depression. It’s not pretty or nice. The truth is sometimes uncomfortable and I think we have had a tendency of not wanting to think or talk about uncomfortable things like mental illness and death. Thankfully, we are evolving.

Someone else in my family currently suffers from some pretty extreme mental health concerns. I won’t go into too much detail as it’s not my place to do so but we are very close and I see, on an almost daily basis, just how dark it can get when you’re imprisoned by your own mind. We can run from many things in life but we can’t run from ourselves. When we understand an individual’s torturer and tormentor is their own brain it can shed some light on why some people feel the only escape is to exit life. This isn’t, in any way, condoning suicide or suggesting it as a reasonable option. It’s just to point out that mental illness can be an unrelenting terrorist and so we need to find ways to help people to see some light through the bars of their imprisoned minds. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

Broken limbs. Not something I’ve ever suffered from, to date, and hope I never will. I’ve known people who have, though. Not one person I know of has just left it to heal of it’s own accord without seeking help from a medical professional. In our modern world we wouldn’t dream of leaving a fracture untreated. Or chest pain. Or any pain except, maybe, the pain of mental illness.

There are numerous organisations out there to help. You don’t have to ‘be strong’, ‘man up’ or ‘snap out of it’ or any other outdated cliche. Of course the ultimate goal is to move forward and not stay stuck but, going back to broken limbs, you wouldn’t expect someone with a compound fracture to immediately do everything the way they did before the damage was done. The problem has to be examined and assessed, perhaps medicine and some precautionary measures may need to be put in place whilst healing. It doesn’t happen overnight but it slowly gets better with the right care. The same can be true of mental illness. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not as serious. You never know what someone else is going through.

A theme which arose in the replies I received regarding mental illness was the impact bereavement had had on so many people. One of our on screen guests, Linda Magistris, sadly lost her husband to illness a few years ago. She has since set up The Good Grief Trust which was established to help those who are grieving.

The Samaritans are another wonderful organisation. They will listen if you need someone to talk to. It is said that a problem shared is a problem halved. Well, even if it’s not quite half, it could help and has to be worth a try.

I had planned to keep this brief and then move on to some of the recipes I’ve been concocting in order to keep this blog from being too ‘heavy’. I’ve changed my mind. It’s that kind of ‘polite’ thinking that stops us facing the, sometimes uncomfortable, truth about mental health. It really is time to talk.

Love and thanks for reading,

Catherine xx

Facebook: Catherine Huntley TV
Twitter: @TheHuntley
Instagram: @catherine_huntley

Ps… I may just squeeze in a healthy recipe blog between now and next Wednesday, too 😉 Healthy eating certainly has elevated my mood and energy levels x

58 Comments

  1. Michelle February 7, 2018 at 4:01 pm -  Reply

    Thank you Catherine for sharing. It has really helped me.

    • Catherine Huntley February 9, 2018 at 7:25 pm -  Reply

      You’re very welcome, Michelle. I’m glad you feel it’s been helpful.

      Love Catherine xx

  2. ann cain February 7, 2018 at 4:38 pm -  Reply

    I was admitted to a mentel hospitail many years ago,and even know I have some dark times ,but I take my medication every day.So to anyone going through this please go and see your GP,DONT be afraid there are lots of help out there for everyone.

    • Catherine Huntley February 9, 2018 at 7:27 pm -  Reply

      Ann, I’m so sorry to hear how you’ve suffered. Your message to others is spot on. Suffering in silence needn’t happen when there’s so much help (and understanding) available.

      Love Catherine xx

  3. Nikki February 7, 2018 at 4:58 pm -  Reply

    Bravo . A very well thought out article that’s full of compassion. Maybe that’s because it’s affected you and your Family so deeply, I don’t know, but your message is a strong one, and one I wholeheartedly agree with. Mental Health issues gnaw away at you, and make you feel terribly alone. What’s worse is that People can’t see it, so tend to either not believe you, or engage with you, or worse, push it under the carpet. I won’t go into too many details but suffice to say that Mental Health issues definitely test a person, sometimes in a good way, but more often than not, a bad way.
    I’m really chuffed that you work for a company that recognises your wellbeing. As a Health and Safety Consultant, it never ceases to amaze me how few companies short change their staff on matters relating to health, and especially Mental Health.
    On a lighter note, I do find you very funny, with your quirky ways. You do make me laugh, and your Cats are gorgeous. Who doesn’t love a kittykat!
    Take care of yourself and those you cherish. XxX

    • Catherine Huntley February 9, 2018 at 7:31 pm -  Reply

      Nikki, thank you so much for taking the time to write and to share what you felt you could. I wish everyone could work for a company like QVC. Yes, it’s a business but there’s also a lot of love within it, too.

      I’m glad to hear I make you laugh and that you appreciate Pixiecat & Popsiecat. Pixie is all curled up in her little cardboard box again and Popsie is sat at my feet giving me her best ‘hungry’ face as I type.

      Love Catherine

  4. sue February 7, 2018 at 5:12 pm -  Reply

    Thank you catherine. I also have a close family member who at the moment is going through severe mental health problems. we are doing our best to help them it affects the whole family.

    • Catherine Huntley February 9, 2018 at 7:33 pm -  Reply

      Oh Sue, my heart goes out to you. The ripple effect is far reaching and it takes, sometimes Herculean, strength from everyone involved. I appreciate you sharing and hope there are some breaks in the clouds for sunshine.

      Love Catherine xx

  5. Elizabeth February 7, 2018 at 5:22 pm -  Reply

    Beautifully and sensitively written. Perhaps a few more people would find it easier to talk about this if they could find the words to express their feelings or were able to pinpoint the cause- I feel that is a real issue too. Well done to QVC for encouraging discussion and thanks Catherine for this blog xx

    • Catherine Huntley February 9, 2018 at 7:37 pm -  Reply

      Elizabeth, thank you for writing. I’m so pleased it has encouraged people to open up. Even if there are some who would rather not post and share I hope they will also feel some comfort in knowing they’re not alone thanks to caring people, like yourself.

      Love Catherine xx

      Ps..you and I have your name in common. It’s my middle name x

  6. Paul February 7, 2018 at 5:57 pm -  Reply

    Great blog Catherine my wife has been suffering severe anxiety and depression for 6 months and we are hopefully now seeing some light but words like yours are an encouragement. You are a gem in so many different ways…. now about those recipes 😀 x

    • Catherine Huntley February 9, 2018 at 7:39 pm -  Reply

      Paul, I’m sorry to hear of what you’ve been going through together. It does help to know you’re not on your own and that people are learning more about mental illness even if they don’t suffer from it, themselves. I hope it can only get better.

      Love to you both and recipes to follow next week 😉 xx

  7. Maz Cameron February 7, 2018 at 6:16 pm -  Reply

    Hi Catherine just read your blog, very humbling and a very heartfelt read. Yes it is good to talk, dont know if you remember i messaged you last week reagrding someone close to me going through very dark period.. God bless you Catherine.x

    • Catherine Huntley February 9, 2018 at 7:42 pm -  Reply

      Maz, thank you for writing a message here. Yes, I do recall our conversation on my Facebook page. I really appreciate your kindness and I hope things will get better or, at least, become as manageable as possible.

      Love Catherine xx

  8. Sara February 7, 2018 at 7:11 pm -  Reply

    Thank you for sharing your experience of mental health in your family. I suffer with anxiety and depression and have done for the last 9 years. It is important to talk about mental health, and to end the stigma associated with it.
    I would also raise the issue of mental health treatment in the NHS. There still is no parity with physical health and, despite this governments promises, mental health treatment is still massively underfunded and in crisis. Our NHS is under attack and run down. We need to fight for mental health parity, but also for the continued existence of the NHS as a whole.

    • Catherine Huntley February 9, 2018 at 7:47 pm -  Reply

      Sara, thank you for commenting and sharing your experience. I’m so sorry you’ve suffered, too. The NHS is full of people who deeply care and, I agree, it’s desperately sad to see it so stretched when so many are in need.

      I do believe times are changing and hope that the importance of prioritising mental health will continue to be brought to the fore. I honestly think it starts with education. Of parents, teachers, children and so on. If only self esteem were taught in schools.

      Here’s to a brighter future,

      Catherine xx

  9. Claire Sutton February 7, 2018 at 8:03 pm -  Reply

    What a well written , honest and thought provoking blog Catherine…this will I feel sure be a light for some reading it. I hope and pray for change in our world where the broken parts of us can be helped to heal wherever they may be xxx

    • Catherine Huntley February 9, 2018 at 7:49 pm -  Reply

      Darling Claire, thank you for taking time to read my blog post and for commenting. You are such a lovely soul.

      I look forward to a time in the near future where compassion for others becomes epidemic.

      Lots of love,

      Catherine xx

  10. Lynn Sword February 7, 2018 at 8:51 pm -  Reply

    Thank you for such an understanding, compassionate and personal experience account of the fight with mental health. I have had problems with severe depression and anxiety for many years. It took me a while to admit how badly it affected me as there was such a stigma. With talking, medication and great support from my family I now manage my illness but only on a daily basis. But if I feel rough I talk about. Your post may help others who are experiencing these symptoms. Bless you Katherine, you are such a kind soul. Fondest thoughts. Lx xx

    • Catherine Huntley February 9, 2018 at 7:53 pm -  Reply

      Lynn, my heart aches for you and the suffering you have gone through. I’m so glad to hear you have been helped so that life has improved. I know, only too well, it can be a case if one step forward, two steps back.

      Taking each day as it comes is maybe the best you can do at this time but the great thing is each new day is a brand new blank page. If you have a dark one metaphorically rip it up and toss it away at the end of the day. Don’t give up the hope that tomorrow can be different.

      Lots of love, Catherine xx

  11. Helen Heywood February 7, 2018 at 9:03 pm -  Reply

    A great blog Catherine, really informative & well written. Thank you for sharing xx

    • Catherine Huntley February 9, 2018 at 7:53 pm -  Reply

      Thank you, Helen. I appreciate that xx

  12. Helena Wilson February 7, 2018 at 9:18 pm -  Reply

    Hi Catherine, such an inspirational blog. You are an amazing woman. Thank you for sharing. Xx

    • Catherine Huntley February 9, 2018 at 7:56 pm -  Reply

      Helena, thank you for your kind words. If my sharing can help others to know they’re not alone and we (people who are somewhat in the public eye) don’t live picture perfect lives then it’s worth feeling a little exposed for.

      Love Catherine xx

  13. Lillian February 7, 2018 at 10:03 pm -  Reply

    Thank you for sharing your experiences Catherine and highlighting something that so many of us are affected by.
    Xx

    • Catherine Huntley February 9, 2018 at 7:56 pm -  Reply

      Lillian, thank you xxx

  14. Arthur February 7, 2018 at 11:04 pm -  Reply

    You are a remarkable lady. I have always admired your spirit this brings it to another level. Stay strong, powerful and wonderful as always. I think you are great.

    • Catherine Huntley February 9, 2018 at 7:57 pm -  Reply

      Arthur, thank you for your very generous words. I think you are also great for being so kind!

      Love Catherine xx

  15. Josephine Jennings February 7, 2018 at 11:37 pm -  Reply

    Catherine many of us have family and friends who suffer with mental health issues. You are right to talk about it. When I was growing up in the fifties and sixties no one talked about it, but the women would help very quietly within the family and within our neighbourhood. To relieve the pressure some of the families lived with.

    • Catherine Huntley February 9, 2018 at 8:00 pm -  Reply

      Dear Josephine, thanks for taking the time to write. How humbling and moving to hear what you had to say. The thought of so many suffering in silence and then these human angels quietly trying to help really touched me.

      Love Catherine xxx

  16. Gwen MacBride February 8, 2018 at 12:13 am -  Reply

    thank you Catherine, these are lovely words! and we never know what other people are going through and also can constantly compare ourselves to other people’s lives which we think are ‘perfect’. I think it’s so good to open up about these things! Your honesty is so helpful I’m sure to a lot of people! Xx

    • Catherine Huntley February 9, 2018 at 8:05 pm -  Reply

      Gwen, how sweet of you to write in. You are so right about the perceived ‘perfection’. It’s so important that people realise there’s no such thing and that can be hard in today’s digital world.

      Sometimes maybe I go too far to make the point but I do like to ‘keep it real’. You are very kind and have warmed my heart.

      Love Catherine xxx

  17. Karen B February 8, 2018 at 7:14 am -  Reply

    Thank you Catherine for sharing. Your blog will be a help to many, including myself. My dad suffered mental health for many, many years and sadly died five years ago whilst in hospital suffering yet again from his condition. Reading your words has helped to know that as a family we are not alone.

    • Catherine Huntley February 9, 2018 at 8:07 pm -  Reply

      Oh Karen, I’m so sorry you and your family have suffered such sadness. I know that nothing can ‘fix’ the pain but it’s so good to hear that the blog has been of some comfort.

      Sending you and yours my love, Catherine xx

  18. Karen February 8, 2018 at 8:32 am -  Reply

    Hi Catherine, thanks for this blog, its good to talk about this dreadful illness. My life has been touched by this illness too, as my husband developed severe anxiety and depression 2 years ago. Having never witnessed anything like this before I suddenly became so aware of what a dreadful and sad illness it is and to watch your loved one become a totally different person and you can do nothing but be there with them, is just awful. It puts a strain on everyone. My husband is now on medication which controls it and he is for the most part back to his old self. Still has bad patches but we know how to get through them now. Mental illness affects so many of us and must be discussed, it has certainly made me think differently and I know I am now more understanding towards those suffering and their families. Excellent blog Catherine, thank you.

    • Bev taylor February 9, 2018 at 8:46 am -  Reply

      Karen you sound like a loving wife. My husband has always been there for me during the anxiety and panics.

    • Catherine Huntley February 9, 2018 at 8:12 pm -  Reply

      Dear Karen, what a time you’ve been through. I’m so pleased to hear that there is some light coming through the darkness for you and your husband. It’s such a very difficult thing to understand. I can feel your pain in what you wrote and can really empathise.

      Your sharing will have helped others, I’m sure. Even if it’s just to know that people are becoming more understanding of this complex and devastating illness.

      Warmest love, Catherine xxx

  19. Caroline February 8, 2018 at 8:37 am -  Reply

    Thank you Catherine for such an insight full blog. Mental health is as important as physical health and you sharing your personal experiences will no doubt help many who are struggling at this time. I am certain your brother and dad would be so very proud of the gentle, empathetic and compassionate woman you have become and the contribution you are making to publicising mental health. Well done!

    • Catherine Huntley February 9, 2018 at 8:17 pm -  Reply

      Caroline, thank you. It moves me when people take the time to write such caring words. I would give anything to have had the chance for just a few more years with my dad and Noel. I wonder what they’d make of today’s changing attitudes. I really do like the thought that they’d be proud so I think I’ll just sit with that thought for now.

      Thank you again, Catherine xx

  20. Patricia February 8, 2018 at 1:20 pm -  Reply

    Well done Catherine, every thing you say is so true , I for one am so glad attitudes toward mental health are changing , wouldn’t it be lovely if one day the stigma of have a mental health illness would be a thing of the past x

    • Catherine Huntley February 9, 2018 at 8:19 pm -  Reply

      Patricia, thanks for your comments. I do believe change is happening and that we can accelerate changes for the better by sharing our compassion.

      Thank you. Love Catherine xx

  21. Bev taylor February 9, 2018 at 8:44 am -  Reply

    Thank you Catherine xx bless you for standing up and talking out . I am currently off work with anxiety, a problem I have managed very well for most of my life. This time brought on,believe it or not, by doing a completely mundane and soul destroying job for 10 months….. sitting there everyday doing virtually nothing on a reception desk has taken its toll. I coped perfectly with a busy job for 11 years until redundancy 🙁 Health is more important so I’ve made the decision,advised by my loving husband,to call time on this job and look for something stimulating. My advice to others would be to do the same. Xxxx doing nothing is bad for our mental health!

    • Catherine Huntley February 9, 2018 at 8:21 pm -  Reply

      Oh Bev, you are so right about doing nothing being bad for mental health. If nothing changes, nothing changes. So true.

      I’m so glad you’ve had such great support and the strength to decide to do what’s best for you and your wellbeing. When you take steps like that and follow your intuition it’s usually the right thing to do.

      I wish you happiness and wellness. Love Catherine xxx

  22. Amanda February 9, 2018 at 5:53 pm -  Reply

    Thank you Catherine for sharing I see this everyday in my role in a GP practice we are there to listen and please don’t be afraid or embrasure to come forward for help we will help you.

  23. Amanda February 9, 2018 at 5:53 pm -  Reply

    Thank you Catherine for sharing I see this everyday in my role in a GP practice we are there to listen and please don’t be afraid or embrassed to come forward for help we will help you.

    • Catherine Huntley February 12, 2018 at 6:41 pm -  Reply

      Hi Amanda, thanks so much for responding. What a heartening message for others to read, too. Keep up the great work you’re doing.

      Love Catherine xx

  24. Linda Bedel February 10, 2018 at 2:19 am -  Reply

    Thank you so much Catherine for opening your heart and sharing with us all, I can only imagine quite how difficult that must have been for you to do that!
    I myself am struggling at the moment and felt lifted by your open ness, thank you again.
    Keep your chin up beautiful lady and talk for change as I too will do x

    • Catherine Huntley February 12, 2018 at 6:43 pm -  Reply

      Linda, thanks for your kind words. I’m so sorry to hear you’re suffering at the moment. I hope the dark clouds pass and the sun comes out soon for you. I’m so glad you felt a little lighter reading my blog.

      Lots of love,

      Catherine x

  25. Sue February 10, 2018 at 11:49 am -  Reply

    Thank you Catherine for your amazing blog .My 33 year old son has been suffering serious depression which he has kept hidden until recently ,pretending he was fine ,He took tablets and ended up in hospital at Xmas.He is now getting help I am devastated that i did not see what was happening so i am grateful to you for talking about this awful illness .x

    • Catherine Huntley February 12, 2018 at 6:49 pm -  Reply

      Dear Sue, thank you for sharing. I am so sad to hear what you’re all going through but beyond relieved to hear your son survived. It’s natural for us to blame ourselves because we feel so helpless when those we love take such action. Please try not to feel bad for not seeing. When someone is determined to go down that path there really is nothing you can do to stop it. The silver lining to the sad incident over Christmas is that it’s now out in the open so that he has access to help he needs, and you, too. It’s ok for you to need help with your feelings over this. I know it’s paralysing and, seemingly, hopeless at times but hang on in there. You’re not alone.

      Much love,

      Catherine xxx

  26. Anita February 10, 2018 at 3:42 pm -  Reply

    I am reading this whilst watching you present the Alpha-H hour as i am able to multitask at the moment! In my darkest time, I can barely get out of bed, let alone do anything else. What a great company QVC is, that’s why I’ve been a customer since day 1, Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about the company I work for and most of my colleagues.

    • Catherine Huntley February 12, 2018 at 6:55 pm -  Reply

      Hi Anita, thanks for sharing your experience here. I’m so sorry to hear of your struggles. That’s the thing that often happens with mental illness. One minute multitasking superwoman (or man) and the next complete paralysis. It’s what, sometimes, makes it so hard for others to understand but I do totally get it and my heart breaks for you that you don’t have the support from your workplace that would really help you. I do feel there’s a major shift happening so maybe, one day, things will get better even there. Hang on in there.

      Love Catherine xx

  27. Anita February 10, 2018 at 3:53 pm -  Reply

    I obviously can’t multitask as I just looked up at the TV and it’s not you!

    • Catherine Huntley February 12, 2018 at 6:59 pm -  Reply

      Aw Anita, that really made me chuckle…I was wracking my brains to think when in presented an Alpha H show. I was wondering if it was a recorded show going out on the beauty channel. Ha ha xx

  28. Linda February 12, 2018 at 12:14 am -  Reply

    Very informative Blogg Catherine.Its good for people who have not known anyone who has suffered with illness. to be more informed. Love linda. xxx

    • Catherine Huntley February 12, 2018 at 7:01 pm -  Reply

      Thanks Linda, very good of you to leave a comment. Hopefully, things are changing for the better so people can be helped and prevented from taking the permanent way out.

      Love Catherine x

  29. Jackie February 12, 2018 at 7:27 pm -  Reply

    Thank you Catherine for sharing your story. So sorry for your loss. I also have a few people in my family who are dealing with mental health issues. It still amazes me that such a simple thing of talking is what we need to do but still is so hard for too many. We need to continue to share stories as bravely as you have. Much love Jackie.

  30. Linda BRERETON February 12, 2018 at 7:50 pm -  Reply

    You are so right. Why is mental health treated as the cinderella of health? We are broken but because of society, we keep our fears insecurities and sheer terror to ourselves and paint on the smile because that is what people expect. Well said. We need more openness.

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