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Time to Talk - When Men Talk

Tomorrow (7th Feb) is Time to Change's annual campaign #TimeToTalk supporting people to open up and discuss mental health and reduce stigma

(For more information visit )

Out of the norm of my usual Monday blog.... I felt it pertinent to write to those of you who are feeling your voice is lost in the frantic nature of life and the world.

And...while of course I am comfortably in solidarity with my own women-kind and fellow sisterhoods out there, I want to take this moment to pause and reflect on the voices of men experiencing some of the challenges, experiences and troubles that sit under that big umbrella of #Mental #Health

I have to be honest, most of the clients who find JKChangeWork are men. Commonly, men who work or are seeking a career. Men who are kind, full of skills and strengths.. maybe lost ... or with a problem to solve...who find coaching as a space to be who they need to be and currently feel they can't. To find a space they don't believe they have.

These are people who often tell me that they haven't told anyone how they feel, or explored their issue OR that no one has been able to help them resolve their problem when they have opened up....and most of the time there appears to be an expectation that disclosing or identifying an issue....doesn't actually warrant support/guidance or resolve amongst the "thing" that's an issue...remains just that.

I may often be the first person to discover that they feel worried, inferior, fearful, overwhelmed or angry for example.

My business values are set on a principle of people finding and having the space they need, to find out what they want, how they get it.....and also who they...who you...who I .... from here life is clearer and happier.

I talked in an earlier blog about finding spaces out from the norm/business/problems/fear.... many clients say that a coaching session offers that space. There are of course, many routes to find hope, answers and opportunity.

Let me share with you some experiences:

When I was in sixth form, I remember vividly coming to sessions one morning, to discover that a guy called Paul (from the year below) had ended his life. One day we had seen him, the next he wasn't there. His closer friends were perplexed, confused... feeling there had been no signs of unhappiness and indeed recalled memories of him joking and laughing in the pub with them, on the night that he had died.

In 2016, my dad, anxious about some comments and expectations of a local member of the village had held his stress and worry in. Not wanting to show he had necessarily been affected by the words of others. That day he had multiple heart attacks, linked quite probably to the stress he had carried... which ultimately lead to his death. In his last months, despite surviving the physical trauma, his mind became heavy with his physical constraints and he experienced depression and panic attacks as his health declined.

In similar guise, another man I have known had to be home schooled through his exams having been suicidal at school. Struggling with his peer dynamics and bullying. His life had felt unbearable and this lead to many years of isolation and social anxiety right through to adulthood.

In 2018, I discovered that a man, Luke, had also ended his life. This was someone who had often joined me and friends for wild nights out to gigs at uni. A guy, who had been charismatic and boisterous... who has a successful business and family.... had at some point felt unsafe with the life that he had....

Recently I met with a close male friend.... he described how - under the high pressure of work and life - he had presented at hospital with chest pains. The doctors had initially had two diagnoses, that he was in the midst of a heart attack himself at 33, or that he had consumed a considerate amount of cocaine ( he hadn't)..... His body had built a vessel for the anxiety and worry to the point of him becoming unwell.

These are just a few significant experiences I have for you of times that have driven my passion to provide useful and effective spaces to get life back on track... to succeed and achieve..... things don't have to go from bad to worse.

Some of these men had space to talk... some felt they couldn't.... being the Dad, or the Earner, The Brave One, The Strong One... The Teacher, the one that Just-Gets-On.

The coaching world talks about being "authentically you"... I always took this to mean... that point when you are ok with who you are.... really ok....that you could even be proud, loving, happy with yourself......... whether its reaching ambitions of a life time, changing one feeling for a more positive one or moving on and resolving conflicts internally or within your wider connections ...

Many people (man or women) feel alone.... having space to talk is really important.

Having space to resolve can be equally important...

Conversations in coaching aren't focused on dredging up painful detail, if that's not comfortable for you.....Your journey can be about building resources and establishing goals..... paving the way for the solutions to happen, looking at new ways to think, feel and behave in the face of life's challenges.

Feeling not normal?.....I have to say that's really normal.

Taking that first step to identifying and resolving things you struggle with may feel like the hardest part, especially if you have tried talking, or getting support before... and felt you did not get the response that worked for you.

There are common issues....what is less common is your individual experience of navigating through these. because it is you....sometimes it's helpful to hear others share an experience...sometimes you just need to hear....."what's that like for you?" and be listened to... so you can begin to navigate a different route.

So is the reason things haven't changed because you are feeling alone?

Feelings and Thoughts that may be more common that you think.

  • Having self doubt

  • Lacking confidence in your decisions.

  • Procrastinating until something is an issue.

  • Bullying self-talk.

  • Worry....panic....anxiety

  • Fear of the unknown.....

  • Fear of the known

  • Regretting something

  • Anger and resent that something was out of your control.

  • "bad" habits.

  • Feeling Lost

  • Being sad.....really sad.

  • Disliking part of your appearance, voice, body feature.

  • Having a secret you are scared will change other perceptions of you.

  • Acting outside of your values and then feeling rubbish because of it.

  • Being overwhelmed.

  • Feeling lonely or alone.

  • Feeling misunderstood

The list could go on.... Feeling on your own with issues, or believing that it cannot be unresolved...can be tiring!

Find space to talk, a safe space......and importantly know that things can change ... and will change.

Five useful principles

  1. People make the best choice they can at the time.

  2. People work perfectly.

  3. All actions have a purpose

  4. Every behaviour has a positive intention

  5. We already have all the resources we need, or we can create them.

If you are interested in getting coaching and investing in change & development....for your personal or professional life.... get in touch.

If you need someone to talk to about your mental health the Samaritans offer a free/confidential phone line 24/7 Call 116 123

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