Most of us know to reach out about life’s big struggles – but what about the small ones? A few thoughts on whether it’s right to open up.

Hello and welcome to Mental Health & Wellbeing Matters, our regular space on the Film Stories site where we talk about – as the title suggests – mental health and wellbeing.

If you’ve not read one of these pieces before, it’s a place where we write about things that may be affecting you, us, or people around us. We work on simple rules: not every article we run is going to be of use to everyone, but hopefully across this series, there’s something that’s of use to you. And also, comments are very welcome, and appreciated.

In fact, more than ever, there’s no firm answers this week, as everyone’s circumstances differ, and everyone has different pressures on them. Instead, I wanted to throw a question out there, and hopefully a few of you will join me in sharing thoughts on it.

Basically, this: should you admit that you’re struggling a bit?

The knee jerk answer to this is yes. I also think the answer to this, away from knee jerking, is yes. But also, I don’t think life is always that straightforward.

An important distinction first. This isn’t about struggles that are impacting your health and wellbeing to a significant degree. It’s always, I’d suggest, best to open up about those somewhere and somehow.

This is more the low level, underlying stuff. Should you just put a face on and make the best of it, or do you open up that everything is a little too far from perfect at the moment?

Older me and younger me answer this question in different ways.

The younger version of me would just battle on. Because that’s the done thing, right? Who wants to hear about me banging on? At least that’s what I always thought. I used to feel like the least important, least interesting and least experienced person in the room. I’d best just get on with stuff. I used to do that until one or two moments came to a head and suggested that wasn’t the best way forward. But I do wonder if the only way I’d accept that was to go through it all.

Older me is a little more open, albeit selectively. For instance, the last three weeks have been very difficult. Yours may have been too. I’m long past the point of assuming that people who are smiling at me actually have an easy life and are happy. Truth is, I’ve been very tired, very stretched, and my head’s been battling some stuff. I’ve kept going and got a lot down, but it’s been three times harder than usual.

So do I tell someone?

I’m increasingly of the view that if you can tell someone, tell them. Even if it’s just a little text message saying you’re struggling at the minute. To someone who will just take that in, and won’t feel the need to dig out a magic wand and overreact. Most of the time, they don’t need to anyway. But just so somebody out there knows. If you can’t? Just try popping a comment in here. Can’t hurt. And it’s all human beings in our comments too. We don’t like bots.

I think it’s worth doing something because I also think externalising stuff – is that a word? – is helpful. It’s a small thing, but it’s a small bit of not having to hold everything in yourself.

I don’t have the perfect answer here. In truth, who does? But leave your thoughts. Should you tell? Should you hold the tiny stuff in your head? All input, as always, appreciated.

In the meantime, you all take care and look after yourselves. This column will return next week.

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