Sometimes I catch myself thinking back to that time last year on a bus when Katie literally said to me “Hey, it gets better.”
When thinking about what I wanted to write for my first Hey It Gets Better blog post, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about how I came to be in this position in the first place! And to do that I would need to talk about Katie. So, as an introduction to me, here is the story about mine and Katie’s first conversation (probably).
I had never spoken to Katie until the third year of our history degree, when we both started our special subject together. We talked briefly in group situations, but never alone. It wasn’t until our mutual friend left us alone on the bus together when we got to speak one- to- one.
Just as a bit of context about this encounter on the bus; I was not feeling great that day. In fact, I was not feeling great that entire month.
University comes with its own set of stresses that everyone experiences at some point and to varying degrees. For me, an amalgamation of home worries and friend troubles made the never-ending seminar reading and essay deadlines an impossible task. I was struggling to do basic things without worrying; making a cup of tea or a meal for myself was a shaky struggle. I was lucky just to get out of the door for our seminar that day.
I am not sure what it was particularly about Katie that made me open up to her about all of this (seeing as it is quite a heavy first conversation to have with someone you don’t know too well). Perhaps it was her friendly personality that made me feel pretty comfortable speaking with her. Perhaps I was just so stressed that I was at breaking point and she had no choice in the matter!
Most likely, though, I think it was Katie simply asking me how I was that led us to have such an open conversation about our mental health.
Katie was really kind and opened up to me about her own experience with therapy, and recommended getting a referral for CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). I had never really thought about therapy for myself before; surely my stress isn’t worth any time and hassle? My anxieties will just go away, right?
How wrong was I. Katie made me feel as though my feelings were valid, like I was worthy of having therapy if that’s what I wanted to do. So, I did! And after 5 sessions of CBT, I was able to do the basic tasks I was struggling with the month before. Though there are a variety of things that work for different people, this is what worked for me. And I was lucky that Katie introduced it to me at that moment in time.
It is funny looking back on that day a couple of years ago. Sitting on the bus together, we didn’t know what a coronavirus was, and then fatefully Katie said to me ‘Hey, it gets better.’ And now here I am in 2021, writing a post for the Hey It Gets Better blog! Whilst this is a sweet story about how we met, it shows the true power of a conversation to change someone’s day- hey, to change their whole life!
A simple “how are you doing today?” or “how are you coping with all the uni work at the moment?” could be enough for someone to feel reassured that they are being looked out for.
We all have the power to make such a difference in someone else’s life, whether that be our friends, family, colleagues, or even people that we don’t know too well! Equally, we should not be too embarrassed or wary to open up to people if we are not feeling 100%.
I think this is what the story of mine and Katie’s friendship has taught me. Every single person is capable of making a difference in someone else’s life. Asking someone how they are may seem insignificant, but you should never underestimate the power of a conversation.