Tim's story: Conversations and coping with depression

Despite my depression I have always nurtured my ability to talk to people.

I do this for two reasons. Firstly, striking up conversations with others helps me to forget my present just for a little while, especially if the conversation goes well. Secondly, the positivity that can surround a pleasant conversation sometimes lasts for hours. This can happen whether I know the person or whether I am meeting them for the first time.

Conversations with people can often be difficult or awkward, even to those who don't experience mental health problems, but I have tried to encourage myself to talk to others whenever I can, and with a smile on my face. I try to show interest in people's lives or empathise with their problems or situations.

I am lucky that I work in a profession where I regularly have social interaction with others and I find the more I talk, the more I get back. People respond to friendliness. They respond to humour, too, something else I always try and introduce into a conversation whether I feel like it or not. When people respond favourably - and more often than not they do - then I start to feel much better.

My advice to anyone living with depression or anxiety or any of the other so called mental afflictions, is to gently push yourself in social situations. It often doesn't take much effort but what you can get back in the way of responses and friendliness can be more than worth it, not to mention increased self-esteem for yourself.

Being upfront and honest

Also, when the moment is right, I have no problem with being completely upfront and honest about my depression. Again, I do this for two reasons. Firstly, it helps people understand me better. Because I'm not in a wheelchair or have a limb in plaster, it sometimes helps me and the person I am with to explain where I'm at as a person.

Secondly, I have lost count of the number of people I have 'opened up' to who have either declared they know someone who also lives with depression, or that they experience it themselves. The latter scenario can even be a rewarding experience because it means you have met a kindred spirit.

I never declare my depression to everyone I meet though. I have learned, through experience, to pick and choose the right moment and the right person. Not everyone is understanding or has the capability to understand mental illness. I feel lucky that I am able to discern who to tell and who not to tell. But if you do find someone who understands, who has experience of it, it can be a golden, uplifting moment.

And if you can find yourself helping that person with advice or help based on personal experience, the moment feels better. It is always good to help people no matter what the situation because it can make you forget your own problems for a while.

More than anything I find that helping others who live with depression benefits me in return. It means I no longer feel alone.