Talking about Mental Health Pt. 2

Talking about Mental Health Pt. 2

Right now, more than ever, we are realising how important it is to be aware of, and take care of our mental health and look out for those around us. We took some time to talk with our friends Emy and Matto to share their experiences, perspectives and have some honest conversation around mental health. We are proud to share these with you all in the hopes of creating more conversations within our community, reduce stigma around mental health and to look out for each other for a long time to come. #MentalHealthMatters

A majority of people at some point in their lives have either suffered from, or known someone suffering with mental illness. Whether mild cases or more extreme, it has significant effects on those suffering, those around them and the community as a whole. But why do we still find it so hard to talk about? 

We are blessed to belong to the skateboarding community that has had an extensive history of creating bonding relationships, good times, creative outlets, physical health and at times being an escape from some of the difficulties we have in our lives. Despite our community having all these things it is important to acknowledge that we are far from free of the effects of mental health issues and, like many other groups, still have a lot of difficulty openly discussing how we really feel. Now, more than ever, as our community is forced to remain physically apart, we need to talk about how we are feeling, create a dialogue for our emotions and find new ways to bring each other together. 

Too many of us have been directly affected by these issues and we at Fast Times want to create some conversation around mental health in an attempt to reduce the stigma around these issues, increase awareness and make more members of our community feel comfortable to talk about their feelings. 

Although we are no experts on the topic, we have reached out to several members of the skateboarding community to share their experiences, perspectives and to create some conversation. We understand this does not give every single perspective and there will always be more points to discuss however we hope this is a good start.    

For those of you out there struggling with mental health issues or if you think you know someone who might be struggling, please reach out, have a conversation or simply listen, so we can be there for each other for a long time to come. 


Emy Christianson

Emy is a truly unique individual who can light up a room with her good humoured and caring personality. From the outside looking in she exudes a sense of confidence and happiness however, like many of us, Emy has had her fair share of tough times which she continues to work through by better understanding her own mental health and how to manage it for the best. In doing so she’s become stronger for not only herself but those around her and we’re proud to have her a part of our team and give her the chance to share her experiences and views.  


Tell us a little bit about yourself and your own experiences with mental health.

My own personal mental health has always been a real struggle to come to terms with, it’s something that I, in the past, have really just pushed into the corner of the room ‘thrown a sheet over it’ and just tried to ignore it. 

That was until mid 2019. I would go to work and on pretty much a daily basis I would quietly walk to the toilets, lock myself in a stall, crouch on the floor hugging my knees and the tears would just roll out. The feeling deep in my stomach had risen into my chest, it would feel like I had three huge sacks of potatoes just crushing me. I hid this pretty well for quite some time. I knew I had to do a good job and I couldn’t let my team down who depended on me. I’d leave the toilet stall, pop some clear eye drops in each eye to hide the redness and head back to my desk. 

I would go home and I just couldn’t explain to my partner what I was feeling, I’d just sit there with a blank look on my face but my mind was racing with fear taking over and crippling my body. 

Reality was; I needed to be looking after myself first, my own mental health first. So for the first time in my life I went and saw my doctor, started a mental health plan and started seeing a Psychologist. I went into the first session with a mindset of “Okay Emy, this isn’t going to break you. Don’t let your emotions show, you're not weak” 5 minutes into my very first session I completely broke down, it’s like my mind was telling me “Finally! This is what you’ve been needing to do for too long” 

I cannot stress how important and how amazing seeking a professional about your mental health truly is. It’s okay to be weak, it’s okay to ask for help, it’s okay to feel vulnerable. 


How have you brought up some of your own challenges to your friends and family? If you have, how did you do this?

I was out at my sisters birthday party one year, it was a beautiful summer day so the venue was absolutely packed, not really a good combo for someone like myself who suffers pretty bad social anxiety. I quickly rushed off to the toilets (must be my safe place I suppose) and chucked my headphones in trying to drown out the multiple “Oh my god!!! I’ve missed you so much” drunken talk from the women's stalls. My sister found me and held me and told me everything was going to be okay. On HER birthday. 

I opened up to my mum and dad that afternoon about my struggles, they had no idea what I was feeling. The look on my dad's face was pure upset when he turned to hug me. You don’t want to show any weakness sometimes in front of your family so you put on a smile and move on with it. Don’t do this. 

Communication with your friends and family is so important, It takes a lot of inner encouragement to get to that point where you feel strong enough to bring up these subjects. Be proud of this though, it’s not easy to ask for help.

I’ve got a few friends that have really struggled with their own mental health and I’ve helped them through many of their own battles, just being there for them is what is so important. 


Who would you encourage people to reach out to if they’re struggling and need to talk?

Talk to your mates about it, they love you no matter what and will be willing to help you through this. Your HR manager at work will be able to point you in the right direction too. Speak to your GP, start a mental health plan. I know it's very daunting to talk about this but honestly it’ll change for the better. There are so many support websites/pages that you can reach out to for help. People care about you I promise you that - You're not alone in this. 


This year has had a lot of challenges for a lot of people. What are some things you’ve done or seen people do to deal with these challenges during this time?

This year is a constant groundhog day, 2020 is cancelled thank you. 

The number one thing with such a funky year like we’re all having is keeping yourself busy, get out into the sunshine for a skate, walk your dog, dance down the street or go pull up those ugly weeds that you’ve noticed have been growing in the front yard. I know that packet of chippies look mighty fine, but grab some fruit or something healthy and drink water!! 

Start vlogging, try new tricks, start writing in your journal, take your dog/go on a completely different route than you normally would. Look at the houses, the gardens blooming in spring, the smells and the sounds. Take it all in, this isn’t going to last forever, so try and embrace what is around you right now. 

Personally, my veggie patch is where I’m putting most of my energy into, the more you put into it the better the product will be on your dinner plate. Start working on the soil, improving it with strong nutrients that will turn your produce into quality food to feed your soul with. Sounds like a good metaphor for your mental health!


How can we respond to someone coming to us with their own mental health challenges?

Ensure that you approach these conversations with your full intention to try your best to help them as much as you can. Who knows, they may have had to work them-self up for weeks and struggled to ask for help and guidance but they’ve chosen you to talk to. Don’t shut them out. This may be the first time they’ve ever opened up about their mental health battles. 

Listen to them, don’t interrupt them, have this conversation in a setting which is open and non judgemental, they might want to share a heavy conversation with you or maybe just a little. Do not tell them what they’re feeling or their potential diagnosis - you're not a professional. Be sure to keep your questions open ended to keep the conversation flowing but at the same time not overload them with a million questions. 

Offer them suggestions of professionals they could speak to, give them a list of a few people they could call but don’t try to take over their choices of what they should do. Give them the options and check in with them to see how they're going. 

How can a community, such as we have in skateboarding, support those struggling with mental health issues?

As a community we need to start talking about mental health more and more. Every-time you link up with your mates for a sesh check in with them. Take your time with this conversation, it’s not going to be easy but the reassurance of you letting them know that you’ve got their back might mean the world to them. The stigma of mental health being weak/needy/craving attention needs to take a hike! Include and encourage those around you, g’ them up and celebrate every moment. 


Matto O’Brien 


We all love our mates, but Matto has taken it to the next level! After a tough period involving losing some close friends and dealing with his own struggles, he found himself posting photos of his friends saying all the things he loved about them with the same sentiment for those still alive as those that had passed away. This caught on and built quite a following with many people following the same ideals and posting pictures of their friends using #tellyourfriendsyoulovethem. Soon after TYFYLT became a not for profit putting a proactive and positive twist on addressing mental health in our community. Matto has been a long time friend of Fast Times and the skateboarding community and we are eager to help spread his positive message.


Tell us about Tell Your Friends You Love Them?

Tell Your Friends you Love Them is a non for profit with the hope to change the way people show emotion and hide emotion. Designed to help break down the walls society has forced us to build, the ones that make it seem like we’re all doing just fine. 

So, hopefully, through showing love first, it becomes easier to let all the harder emotions flow out behind it; the self-doubt, the anxiety, the depression, the fears, grief and the dark thoughts we hide from our closest friends, sometimes even from ourselves.

Think of telling your friends you love them more of a proactive response to an issue before it arises more solidly. By positively strengthening our friendships we can open up channels of trust where, if they’re feeling so, people can openly and without worry of ridicule share their not so positive feelings and thoughts. Instead of starting your conversations with mates with a negative issue, try starting with a positive compliment, something about them you admire or are inspired by. I’ve found that by reinforcing friendships these ways, more often that not people in their own time open up to you. Knowing that you’re not alone is such a strong feeling to have.


Who would you encourage people to reach out to if they’re struggling and need to talk?

Firstly, what we have to recognise is that when people are in situations where they’re struggling one of the hardest things to do is reach out and/or talk about what they’re going through. In some instances of depression and anxiety, it’s sometimes a mental and physical impossibility for someone who is suffering to reach out. Focus on creating safe spaces or conversations based around things you both have in common, in this case, skateboarding. Leave gaps or pauses for friends to talk themselves, try not to press the issues.

Secondly, if you are suffering and feeling like talking, rely on your trusted friends, the true believers in you. You’ll honestly be surprised in their compassion and love for you. If you don’t feel like opening up to a friend, try a stranger, there are many phone lines set up to help you. Even text lines if you struggle to vocalise your thoughts.


This year has had a lot of challenges for a lot of people. What are some things you’ve done or seen people do to deal with these challenges during this time?

There has, from the start, been a pressure that we needed to make something of ourselves during this pandemic, get healthy, start a new hobby, learn guitar, make art… etc. I tried for the first lockdown but this second one I have just focussed on being as kind as I can to everyone, practising gratitude for everything I still have rather than what I don’t. Now, a good day for me is if I have a good mental health day, look after myself and people close to me. Just knowing that I can do my best and if that’s not great then that’s fine as well.


What are some things we can look out for in our friends, and even ourselves, that they/we may be having trouble with drugs and alcohol?

Skateboarding has always glorified party culture, along with this of course comes drugs and alcohol. I in no way am saying that this is a bad thing as there are always great things worth celebrating, first time landing a trick, a great day out with all your friends, premiers of videos where you have put your lifeblood into, getting sponsored, turning pro… the list goes on. What we have to be worried about is when we start promoting this when we’re not having a good time. 

Drinking to cheer yourself up and/or to numb your bad feeling isn’t a good way to be. I’ve definitely suffered from this over times of my life, my good friends have as well. Being vigilant and aware of how your friends are feeling and what they’re going through is a good way of being on top of the negative sides of partying and what they lead to. If you know a friend is going down that path, try suggesting other options that don’t involve partying, it’s hard to do I know but worth it.


How can a community, such as we have in skateboarding, support those struggling with mental health issues?

One of the best things about skateboarding is the comradery and acceptance of others, including strangers. As a community, we need to focus on educating ourselves and by starting the conversations that need to be had. A more open forum response to mental health within skateboarding, skateboarding media and brands. If anything, it will help those struggling know that it’s ok and common to feel the way they do. We’re all misfits, but we all have each other's backs. 



There is no quick fix to the issues of mental health in our community but it all starts with the conversation. It is up to each of us to look out for one another, identify the signs, ask the questions or simply give your full attention when someone is reaching out to you. By being proactive, showing love first and creating a safe space to share our vulnerabilities we can break down some of the barriers and stigma around mental health. It’s okay to be vulnerable and ask for help.

This article and the contributions from each interviewee are from personal perspectives and experiences and do not constitute professional advice. Below are a list of resources you can access to further learn about mental health, what you can do to support, how you can talk about your feelings and who you can reach out to if/when you need to. If ever you feel you don’t know who you can talk to, we also have a list of organisations you can get in touch with at any time. Never be afraid to reach out, you are not alone. 


Stay Safe and Take Care of Each Other.


Fast Times

Check out Part 1 of this article here.


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