This afternoon I start my talking therapy group. It's focussed on improving mood. I am both looking forward to it and terrified by it in equal measure.
I think there will be twelve of us. A bit like a jury but I'm hoping no one is going to be doing any judging. I don't need anyone else judging me, I'm good enough at that myself thanks very much.
Someone told me not to worry about it. But we know that sort of advice doesn't really work and can actually make things worse.
For me the course is going to be a challenge. A challenge to not just portray the external image of calm but make sure I expose and talk about the washing machine churning that's happening on the inside.
I expect the other 11 people are all going to look pretty normal too. None of them will be obviously stressed, or anxious or clearly have low mood or low self-esteem but we will all have our challenges, some more obvious than others. But no one will probably look ill, but we all are ill. Some will want to share. Some won't. But we will all learn something about ourselves and each other. So I'm going to contribute but I'm also going to listen. To try hard and get the most out of this opportunity to change and feel better. Because I need to. And I'm grateful for the chance.
I'm intrigued to see how many men will be there and I hope there's a few and we can continue to create a society where it's easier for men to open up.
Last Sunday was World Suicide Prevention Day and the statistics (sorry this is from 2016) show men aren't talking enough.
The first step to getting help, whatever your particular challenge is, is to talk.
So whatever you're struggling with please find someone to talk to, they can be a professional or just a friend.
And if one of your friends looks like they're struggling, offer them your ear, ask them if they're ok and really listen to the answer, give them 5 minutes of your time. You can be the difference.
If you're not sure how to do that have a look here for some great practical advice www.mind.org.uk/information-support/helping-someone-else/
Just listening can be the difference.
Mr Paul Wyse