By Jamie Day | Published on 11 January 2019
When I set off on my journey into the world of parenting on social media a few years ago, I didn’t ever anticipate making real life friends that wouldn’t simply forever exist inside little squares on my phone, nor did I ever think I’d be discussing anything as personal or sensitive as my mental health or the mental health of others.
When I set off on my journey to Shepherd’s Bush last week using Southern Rail, I was meeting someone who not only do I now consider a real friend outside of those squares on my phone, but also someone who I’ve spoken to about mental health many, many times, Connor. What a transformation.
I first came across Connor a couple of years ago on Instagram and our online relationship quickly blossomed due to a shared interest in football and the fact we were using Instagram as a platform to display our similar take on parenthood. When I told him over a coffee that I was launching my mental health podcast for men, Man Talk, he opened up to me about his personal struggles and asked if he could appear on the show. His episode was an eye opener as his experiences with mental health centre around postnatal depression (PND) – not something that’s widely talked about when linked to dads, but it was a huge success with multiples of men getting in touch to tell me and him how it had helped them.
Since then, and now maybe six months on, brilliantly, Connor’s kept his mental health conversation going online, so I thought it would be good to record a catch-up podcast. He agreed, and I started putting plans into place for our recording; somewhere that would be easy and stress-free for us to meet.
My ongoing collaboration with Southern Rail has provided me with the perfect circumstances for our recording. When it comes to my podcasts, I like to use my time before the meet-up to research my guest and their issues, and on the journey home, I like to start the laborious task that is editing. The train ride was perfect for that. On my way to meet Connor, I listened again to our previous episode, whilst also familiarising myself with his current state.
As I sat on the train rolling ever closer to Shepherd’s Bush, I considered the transformative journey of the train ride; it wasn’t simply a journey from A to B, it was guiding me to a friend gained from a huge digital space, where we would soon be talking about our most inner feelings.
Upon meeting, we greeted each other like lifelong pals before finding a nearby bar to record the show. He spoke about his latest issues and how he’s dealing with them, and in return, I spoke openly about my own mental health. You can hear the show here.
As I left and headed back to the train to begin working on the edit, again it hit me about the transformative journey I’ve been on and the transformation in attitudes towards men’s mental health; it’s almost surreal in fact. As the train pulled away from Shepherd’s Bush, busy with rosy cheeked commuters, I wasn’t editing the voice of a stranger with words constrained by dated stigmas and taboos, I was editing the voice of a good friend and a man talking openly, and rightly so, about his mental health.