RUOK Day 2015 – Thanks for Asking

It’s that day again, when we see lots of images posted on social media (and the media) with big yellow and black writing asking: RU OK?

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I have written two responses to this day in 2012 & 2013. I’m not sure why I missed last year, but perhaps at that time, I wasn’t okay.

Not only is the 2nd September of every year dedicated as RUOK? Day, but today is also National Suicide Awareness day. Quite fitting. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (a government organization), over the last two decades there has been a steady rise of death by suicide, and incidents of self-harm resulting in hospitalization.
To pretty much everyone, this is scary stuff. Suicide today, is still a subject that is skimmed over, hushed, and most certainly not as common a topic as we should be making it. Why are people committing suicide? What is making them think that death by their own hand is the only solution? Of course I can’t give you these answers, but what I can do is highlight that we have the power to change someone’s life.

All it takes is one question: Are You Okay?

We don’t have the right to tell people how to feel, we cannot force them to feel, or make them talk to us. What we can do is show compassion, and show that we do care by asking them a simple question. Not because we want to be cool, and trendy, but because we care. It is a simple question. It’s three words. What is not simple is the answer you might get. When someone says, “No, I’m not”. What happens then? The aim is to start the conversation.

I’ve seen a few posts online today that are questioning whether people should be asking the RUOK question if they are not equipped to handle the answer. From my point of view ~ Yes, they should still ask the question. All exposure to a worthy cause is fantastic. This cause highlights so much, and it is the job of those who understand it, to equip those who may not know, with answers. If they are asking RUOK? on this particular day in September, then we are assuming they’ve seen the social media graphics, the television ads …. I mean, we can only assume (which could be risky) but now what we do is inform everyone that not only are we asking the question, we hope they are reading material regarding mental illness, and how to be a supportive friend. Materials they may never have seen without the RUOK day campaign. Remember, being supportive doesn’t mean you take on the responsibility of the problem that someone may be feeling. You don’t suddenly make those feelings your own, and you certainly don’t turn into an unqualified psychiatrist or psychologist. There is so much that can be done by being You. Acknowledge, validate, and you offer to help them if they would like. Quite often it’s letting that person know they are not alone. Did you know that every year ONE in FIVE Australians will experience a form of mental illness?! Now with a population like ours, I’d say it’s a pretty safe bet to say that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. You certainly don’t have to yell from the rooftops that you are not okay, but I promise, if you have seen someone ask the question, and you’re willing to do it, then please, answer honestly and let them be a support.

Soooooo….. enough of the preachy preach! I’ll add some links to the bottom of the post so you CAN be armed with any solutions, help, assistance, or answers you might be seeking if you do get an answer that isn’t, “Yes, thanks for asking”.

This years theme of RUOK?  Day is: “Thanks for asking”… right now in my life, although I feel like I am drowning a lot, I know that I am okay. I’ve had people ask me and I’m am so thankful they asked. At this very moment in time I have a supportive spouse, and close friends who are forever my sounding boards on life, love, and everything in between. Unfortunately, not everyone has that luxury. Society enforces it’s labels upon us, and many people can feel locked in a box. Thinking they are not “Normal” and therefore, not able to be their true self. To those people, I am but one person who would like to say: Regardless of how you see yourself – YOU MATTER. You have the ability to create an impact on society and this life. Be who you are. Be what you want. Just be yourself. As Dr Suess says:


10-life-lessons-from-dr-suess-5-728

Depression, anxiety, and feeling hopeless… I’ve experienced all of those feelings. I want you to know. They do not define you…. It Gets Better. The more we speak about it, the more it’s in mainstream media, hopefully the more we can abolish the stigma. In my opinion, social labels suck…huge big sucky suck….but they are there, and it’s our job to smash them into a million pieces and make the abnormal, normal. There are so many fantastic places that can offer assistance free of judgment and stigma. Many, like Lifeline, are anonymous. They are someone to lend an ear when you’re feeling alone and helpless. Please, know that this life is one for living, and you living it, matters.

Take Care and Remember, it’s okay to say you’re not Okay. You are not alone……

 

Hot Links

Click on each one to be taken directly to the website

Lifeline 13 11 14

Black Dog Institute

RU OK? Day 

beyondblue

headspace (for 12-25 year olds) 

SANE Australia 

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Dry July – A Month In Reflection

How was your July? Mine was Dry! dry_july_member_FB Last year, for the first time, I took part in a fundraiser called Dry July. It is a movement that asks you go “Booze Free” for the month of July in order to raise funds for benefactors that focus on the wellness of adults with cancer. This is something that is dear to my heart, as I see on a daily basis, adults who are going through cancer treatments. Last year I was able to rack up $225 which I thought was an amazing amount! With that in mind, I signed up again for 2015! What an amazing opportunity I have had! Not only have I successfully smashed Dry July, I was able to bring exposure through newspaper, radio, and public fundraising.dryjuly9 I began Dry July full of optimism, although a little concerned I wouldn’t be able to go to my nightly wine. The first couple of dryjuly11days were a bit blah, and I felt like I didn’t have a go-to drink. It was an effort to boil the kettle and figure out what tea I was going to have. Then I would sit and pout about how it didn’t taste the same as wine. I managed to get to a wonderful 30th birthday celebration and by-passed all of the alcohol! It was hard!!! It was at the beginning of July so I was still very much in the mind dryjuly6frame that booze was fun! I did a lovely ‘test tube shot’ of lemonade while everyone knocked back some schnapps! I didn’t let it dampen the fun, and still had a hilarious time playing Heads Up with a bunch of loaded ladies!!!! It was also a struggle during school holidays. Three kids, two weeks, no booze. That’s enough to send anyone a little crazy. Lucky for me, I already am crazy, and I was able to make amusing Mr T. memes to distract myself.dryjuly1 As the month went on, I found it was less and less on my mind. With winter in full swing, it was just as easy to boil the kettle and make a nice warm cup of herbal tea. I don’t mind the Chamomile & Spiced Apple. That flavor definitely became a favourite. Half way through the month I was blitzing the donations and was extremely thankful dryjuly3that I had so many people “on my side”. Knowing donations were coming in really did keep me accountable. Not only did I have something to prove to myself, but people were giving up their hard earned money with the assumption I would follow through on my end of the bargain. I knew I needed wanted more money so I decided to have a go at a cake stall! The local dance school (that both my daughter and I dance at) kindly allowed me to set cakestall3up shop one Saturday morning. With the help of a bunch of great friends who came forward and baked for me, I had a great set up. There were lots of goodies on order, and my local Tupperfriend came to lend a hand and showcase some goodies. I cakestall1decided not to mark any price on the items, and simply mentioned that all items were “by donation”, allowing the choice to remain in the hands of the buyer. I was amazed. By not restricting myself, I ended up with a whopping $341.55!!! I mean the fact that someone paid $20 for a cupcake was simply amazing to me! As soon as I explained WHY I was doing the cake stall, the money was handed over with no question!!!!! The following weeks were even easier. I didn’t think about the wine anymore. It was non-existent in the fridge and in my mindset. I was sleeping better, and I certainly felt a lot more alert. I did lose 4kg over the month, but I dunno..is that really the wine (please say no, so I don’t have to be sad!!). I’m just glad it’s over! I didn’t drink for another week, and then had a really bad experience, but that’s another story for another time. I can’t believe I managed to get through another July without booze! It was worth it! In fact, it was $923 worth it! That’s the amount that I have managed to raise! My dryjuly4benefactor was The Crown Princess Mary Cancer Centre at Westmead. I am so proud of being able to contribute to ongoing funds to the centre. My hope is that by being one person, doing one thing, I can make a difference. I’m not sure if I’ll do it next year!! We’ll have to wait and see! In the meantime, have you attempted Dry July, or something like it? Had you ever heard of Dry July before? What’s the most amount of $$ you have raised for a charity? How did you go about raising so much?! Let me know, so I can be prepared for my next fundraising venture!

Those With Less Often Give More

Have you done anything for someone, to make yourself feel better? By that I mean, have you helped someone in need? Have you gone the extra mile to do a little something for someone without them expecting it? Sometimes it’s people who don’t have enough to share, that share the most.

Recently, I saw a video on YouTube and I was astonished at the social experiment. Watch it, and then come back to me! We can discuss…

Soooo.. what did you think?? My heart broke a little knowing that people were willing to give up their dollar for booze and drugs, but not for a man and his family. I think being on Dry July I’ve been able to take a step back and see how alcohol plays a huge part in society. Everywhere. Instead of asking if he needed help to get out of that rut, they assisted his behaviour. Interesting.

I loved the woman who came up and although she was homeless herself, she gave him EVERYTHING she had earned that day. EVERYTHING. Yet, at one point we see kids driving by in a mini car?!!? They stopped and you can see their parent (I presume) pushing them along to keep going. Why? Why do you think society turns it’s back on these people, yet not others?

I’d love to hear your thoughts….

bcyM6MdcLI’m currently participating in a charity drive for “Share The Dignity“. The aim is to provide homeless women with sanitary items. It’s a wonderful initiative (there are a few various charities who do it – Melbourne Period Project is another), because this is a controversial topic that is quite often brushed under the rug. The more people talk about it, the more people will know about it. If you would like to donate a packet of pads or tampons, please check the website for Australia wide drop off locations. The drive ends August 31st and all items will be distributed to local recipients. I believe there are programs like this in North America, and encourage you to look them up and contribute!