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?

ruok-day

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 

R U OK?

It’s R U OK? Day in Australia. What is R U OK? Day you might ask? Well the website explains:

R U OK?Day is a national day of action on the second Thursday of September (13 September 2012), dedicated to inspiring all people of all backgrounds to regularly ask each other ‘Are you ok?’

By raising awareness about the importance of connection and providing resources throughout the year, the R U OK? Foundation aims to prevent isolation by empowering people to support each other through life’s ups and downs.

Being a stay-at-home Mum full-time I find it very isolating at times. You have school pick up and drop off where you can connect with other parents, and you have those days when you may go for a walk to the shops or meet at the park with friends. Apart from that, it’s all systems-go at home. The walls start to close in and the same episodes of Peppa Pig start to really get on your nerves. It is one of the reasons I have taken up my university studies again, and it’s a reason I actively participate in Social Media of various forms.  I love to communicate, chat and share with people who have the same interests. I believe it was Oprah (or probably someone before her) that said, “Knowledge is Power”, I firmly believe that being knowledgeable is powerful to the mind.

Anyway, I digress. One of the reasons I am writing this post today is to ask YOU reading this, R U OK? If you answer No, then I want you to think for a minute, and answer this question, What can I do for you? I am here for you, and I will listen. If all you need is to talk to someone, I will do it. If you need to vent, scream, or cry, I am here. If you need someone to make you laugh, I am here. I will always be here.

Now, if someone was to ask ME if I am OK, I am find today a good day to say, “No, I am not exactly OK”. For the past 6 months I have been struggling to come to terms with not feeling OK. It is one of the hardest things to admit to yourself, and one of the hardest things I can do, by putting it out here into the webiverse. Through the support of some fantastic friends and a very understanding husband, I have been to my GP and have been diagnosed with Post Natal Depression. When I first heard those words I was in denial. I mean, I’d completed all of the surveys conducted by the health care nurses, and in hospital, yet I was fooling myself. I knew exactly what they wanted to hear, so I filled them out accordingly. I didn’t want to admit that I needed help. I have always been able to handle things on my own.

However, the only person I was lying to was myself. I have 3 children under 5. That’s A LOT of pressure that I have been putting on myself. I stay at home all day and I try to make the house a happy one. With the help of those amazing friends I spoke of above, and my wonderful husband, I am able to seek the help that I need. It isn’t a quick fix, and it’s not something that I think can be solved with a ‘pill’, however through a variety of things combined, I will overcome this feeling and get to the day where I can smile and say… I am OK.  I look forward to that day. I’ve started concentrating on organising my life, studying at university and getting back into my healthy eating and exercise. Through all this, and support, I can conquer the black dog that barks so loudly in my life.

So, what was the point of this post? Well……. if just one person reading this is able to stop and say they are not OK, and go and speak to someone about it, then I feel like I have done a duty. It is important to educate ones self, to be able to answer the questions that are tapping at the door and to move on and live the best life you can, being the best version of yourself. You can be OK, and you will be OK.

I am proud to live in a country that recognises that Mental Health is real, it is not made up, and it needs to be addressed. Through many campaigns, such as R U OK? Day, we can all get together and help one another. Please, ask someone today, R U OK? If they answer No, please, let them talk it out. Give them the website to R U OK? Day and educate yourself, so that you can be the best friend that person needs.

Here are some additional resources I encourage you to have a look at:

The Black Dog Institute – A valuable resource for all things to do with Mental Health

Dancing With The Black Dog ~A wonderfully witty, candid account of one man’s victory over anxiety & depression