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 

I apologise ….

I’ve had something on my mind for the past couple of days. Ever since I heard about the English cricketer who has gone home from the Ashes with stress-related illness. It can happen to anyone. And it does.  This is my post in response to that (which is actually pretty unrelated)…..

I think I need to make an apology. What for? You might ask… You see, at the beginning of this year I was traveling a very dark path. There were no streetlights, and there was no end. There was a street sign with the name of the street, but you would have to look really hard to read it because it was so dark. When I looked forward, there was no hope; There was no future. I was at a crossroads and they were marked Depression Rd and Anxiety Way.  The thing is…there were so many things happening in my life, in my head, and I had no way of filtering them, of sorting them out, and getting through them. From the outside looking in, it probably seemed as if I had it all. I had a husband, a home, 3 beautiful children, a stable income and a car. I was studying at uni and there was sunshine in the sky. That’s where my apology comes in. The sun wasn’t shining for me.  I locked myself away, and didn’t come out at all. I would drop the kids off to school without getting out of the car, so that I didn’t have to talk to anyone, or didn’t have to get out of my pajamas. I declined every invitation to get together and socialize because I didn’t know what to talk about, and I didn’t want to leak my sour mood onto anyone else. I didn’t want to get out of bed, and would quite often go straight back to bed as soon as I returned from school drop off. Only now, now that I am finally at the end of those streets and finally walking along It Gets Better Street do I realize, by doing this, I had the potential to jeopardize friendships I’d had for months/years. To the outsider who doesn’t know, my behavior could be perceived as uppity, and snobbish. As if I was acting like I was too good to talk to anyone. Or to good to go out and share a meal and have a drink.  The problem is. That’s not the truth. The truth is that when you are in the deepest parts of depression, nothing seems appealing. Hiding in my house all day. Looking things up on the internet. Getting lost in books. Watching tv without even seeing it. Those were all the things I was stuck in. It was like a loop and I couldn’t stop it from happening.  Just the thought of having to talk to people would cause a physical reaction and I’d cry. I couldn’t breathe at the thought someone would talk to me. I know that a lot of people suffer in silence. They don’t want to burden anyone with how they are feeling, and what they are going through. That’s exactly where I was.

If not for a couple of friends who gently persisted on being a friend and never giving up, I would still be in that pit of despair. They listened without judgement, they asked questions, and they were there, often just through a small phone screen. So……to all the people in my life, both on screen and off who felt the brunt of my struggles. I am sorry. I’m sorry if I bought you down. I’m sorry if I ignored you. I’m sorry if you thought I didn’t value our friendship, because I do. I do so very much.  There may be nothing that can turn things around, but just know… everyone has their journey they’re traveling. Sometimes it just takes one friend to ask the question and make sure everything is okay. Just be there. Be present. Know it’s not personal, it’s the person.

I also want those people who may be reading this and are still walking along those Roads and Paths marked with lights that have blown out… I am here for you, and you will get to the end of it. It might not happen tomorrow, it might. Either way, you are not alone. Never, ever, ever…. And remember YOU ARE IMPORTANT.. even if you don’t believe it.

 

IF you’d like to know more about how I was able to turn myself onto a better path please feel free to ask. I’m more than happy to share my story. It might just be similar to yours!  You can email me at sydneygen04@yahoo.com

I don’t think my journey is over yet, in fact I know it’s not, but I am glad to see a lot more streetlights burning bright. Let’s turn some on for you, too!

R U OK? – It’s OK To Say NO

Today is once again, R U OK day in Australia. This initiative started as a movement to raise awareness and open channels to help people struggling with life. According to the RUOK website www.RUOKDAY.com:

The R U OK? Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to encouraging all people to regularly and meaningfully ask ‘are you ok?’ to support those struggling with life.

R U OK?Day is our national day of action on the second Thursday of September (12 September 2013), and dedicated to reminding people to regularly check in with family and friends. We also have Resources for You to use throughout the year to help you ask ‘are you ok?’ regularly of family, friends and colleagues.    Stephen Fry

You might remember that last year I wrote a blog post about it, and at the time, I was NOT OK. You can read all about the reasons here: R U OK 2012.

Since then I have had many struggles, up and down, and I am still working through them, but for today, I can say, “I am OK”. Who knows what tomorrow brings. My anxiety peaks and waves, comes and goes. Some days I feel like I can conquer the world, and some days I feel like I want to hide out in my room all day and not talk to anyone.

The reason I’m bringing this up is because I want to ask YOU the question: ARE YOU OK? R U OK? ARE YOU ALRIGHT? Nothing is ever black, and white. I know nothing can ever be solved with a cup of tea, but it sure can ease a burden! Let me be your tea-maker. I am HERE for you. I will listen, I will not judge, and I will not set out to solve the worlds problems. Sometimes all you want is a friend to listen and acknowledge, not judge, not try to solve the issues, or tell you where you might be going wrong. I am your friend.

Not AloneIf you don’t want to talk to me, just know that You are NOT alone. With the progress in social media and the access we all have to the internet, I have found that you are open to a world of opportunity and hope. If you have anxiety about being in public situations, you can be comfortable in your own home and reach out. If you don’t like the way you look and it makes you depressed, you can be behind a computer screen asking for advice. You don’t have to put yourself in situations that may cause you to be even more “not OK”.

So, today, at this point in time, why am I feeling OK? I think it has something to do with finally seeing a psychologist. It took me a couple of goes, and it’s not always first one is the best choice, but the one I have been seeing was not trying to read my head, or solve the worlds problems of why I am the way I am. We were simply letting it be and working with how we can work with that. It’s hard work, and it’s not all roses and sunshine, but the one thing I have learned is, FriendsEveryone needs someone to talk to. By talking about my issues with someone who was non-judgmental, my whole attitude changed. I’m no longer holding onto feelings inside myself, and no longer taking it out on my loved ones. Again, not always having great days, and yes I regress, but I know that I’m getting better. You can too. All you need to do is ask the question.

I hope you are aware that you are not alone. You will be OK. There is help available. If you go to one doctor and they say they don’t believe in ‘depression/anxiety’ then go to a different doctor. Start doing Yoga (I know it sounds naff, but it did help me!). Start exercising, even just a 15 minute walk outside in the fresh air will clear your mind and help.  If you want to send me a private message, then please do. My email is: sydneygen04@yahoo.com .

I’ve listed some resources that you can go and check out and maybe gain a little further information and maybe some help?

Take-The-First-Step

RESOURCES:

Beyond Blue

R U OK Day

Dancing with the Black Dog – A blog

and just remember:

You__ve_got_a_friend_in_me__by_pocket_full_of_posy

Chalk Boards & Goals

50s-wife-list-1

 

Hi There!

Long time, no post! I have been super duper busy, and neglected this little site for too long! It’s time to come back and try to make it a regular update again!

So.. this post is all about goal setting. I tend to be extreme. I either go all in with something, or I just go .. meh.
One of these things seems to be goal setting. When I did my first round of 12wbt I noticed goal setting was super important, and because I was so determined to reach some goals, I did go all in. The results spoke for themselves, so I’ve often wondered why I haven’t had much success since then. It’s obvious! I hadn’t been setting achievable goals!

I recently purchased a tin of ‘blackboard’ paint from Aldi. A super awesome buy that I was going to use to repaint the kids chalkboard that had been decorated with textas! I was pretty much addicted from the get go! I kind of wanted to paint my whole house in it so I could draw all over it!! Pretty sure hubby wouldn’t be up for that!! haha! So, I found a piece of board that goes to the kids whiteboard and decided I’d paint that. I was going to use it as a shopping list, but then I had a thought… what if I used it every day and put some small, yet achievable goals to work towards. I decided that they weren’t going to be ‘set in stone’ (obviously, it’s a chalkboard, not stone!!) and if I didn’t get ALL of them done in a day, it wasn’t going to be tragic. Like I said, I tend to be a high achiever and go all in, and then get disappointed if it doesn’t work out….

The results have been cathartic. Every day I get up and think about the goals I’d like to do today. Some are practical, some are fun, and some are to do with house stuff. Mainly though, they are reminders for me. Something for me to pass by and say “Oh, that’s right, I was going to do that today!”
I’m posting these via Instagram at the moment. Feel free to find and follow me if you’re not already – I’m at SydneyGen .. I’ve also posted them below, to give you an idea of what sort of goals I’m setting. I’d love to hear about your goals, how you think about them, set them, achieve them? What do you think is important? Leave me a comment!!!

P.S You’ll notice on one of them that there is a word “WOOF” and a picture of a “pocket with a sunshine poking out” .. this was on the weekend, when I neglected my poor chalk board. I soon came to discover, that if I didn’t set myself some goals, no matter what they were, the black dog decided to snuggle up for awhile. To me, this reaffirmed the need to give myself direction, in order to move forward!!! Lesson learned!

Talking About Dogs..NOT the Furry Fun Kind….

We interrupt our regularly scheduled program to talk about dogs….

That’s right. I was supposed to write about the school holidays that have now long gone, but instead I feel the need to post about the dog that visited me for snuggles yesterday.

I love dogs. I would definitely be classified as a Dog person, unfortunately this is not the type of dog I like to pet, snuggle and visit with. This was ‘the black dog’. I just wanted to document, mainly for my own self, how easily it can be to go from high to low in one day.

I had a lovely morning yesterday. I got the kids off to school and daycare, and then the youngest and I went to have a coffee with a wonderful friend. WE don’t catch up enough in real life, but I so do enjoy it when we do. We had coffee, chatted and took Little Miss to the nearby park. It was lovely, relaxing and enjoyable.

How can you not LOVE and SMILE at this?!?!!

After a couple of hours, I got some lunch and headed home. My problem began when I walked into the house. I have been studying and neglecting housework so very much, and it was evident yesterday. The amount of ‘toys’ and “useless crap” that was lying around, dishes not done, kitchen a mess, was completely overwhelming. I ate lunch and put Lil Miss down for her nap.

Now here would have been a good time to get up and start clearing and cleaning away all the mess. I didn’t have distractions of a child following behind pulling things out, it was a lovely day, I had a full belly from lunch., but you know what I did? I had a sudden overwhelming urge to give up. It was a feeling inside me that crept up so gently, all I could feel was my chest hurting and the need to cry.  That was when I realized, the black dog had come knocking at the door. Not so much knocking, as showing itself in through the doggy door and settling in my lap.
All I could do was lie in bed and cuddle my blanket wondering why I could be feeling this way. My life is wonderful, I have a supportive husband, a great house, a car, I’m studying. Just another example of how this damn thing doesn’t discriminate. Luckily for me, I feel that my journey through this and the impact, or ‘length of visits’ seem to be assisted and shortened with the help of social media. My twitter followers are great, and all I have to do is tweet something about how I’m feeling and I’m overwhelmed with new ways to think and cope, and distractions to get me back on track.

At the height of my snuggles with the Black Dog

I’m also amazingly lucky to have my husband in my life. For all the pressures he is under at work, he always ‘just knows me’ and knows when I need him, even without telling him. Unbeknownst to me, he had thought I needed a break from having to wake Lil Miss and get Mr5 from school, so came home early to do a brief stopover, before continuing with his work! He was able to come home, hold me and understand.

While he left to get Mr5 I decided to have a shower and reclaim my day. There was to be no more snuggling with the black dog, things needed to be done.  Showered and dragging myself away from the computer, I started slowly… just as I had finished cleaning my kitchen, and hanging the dishcloths to dry, there was a burst of sunshine through the back doors. I smiled, for the first time in hours, realizing that the signs were there telling me to just do it. Move and keep moving. All will be ok.

By the end of the night, I’m happy to report, I had reclaimed my living room of all the children’s toys, moving them into a separate area, away from the living room. My anxiety peaks whenever I see so much mess from the kids. I’ve decided that if I take that mess away, and it’s out-of-sight, I can get my anxiety under control.

My house is now clean, tidy and I am feeling much better today. I wasn’t impressed with the visit from the dog, but I’m grateful I was able to push through it and come out the other side. It’s just amazing to me, how quickly it can creep up and take over every thought, every feeling, every sense of your being. Even when you are internally telling yourself you do not want to feel this way, You are chanting for it to go away.

Time heals all things, and with help, I know I Will get through this. I have been terrible about getting further assistance with this, but yesterday affirmed for me, I need to make it a priority.

That’s it for now…. I’ll try to post about the school holidays next… and then I’m starting to blog as a part of a Mummy blog challenge….. I’ll fill you in more soon!!

Like I said, this post was more for me, but I thank you for reading….

 

~ Something else I forgot to add, which was an incredibly important part to not succumbing too much to the black dog, was the fact that I have gained 4kgs since my weight loss journey ended, well really 6 when I was at my optimum. I am struggling with getting back on track and doing the right thing food wise. Knowing it’s 80% food choice is a mantra I keep telling myself. Yesterday when I was at a low, I kept chanting to myself – I am not hungry, I am not hungry…this is the black dog talking.. do not eat meaningless food to make yourself better….. I will admit that It was HARD! In the past I would have opened the cupboards and eaten ANYTHING and EVERYTHING, regardless of what it was. I’d make something if there was nothing. With the education I received on the 12WBT program, I was able to convince myself not to eat. A little win for me!!