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:


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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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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!

Yoga, Therapy & Teen Wolf .. the week of new things!

Hello there!!

Wow, what a week is has been!! A week of new things, a week of changes, a week that was….

So this wyogainnereek, thanks to a great Living Social deal I was able to try my hand at Yoga for the very first time. I say the first time, because I have a feeling that the Kids Cosmic Yoga on YouTube (which oh my gosh, is still so much fun! Check it out and do it WITH your kids – or by yourself! ) doesn’t really count! I went in not sure what to think. The only experience I’ve really had with Yoga is watching it in a scene in a movie, which usually involves characters posing and talking….. the complete opposite of what we did. I loved it. It was relaxing, but challenging at the same time. Making the connection between the body and mind was an amazing feet (get it..feet..hehehe) ok, so I meant Feat and it was pointed out to me that I typo’d, but yeah.. we’ll go with feet..who knew you had to spread em that far!!!!!  I am used to working out and doing “cardio” so the burn usuallyLiza-yoga-cartoon500 comes from pushing myself at a high pace. So I was quite surprised that when I went into some of the poses ‘lunges’ that I was able to hold them for so long as my thighs burned like crazy! The Yoga instructor was very clever at assisting with the progress of pushing the mind. Although I did have a bit of trouble calming down the chatter, I let myself go, because it was my first time …. I came out of the hour and a half session feeling absolutely relaxed and amazing. I am excited to return and continue on a personal journey of stretching the body and the mind to more than I am now…..  and maybe I will not be thinking about the wine at the end… and the crazy chatter will disappear..

Speaking of trying to get the chatter to disappear.. you may remember a little bit aruoksgo, I wrote about the RUOK day and how much I tend to struggle from day to day. After a lot of soul searching, I finally made the leap and went for some therapy. Whilst I won’t go into details of all that was said, I will say that it’s amazing what happens when you see someone you feel comfortable with, and you feel is actually listening.  With some ‘homework’ to do, I am hoping that the coming week is going to be better, and the future is looking brighter. If you are struggling, I urge you to seek help, in any form, whether it be confiding in a friend, a loved one, or a professional. In Australia, if you go to your GP, you can get a referral that will give RU OK and its ok to say youre notyou a Medicare rebate, so there are No excuses.  I definitely look forward to the positive changes that are sure to come out of it all.

And as for Teen Wolf… well… I’m late to the party, but just started watching….. Enjoying it, and can’t seem to stop watching, although I’m only on Season 1 and they are now showing Season 3….  Not much else to say, so I’ll just leave this here …

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That’s it from me. Just thought I’d pop in for a little hello, and make it known that we are all struggling within ourselves. Remember, never judge someone from how they look, or what you don’t know… We’re all making our way in life, our way….  Until next time…. Shine Bright Like a Diamond in a big fat ring on your finger *smiles*

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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!!

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