By asking the question “Are you OK?” today it aims to prevent suicide by encouraging people to connect with colleagues, friends and loved ones and ask…
Today, I wanted to share my experiences as someone who has suffered from depression. A family breakdown and a whole life change almost 4 years ago left me with a major questions about who I was, what I believed in and an overwhelming feeling of sadness and that just wouldn’t go away. I share this with the hope that it might give some insight into what it could be like for someone dealing with depression and how others can help & that it is important to ask the question, but also highlighting that you might need to ask it again, and again and again!
I was actually thinking about this topic a couple of weeks ago, when I read a story about someone who had commited suicide as a result of depression, the article mentioned the fact that friends had been worrried about this person and asked him if he was ok? He had answered pretty confidently and left friends thinking that he was ok! Not long which after he was no longer with us as he commited suicide.
My first reaction is that I can understand how this could happen. Even though questions are sometimes asked they are not always answered truthfully for a number of reasons.
It would be logical to think that there there two answers to the R U ok question, in theory the answer can be yes or no?
There can also be other answers to that question that are hidden unless the asker is willing to dig a little deeper.
In my personal experience and I am sure its true for others – I said Yes even though I knew I wasn’t, (which I know isn’t really helpful but these ARE emotions we are dealing with here and sometimes they don’t really make “sense” ).
WHY would you say Yes when everything is NOT alright?
Well, what if you aren’t really “sure” that there is anything “wrong”, you might think you are just going through a bad patch, you may not value yourself enough to make a big deal of it, you may not want to burden friends with all your problems, or simply you may not feel comfortable talking about your feelings at this particular time, place /with this person.
Another major one is “Yes I am fine” because its easier to say. I know I felt all of these things at one point or another and dealing with issues is hard. It’s the hardest thing I have had to do, it can be easier just to say Yes and move on just getting through that day.
On the other side of this is.. its scary … what if I say “No I am not ok”, What happens then?
Will the person you have trusted in confidence simply fog it off to being a bad day/week? That is not really helpful either. What if you don’t have anyone in your life who is your “Champion” that will be there to support you no matter what! Trusting in someone who is a “taker” or doesnt have your best interest at heart can’t really be helpful either or someone you don’t know very well.
Often talking about issues can be the first start and so being a friend and really listening to what the person is saying can really be such a relief to a sufferer and help them feel that they are not alone, and that there is someone there to help.
I am blessed to have wonderful support network of family and friends and I talked often (exhaustingly) particularly with a select few which I can’t begin to tell you how much it helped.
For me, that overwhelming feeling just never went away, as soon as you wake up the next morning it is back. Sometimes when you have been dealing with something over a long period of time, you don’t know another way to be, it becomes what you know and you stay with it. People start to expect that you have “moved” on particularly as you form new relationships and that all is ok, but if you haven’t dealt with the issues at hand this can all be an illusion. Another issue for me was that I would just start to feel like I was getting on top of things and another issue, problem, item would come along which would add to the pile that was already there. Something that was very small seemed very big because I had my whole life turn upside down and that sense of overwhelm just came back again and followed me around all the time. Which trully did feel like a “BlackDog” that would never go away, for the first time in my life I really did understand that term.
So, today for RUOK day…. I just wanted to highlight that if you are prepared to ask the question, also be prepared to recieve an answer “Yes” I am fine”, “No I am not” and you maybe have to say “Really?” ….
Be prepared you may have to ask again and again before your loved one will admit that there is a problem. It may mean that you have endless cups of tea, phone them everyday, ask them over to dinner, (which my glorious friends did and I just don’t know where I would be without them) that break in the rountine particularly if you have young children might be just the thing to help them through their day . That’s what friends are for and good ones make all the difference!
And if you feel like you can’t cope and can’t call on family or friends, Please call Lifeline: 13 11 14 or see your GP for advice on where to go locally for support.