Monday, September 12, 2011

This I Know: The RUOK edition

I've struggled to get my head around writing another RUOK day post.

It's okay... RUOK day is not until September 15. But it's been on my mind, particularly with recent events which have made the news.

It's not my place to comment on those things. They are not my stories.

I am happy (weird choice of word intended), to write about my own experiences with mental health issues, depression, anxiety and suicide.

There was the one where I wrote about being hospitalised for a 'major depressive disorder'.

There have been several posts where I've written about anxiety and depression. Those feelings of not ever being good enough. Times when I was too crippled with nerves and lack of confidence to leave a freaking hotel room. And other times, when I met my fears head on and ended up finding that delightful, illusive feeling of happiness.

And I guess, that rather than writing a deeply insightful post, I'd share some of the things I've learned about being okay. Or not.

This I Know: The RUOK edition

* It is harder to put your hand up and ask for help than to continue aimlessly and sometimes harmfully on the same path.

* When someone asks if you are okay, it is fine to tell them the truth. So often we automatically reply: 'I'm fine,'  'it's okay,' when it clearly is not. What are some responses that won't freak people out? "Actually, I'm not okay.", "I've been better', "I'm this close to falling off the edge and topping myself." Truly. Just say it. It is what it is.

* Even if you think you are alone, you are probably not. There are people in your life who want to help. Maybe they don't know how to. It's okay to open yourself up to them and let them try to get you through this.

* If you really are alone, there are people and organisations who will help. A good GP for starters, and there are plenty who will bulk bill. Otherwise, contacting the organisations I list at the end of the post.

* You're not crazy. There are medications, professional care, counselling;  a multitude of treatments to help you. Often we react in very normal ways to appalling events in our lives. We would not be normal if these events didn't affect us, or make us angry or sad.

* Always go on to live another day. No matter how bad today is, tomorrow is another day. Give it a try.

* No problem or deed is so bad, or so big, that it cannot be overcome.

* Some of the people in this world who have been majorly depressed, or attempted suicide are the sanest, cleverest people I know. Many of them are high achievers. It is not a failure or a crime to have suffered severe depression. It is a condition that can be managed and treated. You can go on to live a happy life.

* If one day people use your depression or suicidal thoughts against you, it says a lot more about them than it does about you. It doesn't have to define your life. The truth is that real darkness is likely to envelop all of us at some stages in our lives. It's part of being human.

The important thing to remember is that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. And you can make it there!

* Think of those who you would leave behind if you died. You might think they will be okay, or better off, but they won't be. They will never get over losing you. They will need you every day. Don't leave them behind. 

There have been a few sayings and mantras that help me whenever I'm feeling low.

"Just keep swimming." I think it's from Finding Nemo of all places. But it encapsulates beautifully that we can get to our happy place if we just keep our head above water.

"When you're going through hell, keep on going." A Winston Churchill one. Churchill famously battled the 'black dog'.

"Always get up for another day." One I made up for myself. Because you never know what tomorrow will bring. And a good nights' sleep or at least rest will work wonders.

"Show yourself the same loving kindness you would show a family member or friend'. From my teachers in the Mindfulness courses I've done, that have made a world of difference to how I see and cope with the world. Often we are own harshest critics. The idea is that we should treat ourselves as we would others, with caring and compassion. It's okay to put ourselves first sometimes! 

RUOK Day on September 15 is designed to get people talking about suicide, and helping stop small problems becoming big ones.

Here's the official information:

More than 2200 Australians die from suicide every year and for every person who dies in this way, it is estimated there are at least another 30 people who attempt suicide.
It's the biggest killer of men between the ages of 15 and 35.
R U OK? Day aims to reduce the number of suicides each year by encouraging everyone to reach out to someone who might need help. Research shows that talking about suicide with someone at risk reduces the chance of them taking their own life.

There are launch events for Sydney, Melbourne and Perth; and I'm trying to organise a similar event in Brisbane. It will be a morning coffee/tea break on Thursday, September 15, at a Gloria Jeans cafe. The idea will be for participating bloggers to talk about their posts, and tweet live from the event, to raise awareness. Probably, traditional media will attend to learn more about our bloggie causes.

If you're interested in attending, leave a comment below, or DM or email me. 

And if you're feeling desperate right now, or know someone who does, here are some places to get help:
24/7 telephone counselling service
13 11 14

Suicide Call Back Service
24/7 telephone counselling for people at risk of suicide, carers and bereaved
1300 659 467

MensLine National
24/7 support for men dealing with relationship and family issues
1300 78 99 78

Kids Help Line
24/7 telephone and online counselling for young people 5–25 years
1800 55 1800

Reach Out!
Online crisis and mental health information for young people

SuicideLine Victoria
24/7 telephone counselling for people at risk of suicide, carers and bereaved
1300 651 251

Telephone Interpreter Service
If English is not your first language please call the Telephone Interpreter Service for assistance contacting a helpline
131 450

Helplines and Information

SANE Australia Helpline
Mental health information, weekdays 9am–5pm
1800 187 263

Mental health services and support for young people 12–25 years

beyondblue Info Line
Information about depression, anxiety and related disorders
1300 224 636

Black Dog Institute
Information about depression and bipolar disorder

Or ask a friend to take you to see a good GP, who can get you pointed in the right direction.

Don't feel embarassed, don't worry if you cry. Trust me, they've seen it all before.

And they will help you get back to feeling okay.


Mark L. Fendrick said...

You may know that my wife suffers from depression (and OCD), so I understand.

The House That A-M Built said...

You are a wonderful person. I will retweet. Thank you. A-M xx

TheThingsIdTellYou said...

Great post, Bron. I will go and read your others also.

I'll try and get to the Thursday meet. It will depend on Samuel and where it is (transport). Let me know.

kirri said...

Im in Brisssie and would love to meet up on Thursday is I can move some work around a bit? Thanks!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I love how candid you are Bronnie. And yes you're right. If anyone asks me am I ok it's an automatic response of "Yes I'm fine" even if I'm not.

Rick Move said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jay said...

This. Right here.

Brilliant post.

Elephant's Child said...

A beautiful, honest, real and painful post. Thankyou.