Tomorrow is R U OK? Day here in Australia – a national day of awareness about suicide and an attempt to start a conversation around this very taboo subject. I wrote the post below for R U OK? Day two years ago, but it is as relevant today as it was then …
It’s a national day of action which aims to prevent suicide by encouraging
Australians to connect with someone they care about
and help stop little problems turning into big ones.
It’s a day where we want everyone across the country,
from all backgrounds and walks of life, to ask family, friends and colleagues:
“Are you OK?”.
It’s so simple. In the time it takes to have a coffee,
you can start a conversation that could change a life.
Now, I like the concept. It’s simple and it gets people thinking, and importantly, connecting. And of course – it starts a conversation. And conversations lead to awareness.
However, a few months ago, I lost a friend to suicide. And (several) people DID ask him “Are you ok?”.
I know myself, in the last few months, I have not been ok. Yet when I got asked the same question, I gave the same answer: “Yep, all good/I am fine.” I have given that answer to people irrespective of who they are – spouse, best friend, colleague, casual acquaintance, family member.
The fact is, people who are not ok will often present like this:
When inside, things actually look like this:
One day recently, a very close friend asked how I was going. And I trotted out the same line I always do: “Yep, all good”. And then I stopped myself and I thought, “What the heck. This is one of your best friends in the world – why lie?”. So then I said “Actually, I am not ok. I am really struggling. But here’s what I am doing about it …” And it felt so good to just share that. Saying the words took some part of the weight off my shoulders.
Another of my best friends battles depression on a daily basis – it is something she will be managing for the rest of her life. She is absolutely honest when you ask her how she is doing. If she’s having a bad day, she’ll tell you. If the last week has been a real struggle but today she is feeling good, she will tell you that too. I don’t know anyone else who communicates so honestly about their mental health.
So my question today is not for the askers, but for the askees.
When someone asks you “RUOK?” … what’s your answer going to be?