If you haven’t already heard, today is “R U OK?” day here in Australia. “R U OK?” is a simple initiative, which asks people to consider if those around them may be struggling with their mental health. It’s actually a very simple question to ask someone else “Are you okay?”, but often the answers can be very complicated and even frightening. Usually it’s a surprise to many how often it turns out their friends, loved ones and colleagues are in fact dealing with some kind of mental illness, significant stress or other complication. Very often the best way to deal with these issues is to start talking about them, or at the very least let others know that you are there should they need to do so. In the most serious cases however, where someone sounds very imminently down and may be in real trouble, you should be prepared to recommend professionals or seek further advice yourself.
For a long time I have dealt with depression and found methods of coping, as I wrote about on the guild before. I am eternally thankfully for people in my life, who have helped to keep me here and assist in making the pain I go through every day bearable. Unfortunately, I also have known a great many people who have been so badly affected and never truly reached out to others. In some cases, they are no longer here anymore and it is always those who are left behind who are left to figure out the “why” of things. That “Why” encapsulates an extremely painful set of questions and issues, which frequently become all anyone has to remember them by. Worst of all is the lingering question of “If someone who had been capable of helping had started a suitable conversation with them, before it got too late, would they still be here right now?” Sadly, I don’t have such answers and there is no simple “This always works!” method to dealing with this.
What I can tell you is that patience and a willingness to listen matter in these cases. Being able to handle everything that someone who is suffering mentally may be going through is not easy, it’s frequently unpleasant and it’s even more frustrating on top of that, but it can do the world of good. Remember that if you aren’t sure, able or willing to help, that doesn’t make you a bad person! It simply means that you need to find someone else who can help, then ensure that they can reach the person who is suffering so they can begin working on a solution. So consider today to ask people you know, even if they aren’t showing outward signs of any pain, “Are you okay?”. The only way to find a suitable path to recovery, is to first start a conversation about where to begin looking for it.
So, are you okay? And if you’re not, then do you need help? Remember that alone there can seem to be no way out, but with another helping hand to pull you up, there is often a solution.