R U OK?

In Australia today, it is ‘R U OK?’ Day. According to it’s website (ruokday.com), R U OK? Day “is a national day of action dedicated to inspiring all people of all backgrounds to regularly ask each other ‘Are you ok?’

It’s a great initiative and before I continue, I would like to ask you, Are you ok?

The website also states: “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

Again, a wonderful idea. But I have to ask, why does it take awareness campaigns to do the things that ‘should’ be part of everyday life?

And although this day of awareness extends beyond those with a clinically diagnosed illness, I can’t help but especially think of those of us that do suffer with mental illness EVERY DAY!

I will come back to the issue of mental illness though.

On this day, I ask myself, who would this question be applicable to. Who would benefit from the words ‘R U OK?’

Maybe those who are having a tough time at work. Your relationship with your partner is having some difficulties. Perhaps you are struggling as a single parent, or you haven’t been able to get a good night’s sleep for weeks, even months.

Again, I ask the question, who would benefit from being asked such a simple question.

The simple answer is: anyone and everyone. It doesn’t matter who you are or what level of difficulty you are experiencing in life, everybody can benefit from this simple and reassuring question.

It’s all well and good to preach the obvious, but I am just as guilty when it comes to being ignorant and lazy. There are at least three people I can think of that I could call and ask this simple question. The fact is though that I haven’t. I remain too caught up in my isolated existence that I don’t think of others the way that I probably should. Depression can be so selfish in that regard.

For those of us living with mental illness, it is highly important to be connected in one way or another. As an example, for me it is writing this blog as a form of therapy. I also make use of an online forum. Others see a therapist etc. In today’s world, there are so many ways for us NOT to be completely isolated and feel like nobody understands.

The sad reality is that despite having ‘links’ to people who can relate, loneliness can still be ever so brutal.

With complete respect to the fact that others do not live a perfect existence and have problems like the rest of us, I am envious of those who have support networks. Friends who are supportive, understand and do not judge. People who have wives and husbands. People who are able to experience the joy of raising a family. People who are connected in the community.

So am I okay? Honestly, not really, however I am surviving and remain grateful for the things that I have.

How about you? Once more, I ask the question: Are you okay?

14 comments on “R U OK?

  1. Sorry to hear you’re not feeling OK and I hope you will be doing better and that you find the support network you need. Blogging and reading other people’s blogs sometimes makes me feel less lonely at times when I am not sure if everyone is sane and I’m mad or vice versa. If I didn’t have a support network I would always have writing. Thanks for stopping by my blog. 🙂

    • Thanks for your comment pollyeb. I’m too am finding that blogging and reading others posts is filling a void. It makes me feel connected in an otherwise lonely existence. Believe it or not, but I think with everyone I connect with here, helps me feel supported. It is only frustrating that this doesn’t translate to the real world, some of which is beyond my control. The things that I do have control over are mostly neglected out of fear.

  2. Excellent post! I always say that I am a terrible friend. I am not thoughtful, even though I REALLY want to be. Sometimes it is because I am too scared/timid to go out on a limb out of fear of rejection or alienation. For example. The receptionist at my psych doc center, she always compliments my earrings. I wear big, flashy ones most times. So, one day she even asked me where I got a certain pair. I was in that store that week and thought, “I should grab her a pair…” but I didn’t. They were only like $8, but I immediately thought of all the ways it could go wrong. She will look at me funny. She doesn’t even really LIKE my earrings and is just being nice. She will feel obligated to wear them so she doesn’t hurt my feelings. She will think I am hitting on her? I dunno. She probably would have just said thank you and genuinely liked them…but of course I won’t let myself off the hook that easily.

    I love people and I love humanity…but I am terrible at showing it.

    • Can totally relate to your comment Jenn. Fear of rejection is a major factor. I focus way too much on the negatives and this contributes towards overall avoidance. Thank you for such an open and honest comment!

  3. I see it as a reminder that while we are living our overly busy lives, some of us struggle on a day to day basis to slot into society. We might have a mental illness, be a little different, have a disability of some kind and for the most part we have conformed by saying “I’m fine.” Answering honestly can often be a bother for the other person. You know they have asked you our of politeness and don’t have the time to listen so you conform with the polite response and you both move on with your day. Having a day to remind us to stop and pay attention is a good thing in my mind. It is a little sad that we have to be reminded but we are products of this complicated society.

    How are you today, the day after R U OK?

  4. I’m okay. But I want to know more about you. Are you okay? Are you going to be okay? What can I do to help?

    Those are all standard questions I ask after something happens to a friend or family member. It’s a powerful phrase that most of us avoid the real answer to, though. Unless I’ve gotten physically hurt. Why is it just the physical that registers as noteworthy?

    But seriously, how are you?

    • Hi Lulu. Thanks for stopping by. I’m somewhat ok. I hope I’m going to be ok in the future. It’s a day by day proposition. That’s as honest as I can be. And I’ll say it. Bipolar isn’t cancer, but would somebody care to tell me the difference? Opening myself to some controversy over that one I’m sure. How are you Lulu?

      • The difference between bipolar disorder and cancer is not that one is fatal and one is not. They are equally as fatal. The difference is that one can be cured completely, and the other cannot. I’ve had both. I’m free of one. I’m on five medications for the other. We know which one is which.

        You can’t cut bipolar out of someone. You can’t radiate it out of someone’s blood and mind. And even with the best mix of medications, you can’t medicate it out either. The pamphlets for those medications all say the same thing, “Meant to prolong periods between episodes.” Sometimes, in the very few spots where I feel “well”, I consider myself as “living between episodes”.

        Bipolar disorder can kill too. I know it doesn’t have the same mortality rate, but untreated bipolar disorder can claim the lives of up to 10% of that population. Bipolar disorder is often hard to treat, because people are more likely to go off of their medication during a manic episode. And manic episodes are easy enough to spark with a little caffeine here, and a bad medication choice there.

        Mental illness is still something of a mystery to professionals. We know how to treat most known disorders, even if we can’t cure them, like MS, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, and other genetic diseases and disorders. But, getting treated for mental illness is often like playing roulette. Like a wheel of misfortune. Will the consequences of this medication be more or less of the rest? Cost vs. benefit?

        And I liken BP to a genetic disorder more than diabetes, cancer, heart disease, etc. Because you can’t cure those. Sometimes, with the right diet and exercise, you can cure diabetes and heart disease. With the right treatment, cancer can go into remission forever. But, mental illness – even in the best of circumstances, I don’t think we can ever get that to go into remission for good.

  5. That is by far the most profound thing I have ever heard about being Bipolar. Forgive me as my mood is slightly irritable and low. But I hate this illness with a passion. I don’t know if the contempt and resentment I feel towards it will ever dissipate. Thanks so much for sharing!

  6. That definitely was an excellent description of the BP~

    Bipolarbeach…I am also sorry to hear that you are feeling crappy. I had an adrenaline/anger incident 2 nights ago and my brain didn’t let it go until I woke THIS morning. It is a chemical thing…you already know this, tho. I was totally over the issue that I was pissed about, but my brain was left behind. I read a lot about the brain and bipolar in a class that recently finished and it explained how in normal brains, there is a chemical released when there is danger or stress that causes the person to become hyper-aware…they just react, instead of thinking first. Unfortunately, in bipolar brains, we get this chemical release randomly without warning OR it just simply floods the brain when we get mad about something stupid. We cannot turn it off. Also, in a normal brain, there is an “all clear” signal that is given which stops the anxiety and adrenaline…in bipolar, our brains do not get this message on time…if at all. So, we stay stuck in that mindset. Not to mention that our serotonin production is lower, so we really DO have to try harder to be (or act) happy.

    =( I totally understand how you feel.

    • Interesting info Jenn. Thanks for sharing this. I feel like I know more about this illness than I care to. Other times I am oblivious and just go along for the ride, I’ll sleep it off like I normally do and hope for calmer waters tomorrow. Again, thanks for sharing. I really appreciate you doing so,

  7. Just think, you could have a partner and kids and STILL be in the same boat (welcome to my world). Not to say those don’t have their pleasures, but responsibility for other people while trying to deal with bp is mucho-stressful. And it sounds like your doctor is a dick. Time to go shopping for quality healthcare again.

    I wish you well and am sending you calming, positive thoughts. I know how hard it is sometimes but you’ve made it this far and seem to have accomplished some good things in your life. There will be another time to move forward, just isn’t going to happen right in this minute. But it will. I promise. Have faith. It’s all people like us have to hang our hats on (the generic faith, not religion-faith — which works for some people).

    • Hope and faith are sometimes the only things left. As far as being mucho-stressful goes, I would rather have some additional stress, than be alone. Maybe I’m idealizing things in that regard, but that’s how I feel. Thanks for commenting. I really do appreciate it!

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