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?

Breaking News: I’m totally fucked up!

This year has been a revelation and here it is in a nutshell: I’m fucked up and basically beyond repair!  “Join the queue” I might hear you say.

It hasn’t been the darkest year, but it definitely rates in the top 5. The saving grace as far as 2012 goes, is that I have my own place. The positive here is that there is less pressure as far as managing symptoms are concerned. I feel as if my dignity is preserved. I can move freely without the fear of disturbing anybody else. The solitude is comforting. On the flip side, it is also painfully isolating. Given a choice however, right now, I’ll take the solitude.

Having this time and space has provided an opportunity to reflect. For the first time since my diagnosis in 2006, I have been able to look back on the past six years and analyze thing that have happened post-diagnosis. I have also been able to compare things on a pre and post diagnosis level.

Too much time to think? Absolutely. But reflection is a necessary part of moving forward in my opinion. What has worked? What hasn’t? How much responsibility falls into the Bipolar category? How much responsibility fall’s on my own shoulders? What sort of say does my personality have?

All of these variables add up to the overall picture and when all has been laid out to bear, I simply do not like what I see.

For now, the cue is in the proverbial rack. The “Closed for Business” sign is up. I am tired. Making an effort seems frivolous. The four walls will keep me safe and the rest of the world can leave me the fuck alone.

This high level of fragility is frightening. Fear is a dominating force. Aside from daily band-aid fixes such as distraction, nothing can take this pain away. Nothing can repair the damage that has been done. Go for a walk – Check. See a therapist – Check. Trust in God – Check. Despite my best efforts, I feel lonely and empty.

Some days it feels like all there is to do, is to wait until I die. All things considered, I’ve had a reasonably good life, been on some adventures, met people from different walks of life and had a taste of the ‘good life’. I’ve lived. There is little more to do.

But hang on for just one minute – I’m only 35! Surely, there is more to do.

What about traveling overseas. Falling in love again. Having a child. Well, as much as I would love to indulge these ideas, the reality is that I have an illness. It’s not just the fact that I have Bipolar. My psychiatrist recently confirmed that I have complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I suspected as much. From childhood, to adolescence, to early adulthood, through to being a mature adult (whatever that means), the sum of all of the above is that I’m completely fucked up and in my heart of hearts, this situation is beyond repair.

There is one major goal that keeps me going. Getting a bachelor’s degree. After all that’s happened in my life, it pisses me off that this is on my ‘to do’ list when everyone around me is getting married, buying a house and having kids. As far as I’m concerned, this should have been done 10-15  years ago. But no use in dwelling in what should have been. Instead, I will accept things just the way they are. I might be fucked up, but that doesn’t mean I’m not prepared to have another roll of the dice.  I’ll finish this post by using my favorite line of all time:

It is what is!

Until next time,

Peace!

PS. Please feel free to leave a comment. I have been thrilled to see some views and receive some likes. I would be very humbled to receive your comments and feedback.