Today is R U OK?Day, a national day of action designed to inspire all people of all backgrounds to regularly ask ‘Are you okay?’
Since first becoming aware of this day a few years ago I’ve been torn over whether it’s a good or bad idea more than any other day of action. In the plus column, anything that raises awareness of mental health issues and the importance of taking a proactive rather than apathetic approach is fine by me. But in the negative column, does it actually achieve anything?
If someone were to ask me R U OK today (they won’t) I would answer ‘yes’.
I would answer ‘yes’ because I have been conditioned over the years to not ‘bring other people down’ or ‘burden them with my problems’. Particularly by the abuse I received, the inherent stigma of mental health and the community’s nonchalant attitude toward the homeless; all of which are often misunderstood and unjustly stereotyped.
After answering ‘yes’ the person who asked me would be filled with happiness that they’d done a good dead whereas I would mosey home to batter myself with a wooden spoon in order to dull the unending emotional torment my soul is enslaved in.
But what if I were to say no? If upon being asked R U OK? I just said ‘well, actually, I’m not,’
Would they stick around to let me unload?
And how would they react if they did hear all of that? Most people aren’t trained in the area of mental health, even fewer know of where to go to seek help. Plus, from my experience, when things get ‘real’ (i.e. emotional, difficult or mental health related) most people just don’t want to know; they don’t want to be brought down or become enmeshed in someone elses problems.
My other issue about this day is that it assumes everyone has someone to look out for them. For people like me – the socially isolated, anxious, forgotten and alone – the ones who are most likely to not be okay, a day such as this just serves to highlight how lonely and pointless we are. Only a few hours in I’ve already been triggered several times on Twitter, and with my week being as volatile as its been, I’m nervous as to what more triggering is going to do.
However much I want to love this day I don’t think I can. Too many times my attempts to talk about my problems have fallen on deaf and/or uncaring ears. Whilst my isolation has gone on too long for me to believe anyone genuinely cares.
But, despite my misgivings, anything that raises awareness of mental health issues is valuable and important.
So if you are going to ask someone today if they R U OK? Only ask them if you want an honest, genuine answer and would be willing to listen if they say they’re not; it may just save someone’s life.
And if you are lucky enough to have someone ask you if you R U OK?
Tell them the truth; even if that means saying ‘no’.