R U OK? - It’s okay not to be okay
I think at some point In Our lives everyone experiences some form of depression or mental illness and at varying degrees.
It’s not a matter of comparing who has it worse though. Any mental illness to anyone can be crippling and affect their lives and those who care for them.
It doesn’t discriminate and can strike at anytime.
Asking a simple question might sound weird or silly. But if you notice small changes in friends such as
Cancelling catch ups last minute
Not their usual self
Negative self talk
Then don’t be scared to ask them R U okay?
*Even more important If you identify any of these traits in yourself please confide in someone you trust about your feelings and don’t be scared to ask for help, you’re not alone and your feelings are valid and not stupid*
Asking someone R U okay can be a lot more powerful then you might feel. Take it from someone who has been at rock bottom many times, that simple question has been enough to give a small glimpse of hope that I am still worthy/loved/cared for and that my existence does mean something to someone.
That’s the thing with mental illnesses, it takes over your brain and fills you with negativity. Even the strongest of people and those who have battled for years still find it hard to battle a chemical imbalance alone.
If you ask a friend if they are Okay, actually pay close attention to their reply. Many will play off that they are. I was once the best at covering my self harm, suicidal thoughts and crippling anxiety and just total hatred for my existence with a smile/humour/“I’m fine”/ excessive drinking.
If someone doesn’t seem right but they clearly aren’t ready to talk letting them know you’re here if they need and be genuine about it. Even offer to come over and hang to make it easier on them. A lot of the time leaving my house was the main obstacle, the crippling anxiety I still can get over simply walking out my front door isn’t something that can be explained if you haven’t experienced the feeling of anxiety before. So giving them the option of being comfortable in their own house might give you more chances of having your help accepted.
Don’t leave it as a 1 time thing where you ask once and leave it. Every day brings new challenges for someone with a mental illness. The day you ask might be their alright day. But if you still see signs in someone just check in and give reassurance that if ever needed you’re willing to listen. That’s the thing with mental illnesses, it tells a person they are stupid, worthless and that no one cares. As a friend wanting to help you almost have to prove you care enough in order to be let in.
If someone does end up opening up to you. Be prepared to listen. They don’t want solutions half the time, they just need to feel heard and like someone cares. Don’t make it about you, don’t tell them they will be fine, don’t tell them it’s silly talk. Validate to them that it’s alright to feel how they are feeling. They already feel stupid and useless enough as it is they don’t need you confirming you also think it’s stupid talk.
Listening and letting someone know they feel heard is one of the most powerful tools you can use as a support person. Using words like “I understand” “I hear what you’re saying and it’s okay to feel that way”. Letting them talk about events that they feel got them to this point can often help them realise how they got to this point to.
Continue the support to. Follow up the next day or a few days after as often a person with a mental illness can feel extremely exposed and vulnerable once opening up. It can create a vicious cycle of feeling like they said to much and can feel if you don’t speak to them again within a day or 2 that you to have abandoned them because you think they are crazy or not worth it.
If you feel your friend is in SERIOUS danger to themselves or someone else, don’t be afraid to contact either a relative of theirs that is close or depending on the situation possibly their psychologist. Sometimes people will need help beyond the realms of you listening.
The following support lines are available to if you need to ask for help on what to do next for them.
As they are also if you’re reading this and feel like you need someone to talk to.
Beyond blue 1300 22 4636
* if you believe thier situation to be immediately life threatening call 000 *
Just remember as hard as it is when you’re battling your mind each day.
You are worth it
You are loved
You are valued
You are needed on this earth
You are not alone
You are not your mental illness
It’s okay not to be okay