10 September 2015 - 7:49 pm


This says it all, really. (Picture: not mine)

This says it all, really.
(Picture: not mine)

R U OK? day is one of those things that gets me thinking. It’s the sort of thing I want to respond to, but I don’t always know how, or if I should. It so often seems like just another bandwagon, lip service to salve conscience about dealing with a real problem, without really dealing with it.

I balk at lip service. I don’t share chain letters, or their meme equivalents, to prove how much I support something or to save small fluffy animals or whatever click-bait they’re trying to get us to spread today. It’s bullshit and I don’t want to get any on me. These days, I only have energy to do the things I truly believe in.

I believe in what’s behind R U OK? day. It’s about reaching out. It’s about checking in with someone who might be having a hard time and letting them know you’re there. It’s about being there and hoping it helps, at least a little bit. It’s about opening doors and trying to shed a little light.

There are several people in my life who struggle with depression or other similar conditions. I’m familiar with their struggles, through proximity, research, giving a crap, talking with them, and generally making an effort to understand. I care deeply about these people, even if we haven’t talked in a while, even if they don’t feel like they deserve it. They do.

So this is me, reaching out. This is me, asking: how are you doing today? There’s no right or wrong answer; just what is. It’s okay if you’re not okay. It’s okay if you are. It’s okay to admit you’re having a bad day and share a bit of that load.

We’re trained not to, and I hate that. We’re trained to be liars. It’s a rare day that I say ‘I’m good, thanks’ and don’t feel like I’ve just worn a part of myself away with another lie and another fake smile. I seldom feel ‘good’. My problem isn’t depression (it’s fatigue and a number of other physical complaints), but that part, facing that question, smiling and lying because we don’t want to cause ripples, or trip up the person asking us, or hog the spotlight for that moment: that part is the same.

The older I get, the more worn down I am by the reality of how I feel day to day, and the less patience I have for lying. More often than not, I’ll say how I’m really feeling (to friends and family; strangers and those being polite get strange and polite answers). Or I’ll be evasive and say ‘yeah, same as always’ or ‘getting along’, because I don’t want to think about it that deeply.

Today’s not about me, but I wanted to show that I understand why we don’t tell the truth. Why we hide our feelings. It’s easier. It stops conversations from starting. It lets us carry on as if everything’s all right, in case that makes it so. It helps us not to think about the crappy stuff so much.

And I want you to know: it’s okay. It’s okay to be honest, to share how you’re really feeling. It’s okay to lean on me; we all have our problems but you’re no burden at all. It’s okay if you don’t want to talk about it, and it’s okay if you do. Either way, I’m here, and I’ll listen. You’re worth my time.

I care about how you’re doing. I ask how you are because I honestly want to know. And I mean that every time I ask, not just today. (Today is just an excuse for a blog post.) I don’t always know the right things to say or do (I’m always learning!) – I need your help with that – but I’m trying.

I’ll help, if I can. Even if it’s just being an ear, someone you can talk to and not have to pretend. Or to talk about nothing, about movies and comics and books, or that stupid thing you saw earlier, or whatever plughole the world is circling today. If you need a sounding board, or help to make a change, or someone to go with you to that appointment you’re reluctant to go to, I’m here. Or maybe just a hug and a cookie.

The door is open. I am here. This is me, reaching out.

How are you doing today?

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