Most of the time, admitting that URnotOK is literally putting your head on the chopping block. People will judge you forever, steer away from you in the supermarket and use a permanent marker to cross your name off the party list.
In the work environment, it remains taboo. It is the badge of shame you bear every day you walk in the door. God help your career prospects.
And as workplace posters happily project an intention and environment of care, some corporations couldn’t care less. Oh gosh, if I could name names (this company ain’t one of them).
This isn’t going to be uplifting – so eye-rollers, go roll your eyes at something else – and you others, well, you just stay with me. This week, RUOK Day is a time to admit that lots of us aren’t.
These days I pass three sausage dogs as I commute to work through the sliding door to the office out back of a house on a farm so big one could and does party like it’s 1999.
The dogs look sad but there’s no judgment, and even on the days in the snug cocoon of a doona, they go about their business, tearing the empty Vitaweat boxes into 1000 pieces. If I must have gratitude, there’s the fact once I’ve cleaned up those 1000 pieces, I will either have a puzzle or a sense of achievement.
But being NOT OKAY is not fun. It’s different for everyone. But if the disparagers are still here – it is not imagined, it is not sloth or inertia, the stuff of idle minds. It’s often furtive, cunning and shifty, impossible to pinpoint, and it is definitely impacting a lot more of our population right now than ever before.
I can only say, for me, it is an inescapable feeling of melancholy, despondency and dullness all bundled up in ponderous, heavy weariness, torpidity and served with a healthy dose of – well – self-judgment, loathing and wretchedness.
We’re not alone.
How Churchill ran a country with his ‘black dog’ is something I’ll never comprehend. I can’t even make toast. But today, the discussion’s becoming more mainstream, and it’s kind of nice to count myself among Lady Gaga, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Pink as fellow graduates of the school of hard knocks.
I love the Prozac, and I have a wonderful counsellor who is there for me always. If she’s reading, this is a shout out to you!
I was lucky I knew someone who knew someone who put me in touch with her but getting there was a months-long battle that could have ended differently but for a good friend who saw the signs.
Not everyone is that lucky. Especially out here in the country where the best chance you have at diagnosis is your five minutes with the local GP who will be another GP next time you go in – such is the demand for their services and time.
I don’t care what anyone says: the ability to access counselling services in regional NSW has been deplorable. If the local health service isn’t being slammed, it can’t attract the staff, and the wait is so long you wonder what the point is.
The bright ray of sunshine for all of us right now comes in the form of the very compassionate and wise regional MP and Minister for Mental Health, Regional Youth and Women, Bronnie Taylor, a former nurse, who is doing her darndest to turn things around.
It won’t happen overnight and those experiencing the longest of nights may lose heart.
There isn’t a person among us who hasn’t been impacted by suicide. I know people who have died by their own hand, and each time, nobody saw it coming. Believe me – the façade can be good. Only weeks ago I wanted to clock out for reasons I cannot explain, and it would have been hot off a great week of work, play, fun and laughter.
Sometimes it simply is the weight of not feeling good enough and thinking life would be better for everyone if you weren’t around.
And I count my blessings. I have lived, made and faced challenges, but I wouldn’t change a single thing because mine has been a fortunate life of peaks and troughs that make it a life well-lived.
But sometimes, it grinds to a halt, triggered by a conversation, thought or action or perhaps I forgot to take the Prozac one day. It could be a freight train halt of several weeks, but all of a sudden you’re taken down by a wave that had far too much hidden pull below.
It does pay to stop, not struggle and move with the current. That alone has saved lives. That’s what I’m doing right now … after I finish writing a story about dung beetles!
IT’sOK if URnotOK. Help can be as close as throwing up a hand and having one conversation.
If you need someone to talk to, you can call:
Lifeline on 13 11 14
Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36 or beyondblue.org.au/get-support
Headspace on 1800 650 890
QLife on 1800 184 527
Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service on 1800 512 348 or coronavirus.beyondblue.org.au
Or see a friend, visit your pharmacist, your GP – even the medical centre receptionist can throw you a lifebuoy.