Thursday, September 14, 2017

R U really OK?

Reflecting on ‘R U OK Day.’

I’ve got mixed feelings about this ‘R U OK Day’. Sometimes big campaigns like this only seem to compound the feelings of isolation, but generally it seems like a better idea than some I’ve seen.
Unfortunately the video they've produced leaves quite a few blanks... I don't meant to be hyper critical but prompting a depressed person into unspecified 'action'  seems a bit of a bizarre objective. What kind of action? If a person is hovering over the precipice of deciding whether to end it all or go on living, the 'action' which makes the most sense to them might not be what you were hoping for.

I like that rather than putting the onus on the person suffering depression to reach out to others, they are encouraging friends and colleagues to reach out to people who they think might be at risk. I recall not so long ago there was some campaign or other which suggested that if we’re feeling depressed we should try to talk to someone. Well there’s a recipe for disaster! It’s bad enough to be feeling isolated and unwanted generally, but to expect someone who is already feeling rejected and alone to desert their own defenses and make themselves totally vulnerable to another person, who may respond in a negative way, is surely a recipe for disaster.
I have experienced times when I have been quite ‘Not OK’ and have attempted to find someone to talk to about it. In my experience, unless someone indicates that they genuinely want to know what you’re going through trust your gut! A lot of people Do NOT Want to KNOW! It can be crushing to think of someone as a trusted friend only to find out that the friendship was only superficial. When we are lonely or depressed it can be quite difficult to judge. It’s quite possible that a lot of people don’t actually care that much about you and will treat you differently once you share your situation with them.
I have lost too many friends to suicide. 11 friends have taken their lives. I don’t know where this horrendous tally sits in comparison to other people’s experience. Why would I even keep a tally? Well I guess one day it occurred to me that when it happens, we’re devastated and shocked but our lives go on and (unless it is a very close friend or family member… or we were unfortunate enough to have been present or seen the body) we put it behind us and return to our lives, such as they may be… But the numbers stack up and if I think back on the people I have known I can see that too many could not bear to go on! It is disturbing! I don’t have a lot of friends, 11 is a lot of people from my life! It’s a fucking epidemic! 

Sometimes I wonder how I have managed to remain on this earth myself! I cannot stand back and say 'Oh they were weak', or make comments about how tragic it is that someone has died without feeling some sense of responsibility. No we cannot hold ourselves responsible for the action of another person but, we can take responsibility for letting people know they have value in this world and are loved and wanted, to whatever degree we can say these things honestly. There are very few people I would want to see removed from this earth before their life has run it's natural course.
Do we actually appreciate just how wrong things have become? Is this like the frog in the saucepan scenario? We only deal with these things one at a time and rarely see the big picture. Lots of people are unhappy and are choosing the most drastic and permanent solution to what could have been a temporary problem.
It makes me angry and sad reflecting on how those people, some of them quite close to me had come to a place where they felt so totally alone that they’d rather not be here at all. I have been thinking of them a lot lately and wonder what I could possibly have done to make their lives on this earth a little more bearable. Could I have helped prevent any of those final desperate acts? 

I don’t know what else to say except if you know me, and you are feeling low, isolated and alone, if you need someone to talk to I will not brush you off!

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