12 September 2013

R U OK? Day 2013: my friend Lucy's story.

I asked my friend Lucy to write today's post. Lucy and I have been friends for about 15 years - we met through the Savage Garden Fanzine - we became penpals and have kept in touch by letter, then phone and online. We've met a few times in person too. For a little while, I noticed that Lucy seemed down - through conversations we had about her lack of employment security and subsequent financial worries, her Facebook statuses, and her sheer behaviour of not really wanting to talk. I wondered if she was ok. And then last year, on R U OK? Day, she admitted that she really wasn't ok. Lucy is a great writer - I wish she'd start her blog again. Thanks for being so courageous to share your story and a poem, Lucy!

"Depression affects around 1 in 3 people at some point of their lives. Anxiety disorders are just as common. Depressive mental health disorders touch nearly everyone in some way or another. Yet it remains a sad fact that we tend to brush it under the carpet and avoid speaking about it.

R U OK? Day is the day when it is ok – no, actually, more than ok – to speak about it. No-one should have to suffer in silence. No-one should ever have to reach the point of believing they can’t bear to stick around for tomorrow, that the pain is too much to bear.

A couple of years ago, I suffered a fairly mild bout of depression for a myriad of stress related reasons. They were manageable reasons, reasons I am more than strong enough and equipped enough to swim through rather than sink. And yet day after day, I felt like I was sinking. My insides felt more and more hollow. I lost quite a bit of weight.

But I had a support network. I didn’t suffer in silence. I knew I wasn’t alone even when I felt it.
Too many people suffer in silence. And that silence sometimes leads to people we love leaving this earth much too soon. I have never been touched personally by suicide, but so many people have. People I know and have known. I have seen first hand the relentless darkness and pain that is left behind after someone is gone, and it is time to start talking about it. Depression is not a sign of weakness, it is a common chemical imbalance, and a sign of needing a helping hand and an ear to listen without judgement.

Today is the today to reach out to your loved ones, and to listen. Ask them. R U OK?
Last year I wrote a poem for suicide awareness. For anyone who has been touched by suicide or depression, this is for you:

Flutter by my butterfly
Dream of the deep blue sky
Fly like an eagle
Way up high
Listen closely to the ocean’s sigh
Fight like a warrior
With a spirit bright...
Flutter by...
Beautiful butterfly
Open your arms to forever
And fill your heart with a smile
Don’t cry
Just flutter by...
Let the truth do the talking
And your smile whisper to the sky
The secrets of the heavens
Let there be no question why
Close your mind to the darkness
Let life not pass you by
For the world is much too precious
And the stakes are much too high
Flutter by my butterfly
Dream of the deep blue sky
Open your arms to forever
...just flutter by.

For anyone wondering… I am OK. Things have a habit of working themselves out in the end. I am in a good teaching job, my financial worries have greatly eased, and I feel much happier and more secure. There are still sometimes days where I feel run down and stressed and feel as though I’m slipping, but luckily it passes. I just focus now on living a life of daily gratitude for what I have… but that’s another post."

"Today is R U OK? Day. R U OK?Day is a national day of action dedicated to inspiring all Australians to ask family, friends and colleagues, ‘Are you ok?’ By regularly reaching out to one another and having open and honest conversations, we can all help build a more connected community and reduce our country’s high suicide rate.

More than 2,300 Australians suicide each year and men are around 3 times more likely to die by suicide than females (ABS 2013). For each person that takes their life, another 65 people attempt to end their own life (SANE Australia). (Worryingly, these statistics have increased significantly since 2012.)

Most people don't openly share their feelings, particularly if they're struggling. The best thing we can all do is regularly talk to the people we care about - regardless of whether they are at risk - because connection is good for us all." (Text from R U OK Day? website)

The R U OK? Day website has some great resources, including a Facebook app to help start conversations.

Australian national helplines and information:

Emergency services for immediate help: telephone 000

Lifeline - 24/7 telephone counselling service - 13 11 14

Suicide Callback service - 1300 659 467

Reach Out! - Online crisis and mental health information for young people

headspace - Mental health services and support for young people 12–25 years

Black Dog Institute - Information about depression and bipolar disorder

SuicideLine Victoria - 24/7 telephone counselling for people at risk of suicide, carers and bereaved - 1300 651 251

SANE Australia Helpline - Mental health information, weekdays 9am–5pm - 1800 187 263

beyondblue Info Line - Information about depression, anxiety and related disorders - 1300 224 636

MensLine National - 24/7 support for men dealing with relationship and family issues - 1300 78 99 78

Kids Helpline - 24/7 telephone and online counselling for young people 5–25 years - 1800 55 1800

You can read my previous posts for R U OK? Day:

2011: a loved one not being ok.
2012: I wasn't ok as a young child

1 comment:

  1. I am glad that you are on the other side of the bout, Lucy.

    I totally get when you said "They were manageable reasons, reasons I am more than strong enough and equipped enough to swim through rather than sink. And yet day after day, I felt like I was sinking."

    So often, we feel we should be strong enough - and the fact that we aren't is another nail in our mental coffin of dispair.


Thank you for reading my blog. I love receiving comments :)
I really appreciate the time you've taken to write to me, and to share something about yourself.


Related Posts with Thumbnails