Hey, are you okay?

I’m talking to you. You, reading this right now from the comfort of your bed, or on your phone as your grab a coffee before work, or at the end of a long day. You, a man/woman/other of any age, in any place, at any time, doing anything.

Are you okay?

I’m asking because maybe life just doesn’t give you as much joy as it used to and you don’t know why. Or maybe you find yourself unable to sleep at night or unable to wake up in the morning. Maybe you’ve lost your appetite or found yourself eating more than normal for no other reason than because you can’t think of what else to do. Maybe something really small happened to you today and you cried for hours over it and didn’t understand why you couldn’t stop. Maybe you woke up this morning and realised that you just weren’t looking forward to the day ahead, or the days after it. Maybe you haven’t looked forward to anything for a long time. Maybe life seems just a little harder than it should be. So I’m asking you again:

Are you okay?

Take a little time to answer. Think back through the last month or two. Maybe you’ve found yourself feeling anxious and unable to do anything to calm yourself. Maybe it’s been just that little bit more difficult to get yourself going. Maybe the things you used to enjoy don’t seem like that much fun any more. Maybe you’ve found it harder to make yourself spend time with your family and friends. Maybe you’re fighting with people you love over inconsequential things and they’re starting to ask you what the deal is. Maybe something just seems wrong and you don’t know it is. So I’m asking you – with no pressure to answer, just with genuine concern:

Are you okay?

I’m asking because maybe it seems like nobody would care about the little things that have been going wrong for you lately. Maybe you feel like you’re just letting things get on top of you. Maybe you feel like you haven’t been getting enough rest, even if you sleep for hours and hours. Maybe you’ve been feeling anxious and on edge at work and you don’t know why. Maybe raising your kids seems to be taking more out of you than usual – every school trip, every afterschool sports game, every temper tantrum in the car on the way to school over something small and silly. Maybe it’s all starting to seem like a little too much. Wouldn’t a break be nice? Wouldn’t it be nice to talk to someone about all those things that seem too small and too insignificant to bring up to anyone? That’s why I’m asking you again:

Are you okay?

I’m asking because one in three adults will suffer from clinical depression at some point in their lives, but less than half of them will seek help. I’m asking because some people suffer and suffer without knowing that there’s something wrong or that life doesn’t have to be this way. So I’m asking you now, whoever you are, wherever you are:

Are you okay?

Today is R U OK? Day, a day of the year when we remember that sometimes, all someone with a mental illness needs in order to set them along the path to recovery and good health is for someone in the right place at the right time to ask the right question. Asking takes almost no time at all, but it might stop someone for just long enough to make them realise a few things:

No, they’re not okay.

And yes, it’s okay to ask for help.

Don’t be afraid to ask. You might be the catalyst that speeds someone along towards a happier, healthier and more fulfilling life.

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