Trigger alert. For crisis support click here.
Yesterday marked four months since my first anxiety induced crying attack. Since then I've been on an emotional rollercoaster with way too many ups and downs at a speed even I didn't think I was capable of.
Tomorrow is the annual suicide awareness/prevention event known as RUOK? Day where people are encouraged to asked friends, family, colleagues, anyone if they are ok.
Last year I wrote about a time in my life when I was really not ok. Last year, as I typed up those words, I never thought I'd feel that kind of not ok again.
But here I am. Twelve months later and I have dipped back into that place. Well, I go in and out of the black hole. It's hard to explain.
I guess the difference between this depression and my 2007 depression is that now there's hope. Being a parent is what keeps me fighting. I'm also way more knowledgeable about depression and anxiety than I was back then. Six years of constant therapy has made sure of that. I know both those bitches lie. They make me feel and think things that aren't true and as convincing as they might be, it's hope (Noo) that keeps me from believing them.
Knowing the signs of when my mood started to change also allowed me to get help sooner. And I guess the spontaneous bursts of tears made it pretty bloody obvious something was not ok.
Having an excellent support network of family, friends and medical professionals is also critical. Just showing up to my psych appointments keeps me accountable. Like seeing a personal trainer for my emotions. Even if I don't work really hard during a session at least I'm there.
I know RUOK? Day has been getting a lot of flack because we should ask our friends, family, colleagues, anyone if they are ok every day of the year if the signs are looking like they are not. But I think RUOK? Day isn't about one day of the year, it's about general awareness of mental illness. It's about getting those crisis support numbers out in the media, and on posters in workplaces and schools, where maybe just one person notices them for the first time and thinks, hey, I could actually use a bit of help.
I really don't think people involved with this initiative will just switch off once the sun sets and the day is over. The conversation has been started and that's gotta be something. It sure beats silence. The more we talk about mental illness the more we will hopefully remove the stigma attached to it giving more people the courage to come out and seek help. And yeah, maybe even save a life.
Whether you've got a lifetime's history of mental illness like me, or you're having a really bad time for the first time, I think RUOK? Day has it's place.
I think we all like to feel supported on any day of the year.
So don't forget to ask: RU OK?
For help please use these helpful resources:
Call: 1800 RUOKDAY (1800 7865 329) to connect with crisis line
Visit: your doctor, a counsellor or trusted healthcare professional
Access: ruokday.com for tips from their information partners
Lifeline 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467