Have you ever been in Struggletown (like really really trying to hold onto sanity) and not had the words to tell someone about it? Have you ever felt like talking to those close to you might make them feel burdened with your problems, so you hold onto them tight? Have you ever been scared that you might be considered to be whingey and mopey if you tell people what you’re really going through? Scared you’ll bring everyone down? Annoy them? Or have you held secrets about your well being close to your chest and not known how to express them or feel safe doing so? Have you ever felt that crushing fear of being vulnerable? Putting your heart out on your sleeve?
I have. Many a time. Let’s face it. I’m Kez and I am sh*t at asking for help. I am sh*t at telling people the deep, dark stuff. Truly. You wouldn’t think it. I’m such a bloody chatterbox and I am generally quite in touch with my feelings. I can talk about feelings quite well (mostly in writing or in counselling) but there’s only so far I can go when I am truly having a rough time. It’s not that I don’t trust anyone, far from it. I get scared that I’m going to be that high maintenance friend. That drama llama. Oh, yes. That Kez. She’s got *whispers* issues. All the time. Or sometimes I’m scared that if I say it out loud, I’ll be judged or worse, hurt even more.
I’ve often been known to use my smile to cover my vulnerabilities. Lots of positive talk. A bounce in my step. I wonder if anyone would even think I don’t have an awesome life? I mean, I do. It’s just that when it’s less than awesome, I wonder if anyone can see past my facade. Ironically, sometimes I even cover up my own feelings/struggles by helping others with theirs and neglecting my own…yeah, I know. I promise that’s not what I’m doing while writing this post. PROMISE
Sometimes in life, you just hope that someone will reach out and ask, “Are you OK?”
Just check in with you and take the fear away.
Well, they asked me if I’m OK so they must want the answer. Maybe it’s OK to tell them the truth. Maybe they don’t see my feelings as a burden after all.
It can feel like such a relief – like you’re able to breathe out again. It can be the start of a rewarding journey back to yourself (or the rest of the world) or it can resolve the horrible feeling of a problem eating away at you. Perhaps when the burden is shared, it lessens.
September 12 (that’s tomorrow) is R U OK Day. It’s something I really believe in and I am so glad it exists. Here’s the little blurb directly from the website:
What is the R U OK? Foundation?
The R U OK? Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to encouraging all people to regularly and meaningfully ask ‘are you ok?’ to support those struggling with life.
R U OK?Day is our national day of action on the second Thursday of September (12 September 2013), and dedicated to reminding people to regularly check in with family and friends. We also have Resources for You to use throughout the year to help you ask ‘are you ok?’ regularly of family, friends and colleagues.
You can visit the website here - you can find advice on how to ask someone if they’re OK as well as inspirational stories about people who dared to ask the question – and those who had the courage to answer them.
You just don’t know if you might be saving a life, by asking such a simple, compassionate question.
While R U OK Day might only be one day, it can inspire you to think about how to ask those you care about how they are throughout the year. I know that this campaign has given me the courage to ask the question many a time where in the past I might have chickened out. What if it’s none of my business? What if I’m intruding? What if I’ve imagined this person’s struggle in my head and I’m going to make a fool of myself? What if asking the question makes the other person run away from me? What if…I get a truly honest, heartbreaking answer and I don’t know what to do about it?
The R U OK Foundation says we just need to listen without judgement – we don’t need to fix everything or have all the answers. Starting the conversation in the first place can be very valuable.
— ruokday (@ruokday) September 11, 2013
I promise that the times I’ve had to dig deep to take the step of asking someone if they were OK, I have never regretted it. Just listen to your gut – if it’s telling you to ask because you truly care – and don’t ignore it. That person might have needed you to ask that very day. So, you get knocked back? That person still knows you care, even if they’re in too much pain (or even denial) to realise right away.
I have not been asked to promote R U OK Day (although would be very open to it in the future) and have nothing to gain by posting about it. It truly is something that I believe will make the world of difference to someone who is struggling. I’m sure we can all relate on some level as either the ‘asker’ or the ‘answerer’. While I have quoted the R U OK Day Foundation on this post (as clearly as possible), the opinions in it are mine only and I speak from personal experience.
I want my readers (regular or first time visitors) to know that I really do care about your well being.
So I’ll ask the question, which I mean from the bottom of my heart and truly care for the answer.
Are you OK? What’s happening for you right now? How are you feeling?
You can privately message me on Facebook, email me, DM me on Twitter or leave a comment on this post (you may use an anonymous username if you prefer – your email address is never published). Anything you tell me privately will not be shared and will not be judged. I just want you to know that I’m listening.
I hope that you will ask the question tomorrow too. It could be the start of a very important conversation.