So today is RUOK? Day, a day I’ve always felt a little conflicted about. First of all I hate the abbreviation because I will always read it as ruok and it seems like a weird biblical place name or something (oh – no I know what it is, I hear it as ruach, the Hebrew word for breath/wind/spirit…I guess that’s a good day to have too). Secondly, it’s so important for people to talk and to be aware of how their friends and family are and all that…but I think the issue I have with it is that making it into A Day makes it seem like you only have to care about people’s mental health one day a year.
I know that’s definitely not what the movement is saying, but it can come across that way when businesses/social media peeps co opt it and make it look like they’re all about caring when they probably don’t think about it most of the time. Though it would be nice if I was wrong about that.
The thing is, as someone who struggles with mental health long term, you start worrying that people will stop asking you, or don’t actually care about the answer but are asking because they think they should. So you go back to the usual “yeah, I’m fine” if anyone asks because you don’t think they really want to know. Or you can’t even articulate it, so it’s just easier to say “fine”. Or you try to explain but you don’t know if you’ve actually been understood.
This may not be true of course! It’s just part of the warped perception of being depressed, that you read things into other people’s behaviour/motivations that has no bearing on reality.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is, if you ask, do listen. If you ask on this one day of the year, ask at other times too. If you ask, know that the person might not be able to fully describe what’s going on for them.
But know that the fact that you care enough to genuinely ask is really important.
PS – I’m sort of okay. I’d say I’m at about 50% running capacity. I’m quite sad at the moment as I read and work through things. Some days are pleasant, others are very grey. But I’m here. And I’m still inching forward and slightly upwards.
Edit to add:
If you are interested in going deeper in conversation with someone but have no idea how, the R U OK? Day website does have some good stuff on it, encouraging you to make sure you’re prepared yourself for such a conversation as well as things that might be helpful to say.