Yesterday was a very important day where we were all encouraged to ask a friend or loved one “R U OK?”. It’s a very powerful day of awareness, but what does that mean for today?
People that may have found the courage to open up and tell someone yesterday that hey “actually, I’m not ok” are waking up today, a normal day of the week that isn’t surrounded by people telling you to open up or flashing support numbers over TV screens.
They’ve opened up, so who will help them today in the aftermath of opening up a wound or realising for the first time that they might be suffering with mental health issues?
For some, it will feel like a giant wrecking ball has smashed through their mind and now they don’t know what to do and some could even feel worse for opening up.
This is why every day needs to be a mental health day, I understand why a day of awareness is important and I support many initiatives in that space, but we need to stop and think about the aftermath of such a heightened day of emotion.
Starting the conversation is one thing but knowing what to do next is what will make the difference.
I was a happy and healthy 30-year-old living my dream job, I didn’t have a history of mental health issues but in the space of 2.26 minutes, a work incident left me mentally fighting for my life. I was thrown into a dark space that I didn’t understand, I didn’t know who I was, and I felt completely numb 24/7.
The last thing I wanted to hear from someone was: “Everything happens for a reason” or “Just choose happiness, you’ll be fine”. Those aren’t the things I needed to hear.
If someone needs help and opens up to you, just let them know you care and you’re there for them.
If you don’t understand mental health, don’t try and dictate to someone what they should do and how they should feel. Let them know you are there for them, let them talk and just listen.
Awareness days with profile people can be very impactful, with such a stigma surrounding mental health when we see our favourite sports or TV stars saying “I suffer from mental health illness” it helps normalise it.
I’m an Ambassador and now a board member for the Imperfectly Perfect Campaign and we use the power of celebrity to show that mental health doesn’t discriminate, it can happen to anyone.
Willie Mason: “You think you know somebody, think again . . . everybody has a story”
Grant Denyer: “There was a period in my life I wasn’t particularly feeling happy about myself and it went on for a little too long and it went unrecognised and it wasn’t something I ever spoke about.”
Julie Snook: “When you have an invisible illness it’s hard to explain to someone who doesn’t have a clue. It can be a daily struggle being in pain or feeling sick on the inside when you look fine on the outside.”
To anyone yesterday that said “I’m not ok” you need to realise that you’ve just taken the first step in seeking help, because you’ve said those silent words out loud.
A mental health illness can be a lifetime battle for some, it doesn’t need to define you and it doesn’t need to take your life.
I know how hard it is, I’ll never forget that numbness where you can’t feel any emotion, you can’t feel physical pain and you can’t even feel the effects of alcohol.
The most frustrating thing about mental health is when you have a great day, you’re feeling happy and the next day you wake up feeling like shit again and you can’t understand why.
Just remember, there are more days to follow and some will be great, and some will be shit but you still have a life and it is worth living. Keep talking to your friends, seek professional help and just do what you can to survive because you deserve to be here.
Written by Mel Greig
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