R U OK? - (repost from FB)

Today is R U OK? Day... also known as the day where some people share their own struggles and others let friends know they’re willing shoulders on which to cry.
The problem is that people who need to reach out, often don’t. As much as we try every year, every day, every hour... there is still a fucking stigma when it comes to mental health.
Whether it be cultural, religious, generational, or the awful combination of all of the above. Where you’re made to feel that your feelings are not valid because they can’t be seen.
So we put our masks back on, accept that we’ll always be broken and maybe this time won’t be as bad as last time.
I’ve been struggling with depression since I was a kid. There have been a couple of times in my life where it had gotten really bad, but I pulled through. I thought I was tough as nails for having “beat” depression on my own.
How fucking wrong I was.
Depression wasn’t beaten, merely beaten back, for now. It was lying in wait for years, creeping out once in a while to remind me it was there.
Over the last 10 years, it came out of the shadows more and brought a friend named anxiety. This friend kept me from leaving the house, and reacquainted me with an old friend named OCD. As a kid, I would only do checking, where I’d turn lights on/off or lock doors a certain amount of times. As an adult, OCD came back with a vengeance. There were times I would wash my hands until they bled raw.
This trio of buddies wreaked havoc with me as I lived in yet another strange city, attempting to make a new life for us. Over the last 2 years, I slowly lost my footing in a 34 year uphill climb.
I slipped.
I fell.
I scraped myself up on the way down.
I scrambled for anything to hold onto, to grip, to stop my descent.
But my hands came up empty.
Some days, I can breathe the fresh air above me. Sometimes, I see twinkling lights showing me a way out.
But most of the time, I live in the darkness. A darkness that took years to take over me, because I allowed it.
And while I was down? Life kicked me in the guts. Literally.
Now I’m curled up in a ball at the bottom of a deep ravine, unsure of how to get myself out of this mess.
Everyday I’m handed branches to pull myself out but all I see are too many decisions. Too many branches, branching off the branches. Nothing is steady. Everything will break and I will fall again.
So I do nothing.
We are getting better with accepting mental health issues as legitimate health concerns every day... but we are still nowhere near where we should be to help the ones we love.
We need to be kinder to each other, to ourselves, to STRANGERS. We need to stop telling people to just pray. We need to stop pretending we have all the answers. We need to stop.
Collaborate 😉
And listen.
Just listen to what people have to say, when they’re willing to say it. Don’t shut them down, because you’ll shut them out. Into the darkness.
It’s what happened to me because I grew up in a culture that swept things under the rug. It is what it is, and there is no one to blame. But we can change it - and that’s what I tried to do with my life, by being open about my pain and never shutting people out. Even the emotional vampires.
I can only hope I helped save a few lives in my short time on this earth. If I never leave this dark place before I go, that will be some comfort in all of this randomness called life.
In summary, no.. I am not OK. R U?


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