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Friday, 11 September 2020

The fallout of RUOK? Day



I was getting wary of R U OK? day after a comment by the Blackdog Institute in their Suicide Prevention video (along the lines of ask open questions not simply 'Are you okay?' as it can be easily dismissed by a yes. They pointed out you need to pin the person down to expand their answer, more that you've noticed they seem unhappy about something and could they tell you more?) and last week a person on Twitter asked "Who do you think asking R U OK? is for" and the answer, from people with mental health struggles was a resounding 'for the asker to feel good about themselves'. Also whatever you do, don't post photos of the RUOK cupcakes because they REALLY hate that! There were a lot of comments on the futility of the cupcakes. As Thursday came and went, I did notice in my FB feed, a number of people posted "So are you OK?" or put up the poster of the organisation and I thought 'No one would ever reach out, seeing that'. It's talking about it but not really reaching out to anyone. 


However, I do still believe it's better than nothing and it is trying to do a good thing. The good thing is making us a little more responsible for those around us. So I sent off seven cheery little messages, not using those exact words but asking how they were and I'd noticed they weren't on SM or we hadn't seen each other in a while etc. I hope it didn't seem like an RUOK prompted note, but it was definitely checking in and asking those questions. Two of my OS friends responded that they had just lost their parents in the last two weeks and downloaded the devastation that was causing for them. Another's husband is in the midst of serious health woes and that the stress is overwhelming. Given the replies, I think it was appreciated and for one friend, maybe a relief because it's hard to express some feelings to people out loud and in your close circle. Sometimes there's safety in someone 'out of the loop'.


So my conclusion, while it's far from perfect (and I don't have a better solution), and while it definitely should not be used to pat yourself on the back nor should you put the onus on the troubled person to reach out to you, it is better than nothing, and can be worthwhile. I do think it is more helpful if you reach out to them personally.

Now the responsibility is on me to keep checking in with these people, and to set up a day a month to regularly reach out to others (as I'm notoriously slack in this regard). It can't be a once a year thing. 

Maybe it's just a matter of catching people at the right time...and to do that, you need to be paying a little more attention.

I've dropped the ball with friends while dealing with my own 'stuff' but I'm realising I need to rectify that. It is something I'm intending to work on.

Linking with #FriendshipFriday  #PictorialTuesday #TheRandom





14 comments:

  1. That is putting a lot of responsibility on yourself but I suppose it's something we should all do. Great B&W shots.

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    1. I think that's the problem with RUOK day - while the intent of the organisation is good, over time it's become a little meaningless because people don't really do it properly. I don't have the answers, but other people got me thinking so I've decided to try and do something about it, at least personally.

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  2. ...fun to find on the beach.

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  3. The shells are simple, but your words are far from that. It's so easy to say "Yes, I'm fine" when we really aren't. Well done for reaching out!

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  4. A woman who I'd occasionally meet in passing at work died of suicide about 30 years ago. I still wonder sometimes if I could have made a difference somehow.
    Thanks for this post. And thanks for sharing at http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2020/09/going-buggy.html

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    1. You can't save everyone. I do know that. But we can try. You may have not been able to do anything. I hope this post hasn't caused you any distress.

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  5. I have a dear friend who struggles with depression and I try to be an encourager but it's so hard....and breaks my heart.

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    1. I think all you can do is keep reaching out (or just keep her company). Sometimes you can't do anything but be there.

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  6. This is such a good read. You are right. Are you Ok? is so easy to answer with just a yes or no. We absolutely need to scratch the surface beyond that simple phrase with the people in our life. Thank you for sharing such an important post over on the #dreamteamlinky

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  7. I've not heard of RUOK day but I think anything that helps promote mental wellbeing is very important, especially right now. Thanks for linking up with #dreamteamlinky

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  8. I agree, Lydia, it's so easy for someone to reply: "Yes, I'm OK..." even if they're not. I found it more helpful to ask people who looked troubled: "You're not OK, are you?" And in the silence that ensues, follow up with: "Want to talk about it?" Generally, the floodgates open after that. It's a good initiative, but most people are not using the opportunity it affords in the right way.
    Thanks for taking part in the "My Sunday Best" meme.

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  9. This is really good. Sometimes, it does seem a canned response that comes out of the mouth, and then you realize..no, I'm not okay. I need to remember to probe a bit more. Sometimes, a person can't say what's bothering them just out of the blue, and would really like to have a conversation about what is bothering. I fear I too easily just assume someone is okay when they're not showing signs.

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