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September 15, 2011 / Zoe

Are You Ok?

I was initially reluctant to post about R U OK Day because I hate text speak. I seriously hate it. We’re not in that much of a hurry that we can’t add an extra letter or two. I get that texts used to cost more than they do now, and people did it to save a few cents, but that time is over. Spell words with all the letters they need, people. But this is more important than my hate of letters as words, so today I will ask, are you ok?

The simple act of asking someone if they are ok might seem irrelevant to you, but for the other person it can be life saver. Suddenly they feel less alone, suddenly someone cares. Trust me, I know.

My mental health journey is a long one, and while I’m a lot better than I have been, it’s definitely not over yet. Depression, anxiety, social phobia, agoraphobia, self harm, forcing myself to overeat, not eating at all, sleep deprivation. I’ve had it, and done it all.

There was a time about 5 years ago when I was self harming worse than I ever had before. No one knew, and I desperately wanted help. I desperately needed help. I desperately needed someone to ask me if I was ok. So I could say, NO! And roll up my pants and say, I can’t stop. I don’t know why. Please help me get help. 

The lowest point was cutting myself in the bathrooms at a train station. I mean, that’s just fucked up, isn’t it?

That’s when I told a boy on the internet what was going on. And I moved across the country to live with him because I knew that he would help me. And initially, he did.

Until I had another mental breakdown about 2 years ago. This time the boy took me to someone who knew how to help me. I think he understood that this time it was out of his league. I’ve been seeing a psychologist ever since. Best thing I ever did. I feel weird admitting that I need professional help, but I shouldn’t because if I had cancer I wouldn’t be ashamed that I was getting help for that, would I?

When you’re in the midst of a deep depression it’s near impossible to open your mouth and ask for help. It’s like there’s a something stuffed down your throat, you’re trying to scream for help but nothing comes out. But if a friend, or co-worker, or family member opens their mouth first, if someone else starts the conversion, suddenly it’s just gets so much easier.

Start the conversation, before it’s too late.

 

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14 Comments

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  1. ejorpin / Sep 20 2011 11:26 am

    What a beautiful, brave post Zoe – thank you so much for writing it and for hitting ‘publish’. I’m so glad to hear that you are now getting the help and support you need. You are so spot on when you make the connection to physical disease and how we wouldn’t be ashamed to get help for those kinds of things (in fact, people would be telling us we were fools if we didn’t go to see a doctor).

    Although I sometimes feel like I am losing my mind I know that on the whole I am ok, and I am very grateful for that. Some years ago I had the experience of living with someone I loved who was very much not okay (with a psychotic illness), and it was such an isolating thing. I was pretty young at the time and so often I felt like we were trying to deal with this thing on our own – friends didn’t understand (and I lost a few because of it), I was afraid to reach out to family and it was so hard to get any kind of support from government agencies. It makes me happy to see days like ‘R U OK?’ which gradually help to take away the stigma of these illnesses, and to see the support out there for these kinds of initiatives, they are so very important.

  2. iMadeItSo / Sep 17 2011 10:48 am

    I’m glad you shared. And I will even break with tradition and use proper capitalization (as much as it pains me) as a show of respect to you… and your dislike of text speak 😛

    Thanks again for sharing this, and for sharing so much about your experience. It’s a good reminder, 3 little words.

  3. MaryAnn / Sep 15 2011 11:32 pm

    Well said, Zoe. I am grateful for your courage. It is good to be reminded that no man is an island & we are responsible for reaching out to others. I hope that each day we go out & touch another life with concern & love. It is so good to be reminded that others struggle & I cannot always be focused on what is going on with me, in my little world, with no thought of those around me.
    God bless you & give you an OK day every day from here on out!

  4. deerdonna / Sep 15 2011 7:49 pm

    you are wonderful. much of your story is similar to mine. i was in the depths of insane depression and mental self harm… never physical, but mentally i was soooo not okay… i am getting there now.

    love to you xox. and thank you for asking. i am not really okay today, but i feel better than i used to!

  5. Katie / Sep 15 2011 7:19 pm

    Oh Zoe, this post brought me to tears. You are so very brave for speaking up and telling your story, and this is SUCH an important message. Nobody should ever feel ashamed for getting help – I think it takes a huge amount of courage to take that step. You should be so proud of yourself.

    I really try to be kind, pay attention to how people are feeling and be there for them when things aren’t good, but I think sometimes we can all get a little complacent or unobservant and, horrible as it sounds, sometimes it just seems too hard. Thank you for the reminder that even if it feels awkward, asking if someone is ok can make the difference between life and death.

    I truly hope you are ok now. Sending much love across the dessert xoxo

  6. Annika / Sep 15 2011 5:36 pm

    x

  7. april / Sep 15 2011 1:37 pm

    Brave brave girl. for saying anything. i only ever did once and got totally shut down – by my mother. Told it was nothing right at the start then 20 years on I still am. Hey, you made it to the bathroom at the station – you’re talking to the girl on the platform in tears *HUGS MANY*
    You are a wonderful and brave woman and asking that question can make the world of difference
    just knowing that someone understands and cares or that they are asking without the expectation of ‘nothing’ as the answer.
    Thank you for sharing I honestly think the more who do the less alone people feel, the less alone the more likely to get help so simply with this post you are making a massive difference.
    Isn’t it wrong that trying to get help for mind stuff is seen as less worthy than physical?
    (also I have just as deep a hatred for text speak *HUGS*)
    sorry if this makes little sense bad day for me too

    • Zoe / Sep 16 2011 10:08 am

      Thank April! I hope you’re well. Email me if you ever need to vent or chat or anything.

  8. Cara / Sep 15 2011 11:35 am

    My life has been saved more times than I care to count by people who asked that simple question. Sometimes, it was asked by people I love. Other times, it has asked by a stranger in a coffee shop or a homeless man on the street. And they have all saved my life.

    I wouldn’t be here today, on this planet, in this body, in this fantastic new-to-me city on the West Coast of Canada, if it weren’t for those people asking that question. I also wouldn’t be here without the crisis support of various municipalities. Thank you, Canada’s health care system, which, although it has failed me many times, helped me when I really did need it most. Unfortunately, I personally know people who have needed that help and haven’t been able to access it.

    That question “Are you okay?” is so important to ask, for it’s not the automatic, polite question “How are you?” that is asked and answered thoughtlessly: “Fine, thanks.” When I’ve really needed help, I still kept maintaining that I was fine, thanks, even though I knew that I most certainly was not okay. I just needed someone to ask me – to remind me – that there are some things in this world that we are not meant to endure alone.

    Thanks, Zoe, for speaking up about this and for breaking through the silence. Mental illness, whether acute or chronic, is definitely one of those things that we cannot do alone.

  9. Ieva / Sep 15 2011 11:26 am

    Very well said Zoe, I so agree with Lily’s comment, and wish you the best in your journey. Sometimes we don’t even need to share our problems but just the fact that someone cares enough to ask, can make all the difference. I hope you ARE OK!!
    Also I agree with you completely about text speak.

  10. Lily / Sep 15 2011 10:30 am

    Zoe you are amazing! This was no doubt hard for you to write, I can “hear” it as I read it. Thank you for sharing your journey. I am so proud of you for standing up and taking such a bold step.

    I am going into the field of counseling, perhaps going on for my Doctorate, we’ll see. But I want people to realize that seeking help for mental issues is not a bad thing. In fact because it is so intimate, seeking mental health help is absolutely one of the bravest moves anyone can ever make.

    I cannot express enough how exceptionally proud of you I am! You have been in my prayers ever since you shared your problem with agoraphobia. Now I will pray more specifically for you as you walk this path to healing. What a fabulous brave woman you are!

    Thank you for reminding us that we need to be willing to start the conversation!

    God bless you sweet Zoe!

    • Zoe / Sep 16 2011 10:07 am

      Thank you Lily, you will make a wonderful counsellor! xo

  11. B / Sep 15 2011 10:17 am

    Thanks for sharing. You’re not alone.

    I’ve struggled too for many years, though I’m now the healthiest I’ve been in a long time.

    There was a time 9yrs ago where I used to cut myself with a scalpel…only I’d sterilise it first and only cut the top of my arm. I lived alone, my family was crumbling and I was miserable. All I wanted was someone to ask if I was ok & to care about the answer. Instead I was told not to bring my problems to work. We have to change that mentality.

    Keep working on things, the tunnel has some brighter paths…more of a labyrinth really.

  12. julie / Sep 15 2011 9:28 am

    Wow, Zoe, you really hit a nerve here. I’ve been that person too and I must say, it’s sad that so many people see things as “not their business,” especially when they can tell that a person needs to talk. I am a really honest and open person and I try to talk to people as much as I can and I think that makes most people feel comfortable coming to me. We are all connected here. We are all humans, in need of others. We can all help each other, but we have to open up first. Thank you so much for posting this. I think it needed to be said. I hope you are well.
    xoxo
    julie

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