Are You Balance? Its just about being human
I’m not one to jump on bandwagons. I find they lead me places that I am not really wanting to go and all too often, halfway through the journey, the wagon’s wheels fall off.
I am however firmly on the R U OK? Foundation bandwagon as they are working both tirelessly and effectively, at breaking down the stigma associated with mental illness and suffering. Unfortunately, this is an absolute necessity because we live in a society that seems to exalt happy shininess as part of being a successful human. Yet another casualty of the Instagram / Facebook dogma that shouts “Hey! Check me out! I’m so gorgeous and wealthy and healthy and happy and well dressed and I got ALL A’s without actually studying. And I’m this level of awesome – ALL THE TIME! Whooppeeeee!”
Whoopee indeed. What a load of codswallop.
Then there is the inevitable desire to tell people to “just get over it.” In one fell swoop, we can look deeply into someone’s eyes and undermine their feelings, tell them they are stupid and make them feel more isolated. I really love the simplicity and efficiency of this technique to entrench stigma and make someone feel even more hopeless!
(Thank you to the 2015 article from pedestrian.tv for this piece of gold!)
Therefore, props to R U OK? for what they are doing in undermining this stigma and getting people to actually care about others they live and work with. It is really simple to be a caring person. All it takes is time and a little bit of energy to genuinely support someone outside of ourselves.
We have a family friend who once told me what happened when he was walking to work along the Story Bridge really early one morning. He said it was so early that the road had yet to become busy (except for that growing breed of lycra clad cyclists who seem to find 4.30am a great time to be awake). As he approached the bridge he realized that a man was standing on the precipice – looking out into a place where he may not have been quite ready to go. Our friend then did something so simple it seems impossible that it worked. He asked the man on the bridge if he needed any help. And from there, a chat began that involved the average to’s and fro’s that we all do on a daily basis. The time spent in the chat was, apparently, not that long. However, it was long enough to show someone who was on the verge of their ending, that sometimes even a random engineer walking to work can help you find a beginning.
There is another part of this story that I relish sharing – and that is that this friend is not someone you would in any way even remotely assume to be touchy-feely or sensitive. He is a fishing trip lovin’, ex-university rugby Prop playin’ kind of guy. And of course I am setting up a stereotype not to pigeon hole people, but actually to demonstrate that pigeonholes mean nothing. In fact, the only pigeon hole you need to fit into is being human.
If you would like to get some ideas as to how you can start a conversation with someone you are worried about, check out:
Also, find out more from:
Sometimes you may find that it is you that needs some support and connection. If things are piling up and you are feeling like you need help, don’t forget that there are many people and organizations there to help. Choose a trusted friend or family member. Or make an appointment to see your GP. Whoever they are, all it takes is a meaningful conversation with someone who cares.