After the birth of my second child, life was a little harder than I imagined it would ever be. My four year old, who was later to be diagnosed with Aspergers was very VERY challenging. Kindergarten was a disaster and school was about to become a bigger disaster. Home schooling became our only option for a while.
All of a sudden I was no longer managing a multi million dollar 50 storey CBD building. I quit my career and spent my days teaching Golden Words, long and short vowels and using maltesers to teach addition. All the while caring for a beautiful baby girl.
My husband’s career was able to take off as me being at home allowed him to work longer hours and travel more with his job. But my job was the toughest job in the world. I thought this because I cried everyday and my husband didn’t.
But it turns out I cried everyday because I had post-natel depression. Not my daughters fault for being born, not my sons fault for having Aspergers and not my fault for anything I may have been doing wrong at the time. It was just a chemical thing that was hard to overcome due to rising anxiety.
Depression is not sadness. It’s despair, despondency and hopelessness. In my case I became distant and vague. But with the help of family, friends and an awesome Dr, I was lucky enough to get through it.
RU OK Day has been a phenomenal success since it’s inception in 2009
Like all great movements it’s genius is in its simplicity. Hell, the clever organisers even managed to reduce the whole thing down to just four letters.
The truth is that depression and mental health issues can be complex, non discriminating and silent killers, It’s a sad reality that the sufferers often don’t even know that they have it. Or if they do know, they don’t know what to do about it.
Statistically, according to Lifeline, Australia has approx 3000 suicide deaths per year which averages 8 per day. And for every suicide there are up to 30 attempts. On average 75% of these are males. Age groups most at risk are the 18-25, 40-45 and believe it or not over 85.
I wouldn’t be a kid in 2018 for quids. I look around and see high achievers putting pressure on themselves to always be at the top of their game. I see girls and boys measuring their worth by the number of followers they have. I see kids who can’t be alone in a quiet room because their life is so filled with noise that silence unnerves them. I see kids who live in a gaming world that is not reality but it is THEIR reality. And I see kids who just need to be kids but society won’t let them.
I also wouldn’t be a man if you paid me (even if you paid me a man’s salary – BOOM!) We are getting better at “allowing” them to express their feelings but we are a LONG way from equality on that score.
I’m not a kid and I’m not a man but I’m also not immune to depression.
None of us are.
This R U OK Day, my pledge is to check in with people on the other 364 days of the year because it’s ok to not be ok.