Thursday, 13 September 2012

R U OK Day and my own personal torment

Today is R U OK Day. R U OK Day started in 2008 and occurs on the second Thursday in September every year.

In 2008 I was 16 and in year ten at high school. I had already been suffering depression for about 5 years, I hadn't been diagnosed yet and no one knew I was struggling. This post is not about my depression, it is about my experiences of R U OK Day, and how it has only had a negative impact on me.

On the second R U OK Day, I was in year 11, 17 years old, and more depressed than I had ever been. I never felt like I had any friends, and I thought no one cared. I had a group of 'friends' but I never really fit in. I was an outcast.

On R U OK Day that year, I was on a class excursion. The school had special programs on to celebrate the day, but because we weren't at school we didn't even know it was on.

Then I got a text message from a friend: "R U OKAY?"
I was so happy. I thought that friend was concerned about me. I thought she cared. I replied. "Yeah I'm great, I'm just on an excursion. Thanks for asking"

Well, she thought that was hilarious. So did everyone else at school. I became a joke. I didn't realise until someone else on excursion started complaining that everyone had been texting her 'R U OKAY'?
It was then I not only realised that my friend wasn't really interested in how I was, but also that I had only received one message, while everyone else had 20 or 30. It was a joke. Everyone thought it was hilarious.

Every year on R U OK Day, all day long people would ask everyone they saw "R U OK?" and everyone  would laugh. How funny. What a silly day.

So I just wanted to say, R U OK Day is not a good idea. It is not helping. It is trivialising the issue of mental illness. Every year I dreaded that day. I knew what it was going to mean; pretending to be okay while everyone else laughed at how stupid it was to ask people if they were okay.

All I ever wanted was for someone to ask me if I was okay. Seriously, for real. Because I wasn't and I wanted someone to know, but nobody cared. Mental illness is not funny. It is not a sign of weakness and it is not a way of getting attention. It is serious and R U OK Day trivialises it beyond belief.

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