Today is R U OK? Day. My family and I might share a joke and ask each other “Are you OK?” “But are you really?” – yet beneath the wisecracks lay lingering ghosts.
When I was a teenager my parents lost a close friend to suicide. It was the first funeral I’d attended and the first time I saw both my parents cry. I couldn’t understand why the priest never mentioned how she died. I was incredulous in my teenage naivety.
Now RUOK?Day conjures other ghosts. The ones who survived but left behind scars. Two days of life support and people pacing rooms that didn’t look human. While the confronting visual reminders began to fade – bills were paid, children were bathed, the grass was mowed and tiles were scrubbed. “Everything will be orderly” – except that it wasn’t. Not everything endures trauma. Marriages break down and life, well it changes.
RUOK?Day is four people from my husband’s year level in high school – a municipality highlighted on 4Corners this week. It’s the friend from work’s grandfather, my cousin’s friend’s sister, my favourite neighbour’s thirteen year old granddaughter. It’s not only a day to open dialogue and keep connected – for me it’s also memories. It’s removing social stigma, it’s acknowledging what others have endured and it’s pushing for more mental health funding. What does it mean to you?
Contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 if you are in need of immediate assistance or need to talk to someone you trust.