Yesterday was RUOK? Day, and, like it says on the tin, the day encourages everyone to ask a friend, family member, colleague or even that person you buy your coffee from – ‘hey, are you okay?’ in a meaningful way. It’s a fantastic way of spotlighting the importance of mental and emotional wellbeing and gently reminding us that hey, sometimes, our friends, our family and others around us may be having a less than okay day, week, month, or even year. And sometimes, we’re all less than okay – and that’s okay (okay) too. Looking out for each other in a simple way like having a chat about things can be the best form of therapy.
Three years ago, I was in a place where I thought I was unhelpable (this is not a word, but there’s no better word). I was not OK. I’d felt like I’d been hit by the Anxiety Bus, along with several other vehicles with names associated with feeling generally pretty terrible (it was a four-car pile up). I’d sporadically tried to boost my mood with lifestyle changes, alcohol, back to back episodes of The Only Way is Essex (classic television) and buying half-price garden gnomes (see example left).
I’d even tried merging all of these things and once night found myself doing tree pose, whilst balancing a glass of wine on my nose, watching The Only Way is Essex with one of my garden gnomes standing next to me on the floor holding a sign that said ‘GO AWAY’. In the end, all attempts at cracking the grey ceiling of seriousness and dismality (again, not a word) failed. I was unhelpable and I had failed at life.
Looking back from a much happier place, what have I learned from that time?
You are not, today or ever, unhelpable. Even if you feel it for a long, long, long time.
It might take a few more RUOK’s, a few gentle nudges, a few days, week, or, yes, even a few years. One of my favourite scenes in one of my favourite films, Bridesmaids, is between Annie and her mum before Annie attends Lillian’s engagement party. She’s feeling a little low about life in general. Her mum offers her some wonderful words of wisdom.
“I’m telling you, hitting bottom is a good thing, because… because there’s nowhere to go but up. Positive message.”