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Jess McNamara

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Advocate’s tips: When we are not OK

Here comes RUOK Day again. If someone asks us directly, what will we say? Will we mean it?

Being not OK is normal and often a healthy response to events in our lives – like being isolated from friends and family during the COVID-19 restrictions. But it isn’t healthy if being not OK is affecting our study, work, relationships, or how we see ourselves, for an extended period of time.
The thing about being not OK is that we can get stuck there. Getting out of that space on our own can be difficult, and sometimes we get worse before we get better.

I know, because I’ve been not OK at different times, as a young person, and as an adult.

Right now, I’m well, stable, thriving - I’m better than OK. That’s why I can write this. Being stuck in depression, anxiety, or more, with thoughts of self-harm, is not something that is easy to share or describe at the time. Because they way our brain works, changes.

That’s why having someone ask, R U OK? can make a difference, especially if they are able to follow up, and check in again, and help you reach out and tell a professional how you are thinking and feeling.

That’s why professional help is important – they are trained to understand how our brains change when we are not ok, and what we need to gently, cautiously, become ourselves again.

It’s important we are honest with ourselves and people around us. To say, “I am not OK.” If you’ve been stuck before, give someone you trust permission to call support on your behalf. Because making that call yourself can be too hard. And let people help you. Because they really want to.

You may not be OK right now, but you can be. I believe in you.

La Trobe has released a 5 step process checking in on suicide risk,-5-step-process.pdf
Mental health support through the Uni:
Lifeline: or call the 24/7 telephone line 13 11 14

Michelle Barton
3 September 2020