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Upside Down Expat

Are You OK ?

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While connection is important at all times, it becomes particularly profound during bad times. Once grief, depression or anxiety takes hold, it’s like quicksand. Pulling us out often requires a helping hand.

Today’s ‘R U OK’ day resonates with me particularly strongly.

Over the last year, for the first time in my life, there have been times I’ve been anything but ok. I’ve had bad times before of course, but nothing has come close to losing my little sister.

Further compounding the pain is being so far away from family and, not long before Gem died, becoming single for the first time in a long time. I don’t hold any shame in admitting how alone I’ve felt at times – it’s been the most challenging period of my life.

Yet it’s clear to see, in my darkest moments what has helped the most has been the connections with those around me. Their presence and consideration has shone sunlight into the dark night of grief, offering much needed respite and reminding me of the brightness that also continues to exist in life.

It is the importance of connection that R U Ok? Day recognises as an important element of suicide prevention. While connection is important at all times, it’s becomes particularly profound during bad times. It can be incredibly difficult to reach out once grief, depression or anxiety take hold. It’s like quicksand – we can quickly get pulled into a pit of negativity. And while we may do all we can do to help ourselves, sometimes the more we put up a fight, the more we become submerged from the light.

These times, we simply need someone to reach out a hand.

Yet it can be so easy to be caught up in our own lives that often when someone is sinking we turn the other way. Places to go, people to see, there’s no time to stop, nevermind risking also getting pulled into negativity. Or we are so consumed with our own strife, we don’t look up enough to see that others may also be struggling with life.

What we don’t realise is, while its important to show we care about those around us continuously, helping someone out of quicksand doesn’t mean we have to hold their hand permanently. Even the smallest everyday encounters can be the difference between someone suffocating and pulling them onto to safer land.

So, like people have done for me – often those I least expected – today is an important reminder to either just be there, or ask, and really mean it, ‘Are You OK?’. You may also need a helping hand one day.

The founder of R U OK? researched three areas that put a person at risk of suicide: feeling like a burden on others; being able to withstand a high degree of pain and a lack of connection to others.

For support call Lifeline 13 11 14.

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