Are we all ‘nedonist’, someone who wants as many good moments and as few bad moments as possible. – Martin Seligman
Nobody wants bad times in our lives, or in the lives of our family and friends. We all hope for the best, pray for good fortune. But it is what we do when someone is going through a bad moment that is not only sad but a reflection on society, it shows that humanity doesn’t run that deep amongst us, and while we don’t want anyone to go through bad moments, we don’t want to know or be involved in anyone’s bad moments.
Every day people around us with mental illness are going through bad moments, most are suffering in silence, while the epidemic to isolate, not ask questions, and not offer assistance plagues our family, social and work environments. There are people amongst are going through depression, anxiety, or both, who find themselves sick, in hospital or psychiatric clinics or wards, they are at home too sick to go to work, or they are slowly going about there day while these illnesses and conditions torment their minds, and affecting them physically, leaving them constantly suffering.
If these people amongst us were suffering from almost any physical illness, or disease, you can guarantee that family, friends, work colleagues would be going out of there what to check there ok, offer help and support, send get well cards, all the routine things we do for the sick. The same doesn’t apply to those of us in society living with mental illness.
The campaign R U OK? started in response to suicide rates and the need to prevent these deaths, along with supporting people with mental illness this has brought starting the conversation to the forefront. While the campaign includes tools in asking and supporting people who aren’t ok, in my experience few people will ask R U OK? or provide an environment that is supportive if they are having a bad time, most won’t ask because of the fear of getting involved, being somewhat responsible, having to go out of there way to help. For attempts to start the conversation R U OK?, a lot needs to be done to change human behaviour towards mental illness. Despite the awareness campaigns for mental illness a culture remains that causes stigma to isolate the mentally ill, that drives people away from wanting the responsibility to assist someone who isn’t ok.
It is a very sad society that allows people with mental illness to suffer in silence, isolation, and without the help they need because society has built such a powerful stigma that people don’t want to know about the bad moments, to help is to get involved, to talk is to feel awkward, to support is too hard. What will it take to prevent deaths, suffering, isolation, discrimination? What can we do to breakdown stigma that prevents the question R U OK? from being asked, and for those suffering to speak out that they are not OK? We are a society driven by individualism, a culture of not wanting to know, and behaviour that is solely focused on good times, and the norm.
Parts of my storey are very confronting and some may find upsetting, if you find yourself upset and depressed I encourage you to ring Lifeline on 13 11 14 or BeyondBlue on 1300 224636.