Yeah, so I never miss an opportunity to tear someone’s good intentions apart like a rabid dog. It’s the misanthropy, I swear,
Today is the 12th of September. A day after the entire western world united and hated brown people back in 2001, and still a few days shy of my favourite holiday, ‘Talk Like a Pirate Day”. Thankfully, this relatively new phenomenon known as “R U OK Day” is here to fill the gap between pirates and mob-mentality racism.
For those not in the know, I’ll let the event’s Facebook page speak for itself:
The R U OK? Foundation was founded by marketing executive Gavin Larkin (d. 2011) in 2009. Inspired by the suicide death of Larkin’s father Barry Larkin, it was hoped that by encouraging meaningful conversations, more people would take the time to connect with any person experiencing a problem.
R U OK?Day is our national day of action on the second Thursday of September (12 September 2013), and dedicated to reminding people to regularly check in with family and friends.
It’s kinda a token effort, but it’s a good start, seeing as mental illness and “people in crisis” are rarely talked about in depth. More just given a half-arsed pat on the shoulder and then ignored. Like that creepy uncle at Christmas.
When my brain finally popped and I was more or less* diagnosed with anxiety and depression, I felt I had very few people to confide in. Most people -some of whom I thought were good friends, effectively told me that I was being a twat and to shut the fuck up when the problems were first apparent. Whether their actions were justified or not (they weren’t, but they were probably -and understandably, sick of my bullshit. So whatever), nothing was really done about it. I didn’t sit down and say “here’s what’s wrong. Help me”, and they didn’t say “Hey fatty! You look like you’re not having much fun. Put down that carton of mars bars and let’s talk”.
So yeah. I get the intent of R U OK? Day, and it’s a very good thing. But -using text-speak aside, I have my issues. Namely the token effort thing, and that people are pretty fucking unprepared to deal with anyone having issues, so it ends up being a bit of a dog’s breakfast.
So I’m here to help. It’s what I do. I should charge for this shit one day, but today isn’t that day.
So let’s assume, dear reader, you’ve facebooked/tweeted “RUOK?” and jumped on the bandwagon. I’ll also assume your intentions are genuine. Here’s a handy-dandy set of cliffs notes, extrapolated from the RUOK propaganda, just in case you give a fuck and end up talking to someone.
-Your Problems No Longer Matter
Yes, you have your own shit to deal with. Your partner is a dickhead and got drunk again, money’s tight, and that itch in your crotch isn’t going away. Guess what? You get to wait your turn. You asked “R U OK?” So you shut the fuck up and listen. Even if you can’t help, just listen. Getting it off of one’s chest is one of the best things one can do about their problems and you’re providing them with a sounding board.
Don’t try and put it into perspective with the turmoil affecting whatever third-world country you all of a sudden care about, don’t try and one-up them with your own problems, your job right now is to shut up and listen.
-Don’t be a judgemental prick
Leave your educated opinions at the door there, Dr. Phil. It is not your job to tell them how to feel, think, or act about a given situation. It is, however, your job to take them seriously. Chances are you’re going to be dealing with some pretty sensitive material so treat it as such. You wouldn’t ask to hold a newborn baby and then proceed to use it as a football, would you?
As an aside, the “you don’t have problems” attitude people start with shits to me to tears. These are taken from a YouTuber I’m subscribed to and they really struck a chord with me. Not a good one, either.
You get a pass if their actions will inevitably get them into more trouble or cause further issues. Even then, don’t make them feel like the world’s biggest piece of shit. Be upfront and honest, but also be prepared to soften the blow a touch (plus if they completely ignore you, you get to bust out your “told you so” dance).
-Don’t expect the same treatment in return
So you consider yourself a pretty caring nice guy, right? Listening to your friend and shit? Oh, but what have THEY done for YOU? Are they going to listen to you bitch and whine about your life?
Newsflash: Being a decent human being is to not expect anything in return. Sure, it’s a cock to the eyesocket that you spent your time listening and giving advice and you don’t get a chance to discuss your issues. But unless you’re an exceptionally unlucky fuck, you have fifteen other people you can talk to at least for one day of unified and token giving a shit. You want a payoff? How about the payoff of your friend not wrapping a rope around his fucking neck?
-It’s okay to not know the answers
I’m one of these people who gets all flustered if they can’t fix a problem a friend’s having. “Sorry to hear that” and “if there’s anything I can do” don’t cut it with me, damnit.
I’d wager some of you are the same. You don’t know the answers and you feel unhelpful.
Newsflash the second: You’re not. This shit isn’t easy to begin with, but by putting an effort into saying “yes. I will listen to your problems and see what I can do”, you probably made someone’s day considerably less shittier already. If you have advice, can loan them five bucks, or even just take them out for a beer, bonus.
This should be obvious. If you give a shit and your bud’s plight twanged at your heartstrings a bit, probably a great idea to follow up and see how they’re faring. They’ll appreciate it.
That about runs the gamut of knob jokes, bad analogies and anything else I had to say. But if you’re going through some rough times, I have a message for you too:
-It’s okay to ask for help
Always think it’s okay to need someone to shoot the shit with about whatever’s getting you down. It’s not weak, you don’t need to retire your man-card (or woman card. Do women have a card? Help me out here, angry feminists), swallow your fucking pride and ask for help. Friend’s are always good and you’re able to mooch a free beer occasionally, professionals are even better for the more complicated stuff. Whatever your method is, whatever your problem. Do something about it.
Till next time…
fine print: “more or less” diagnosed because I did see a shrink and was told “this is what’s probably wrong with you”. However, I was also going through a lot of shit at the time and it was relating to that period of my life. Usually I dance around the “anxiety” side of things. But that’ a blog post for another day.