Today – and any day – is a good day to ask people that simple question; “R U OK” You might start a conversation that could change someone’s life.
1 in 6 people will experience depression at some stage in their lives.
1 in 4 people will experience anxiety.
1 in 7 mothers will experience postnatal depression and 1 in 10 mothers will experience antenatal depression. Anxiety is likely to be as, if not more, common.
While it can be reassuring to see that experiencing some kind of depression or anxiety at some stage in your life is common, it doesn’t make it normal or okay.
Even if you haven’t experienced anxiety or depression yourself, you can be sure that someone you know has experienced it in their life – and they might be experiencing it right now.
Anxiety and depression isn’t always obvious. Katherine Stone, founder of Postpartum Progress created a page called “You Can’t Tell A Mom Has Postpartum Depression By Looking” by asking her community of postpartum depression, anxiety, psychosis, and OCD survivors to share a photo and caption it “When this picture was taken I was suffering from ____________. You can’t tell by looking, but I felt/was going through _____________.”
So, this is a picture of me with my son. He was nearly 4 months old at the time.
“When this picture was taken I was suffering from anxiety. You can’t tell by looking but I was struggling to bond with my son because I was constantly afraid he might die.”
When I was in the worst of my anxiety I made sure dressed nicely, I wore make up, brushed my hair, I even often wore heels. I wanted to appear calm and collected. I also made an effort to smile and gaze adoringly at my son when people were looking because I didn’t want anyone to know when I looked at him I felt a painful mix of fear and love.
Which is why I think it’s so important to ask people “Are you okay?” and let them know you’re there for them no matter what, so even if they say “Yeah, I’m fine” – maybe next time you see them they’ll find the strength to say “Actually, no, I’m not okay.”
Sometimes it’s hard to ask if someone is really okay. The answer might be scary or you might not know the right thing to say.
The most important thing you can do is respond with empathy. If you don’t really understand what empathy is and how it is very different from sympathy then watch this short clip.
It’s important to keep in mind that you can’t fix what someone else is going through, the only thing you can do is Listen and build a safe, trusting connection with that person. They will still be experiencing whatever they are going through – but at least they won’t be doing it alone.
For more information go the R U OK website.
Some other great resources for depression and anxiety are: