Every time R U OK Day comes around, I always feel a tad bitter. It's a great sentiment - asking if someone's OK, but then it also reminds me of all the times I needed someone to ask me if I was, but they never did.
The past couple of months have been my worst mental health wise since I have been alive (or at least diagnosed). I have spent weeks not being able to leave my bed, being paranoid, being irrational, replaying all of the good times with my last love and then beating myself up for not being "good enough" for him to want to stick around.
But here's the kicker. I was asked if I was OK. I did have people looking out for me and making sure that I didn't do anything stupid, but when you're as depressed as I was, you don't see it. I would lie all the time about how I was, how I really was. The worst part was, people would believe it. Or they would pretend to believe it.
I understand that being friends with someone who has a mental illness can be really hard. There are no right words to give someone when they're feeling at their lowest, but just asking R U OK isn't enough. You need to ask it at a time and in a place where someone feels safe to open up. You need to ask more than once. You need to be prepared for when they say "actually, no I'm not OK at all."
The best things my friends did for me when I was in a dark place was just be there. Just sit with me and watch a movie so I wouldn't be alone. Asking me if I wanted to get dinner or lunch because they knew I wouldn't be eating otherwise. It wasn't the asking R U OK that made the difference. It was being there and doing things that made a small difference in my life.
They couldn't fix my intense depression. Only medication, therapy, the sun coming out and Taylor Swift releasing a dope album could do that. But they could (and did) keep me company while I pulled myself out of the hole, and in the end, that's all that matters.