content warning: self-harm
Sometimes I imagine what it would be like if it all disappeared. For a moment all the noise and chatter and colours stop.
In my world I take a deep breath. Maybe this is where I can talk to you, because in this world you don’t really exist.
A couple years ago I dug my fingers into my wrist, little red droplets seeped out. They looked alien, like they’d just haphazardly landed on my skin. Thoughts rolled around like clothes in a tumble dryer; frantic, hot and messy.
I needed to clear them. I needed pain.
And for a second it worked. The words on my paper cleared and I started to write an answer. I had always been a logical person: I had a problem and I found a solution. Only this one scared me. I cried because I ‘knew better’, it haunted me that it felt good.
The thing is, I lived in your world too. I always gawked at how people could hurt themselves. I imagined teens with low self-esteem and bad parents. I wasn’t that. I had confidence in myself, I was focused. Yet, I was caught in a recurring storm that I couldn’t reconcile.
How could I be so strong and so fucking weak?
At its worst point I spent three days in silence. It wasn’t a statement. I just had nothing to say.
My mind felt like bad static. It’s ineffable if you haven’t experienced it, going from being so sharp and focused to immobilising sadness. Grief was a trigger, but it was always there.
It’s funny. I hadn’t really thought about it for a while, but every time I hear someone say ‘I’m so depressed’ a little thing tugs at me reminding me it was real. I don’t look like a depressed person, I never did… but I was.
Is it strange I’ve never said that out loud? That I’ve never told my best friends? You see even though we’re trying to change, we haven’t. The psychologist I saw told me to never tell anyone, that in medicine it wouldn’t do me any good and that I shouldn’t trust my colleagues. My psychologist said that. I remember being a little shocked, well shit, so much for support systems.
So how do I explain to you I’m not okay?
Maybe I never will. Maybe I won’t have to. I’m happy now, I got investigations, I figured out strategies and I exercise to clear my mind. But I know I’m not an exception, I’d argue I’m closer to the rule and I’m scared for people who are still lost in that cloud that won’t let them think and sucks the life away from life.
I don’t know how to fix it, but it has to be more than an ‘R U OK?’.
Lifeline Australia is a confidential telephone crisis support service available 24/7 from any landline, payphone or mobile. If you are ever experiencing a personal crisis or thinking about suicide, call them at 13 11 14 or visit https://www.lifeline.org.au/ .
One thought on “When R U OK? Is Not Enough”
Thank you anonymous for sharing your raw emotions and experiences – so genuinely. Though I do not know you, your words resonate and I think about all those around me who are going through hard times and those who seem ‘fine’.
I am sad and sorry you have had to battle through all this, I have never been in your shoes and can’t imagine how hard it must be – I’m also sad and sorry that the culture in medicine is one that threatens rather than supports you if you wanted to open up about all that is going on behind the OK exterior. I am so glad to hear you are happy now, you have found strategies and have come to write this article.
Your article reminds me to think about all those around me and to look out for them. I too, don’t know what else to do, but to be wary and check up on my friends and colleagues, that they are ‘OK’. It isn’t enough but it’s better than nothing, and I hope that the unspoken care and camaraderie we have for each other will be enough to change the culture in medicine too.