13/09/2020

R U OK?

By Rheumamill

Rheuma check up

On the 2nd Thursday in September, Australians have a day called R U OK? day. As an Aussie, I didn’t even know that this day was uniquely ours! I’m a little ashamed of that because it is such an important day.

R U OK is a non-profit organisation here in Australia targeting suicide prevention. It’s a day where we are all encouraged to connect with each-other and ask, R U OK?

This year there has been a push to go one step further and not just stop at asking that one, albeit important, question.

There’s more to say after R U OK?

I find it interesting that sometimes we fall short at doing something so simple. We often ask others ‘how are you?’ but how invested are we in the other person’s reply? Asking ‘how are you?’ has become rather habitual and I hope that it doesn’t eventually lose it’s intended purpose.

Writing a blog post usually takes me a week to compile. I do a fair bit of research and that’s only after I wait for inspiration as to what topic to write about. There’s plenty of ground to cover when it comes to rheumatoid arthritis and the topics are largely evergreen. In saying that, timing is something I also factor in, as well as what I gauge needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.

This week, I actually just wanted to take a break. Not from the blog or from writing as such but from being so analytical. I think for a while now I’ve just been waiting for the opportunity to be raw. Just strip everything back and allow me to get to know my readers a little better and vice versa.

Time out!

So for this post, I wanted to step away from intensely RA related stuff and just ask all my readers, R U OK?

Even though I can’t hear your replies instantly, I’m going to assume that we are not all okay. It’s hard to be okay when you are living with a chronic illness such as rheumatoid arthritis. Not only that, we have to contend with Covid. So life right now can be a real mess.

I was reading up on the R U OK campaign (I can’t help but do research it seems) and they outline 4 steps you should take when reaching out:

  • Ask R U OK?
  • Listen
  • Encourage action
  • Check in

R U OK?

This got me wondering if each of you has someone that asks you R U OK? Do you have someone that actively listens to your answers?

For many of us, we’ve pretty much resigned to giving a standard ‘I’m fine’ response. I get that. We all get that. We all do it.

We do it because we know others wouldn’t understand and we do it because we don’t want to sound like a broken record. There are many other reasons why but ultimately, we don’t answer that question truthfully.

I want to tell you that it’s okay to say you’re fine when you’re not but only it isn’t. It’s not okay. Being able to express how you are really feeling is vitally important. One can only suck it up for so long and negative thoughts and feelings should not be left to manifest.

Chronic pain and mental health are intrinsically linked. One affects the other. Pain associated with RA will affect your mental health. Conversely, if you’re not in a good mental state, this will result in the exacerbation of your RA symptoms.

If your chronic pain is really bringing to down, I encourage you to talk to your doctor or rheumatologist.

Listen

My hope is that each one of you has someone that you feel comfortable giving an honest answer to when asked R U OK? If not, please reach out. You can do so via our support group or by contacting me directly. I will ALWAYS be there to ask R U OK? and to listen without judgement.

This week I’ve really struggled with energy and fatigue. Even though I know what needs to be done to help with fatigue, I actually haven’t been bothered to do it. I just wanted to…. let it be. That’s not usually my modus operandi but because my home state is in lockdown, I had no where to go anyway. Covid has really sucked the life out of a lot of people, myself included. I have pretty much been a prisoner of my own home the last 6 months and it’s really starting to take it’s toll. The end is not even in sight! I have moved from a state of nervous anxiety to a state of numbness. I’m better at waiting games when I know how long I have to wait.

Lights! Camera! Action!

For those that are regulars to my stretch and exercise program, you’ve probably noticed that I haven’t put up any videos lately. So to encourage action, I’m going to lead by example. I pledge that by next week, you will have a new video! This will no doubt snap me out of my current reverie and improve the brain fog that has been plaguing me.

I’m also going to be launching something to all my Aussie readers this week so that will undoubtedly put me in a better mood also. If you’re not an Aussie, don’t be dismayed! There is something for everyone! You will need to follow me on all my social media channels to find out what this exciting news will be.

Just writing that has given me a little bit of a boost!

Now it’s your turn! What’s something you can do this week to improve your current circumstances? Just think of 1 thing. It doesn’t have to be something major, the important thing is that it is achievable.

Every journey, no matter how far, begins with 1 step

the rheuma mill

You can choose to share this by commenting below or contact me! It’s a great way to stay accountable.

Check in

I will be checking in again with you through email. Not so much to see if you have done what you’ve challenged yourself to do but more to genuinely ask:

R U OK?