Started by Gavin Larkin after the suicide of his father, Barry, R U OK? is a simple but profound question to ask.
Am I ok? Thanks for asking. Most days are now better than others, much better. I had a wobble a few weeks ago, but writing about 10 simple things that bring me joy helped me to remember that I am not my thoughts. But when your thoughts are all persuasive and life is hard, sometimes it’s difficult to separate the two.
Eckhart Tolle had his spiritual awakening when in the pit of despair he said; “I cannot live with myself.” He realised that the ‘I’ and ‘Myself’ in that one sentence were different, distinct entities. I remember reading A New Earth on the train to and fro London. My book is heavily underlined, flagged, bashed round the edges from being stuffed in and out of my tote bags; to some it’s a book damaged beyond repair; to me, it’s priceless. It was the first of many books I’ve read that helped heal me from the wreckage of my first marriage, where I used to drive along the A303 gripping my steering wheel tightly, because some nights it would have been all too easy to turn it too far.
If you’re diabetic and take insulin, no biggie. If you’re in the middle of an infection, you take antibiotics, no biggie. If you break something, you get a cast put on, no biggie. But if your brain, our most complex organ that is recognised we don’t know very much about is damaged, or overwhelmed, people run in fear. Yet it’s estimated one in four people will struggle with mental illness during their lifetime. One in four.
We live such different lives from even our parents’ generation. We’ve got access to more information from our phones than Da Vinci could get access to in a lifetime. The Enlightenment is one of my favourite periods of history; the scientific, cultural, technological and sociological leaps that came out of it were incredible, but pale into insignificance to the information we’re bombarded with daily.
If someone you know is struggling with life; information overload, or they’ve two or three huge things going on at once (moving house, illness, bereavement, divorce, job / work issues), reach out to them. Not just today, but whenever you think they might need to be checked in on.
But don’t to forget to look after you too, because you can’t give what you don’t have. Put yourself at the top of your list, R U OK?