So about a month ago I wrote a blog about the guy from the apartment below us and how he very sadly commit suicide. One of the things I didn’t point out in this blog was that we live in very nice area of town, and generally everyone seems of a happy disposition – healthy, outdoorsy and friendly. So it was very shocking to have this happen and just goes to show that we really can’t know how people are feeling or what they’re experiencing unless two things happen…

1. They tell you

2. You ask them.

And of course, the second one has to generally come first and is the most important part really.

Someone in my very close family suffers from bi-polar and I wasn’t aware of it until about two years ago. I know all too well the pain and suffering it has caused him, not just because he told me but because there were times in my childhood when I saw this suffering. Yet, I saw it through a child’s eyes and I wasn’t able to process it as it was something I could not recognise or somehow place. It was just something that happened. Now, removed from innocence and knowing the world through an adult’s eyes I have been directly told by this person that he suffers this condition and it all makes sense. But it doesn’t make me rest any easier.

Do you know what’s bad about that is that it took a label for me to really get to that point. Without that label, without saying “I have Bi -Polar”, I will hold my hands up and say that this person’s behaviour sometimes made me really question whether I should walk away. And I don’t mean walk away completely – I could never do that, but just during those harder times, questioning whether I was able to help, or whether they really did just want to be left alone. I felt at times I should just remove myself and not burden them with my own needs and wishes, and in a sense with my love. And selfishly, I guess I yearned for that person to just NOT be like that. Which seems an awful thing to think… but it was so that we could all be happy.

For the record, this relative has overcome the extremities of this condition and now lives a contented life with less ups and downs. Thank goodness, for his pain is automatically mine.

But yes, having a label removed the doubts you have about how to have a relationship with this person. Suddenly you know just to be there, just to check in, just to love and just to laugh… together.

Today is R U OK day… and that isn’t necessarily about people suffering with depression but about making sure you remember to ask anyone you know or anyone you love “Are you OK?”. People can be not OK for tonnes of reasons and on various different scales – it might be they are really not confident in their workplace or it might be that they are dealing with a divorce. If the terrible situation with our ex-neighbour teaches us anything,  it’s that on this day, and every day, this question is so important to ask.

I also saw this blog today from one of the blogs I follow  – serendipitysmiles.com – it’s kind of apt. And here is the image she uses:


R U OK? If not, tell me about it… I might not be able to help, but I can definitely listen.


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