TODAY’S THE DAY TO ASK
BE brave and don’t be afraid to share your dark times is the advice of a long-time sufferer of depression.
Today marks national R U OK? Day, a day where everyone is encouraged to check in on friends, family and strangers to see how they’re travelling.
Glenda Riley, who has battled depression for the better part of half a century, said initiatives like R U OK? Day were a great way to touch base with people who might be struggling.
“There’s no shame in saying you’ve got depression or anxiety or things like that,” she said.
Don’t be afraid to say to your friends ‘I'm having a bad day’.
— Glenda Riley
“We live in a really fast, technologically driven world and a lot of people don’t cope with that,” Glenda said.
Diagnosed with depression at age 14, Glenda said having to uproot and be sent off to boarding school was her undoing.
“That’s what triggered it for me.
“But I took a very holistic approach to my illness. Even as a teenager I realised it wasn’t going to go away.
“It was about doing the best I could with what I had.”
An “ahead of his time” doctor put her on meditation and yoga but she found her own coping mechanisms.
“Over the years I've developed a little principle - my RAR principle which stands for recognise, acknowledge and respond.
“Basically don’t be hard on yourself. Sometimes you wake up and think ‘oh this is not going to be a good day’.
“Don’t push it. So you do something to nurture yourself that day. You’ve just got to find those little moments.”
For Glenda it’s photography, which she said “underpins her sanity”.
She said she felt the stigma around mental health issues had certainly dwindled and encouraged people to speak out.
“I’ve got a nursing background so was expected to be okay. Yes it’s affected my life, but I deal with it.
“Don’t be afraid to say to your friends ‘I’m having a bad day’.
“I think if someone is struggling – and we all have our moments, no doubt about that – talk to someone, be that your neighbour, family or GP.
“Don’t push yourself to a point where you’re going to react in a bad way, you’re going to hit the pub and get drunk and stupid or hit drugs and things like that.
“They’re crutches – they’re not going to help you in the end.
“You just have to say ‘this is not a good day’. Don’t let it beat you.”
So today, you don’t need to be an expert, just a great mate and good listener. If you notice someone who might be struggling, start a conversation.
If you’re having a difficult time you can phone Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636, or go to Lifeline’s online chat service at www.lifeline.org.au.
SPEAK UP: Glenda Riley has had her battles with depression and is encouraging people to open up on R U OK? Day.
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