It’s OK to not feel OK


Last week one of our regular followers, by way of a comment on Backchat, brought up the fact that they had been having a bit of a tough time of things of late. Their comment below struck a chord with me.

The observant among you may have noticed I’ve been very quiet recently.

When things are bad I go into my little world and try not to let the world see that everything is not ok, but this exactly the kind of behaviour we need to stop. Hiding doesn’t help.

My employer recently began a new initiative: ‘It’s ok to not be ok’ but we all know that hashtags and slogans have never saved anyone. If only I believed that those sons of unwed mothers actually meant it.

It really is ok to not be ok, and it really is ok to talk about it.

Better mental health people.?end quote.

This comment struck a chord with me because I know what this Oiler does for a job and I know how hard it is.

The comment reminded me of some of the tough times I went through while I was a cop, for I too have suffered at times with depression.

For a large part of my career, I was part of the Serious Crash Unit. As such I would be on call every third week and would generally be called out in the middle of the night at least twice a week to deal with serious and fatal crashes. I have attended hundreds of these and seen most every imaginable carnage you can think of from drowned babies to people being burned alive.

As you can imagine, it does your head in. I have twice been diagnosed with P.T.S.D. The first time I was fortunate to have a Sergeant who recognised that my behaviour was changing and arranged for me to see the Police psychologist. The second time was actually after I left the Police. It is amazing how you battle on while you are in the job, attending gruesome scenes week after week, dealing with the families, scraping up dead people etc. I found I could compartmentalise most things and look at scenes from a scientific point of view looking at who did what, how did things happen etc. It was only after I left the force that I realised how screwed up I was.

It is apparent from the Oiler?s comment above that there is at least recognition from their employers that their staff may need help occasionally. This is good. It is also apparent that the employer may be part of the problem. It certainly was with me, but what I found out was that there was help out there. I just needed to ask, or at least have someone who knew which direction to point me.

To this end, I feel it is appropriate to acknowledge the Police Union for the positive assistance that they can give people in this situation. We regularly give the Police Association grief here on Whaleoil and I have no issue with that, but they do sometimes do good work and do actually look after their members who are struggling to cope.

In my case, my medical specialist bills were paid for by the union, even though I had already left the Police and was no longer a member. So I hope that the Oiler?s employers ?It?s ok to not be ok? programme is utilised and I hope that they and other staff take advantage of it to get any assistance that they might need.

We all show our stress in different ways, our Oiler says they sometimes go into their own little world and hide away so the world can?t see that everything is not ok. I tended to go quiet with my family and get grumpy all the time. When feeling particularly down I would often feel quite overwhelmed and not be able to face the day. I would stop doing the things that I previously enjoyed. Once you get into a funk it can be very hard to come out of it.

But everyone is different, in the same backchat post, another Oiler wrote;

?I really do wonder how some people manage to function in life, you know, just dealing with the ordinary stuff. Had a lady turn up an hour early for appointment the other day when she had checked time she was due beforehand and even had it written down.? end quote.

Even something like this could be a sign of depression. Sometimes even dealing with simple everyday tasks can be problematic, (or she may just be going through menopause!)

So if you are finding life a bit tough, or are feeling a bit down, rest assured it?s really pretty normal for people, it?s how you deal with it that matters. In my case I found simply chatting with a psychologist was quite effective. Some people see great results through medication, some people just need a little sunlight and a nice walk on the beach. I wonder what things work for other people? Perhaps some may share their experiences in the comments.

But our gentle Oiler is absolutely right when they say hiding doesn?t help, and that it really is ok to talk about it. Most of us have been there at some point in our lives, so start the conversation. And if we see a friend who we might think is a bit down, engage with them, empathise with them, listen to them, you may just save that person?s life.

And if all else fails, just remember. Always look on the bright side of life!