On making connections and staying well
Anxiety has been in my life a long time now. In Getting to know the Two Girls I posted “..when I was about 7, I had toxoplasmosis. I was very sick and off from school for months and months. It was when I first felt anxiety.”  

Mostly it has been a sort of undertow. I have done my best to keep off its course with my own strategies for swimming parallel to the shore.

One or two times in my life it mattered a lot. Full body impact panic. I remember thinking I would not survive it.
I also have had my own run-in with the black dog. I am a gregarious, go-out-and-grab-life-by-the-cojones sort of girl. Imagine my surprise when, after dragging my sorry-arse out of the bed I wanted to stay in and into a daily grind I was loathing, that I realised I was becoming depressed. Fortunately it was a one-off episode resolved by a decision to move on. Most are not that easy to kick.

I am highly strung with a genetic disposition to poor stress management however. Anxiety is my mental health problem of choice. 
The next move I want to make is to say that it has never been a ‘cart me away in a straightjacket and lock me up in a loonie-bin’ sort of anxiety: and therein lies my point.

Forget sex, politics and religion. Mental and emotional health is the last bastion of polite conversation.

Making connections
And there’s the rub. Talking can help diffuse mental and emotional health problems, by normalising them, or by the act of reaching out for help.

That is why The Two Girls reckon ‘R U OK? Day’ is an inspiration. Thursday 13 September 2012 is the second national day of action that promotes the importance of connection between people.
Connection is knowing there are people out there who: reach out; take time to listen; and who have your back. Connection is good for your health.   

For me, having someone name the problem was what was important. Otherwise I would have kept it to myself because I did not really understand what was happening. I also felt I could not disclose what I thought was my failure to cope. For others, connection is more fundamental. It is a lifeline.

So The Two Girls are right behind R U OK? Day. It is hosted on one day but it is about every day because connection is the foundation for wellness and a caring community. 
You do not have to be a superhero or Mother Teresa. You just have to do what is right for you.

We are thinking about how to incorporate the desire for a more caring connected community into every day.

It starts with looking after yourself. 

Last year Amy inspired one of the Two Girls to share her strategies for keeping well and we’re not talking about comfort eating or getting hammered. We’re talking about the things that ground you; get you out of your head and into your body. 

Reaching out to others is the next step.

Reaching out is anything from making someone feel special, like our post Good Will Currency, or having a hard conversation about someone's vulnerability.

Do not underestimate the power of engaging with someone – acquaintances and strangers alike. The message is – I’m interested in you, you matter. 

Notice when someone is not themselves and name it. Find out what is going on for them and be willing to help. It does not cost anything to be nice but it can make, or even save, someone's day.  

You do not have to have all the answers or solve the problem. There are plenty of resources and information available to support you have the conversation and ask someone you are concerned about R U OK?

Here are a few sites that might help you or someone you know.
Beyond Blue
Australian Psychological Society
Black Dog Institute

On Thursday, or any day, ask someone R U OK?