R U OK?Day

Written by Jordan Papandrea 

R U OK day is about empowering everyone to connect with people around them and support anyone struggling in life. We have all experienced some kind of struggle in our lives, whether big or small, but the impact that it has on us is important regardless. It may not be just one event in particular, but rather an accumulation of events that we learn to deal with over time and eventually gets the better of us. That’s why it’s important to surround ourselves with people who can help and support us when we experience hard times. Being an athlete, we tend to experience many times of struggles within our sport as well as other day-to-day difficulties. 

About a year and a half ago I broke my leg in one of the first gymnastics competitions of the year. The next day I had surgery and had 6 pins and a plate put into my leg. This metalwork would then stay in my leg for the next year. 

When you look at this injury on its own, it wasn’t that bad. I was still healthy, still able to walk (after recovery) and I was still able to continue doing the sport I love so much. Although, this accident didn’t happen in isolation. The thing that made this time so difficult for me was that it was coupled with the stressors of all other parts of my life. This event had now changed how I went to University, went to work, hung out with my friends and girlfriend, trained in the gym and importantly changed the direction of my sporting goals that year. The weight of this injury and the implications it had only increased the longer time went on.

It would be hard to say that only one person was there for me because it was rather a collection of people. My girlfriend and family are some of the most important people to me and were there every step of the way. Without them, this process of recovering would have been very difficult, and I am so thankful for them.

What surprised me was how much of an impact it made when someone unexpected offered me a hand and checked to see how I was going. When these people checked in on me, it made me feel connected and supported on a much larger scale. I felt I had support from people in many parts of my life and knowing this motivated me to keep moving forward.

When looking back on the past few years of my life, I know how much it meant when people asked if I was okay and if I needed help. It has made me think twice when I see someone in a difficult time or even when someone looks as though they are fine.

I have just recently broken my leg again. I know that a tough time lies ahead with many uncertainties. I will make sure to utilise the people around me and to connect with people who are in a similar situation, and ask if they are okay.

My situation only involves a broken leg, but for some, it might be a broken relationship or something larger than that. I believe that these conversations do save lives. So next time, make sure to not underestimate the power of just asking someone if they are okay.