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Rhyse Forrestal, Dearnne Callaghan and Donna Apps

RHYSE Forrestal has had his fair share of ups and downs. Like many with a disability he has dealt with discrimination, disappointment and struggles with his self-worth.

It was those dark times though when he “couldn’t see the forest for the trees” that he realised he wasn’t OK and took steps to change the status quo.

“They say madness is doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result,” said a very candid Rhyse.

“So I started to immerse myself in things that interested me like acting and looking for a job (which in time I managed to find one).

“Those conscious decisions to look at life differently, seek advice and help and try new things I had previously been afraid of changed everything for me,” he said.

Rhyse soon went from his constantly down state to suddenly feeling so much better about himself, his prospects and life in general.

“I still have some bad days but they aren’t as common as they used to be,” he said.

“Acting especially has given me a positive outlet and allowed me to meet new people.

“As they say in Shawshank Redemption – you’re either busy living or busy dying,” he said.

Now Rhyse has taken upon himself to be an ambassador for R U OK Day which is held on September 12 every year.

“I think it’s important we ask people if they are okay,” he said.

“Someone asked me and it changed my life.

“Someone asking R U OK? (Are you okay?) can have the power to positively impact a persons life in ways most would never know.”

With Australia having among the highest suicide rates (especially among males) in the world never has R U OK held so much relevance.

“I had endless questions and was in a dark place,” said Rhyse.

“Feeling like you don’t belong anywhere is isolating and scary – being alone is different to being lonely and misunderstood.

“A measure of who we are of a society is how we treat our most vulnerable so whatever you do just ask someone if they are OK.

“They may not show or exhibit all the signs but you never know what someone is going through,” said Rhyse.

To get involved in R U OK Day check out this link or simply start asking people are they OK. Those simple few words can make a world of difference.