It’s ok not to be ok……. It’s ok not to be ok,….. It really is ok not. To. Be. Ok!…….
It doesn’t seem to matter how many times I say this, somehow I still find I put pressure on myself to be more positive, to ‘get over it’, to be brave, to be the person everyone wants/needs me to be……
Mental health is something I never understood until I experienced it for myself. As a teenager I used to see my dad struggling with S.A.D and wonder why he couldn’t just pull himself out if it. I would find myself becoming so annoyed with what I perceived to be a ‘woe is me’ attitude. As a young adult I would hear friends discussing this black hole, or read the ‘black dog’ analergy, and just want to give them all a slap really! I mean I was polite (I hope?!) and listened to them, but in my head I just didn’t get it! I mean come on, they had families around them, money was ok, they had somewhere to put their head at night, & their physical health was ok…. I didn’t view it as anything other then something in their heads, they just needed to ‘hurry up and get over’!
Until it was my turn.
It wasn’t til I got postnatal depression, that for the first time I began to understand. Even then it took time as I felt it was ok for me, I had an ‘excuse’ of a difficult & traumatic birth of a poorly preemie. It wasn’t really til after the counselling, when I was starting to feel better that it kinda dawned on me. Like a light bulb going off in my head, followed by emense guilt and shame at how I had treated others who had felt just like this!
Time has passed and I have come along way since then, with close friends & family struggling with various mental illnesses, from a breakdown to bipolar, to depression. But as much as I have done my best to be there for them, to listen, not to put pressure on them, again it wasn’t until my own issues this year I have learnt so much more about what it truly means, and how it feels to struggle with mental health.
For the first time in my life I had anxiety, I struggled to come to terms with my friends death, then it was like being swollowed up by a big black hole. It didn’t matter what I knew to be right or wrong, that I had a loving family around me, it was about the way I felt every morning and every night…(See my last blog ‘enough‘)
I guess part of it for me is having to face my own mortality, to deal with what my physical health is throwing at me, what drs are saying is likely to happen, at the same time trusting in God as he’s seen me through so many times and proved the drs wrong…right?! The idea of my kids growing up without me is horrific, yet something I have had to face, but how do you face that, whilst holding on to the promises God has given, preparing for the worst, whilst hoping for the best?!?! Then feeling like one big drama queen for putting my family through all this..?!?!
Today is World Mental Health Awareness Day. My dad isn’t here any more, but I wish he was so I could tell him all I have since learnt a lot about mental health, and apologise for some the the things this once know-it-all teenager said!
We may not have been through it ourselves, but we can all be there for our family, friends, & colleges. We can read up to be able to spot the signs, and just be there for them, or point them in the right direction to access help (usually a gp initially.) Acknowledge how they’re feeling and what they’re going through, even if you just don’t get it and please whatever you do, don’t tell us to ‘get over it’, to ‘be positive’, or ‘how luky we are’ etc!
Mental health can affect anyone and everyone, at any time- no matter your class, status, gender, age & what you have or haven’t been through in life.
We all want to get to a place where we feel ok, but in a world where we are constantly shown images of the ‘perfect’ bodies, mothers, families, kids, meals, homes, lives, etc without realising we can compare ourselves, and before we know it, we’ve put pressure on ourselves to try to conform to that, I mean if this random lady on insta can do it, why can’t I??… But it’s often not real, or at least we are only seeing a snapshot, you know that one, perfect family photo, when the other 20 taken were rubbish!?
We need to give ourselves a break, and remember it’s ok not to be ok…. I’m a slow learner -but I’m getting there- (maybe I need it printed on a t-shirt?!)
Its. Ok. Not. To. Be . Ok.