It's Okay

*This is a mental health piece and discusses depression. If you need help please go seek it and if you ever feel in a position of self-harm, let a friend know so you can get the treatment you need*

It’s okay.

Two words, one meaning, one effect. Ever since I was a young child, I have always sought refuge in words of acceptance. I mean, think about it: Whenever you accidentally spilt a cup of apple juice on the kitchen table, what would your mother tell you? “Oh honey, it’s okay.” Two simple words that would reinvent my view of the world, and how I would handle future situations. Unfortunately, my love for such a neutral, yet comforting phrase, did not shape how I handle my battles today. 

I am a sensitive human being. 

I feel emotion in the way a sponge soaks up water, in the way a starved child views a hamburger, in the way that a crazed person takes their medicine. I live in and breathe in emotion. Of course, it is not such a bad thing to be so emotional. I can attribute my ability to empathize with my companions, to my gift of feeling emotions so intensely to the point that I physically become them. That's not to say that I can cry on cue, smile in the snap of your fingers, curse you out in every language – no. I am merely a linguist who lacks the ability to translate their emotions into words. For people like me, we don’t know what neutral means. I don’t know what it is like to not feel, or to not be able to feel. I could never imagine myself in a world where I would be able to block out every emotion hurtling towards me at lightning speed. Most importantly, I don’t want to live in a world where I cannot relate, I cannot be sympathetic, I cannot listen.

But at the same time I cannot handle living in a world where I feel much more than I can handle.

Yet here I find myself, once again lost in an ocean incarcerated with the blood of rampant feelings.  

I began resenting the fact that I could feel at a very young age. In fact, I can even tell you the exact age. I was 10, and I was in the 5th grade. The hard fact is that I did not like my younger self. She was always sad because she always felt too much to the point of insanity. She would cry herself awake, cry herself to sleep, every single comment, every single critique. Everything scared her, offended her, broke her. It impacted both her and the people around her. No one could joke with her for fear that she would cry, no one could play with her for fear that she would fall – no one, anyone. They were all gone. Emptiness was never a stranger to her; in fact, it was her friend. That is until she found out that her friend was never really her friend. Actually, never really there at all.

When I turned 13, I decided to build my walls of steel. The walls were impenetrable, well-guarded so that no one could get in, but most importantly so that no one could come out. I began to internalize everything that I felt, every complaint, every critique, never batting an eye towards adversity so that in the end I wouldn’t get hurt, and no one around me would complain. Little did I realize that too much error and too little trial would take bits of me with it, and one by one, I swallowed every bite of failure whole. 

Hitting 17, I was now in a state of depression. Medically diagnosed, self-induced, self-proclaimed, self this, self that – everything was about me, me, me – I was the one who was misguided, too weak for her own good, and a deer in headlights. 

Slowly, I reverted back into my 13-year old self, then soon to my 10-year-old self. Here I was yet again, Emptiness my only friend. I felt too much to the point that I exhausted my capacity to feel. Life became dull and tasteless. Friends were hard to keep, education was worthless, family was broken – I had no more reason to feel anymore. 

I remember bending down and crying on the bathroom floor, to face the monster I had created. Every day I saw her, staring into a mirror of shattered glass, the punches of confinement far too strong to withhold. With all the strength I had left, I marched myself into the arms of therapy and medicine. Day after day, pill after pill, I swallowed my pride, my life’s-savings, and quenched the thirst of insanity with medical diagnosis. 

But then I met my therapist.

People tend to shy away from the idea of a therapist for the same reason that I would not walk to a stranger and share my life’s-story with them: we don’t know them. But I found myself still handing over my brokenness to a tinker without motive. 

With two phrases, she managed to erase 7 years’ worth of trauma.  

“I don’t know what to say.”

 

“You don’t have to say anything, it’s okay.” 

 

“It’s okay,” two words, one meaning, one effect. The most neutral words, not so neutral after all, reinvented my views of empathy. 

 

Empathy is a two-way path. It is not singularly being able to feel the struggles of our counterparts, but it also includes being able to feel our own personal struggles.

 

It is the rule of care.

 

It is the rule of compassion.

 

It is the rule of acceptance, that not everything is meant to be saved for last.

 

It is the idea that how you feel should be put first. That is should be considered in the same way we would feel for another.