It's Okay to Not Be Okay

I never imagined writing about mental health because I don't like reading about it, but I knew that I had to when I realized why I avoided such articles. Nobody talks about the bad days and, more importantly, why they are okay.

Social media is dangerous, and none of us want to admit it, including and especially me. It has developed from a platform where we would share our daily lives with friends and family to a battle ground of competitions over the best post of the day.

In reality, nobody can be reduced to the perfection of their Instagram feeds. Even if we know this logically, it is easy to forget how an online persona is perfectly crafted on a particuarly rough day when instagram models appear to have their lives together. Nobody posts their bad moments online, creating a lack of relatability and increased isolation.

When mental health is discussed, quick fixes are the focus. "Just forget about it" is a phrase often heard on campus due to the stigma surrounding mental health problems. Although mental health problems originate in the brain, they cannot be simply rectified by "forgetting", and telling somebody who suffers from such an issue that they need to simply "not care" does more harm than good.

Pretending that you are okay can make your mental health worse in the long run. There is real danger in pretending that you are okay if you are not, and there should be no need to paint a perfect picrture every day and deny feelings of sadness, anxiety, or insecurity. In fact, hiding your emotions can increase already present feelings of isolation.

Allowing yourself to feel is not weak, and "wallowing" is an unnecessarily negative term used to define an individual who is comfortable enough to express the truth of their life. There are simply days that allowing yourself to feel upset is completely healthy, and there are ways to cope during those days.

 

Distraction

Distracting yourself is not the same as burying emotions. It is possible to acknowledge struggles while putting forth an effort to make your day easier. This can include putting on your favorite TV show, talking to a friend, or simply just sitting outside. 

Meditation

Stay balanced. There is absolutely no way to say this without sounding cliche and washed up, I don't mean breathing techniques from Pinterest. True meditation requires setting aside at least 10 minutes every day to mentally push yourself and take in all of the energy around you- observing each detail and essentially becoming one with your surroundings to a certain extent. You realize that everything is an interconnected system and you are a part of it. The more you practice, the better you become at regulating your mentality and being able to slip in and out of a harmonious meditative state.  

Don't Shame Yourself for Feeling Down

Recovery is not linear. One day might be amazing, but the next, it could feel like you're back at your starting point. Mental health progress is not, and should not be, measurable. Each person's journey is different, and nobody's journey is picture-perfect, but it is yours.

Get into a Routine

This could be anything. If all you accomplish one day is walking around the block, that is absolutely okay. The important thing is to establish a constant to ground your daily activities and stabilize yourself.

Recognize Your Feelings

Genuinely think about and acknowledge everything you are thinking. You are not weak for allowing yourself to be impacted by another person's actions or your own thoughts. Make peace with the way you feel because life is a combination of good and bad experiences. Take refuge in the fact that your experiences are valid, and you do not have to suffer alone.

I really don't want to be that person who says "it will pass" but, it's going to get better. Writing about mental health is difficult because each person has a unique experience with it. The amount of stigma surrounding mental illness has always astonished me. There is no middle-ground between articles containing medical jargon and tacky blog posts about how making a cup of tea will cure your problems.

At the end of the day, there is no quick fix or simple cure, but it needs to become okay to acknowledge our struggles openly instead of pretending they don't exist.

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