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It’s Okay Not To Be Okay: Depression & College

I woke up this morning, took a hot shower, got dressed in a pair of jeans and a sweater, looked outside to see the snow falling, put on my winter boots, walked to the cafe to grab a coffee, and went back to my dorm room to ideally begin some homework.  I sat there, my computer open with several to-do Canvas tabs, reminding me of all the homework that needs to be completed, and as I looked outside to the cold weather I realized — today, I’m not okay.  I don’t think it’s my depression, and I don’t know of anything bad that has happened to me.  My boyfriend loves me, my grades aren’t perfect but I know I’m doing my best, and all of my plants on my windowsill are alive — and that’s all amazing, and I should be happy.  But, if someone asked me, to be honest about how I’m doing, I don’t know what I’d tell them. 

Do I tell them the truth, that I’m not feeling okay?  Is it really so harmful to be honest about how I’m feeling?  Do I have to be okay all the time, and if I’m not, then do I fake it?  And if I fake it, do I lie to them about how I’m feeling? 

It’s hard to pretend to the world that everything is okay when the best thing would be having some alone time in your room, with a cup of hot chocolate, and an emotional book that you can pour everything into.  Whether there is a reason or not, sometimes waking up on any side of the bed makes it that much more challenging to go into the world with a smile.  Sometimes it’s impossible.  So, why would you fake it?  Why would you lie to your peers, or friends, or even yourself that everything is fine?  Why is that okay?

The stigma around feelings seems to connotate weakness when really it should be the opposite.  Calling out for help, or using a friend’s shoulder to cry on takes a lot more bravery than standing in front of people showing off a half-assed smile.  Stress is emotional, life is a roller coaster that can only be semi-maintained, and with more than seven billion people on this planet, you are not alone.  I’m not saying, be down all the time, or encouraging you to drown your friends with your tears.  I am, however, encouraging you to stay in touch with your emotions and be honest.  Reflect, accept, and don’t be afraid.  Like I said, you are not alone.  We are all human.

Emotions, feelings, ups and downs and sideways are all part of being human.  We aren’t all perfect, as much as we’d love to be a superhero with shatter-proof armor and rock hard abs, we do have emotions, and feelings, and rough patches.  It doesn’t mean that it is all hard because there are amazing moments; we must remember that we should take a moment to understand and accept that not-so-good-kinda-sad-moments just as often as we take in the awesome-yell-to-the-sky-happy moments.  The good and the bad are equals, so we should treat them as such.  We should take a moment with ourselves, with our friends, with our family, to be honest, and to allow our emotions to come out.  It’s okay to not be okay.  We are all human, and we all have bad times.  There doesn’t have to be a reason, feelings need no explanation, all they need is someone to acknowledge they are there. 

It’s okay not to be okay.

Hi, I'm Jamie Claire, a Gender Studies and Strategic Communications double major at the University of Utah.  I am a feminist, writer, and photographer.  I love social justice advocacy, and believe that all persons deserve rights and privileges.  I believe in equity and equality.  I love writing, because I love relating and helping people through the use of language.  I love photography, because sometimes understanding the world from a different perspective is healthy and is where you find the answers to life. 
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