I don’t know about you I hear the phrase “It’s OK to not be OK” used [perhaps too] often, particularly in the current trouble and strife going on in the world. It’s even spawned a successful Korean drama with the same name and it got me thinking; by saying “It’s OK to not be OK” does that trivialise what mental health issues people are suffering with. Does it mean that by talking about how you’re feeling, you’ve found the cure?
There are many well meaning campaigns which at the root are simply suggesting to people, with mental health issues, that they should talk about it and make others understand. But is that really the answer? What happens if you don’t feel like getting out of bed or eating, never-mind trying to make people understand what you’re going through.
If you’re a regular to my blog you will no doubt have noticed the radio silence from my pages in recent months and that is due to my own mental health issues. I’ve lived with mental health issues since I was a teenager on and off, but it was only when my father died at the end of last year, after a short illness, that sent me into a tail spin and resulted in what can only be described as a meltdown.
Unfortunately, I thought I was coping but it turns out that I really wasn’t. I thought I was looking after myself but again it turns out I wasn’t. I wasn’t sleeping well – in fact I was sleep probably a max of 4 hours a night! I had gained a stone in weight (for the metrics amongst us that’s getting on for 6.5kg). However, almost six months down the line and I am on a much more even footing now. I don’t cry at the drop of a hat now, which was the biggest thing for me. Of course I understand that there is a whole grieving process and I’m in no way trying to play down this at all. And there are still times when I do get anxious and things get on top of me, but I’ve worked on ways that I can deal better with it. I meditate regularly now, rather than when I remember like I used to! I write a journal every evening; sometimes I write about my feelings, other times I document my day. I just like to get it all out before I settle for the night. I watch my diet not in a dieting way – crikey we all know that diets don’t work – if they did the likes Rosemary Conley would be scratching around in the reduced section of the supermarket like the rest of us at the moment not sitting upon a pile of readies. If you don’t know RC is a low fat diet advocate a bit like Jenny Craig and wealthy because of it! Sorry I digress, but that’s for a different post!
Why am I telling you all this? Well, I like to be honest with people and explain myself, for no other reason than my own peace of mind. I’m not going to worry about how you, dear reader, takes any of this news and it’s not for me to worry about that. No, for me the reason I am telling you all of this is because it brings me back to what the quote in this article is all about; it is OK to sometimes not be OK.
This quote to me means honesty. It means putting your hands up and saying “I‘m drowning.” “I can’t cope.” “Today is not a good day.” “I’m not OK today.” By saying this, I feel like I am putting myself back in the driving seat. By saying this, I’m taking control of how I’m feeling. And you can do the same too – but only if you want to. It might not feel like it at the time, but by being honest with myself first and everyone else later, is an important step when dealing with my own mental health.
I guess you might say that the use of this phrase by anyone other than the person who is feeling these feelings could be considered mental health appropriation; especially when it comes from an organisation as part of a well meaning campaign. However, if you are in control of the narrative, and the use of this phrase empowers you, then I say keep on saying it!