With mental health awareness week having just passed there has been a lot of #itsoktonotbeok floating about on social media. It has been great to see so many people getting involved and sharing the wisdom that it is okay to not be okay. There is extreme pressure on each of us living our lives, especially through social media, to perceive our lives as fantastic, and it feels as though society is saying you should always be happy and that by seeking comfort for your sadness, you are showing weakness, or “worse” – you are seeking attention. We all have good and bad days. It is not humanly possible to be perfectly happy all of the time. For this very reason it has been great to see so many behind the #itsoktonotbeok movement.
As those of you that have read my original blog post will know, I have been undergoing regular counselling sessions for the last 6 months. One thing that she has taught me is to embrace each day as it comes. The good, the bad and the damn right bloody ugly.
Before I started seeing my counsellor I would regularly beat myself up for the down days I would have, where I would be unable to move myself from my pit, festering in my own self-pity and unwashed nastiness, usually in total darkness and silence. It also became quite clear for me that there was a pattern, and if I was to have a really good day, I could expect to experience a really difficult day in the days following it. It was like a crash of emotions, once the effect of the good day had worn off I didn’t know how to balance myself back to my centre and likewise with a really bad day. My mind felt as if it was a pendulum, it would swing from one side to another, the higher it reached on one side, the higher it would swing to the other side, my pendulum of emotions would swing from ecstatic to really depressed and anxious at the click of a finger. It was like a constant rollercoaster of emotions, and it was bloody exhausting.
The more I considered this theory the more it made sense to me. For me it is not just learning that it is okay to not be okay, but it is also to learn that it is okay to simply just be okay. There is such pressure for us to feel anything more than okay. When we are asked by our friends and peers how we are and we reply “I’m okay” it is received as having some kind of negative connotation, it is usually followed with “is everything alright?” (a question posed to you with a tilted head and a look of concern) which leads to you explaining why you are not “great” or “fantastic”, and results in you having to consider the negatives of your life in order find an explanation (which in turn can lead to you moving from okay to not okay). Why can’t “I’m okay” be a satisfactory response? Why is it that society expects you to either be at one end of the pendulum or the other, and not slap bang in the middle, and simply just “okay”?
I have realised that my soul and mind needs a centred and balanced position, and the chances are we all do. I need my “okay” days. Some days it can take serious patience and will to control my pendulum, but by practicing more mindfulness it is much easier to achieve. I now know that when I have a really good day, I am prepared to have to work harder to bring the balance back. Likewise when I have a particularly bad day I know that a little more self care and love is needed to bring me back to my balance, and that is fine too.
I guess, to conclude, what I am trying to share with you is:
- It is okay to not be okay
- It is okay to be more than okay
- And finally it is okay to just be okay