When I hear the statement “it’s okay to not be okay,” sometimes I’m really grounded by it. What I’m feeling has been validated and no one told me to just get over it. Or, worse yet, has offered advice when I really just wanted to rant. (The perks of working with so many social workers.)
Other times, though, I’m so confused.
What the #@&% does that even mean?
Why do I have to be told its okay to not be okay?
Is there a maximum level of not okay feelings before it is not considered okay anymore?
These are the thoughts I have when my attitude is on level 13 because my anxiety is on level 20 (all of which are on a scale that is supposed to be 1-10). This is what runs through my mind when someone asks “how are you” and I really want to say “sad af” or “really anxious,” but I don’t. Instead, I say some version of “I’m okay” as that’s what is expected of me (by both myself and society).
It’s okay to not be okay really breaks down to these few, impactful things:
- Your emotions and feelings are VALID.
- You are allowed to feel things that aren’t just happiness.
- You are not a burden. I pinkie promise.
But if this is the case, you may be wondering, why do I still avoid telling people I’m not okay? Why is saying we’re okay the expectation?
I avoid telling people because sometimes I forget that sadness is not the opposite of self-love. I want people to know that I have all the self-confidence and showing my sadness makes me feel vulnerable to others’ opinions.
That’s right. Letting yourself feel emotions besides happiness does not mean you love yourself less. In fact, owning your emotions will make you love yourself even more! Plus, it shows others how brave it is to share your feelings, good or bad.
If you didn’t know that or forget like me, that’s okay too. The stigma surrounding speaking out about personal mental health experiences is so dominating that it can push out all logic.
No person can be happy 24/7. It’s not human and it’s an impossible standard to try to achieve. So beyond “it’s okay to not be okay,” it’s also perfectly natural to feel sadness and frustration and irritability. Happiness is just one of many emotions we are meant to feel every day.
So my friends, let’s try a little harder to remember that we are allowed to feel whatever emotions come to us. Also, we should remember to treat ourselves with the same kindness we treat others with when they have those emotions that are not happiness.
You may note that I did not answer my final question: is there a maximum level of not okay feelings before it is not considered okay anymore?
The answer is this: it depends on you. Depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions can affect anyone. Sometimes life and feelings can become too difficult to handle alone. Please reach out for help if your feelings become overwhelming, you experience them for multiple days in a row, or they begin to impact your ability to function as you normally would.
Family Service of Roanoke Valley Intake Office: (540)563-5316 x. 3014
If you are in an emergency or crisis, please call 911 or one of these hotlines:
Carilion CONNECT: (540)981-8181
Lewis-Gale RESPOND: (540)776-1100
Blue Ridge Behavioral Health Walk-In Clinic: (540)266-9200