Are you okay? Such a simple question, but often the simple answer we give in reply is far from the loaded one we keep to ourselves. How often do you say “I’m okay” but really you aren’t? Really you’re an emotional mess, badly stitched together by the need to present yourself as ‘okay’ to the general public? I know I’ve done it plenty of times.
For some, May has arrived with bank holidays, good weather, BBQs, Birmingham Pride and good vibes, as people begin to feel excited for summer ahead. For others, it has been a month of raising awareness for Mental Health, creating opportunities for dialogue around a subject that is usually quite taboo.
I’ve always assumed that the general greeting “How are you?” doesn’t actually carry a hint of sincerity, it’s just something polite we say to people when we speak because we’re nice like that. Because, let’s face it, if we were to answer that question honestly, would the other person be ready? Do they really want to know? Are you willing to take that risk? But then, I know when I ask, I genuinely mean it, I’m genuinely prepared for the alternative answer, but I’ve figured out there is a barrier.
The idea of not being okay and having to confess to somebody is very daunting. It could a be pride, or a lack of trust, no self belief or sometimes we just don’t have the vocabulary to describe exactly how we’re feeling in a way that person will fully understand. And sometimes, mostly all the time, how you’re feeling doesn’t seem major enough to actually share it with somebody and nobody wants to be seen as ungrateful, right? For me, until recently, it is almost like admitting failure. Especially when I don’t have anything identified as the catalyst for how I’m feeling. I’ve felt pretty low at times but I can’t pinpoint why. I’ve kept it to myself a lot, carried on regardless but it becomes increasingly difficult to hide from the people who know me best. I’m not one for opening up, not really, but I gave it a start, publically, in my post Living with Anxiety and Depression. The hope is that you will feel comfortable in doing the same.
Take this post as a gentle reminder that it is okay to not be okay. It is okay to express yourself and be honest with the people you love, but mostly yourself, about how you’re feeling. I know it can be hard to convey the details of your emotional and mental wellbeing, laying yourself out in the open and toying with vulnerability, but isn’t it worth a try? If you love yourself, you’ll take that step because you love yourself. If you don’t, that alone should be incentive alone to start.
Speak up. Speak out. Speak truthfully. Are you okay?
Featured image: Alex