It’s okay not to be okay – we’ve heard it so many times before, but it still doesn’t seem to resonate, nor does the mental health stigma evaporate quick enough.
We’re in a digital age where everything picks up speed faster than Usain Bolt; we’re quite literally living life in the fast lane, yet our mental health and wellbeing are expected to keep up with us. Then, all of a sudden, the year is 2020 and everything comes to a standstill – it’s severely mind-muddling (Google informed me that this was the polite way of saying it…)
I, for one, can admit that I have struggled with lockdown 3.0 far more than its predecessors, whether it’s a bad old case of SAD, or because it’s just downright difficult to thrive during a global pandemic. In the past (last week), admitting that I’m not okay is something I have always really struggled with; I’ve always hidden behind a company page, a fictional character. Being true to myself is something I have had to work hard on.
Sometimes, hearing the phrase, “it’s okay not to be okay” is all I need to pick myself up whilst I work from home with an almost threenager pulling my hair. Other times, I wonder why the hell people are quoting My Chemical Romance at me in 2021 and want to crack on with wallowing in my own self-pity. It’s such an emotional roller coaster.
So, here’s the confusing part. I love my job, I have an incredible family, I am extremely grateful for what I have, and I have perspective. But guess what? I’m still not okay right now. It’s what makes me human during an extremely challenging time.
Accepting to yourself that you’re not okay, is such an important first step. it’s all a part of your own personal journey. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “we’re all in the same boat”. I know to a point that is true, however, I equally believe that how we feel is completely individual. Sometimes all we actually need is for someone to listen. It’s important to give yourself permission to not be okay, and to know that your feelings are and will always be completely valid.
Making a positive change can be difficult, but a little push in the right direction from an employer, perhaps, could make the world of difference to someone’s mental health. I am extremely lucky to work for a company that emphasises the importance of mental health and wellbeing. From mental health first aider check in calls, to signposting appropriate support from Bristol Mind. That said, I’m well aware that others are not always afforded that same luxury in the workplace.
In my time of need, I have found comfort in some advice on how to stay positive during lockdown from a wise leader and friend, Charmaine Vincent:
The point is, when you’re having a bad day, or you get a constant cycle of things going wrong, it’s not about admitting defeat and it’s certainly not a weakness. If anything, admitting you’re not okay to yourself and to others, takes a colossal amount of strength and you deserve a massive round of applause for being so courageous.
When you’ve lost your way, sometimes, all you need is that little push in the right direction. But even then, there is no rush to overcome your feelings, you just need to own them, as they are yours to own – It’s okay not to be okay.
Without the lows, we do not value the highs as much. We can all fall apart, and we can all pick ourselves up again, we just have to be motivated to take action and look after our mental fitness.
In a world where you can be anything, be kind – especially to yourself.
There is light at the end of the tunnel. It will definitely get brighter one of these days.Help and support is available all-year round from Mind.