In today’s society, there is a stigma surrounding mental health. People throw around the word “anxiety” for anything, but when a person has anxiety or depression, they are frowned upon. Something many people fail to consider is that your physical health and your mental health are directly related. Some people say any feeling you have is anxiety, when at least to me that doesn’t work. I feel that not being OK is actually OK, whether you are physically or mentally not OK.
When you are feeling down, I think it is OK to take a sick day or a day just to yourself to get better. When you aren’t at your best mentally, everything else in your life is going to be affected. In my opinion, the best thing to do when you are down is treat it like you are physically sick. Drink lots of fluids, take a lot of naps, and forget about the real world for a day.
It is OK to not be OK, but you also need to identify why you aren’t OK. Are you upset, mad, stressed, anxious, or are you facing a bout of depression? Identifying what you are feeling can be helpful because then you will know what the best thing to do to make it better is.
When I am having a rough go of it, I FaceTime my nieces and nephews or I leave what needs to be done until the next day. I try to find one good thing that happens for every bad thing that happens in one day. Nothing is the same for any two people, but sometimes talking through your feelings and situations are helpful, especially if you and the other person hold differing opinions. This might help you to see what is happening in a different point of view.
The generation currently in college is a lot more understanding about the importance of mental health, but some of the people teaching us or surrounding us might not be so understanding. I have seen people tell professors or some other staff that they are stressed and be met with, “Oh well figure it out,” or, “If you think you are stressed now wait until you get to the real world.” These answers are not OK, and it is sad that people still believe they are.
I am not saying that everyone has this response or that everyone you talk to is going to respond that way, but I think it is important to teach people that it is truly OK to not be OK.
On days when you aren’t OK, embrace that. Listen to your body and your mind—they will tell you what is wrong and what you need to get better. People make it seem like taking a day off for being sick or just for yourself is a crime but sometimes it is exactly what you need.
No one is OK all of the time, and that is something you need to remember. This is not something you should look down upon. In fact, I believe that telling others you aren’t OK is a good thing. Maybe you will be the person that shows others life isn’t perfect. No matter what happens, life will never be perfect and if we can realize this, we will be able to accept it.
Making not being OK normal is something that is going to take a long time, but it isn’t impossible. Eventually admitting to not being OK is going to be normal. So why not start viewing mental health as the illness it is and treating it as such? No one bats an eye when you get a cold, so they should stop treating people who are struggling to keep a positive mindset as someone with a contagious disease.
It is time to change the way people view mental illness. That change starts with us, but it doesn’t end there.