So, yesterday I started a new medication: Venlafaxine. Those of you that have been following my blog and Facebook would be familiar with my battle with depression and anxiety; for my new readers, I have been battling my mental health for most of my life, and it has not been an effortless journey. Prior to transitioning to my new medication today, I was on Sertraline, 100mg. Although this medication was improving my moods, it was not impacting my anxiety. I had moments when I would think about something small, and then with no warning, I would be experiencing low moods, altered breathing and panic. Something had to be done and fast. After speaking with my Occupational Health team at work and my GP, the wheels were in motion for me to trial this new medication.
Now, I understand that living publicly and posting my life stories will open up the floodgates for people to provide negative and unsolicited advice. I get it. Some of you may not agree with medication—you think I should meditate, do yoga, eat better, exercise and all of those other ‘fun’ suggestions that you would like to make to people like me, who, after years of trialling all of those things, have chosen to opt for something that works for them. Oh, let’s not forget the people who say “it’s ok not to be ok” and then in the same breath say “but you have to get it over it, there are people worse off than you”. Listen. I read the news, I see the homeless and less fortunate, and I know that people are fighting battles greater than mine. However, that does not negate my feelings or battles.
“Your situation is bad but“, “Your feelings are valid but“, “Feel how you feel but“, “Be grateful that you have…”. I swear I could finish this list with countless statements I have heard from people over the years. So, is it really ok not to be ok? I have learned that on most occasions, there will always be a but following this statement, sometimes encouraging, others, not so much. We are human, and if you are anything like me, you wear your heart on your sleeve. I am not always going to have a smile pasted on my face, a pep in my step, and have an upbeat song in my heart; sometimes, I will have my low moments, and that is ok.
No buts—your feelings are valid. Give yourself space and permission to feel how you feel. Understand that there is a fine line between embracing and understanding your feelings and wallowing in them; trust me, I have wallowed plenty times. So yes, it is ok not to be ok. You have to learn how to love yourself in spite of these trying, not so pretty times—when your mascara is smudged on your face, and you have an ‘ugly’ cry. Hell yes, it is easier said than done, but with practice, you can do it. I have had my share of shitty moments—life has literally thrown eggs and lemons at me, but I am grateful for each experience because I am who I am because of them.
The buts—It is ok not to be ok, but, do not allow your emotions and current situation(s) to consume you. Yes, allow yourself to experience your emotions; however, it is imperative that you also explore these emotions to work through them. Running away and hiding from these feelings will not magically make them disappear; you cannot run away from what’s within. Now, I am not a specialist; I am merely offering my advice based on what works for me. I have had so many pity parties for myself and watched myself disappear while the emotions consumed me. I can tell you firsthand that this is a perilous spiral to be in, and only you can save yourself in these times. Sure, people can offer you a helping, but you have to be willing to accept it.
Everyone has been thrown a few lemons and eggs; there is nothing to be ashamed of. Albeit, it looks different for everyone, but do not be fooled by the hype. The taboo that is still attached to mental health causes people to suffer alone. Due to being open and honest about my personal battles, I have had people reach out to me to discuss their situations, and I can admit that most times, I was completely shocked because as an outsider looking in, they appear to have it all figured out. But who really has it all figured out… no one.
For years, I was ashamed about not always being ok. I have had women and men (friends, family and strangers) tell me to smile, stop being miserable, it is not that deep, and to get over it. This caused me to sink deeper and hide behind fake masks all in an attempt to please others. Accept who you are. Having a bad day, not being yourself one hundred per cent does not make you any less of a person—you are still you, you’re just not feeling your best.
You are your worst critic!
Have you noticed that when things are not going so great, we tend to pile on the negative thoughts and emotions towards ourselves? Well, my momma told me one day that I am my worst critic, and it is true—the biggest critic you will ever encounter is yourself. Ignore that voice in your head. It really is ok not to be ok. What enhances your mood? For me, it is music, writing and alcohol. I do try not to run straight to alcohol as it is a depressant which can ultimately negatively impact my mood, but again, I am human. Decide what works for you, ideally try to refrain from drowning in alcohol. Determine your support system; when I say support system, I mean people that will not judge you, people that are genuinely understanding and supportive. The people present in our lives are not always capable of providing us with what we need; sometimes, we will need to seek help and support externally. Do not be afraid to seek professional help; it does not make you weak. In fact, in my opinion, it makes you strong because you recognise that you cannot do it alone, and you do not allow your pride or ego to control you.
Is it really ok not to be ok?
Yes, however, be prepared for some buts to arise, and understand that a but does not mean it’s not ok not to be ok. Your process is yours alone. Experiencing low moods and overcoming them looks different for everyone. Be easy on yourself. Do not judge yourself or your individual process. Accept what yours looks like and what works for you.
It is really ok not to be ok—you are human.
Unfortunately, there will always be people who will not understand and of course, those that will judge you. You have no power over them so try not to take it on. Your life is yours. Your story, your journey is yours, not theirs. Every road travelled will not be perfectly paved with no potholes. The scenery will not always be pretty. You will have amazing moments as well as not so great moments; however, each is required in life and will help mould you into the person you are meant to be.
Trust yourself; you are the one that holds the power; it is your life. Take what you need from your experiences and discard the rest. Be strong—you got this.