Stop telling me it’s okay to not be okay, okay?

“Hi guys, I know things are hard right now, but, we’re all in this together, right? You got this, you’re enough and remember it’s okay not to be okay, okay?”

I know they’re only trying to be helpful and saying things without really seeing the point, but can we stop churning out the same handful of trite hashtags without fully grasping what it is we’re actually saying, please?

“It’s okay not to be okay, guys.”

Is it? Is it truly okay to not be okay?

Unless we’re talking, ya know, down in the dumps, can’t be arsed to get out of our pyjamas for a few days, eating more cheese on toast than is strictly necessary and doom scrolling Instagram all day, type not okay?

But ya know, beyond that; ew gross, you’re actually ill? You’ve forgotten when you last showered or changed out of those leggings? Your diet has consisted of your meds and maybe, if you’re lucky, a stone cold cup of milky tea from a few hours ago (that took all your energy to make)? You spend your time staring blankly at walls with dead eyes, ugly crying or sleeping the pain away?

IT’S OKAY NOT TO BE OKAY, GUYS.

No. It’s not okay. It’s completely beyond okay.

Can we stop normalising mental ill health in the sense that it’s just something we have to endure?

There was colouring in, there was mindfulness, meditation, there’s self-care, there’s gratitude journals, bullet journals, shit, there’s baking or running or learning how to cross-stitch, and yes, along with correct treatment and care and support can all help you, but the latest mental health related fad and that alone will not cure your common garden variety of depression (other mental illnesses are available, kids).

Whether that care and treatment is therapy (CBT, DBT, pychotherapy, one to one, group, the list goes on), medication (SSRI’s, SNRI’s, antidepressants, antipsychotics, mood stabilisers, or indeed, like me, a complex mixture of the lot, spaced carefully throughout the day) social support from family and friends, if you’re lucky enough to have them of course, an understanding GP and / or a psychologist or again, a tricky-to-craft cocktail of all of the above, then yeah, you might feel well enough to grab your New Balance’s and go for a jog around the block, dodging the discarded blue surgical masks in the street like a dystopian version of hop-scotch.

What I’m saying is, if half of your leg was going green for instance, something tangibly wrong that you could see, would you bake a loaf of sourdough to make it better? Would you write down everything you have to be grateful for (YOU WILL BE GRATEFUL, DAMMIT) even though, ya know, your leg’s falling off a bit?

I’m kind of hoping you wouldn’t.

So why do we placate ourselves with twee little sayings when our minds are falling apart? Why do we chuck out these platitudes rapid fire, as if not only are we desperately trying to convince ourselves, but everyone clicking through our stories or tweets, that YOU GOT THIS HUN * strong arm emoji *

I really ain’t got this, hun.

We’re in the middle, well, maybe the middle, maybe the end, frankly who knows anymore, of a big fuck off pandemic, things are actually really quite scary atm and have been for a bloody long time now.

People are alone, people are frightened, they’re struggling under the enormous weight of Microsoft Teams and making sure their elderly mums are alright 60 miles away, that their prescriptions are filled out, that they can get a grocery delivery next week, fuck, how are we going to pay for that? Not even going to begin on the monumental guilt and fear that this is all a lovely recipe to fuck up our children. All while gritting our teeth into a tight I GOT THIS, I GOT THIS grimace that makes our mouths taste powdery and eyes that are trying to smile but fuck me, have you seen the figures for today? What do you Boris is speaking to the nation at 8pm?

It’s simply, too fucking much.

The easiest thing you can do for someone who is at breaking point, is to listen to them, sit in that horrible, skin crawly pain with them. Let them have that, at least.

And while our instincts our telling us to repeat the mindless witterings of Jessie J, to fix them, to solve their problems, to give them a little shake and a “C’mon mate, you can do this,” – just let them have their moment, point them in the direction of professionals, helplines etc and sit in that shitty, dark place with them. Someone stuck in the maw of depression (other mental health conditions are available) needs our empathy, not to be told to be okay, okay?

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