It’s Okay To Not Be Okay.
Anyone who has read my books has likely noticed that I am not shy when discussing mental disorders. Those who know me from my group – or life in general – know this is because I have dealt with them myself since I was sixteen and developed a severe anxiety and panic disorder that eventually led to crippling agoraphobia. And because Anxiety never comes to the party alone, it always brings its cousin Depression along with it.
I have always chosen to deal with mine naturally and with behavioral modification techniques – though I know a lot of people who use medication to help them handle theirs – and usually have a pretty strong ‘buck up’ mindset about it. For me, the best way (really, the only way) for me to be able to function is just to face up the anxiety, agoraphobia, and depression. I ignore the anxiety. I wear an iPod in public to deal with the agoraphobia. I make my bed and refuse to curl back into it to keep the depression from letting me settle there for days on end.
Work is also a coping mechanism for me. Though, at the same time, a source of major stress lol. Writing a book helps me escape and ignore the racing heart, chest pressure, and strangling sensation of my anxiety that never takes a rest, is a constant, cruel mistress. Though, of course, my work involves public opinion so there are constant “I suck! And what is going to happen when everyone else realizes this too?” moments that I need to roll my eyes at and move on from. As much as I need to work to financially keep afloat, I also need it to mentally and emotionally keep my head above water as well.
That being said, sometimes I can’t.
It’s rare. In fact, it hardly ever happens when I look at my keyboard and go, “I can’t do this.”
But it happens.
And it happened yesterday.
There was no good reason for it. My writing was flowing. I’ve had nothing but love from my readers. Home life is as calm as can be expected since I moved my whole family in with me. It was just one of those days. For those who suffer, you know the days I’m talking about. The days when your guards are too low, your armor is too riddled with holes, and you don’t have the strength to hold them up anymore anyway. The days when your mental disorder(s) win. No matter how long you’ve been dealing with them, how practiced you are with the fight, there will always be days when you lose the battle. When your agoraphobia makes you stay home when you REALLY wanted to go out, makes you turn down invites you feel bad declining. When your anxiety makes you bolt from a store to hide in your car so no one can see you losing your shit. When you have to constantly check the mirror to reassure yourself that, no, your throat is NOT closing up, even though you know because you’re an old hand at this that is is not. When your depression taps you on the shoulder in the middle of an alright day and whispers ugly things into your ear until you literally can’t even function anymore.
Mental disorders win sometimes.
Yesterday, mine did.
I tried. For hours. I sat at that keyboard with my leg tapping like a crack addict, trying to get rid of the adrenaline that the anxiety likes to surge your body with. And trying to quiet the swirling, relentless insecurities that your depression is really good at convincing you aren’t figments of your imagination, and that everyone around you thinks the same awful things about you.
But I just couldn’t do it.
I put my keyboard away and I let my Anxiety and Depression lead me to my bed where I curled under my blankets, and fell into a Depression Sleep (my depression ladies know this one too well!) for three hours, waking up in time to get ready for bed which, despite my three-hour nap, I was desperately in need of still.
And that was what I did.
All the time trying to tell myself: “It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to not be okay.”
Now, for someone who generally has a “nut up and shut up” mindset about it, it is hard to believe that, to say with certainty that sometimes you aren’t as in control as you like to think you are, that you can’t always just power through and get shit done.
It feels like a lie.
It felt like a lie to me as I tried to convince myself of it.
But then I got up this morning. And the sun was out and the coffee was fresh and my niece’s puppy greeted me with a wiggly butt and Niles was “Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas!” ing me as I passed the bird room.
And everything is fine. And maybe everything is fine because I let myself not be okay. Maybe by doing so, giving myself a break, I stopped what was sure to be another downward spiral that I really didn’t need.
So if you are struggling and you win most of the time, it’s okay to lose some, ladies. It’s okay to be gentle with yourself. To get some extra sleep. To take a long, guilt-free bath. To binge-watch a show because it helps you get out of your head. To sit and pet your cat for an hour. Whatever it takes.
It’s okay to not be okay sometimes.