It can be an incredibly trite question – are you OK? It’s kind of up there with, ‘how are you’? To which we expect a ‘well thanks’ and are generally taken aback if it’s anything but.
The thing is not all of us are OK. You wouldn’t know it to look at us because many of us are super highly functioning not OK people. Until we’re not.
Mental health issues are tricky things. In many ways, it would be easier to have a broken leg or a physical diagnosis because then there’s a sign that you’re not OK. People can respond to a broken leg. They can tell you to slow down, to take a seat, to lean on the crutches for a while. You also can’t run with a broken leg. It’s not possible to push past it as much as you would love to.
We’re less tolerant with mental health issues. We think the person should just get over it. There’s shame involved. We feel vulnerable and well, not quite OK. So, we try to push past it, to abandon our crutches, to try to run and just get on with things. Which means we break further and sometimes harder and sometimes longer. And there’s more shame involved.
I think today is a great reminder that we need to be kind. Both to ourselves if we’re in a period of not being OK or to someone that you suspect is not doing OK.
To accept that you need to lean on the crutches, to accept the extended arm, to be at peace with the fact that today you can’t walk out the front door. In the same way that you’d offer kindness to anyone that suffered a physical condition they can’t move past.
Or if you’re OK, to offer an arm, a crutch or simply kindness and understanding to someone that you suspect is not doing OK.
Because sometimes life is fucking hard. And that’s OK.
What I know for sure is that if you’re not doing OK please tell someone. A friend, a trusted confidante or hopefully a great counsellor, support line or doctor. Because if you have a broken leg you don’t just try and walk on it, you seek help. We need to start accepting that mental health is no different.
As for me, I’m doing all of the above. I’m leaning, grabbing crutches, saying no, breathing, talking to a professional and reminding myself on a regular basis to be kind.
It’s fucking hard sometimes. But it won’t always be and that’s OK.
What about you? R U OK?