It’s Okay, Not to Be Okay

It’s taken me three decades to come out to my parents and say “I’ve been depressed and anxiety-filled for a long time, I don’t want to feel this anymore.” Somehow through the magic of coming clean, I received my first dose of recovery. I’m confident that by being honest with the two people who raised me I inevitably forced myself to be honest with myself.

Depression feels like you’re lost and meandering through fog-shrouded in the stench of mildew. As a working artist, my highs are extremely high and the lows are beyond devastating. My mind ran off and decided to march to its own beat and cultivate the perception that I needed to appear put together all the time –a fake it till you make it mentality. At some point, I took this to a new level and stopped being honest with myself. I internalized and ignored anything that felt off rather than acknowledging it. I felt ashamed of feeling on edge and not okay.

I’m writing this now to say that it’s okay, not to be okay. In fact, feeling not okay is a sign that something must change and it’s time to grow. Yes, I know hearing that something is part of the process isn’t the most comforting thing to hear when you’re going through a rough patch. However, it’s imperative that we find a way to enjoy the process considering that the majority of our lives are spent in the journey rather than the destination.

An adept friend of mine gave me this metaphor:

A boy had a favorite pair of shoes that he wore every day and did everything in. These shoes were not only reliable they also took him through all walks of life. Eventually, as with any pairs of shoes, the boy began to outgrow them. He wasn’t ready to replace them though, the old shoes were familiar and he would spend the time patching and resoling them. As time went on each repair attempt became more futile and the shoes continued to become less effective at being shoes. The boy would grow increasingly frustrated as he stumbled and tripped while walking. These fixings only addressed the symptoms and not the root of the problem. Clearly, he just needed a new pair of shoes! But, something new can be a scary thing. New shoes can be more expensive, they won’t feel as familiar, and they’re different. It wasn’t until the boy realized for himself that he needed to just be open to trying a new pair of shoes that his predicament change. In the beginning, his new shoes weren’t as comfortable as his original pair. There was an adjustment period in which he needed to walk in them and break them in. The breaking in process isn’t the most pleasant walk in the park, but it was worth it in the end. He was able to go about his day without stumbling or falling on his face.

What I took away from this is that currently, I’m going through a rough patch that I want to get out of. Leaving the current situation is going to require a growing period, which could be a breeze or it could be like a trek to Mordor. Either way, this not okay feeling is pretty normal –a growing pain. It’s possible for me to interpret this emotion as a sign that I’m failing and suck at life, but why should I do that to myself? Life is hard already. Why not be gentle with myself and switch my perspective. It’s perfectly okay to not feel okay.

Growing to feel content in a new situation is better than suffering in the stagnant past. Everyone is going through something. I think it’s comforting knowing that we’re not alone.

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