I’ve been okay most of my life and that is no longer okay with me.
By Erin Green
Being someone that has mental health issues and an illness can be quite disparaging to say the least. Society teaches us that we are to put up our guards and create this façade of ‘okay’. Since when did okay become alright and acceptable? Okay is bland and boring and doesn’t really say anything. Okay does not cut the mustard. If you were to ask someone how they are going and they respond with ‘okay’, you have wasted your question. It can be such a nothing word. And this nothing word has been a personal favourite of mine for a long time. My stress levels were okay. I had convinced myself that my eating habits or lack thereof were okay. I was only drinking and smoking socially and that was okay. I was making excuses for sh*tty relationships and sh*tty people but again, that was okay, because they made me feel okay. Cue alarm bells ringing! This was not okay and something had to be done and it was done and then suddenly just feeling okay didn’t mean anything to me anymore. This mundane four letter word almost became like every other four letter word; a ‘swear word’ and one I tried to not use too often. Except the word sh*t. I think that word is fab FYI!
Much like anyone else who also has anxiety, depression or any of the other forms of mental illness, you become accustomed to this feeling of nothingness and emptiness. It becomes a sort of security blanket. You are wrapped up so tightly by it you almost feel at any given moment it could just become too tight and swallow you up whole. For a brief moment this might not even feel like such a bad idea. You might go to bed wishing to not wake up, but you do the next day and so the cycle continues. For as long as it needs to and as long as you can push through with being just ‘okay’. I am in no way saying this is what it is like for everyone but this is me. Brutally honestly, me. For me anyway, it’s like this crazy rollercoaster it has its ups and its downs. You will go through a period were it’ll throw you upside down and you feel like you are going to puke and your eyeballs are going to fall out of your head. Then there will be a smooth ride, a brief transition where you feel as though everything is okay. But if high school science taught me anything, what goes up must come down. So you learn to cope. Your coping mechanism could be anything. Mine? My coping mechanism to dealing with losing grip on reality/everything is to turn to my best friend or a brief freak-out or what is now commonly dubbed the sh*t-fit. We might sh*t-fit with each other at least one if not twice a week. Yes, sometimes it isn’t for anything health related. It might be men related or sex related which I guess is men related too. It could be university related (in my case HIGHLY linked to mental health), gym related, family related etc. the list really is endless. This weekly catch up with him, to me, is far more therapeutic than anything else.
One thing that people say to do is take it day by day. Which is so true and something you can only do when you are ready. You can cry, sing, laugh, or snort your way through your story and telling it in whatever which way suits you. But be warned; people are impatient little things sometimes. When someone knows something is wrong they want to fix it. They want to fix you and make you feel like you’ve just ingested a big bowl of chicken soup. It is the hero complex and you’re kidding yourself if you don’t feel that way too. But be warned, there is NOTHING worse than someone trying to get something out of you BEFORE you are ready to tell them. I constantly have had people berating me, if not begging to be told what is wrong. The problem? Half the time, hell definitely more than half the time I don’t even know what is wrong. Why am I crying? No clue. Why am I suddenly the worlds’ most-laziest person (when I am usually exercising for over an hour a day) and eating my body weight in chocolate (when I already know I have a diary intolerance)? Hmm, not too sure on that one either. All I know is the ‘label’ of triggers is bullsh*t. They differ from person to person and boy oh boy do they differ within me too. They differ definitely weekly, if not almost daily. My anxiety stems from stress, I know this. Hell I am pretty sure even my dog knows it. But at least I know the trigger. But what does my stress manifest from? HA! It would be easier to write what it doesn’t come from. Originally my anxiety was triggered by my un-wavering and self-destructive relationship I had with my body perception and my sh*tty relationship with food. My body dysmorphia is still something to this day that gets me anxious and stresses me out but I know I don’t want to make myself sick again. I don’t want to be self-destructive because I honestly don’t think I would be able to handle it again the second time round. I know I am fit(-ish), healthy and can indulge in ‘naughty’ foods every now and then. I don’t punish myself for eating chocolate or having a drink when my day has sucked. I know that when I start stressing out and I am no longer just okay that sh*t is about to well and truly hit the fan.
Whenever I think of mental health of both my own and of others I always revert back to the movie ‘The Sweetest Thing’ – great film. If you haven’t seen it, Netflix it. Right. Now. In the film there is a part were Cameron Diaz says something which she immediately backs up with “Just kidding” or “I’m joking”, to which Christina Applegate’s characters call BS on. “People only say just kidding so they can say what they are feeling without being judged”. This is something that always stuck with me from that film (as well as that cool lil jingle in the Chinese restaurant). This is also something I strive to no longer do too. For so long, I would “crack jokes” about how I was feeling and then when I got any sort of reaction and gauged someone cared I would quickly whip out “just kidding” to automatically make myself feel indestructible again. Because no-one other than myself should know I was feeling like sh*t. It was this societal perception that I had become so brain-washed by that saw little ol' Ez at 16 years of age see that I had to be embarrassed. Because that is what society teaches us right? WRONG! Changing this mindset was what led to me to where I am now. Not physically; as I am currently sitting on the bus on the way home from University. But more so in general. I am no longer working a sh*tty job that paid well but made me feel the size of a peanut (which is hard when you are nearly 6ft tall!). I am no longer tolerating and giving excuses to ‘okay’ things. I’m interested in what my friends and family are doing; not that I wasn’t before but now I am actually listening properly. Sorry mum. I am no longer letting things upset me or allowing myself to be treated like trash. If I had a problem with something or someone, I say it because I am not okay with it.
They say that laughter is the best medicine. And boy oh boy am I lucky that I am a sarcastic b*tch in that case. For me, my entire life is one massive comedy. I use humour like it is my first language and swearing as my second, closely followed by English as my third (Apologies to my grandparents; I am a lady I swear #punny). Right now, I’m good. I had a horrendous two weeks, I cried, I laughed, I had large bursts of rage, I got made, I broke sh*t, I drank, I smoked (BAD!), I cried some more. But the one thing I did? I survived. I made it. The past two weeks sucked but I am here and I am going to make the next fortnight my b*tch. I have a plan. I have everything set out. I know what I have to do. I am just going to do it. And you can too x
By Erin Green