It’s Okay Not To Be Okay.
By Devyanshi Gairola
Social media makes it easy for us to share every little detail of our lives. We can share a picture of our favourite lazy meal, or post a status about whatever sports championship that we happen to be watching. We can talk about our favourite shows and movies, network with like-minded individuals and keep up with news and tabloids. Instagram and Facebook make it easy to portray a rosy picture of our lives and present it as a neat little collage of our thoughts and activities. Even mental health is gaining a lot of traction with the help of social media campaigns, and celebrities are talking about their experiences with mental illnesses. There is a lot of positive and real content that revolves around mental health on social media. There are mental health initiatives by organisations you can reach out to, listen to people’s stories and share some stories of your own. It is truly a great and wonderful thing to see mental illness being destigmatised, to see people openly talking about their experiences with mental illness and mending the holes that exist in our social system. A system that created this stigma and viewed mental illness as a taboo in the first place.
However, like all things in life, mental health is not black and white. It is a spectrum. It varies from person to person. Just like no two persons have the same physical health issues, no two persons experience mental illness in the same way. And this is not talked about enough. If humans were machine-made commodities, born with the same sense of purpose and the same basket of features and defects, then it would’ve been easier to understand. Alas, that is not the case and so we, as empathetic and compassionate beings, need to do the research that will help us in understanding our fellow humans and, more often than not, ourselves.
There are a lot of people who do not experience mental illness fully. Instead, they experience symptoms of mental illnesses. This can be in the form of feeling sad and unproductive or experiencing anxiety that is tied to specific events or objects or feeling body-conscious, and so on. These people experience certain symptoms of mental illness or disorders without ever fully developing them. It makes them uncomfortable, disturbs their daily life and sense of inner peace but is not enough to render them completely unproductive. They find themselves unable to relate to the image of mental illness that is portrayed in social media simply because they ‘do not have it as bad as other people do’.
They continuously invalidate what they feel because someone else has it worse. This mindset of writing off feelings is dangerous because it leads to repression of those feelings and makes one’s mental health worse in the long run. Matters are made worse when they talk to people about it, and most of the advice they receive is an example of toxic positivity. Social media has done a lot of good for people’s mental health by making it okay to talk about mental illness. However, it cannot be ignored that social media promotes a lot of forced positivity. The whole idea of ‘you’ll be okay’, ‘just be positive’, ‘good vibes only’ and so on makes people feel wrong about not being okay and encourages them to repress their emotions.
There is a side of social media that makes people feel bad about the lives they are leading. It makes them feel bad about their bodies, their social status and the size of their bank accounts. This has a damaging impact on the minds of young people who don’t feel as if they are good enough or meeting an imaginary standard set by strangers on the internet. It’s heartbreaking to know that this standard applies to mental illness too; that there are people out there who feel their mental health is not as bad because someone else’s is worse.
Here’s a reminder for those who feel a ‘lil blue sometimes: It’s okay not to be okay. You are entitled to feel what you are feeling. Your emotions and experiences are valid, and no one can tell you otherwise. Not everything you read on the internet is true; not everyone is living a life without problems. If the content you consume makes you feel worthless, inadequate or just bad in general, then you need to tear yourself away from that. It is okay to prioritise yourself and your health. You are allowed to set the pace of your own life. You are entitled to enjoy your achievements, no matter how big or small. It is okay to take a break and to ask for help.
“Your feelings are validated by the fact that you’re feeling them.”
– Lili Reinhart
Photo by Prashansa Singh