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It's Okay to Not be Okay

Some days I feel on top of the world. Other days I feel as if the world is caving in on me and I can't claw my way out. And that's Okay. Or so I try and tell myself.

My experience with mental health

I have not been formally diagnosed with anything. Perhaps I could be if I went to the doctor. However, this does not mean I don't - or can't - suffer from mental health issues. I would describe myself as a happy-go-lucky kind of person who always tried to have a smile on my face. But sometimes I spiral. I go through phases, typically around every 8 weeks or so, where I just feel extremely down. Like every problem I've ever had or currently have is affecting me at once. These 'phases' typically last a couple of days. At the time it doesn't seem like there is an end in sight to this darkness. I doubt myself a lot. I believe that the friends I have secretly hate me, and only talk to me because they feel bad if they don't. I have doubts about my university work, and whether I am good enough. I worry about the future. What is my career going to be like? Am I going to reach my ambitions? Will I let down the people around me? I also worry about things that I cannot control. Such as the deaths of those I love.

Sometimes I spiral

I have no idea where these fears come from. My friends have given me no indication they dislike me: most have now gone to different universities across the country and so could have stopped talking to me at any opportunity, but haven't. My university work tends to be graded to a good standard, although I am a perfectionist and am rarely ever satisfied. I like to think worrying over the future is normal, or at least having some worry, because it is unknown. My worries about things I cannot control are definitely irrational. I don't know why everything decides to hit me at once. But that's the thing about mental health - it is uncontrollable.

The worst bit about when I spiral is the fact I hate being sad. It makes me feel guilty. Overall there are not many problems with my life: I have a roof over my head, food on the table, people who care about me and an education. Of course, there are issues, family disputes and finances to name a few, but there are people in worst situations than me. There are people going through wars and poverty and a multitude of other problems that I couldn't even begin to comprehend the struggles of. And here I am feeling sorry for myself over things I have the privilege of having in the first place. It makes me feel ridiculous. It makes me feel pathetic. I want to shake myself and shout 'get over yourself'. But it's not that easy.

How I cope

I am still on my mental health journey. I don't have the perfect solution to how to cope. Sometimes I find myself just trying to weather through the storm until it passes and I'm back to feeling my more 'usual' self. Despite the fact that these issues are also a part of me, whether I like it or not.

You may be sick of hearing this advice but I really do find talking about it helps. I'll go to my friends and say, look I'm struggling over here, and they will both reaffirm that yes, they do like me and that they also suffer from their own demons. Normalising these issues helps me so much because then I don't feel like there's something wrong with me and I'm the only one going through these things. They will also reaffirm to me that just because you aren't struggling like other people are, doesn't mean your struggles are less valid. This is still a lesson I am trying to ingrain into myself and hope one day I will be able to accept. I am fortunate to have the nicest friends who are there for me no matter what.

I also take it easy for a few days and surround myself with the things I like. I will usually get comfy in pyjamas, get some snacks and put on some light-hearted movies. I think it's very important for everyone to have a mental health day now and again.

Mental health is different for everyone

The majority of people around you are likely to be suffering, or have suffered, from bad mental health in some form or another. It could be for a short period of time, it could be every day. There could be specific reasons causing it, or there may not be. Everybody is different. But what is the same is that it's okay not to be okay.


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