It’s okay to not be okay.

Today is the 9th of September. That makes it officially one month before Spirit Talker‘s release which I deliberately scheduled for World Mental Health Day because it deals in mental health themes and suicide. It also makes it officially R U OK? Day here in Australia. And you know, it got me wondering, am I okay? Are you?

R U OK? is a suicide prevention initiative here in Australia which launched an awareness campaign inviting people to reach out to their friends and family to check in. This is one of those things we just don’t think to do sometimes and it can make a big difference because when we’re not okay, it’s easy to think no one cares or notices.

I remember when I was at my lowest, I honestly didn’t believe anyone would care if I lived or died. Worse than that, I honestly believed perhaps the people I loved would be better off if I were dead. I look back on my fifteen-year-old self then and realise how heartbreaking that is, but even today, as I continue to fight through my eternal battle with Bipolar, there are days when I am not okay. And it’s the love and support of my family who regularly check in with me that helps keep me from the depths of that kind of darkness. And yet, disappearing into those depths can be all too easy.

So today, as I reflect on how I am and realise I’m not quite okay even right now, but know I’m surrounded by people who care and who love me, I wanted to reach out and ask, “Are you okay?”

Because it’s okay to not be okay. And it’s okay to talk about how you’re feeling. In fact, talking about it can be the most empowering thing you can do.

In a time when so many people are impacted by lockdowns, isolation, changes, or tragedy, it’s easy to feel more disconnected or lost or alone. For so long we’ve taken for granted how simple it is to cross a state or visit another country and right now we can’t. Even getting groceries, going to the library, or spending time with family are things we can’t do right now and we don’t know when it’ll get better. That not knowing, I think, is the hardest part. We have to cling to the “eventually” of it all. That’s the best hope.

If you need someone to talk to and you feel like there’s no one else in your life that would understand, please know that I’m here for you. I know how hard it can be to face the inner darkness. I know how hard it can feel to breathe, or to hope, or to just keep existing. I know what it’s like to be not okay. And I’m here if you need it.

“You are a remarkable being. Your life matters!”

No matter how you’re feeling right now, I think those words are some of the most important any of us can hear. I know those words transform my worst days.

Sometimes they’re hard to believe. Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint why or how they could possibly be true. But over the many years I’ve experienced and learned about depression I’ve come to realise, those words are true of everyone, and strangely enough everything that happens in our lives too. There’s significance to everything.
Even you. Especially you.

Today I’m going to take it easier on myself. I’m going to let my loved ones gather around me where I can. I’m going to let myself lean on others just a little bit. Because I’m not okay. But you know what? I will be. Eventually. And so will you.

By Rebecca Laffar-Smith

Y.A. Science Fiction and Fantasy Author - Escape Reality; Experience Possibility!

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