What Does It Mean to Not Be Okay?

In today’s fast-paced, image-conscious society, admitting that we’re not okay can often feel like a taboo. We’re constantly bombarded with messages of positivity and success, leading to a culture where vulnerability is shunned and emotional struggles are seen as weaknesses. However, acknowledging that we’re not okay is a powerful and necessary step toward genuine healing and personal growth. May is Mental Health Awareness Month and this is a perfect time to dive into the conversation about “What does it mean, It’s Okay To Not Be Okay.” 

The Courage to Admit Vulnerability

I recently read about an interview with Brittany Griner, the WNBA star who was detained in Russia on drug charges. Her story is a poignant reminder of the immense pressures and challenges one can face, even as a public figure. Griner’s experience was not just a legal and diplomatic ordeal; it was a deeply personal and psychological battle. Being detained in a foreign country, away from her loved ones and familiar support systems, must have been terrifying. In her interviews following her release, Griner has been open about the mental toll it took on her, highlighting the importance of acknowledging when we’re not okay. She recounted her experience in custody in an interview, revealing that she contemplated suicide while detained.

“People say its OK to not be OK,” she said in the interview. “But what the hell does that mean? Just cry when I want to cry? Or be angry when I want to be angry? Or does that mean talking about it? Like, I had to figure that out.”

Breaking the Silence

Griner’s story underscores the importance of breaking the silence around mental health struggles. It’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed by life’s challenges, whether they’re related to personal issues, professional pressures, or unexpected crises. Yet, many of us hesitate to express our feelings, fearing judgment or rejection. This reluctance can lead to isolation and a sense of helplessness. Griner’s willingness to share her vulnerabilities serves as a beacon of hope for many, showing that it’s okay to admit when we’re struggling.

The Weight of Expectations

For black women, the pressure to be strong and resilient can be particularly intense. Societal expectations often demand that we shoulder our burdens without complaint, maintaining a façade of strength at all costs. This can lead to a dangerous cycle of suppressed emotions and unaddressed mental health issues. It’s crucial to recognize that being strong doesn’t mean being invulnerable. True strength lies in the ability to confront our challenges head-on and seek support when needed.

Seeking Help and Building Resilience

Acknowledging that we’re not okay is the first step toward healing. Seeking help from mental health professionals, talking to trusted friends or family members, and engaging in self-care practices are all vital components of managing our mental health. Brittany Griner’s journey illustrates the power of resilience and the importance of a strong support network. Despite the hardships she faced, her openness about her struggles has undoubtedly inspired many to prioritize their mental health.

Embracing Our Humanity

Ultimately, being not okay is a fundamental part of the human experience. It’s a reminder that we are all vulnerable and that it’s perfectly normal to encounter periods of difficulty. Embracing this reality allows us to be kinder to ourselves and others. By fostering a culture of openness and support, we can help reduce the stigma around mental health and create a more compassionate world.

In conclusion, Brittany Griner’s story is a powerful example of the importance of acknowledging and addressing our mental health struggles. It reminds us that it’s okay to not be okay and that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Let’s take inspiration from her courage and strive to create a supportive environment where everyone feels empowered to speak their truth and seek the help they need

If you know someone who is struggling with their mental health, whether it’s a friend, family member, coworker, or even yourself, it’s essential to offer support and understanding. Mental health challenges can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, or background, and reaching out for help is a crucial step toward recovery. There are resources available to help:

  1. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) – NAMI offers support groups, educational programs, and helplines for individuals and families affected by mental illness. Visit their website at www.nami.org for more information.
  2. Crisis Text Line – Text “HELLO” to 741741 to connect with a trained crisis counselor for free, 24/7 support.
  3. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to speak with a trained crisis counselor for confidential support and resources.
  4. Therapy and Counseling Services – Consider reaching out to a licensed therapist or counselor for individualized support and treatment. Many therapists offer virtual sessions for added convenience.

In Your Wellness,

Dr. Clack