You’re Allowed To Not Be Okay

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By Elizabeth Franks

I’ve had a total of two mental breakdowns in just the past two weeks.

The first one shook me up a bit; I was on my way to work, and for some unexplained reason I started balling my eyes out. It was almost as if the floodgates to my emotions opened up, and everything I had been suppressing for so long just gave way.

Tack on the fact that all of the streets within a mile radius of my work were blocked off, meaning I had to trek to work in uncomfortable shoes and a blotchy face, let’s just chalk it up to it being a pretty crappy day.

After that though, I progressively felt like I was starting to feel better. Over the course of the next week, I had a lighter attitude, and I kept telling myself that maybe a good cry was all I needed. Well, fast forward about a week or so to me in a bathroom stall at school personally making my way through an entire roll of toilet paper, soaking up the tears that were so rudely falling down my face.

I felt like it was a scene straight out of a Lifetime movie. Girl is bullied by a group of mean teenagers. Girl doesn’t know what to do or where to go, so girl hides in a bathroom stall crying. But in this case the group of teenagers were my feelings and the girl was me.

Other than the obvious fact that there were feelings I had yet to deal with that were making their way to the surface, the feelings I had immediately after I had stopped crying truly frustrated me.

I felt ashamed, and I felt alone.

The shame came from the fact that I have a great life. I have a husband who loves me, a family who is always there for me, and a job that pays the bills, so I immediately felt like I had no right to be sad.

And the loneliness came from the fact that I was scared. I was scared to tell someone how I was feeling and what had happened. I was scared to tell my husband and my family and my friends that something inside me was upsetting me so much that I had to literally leave my class and hide in a bathroom stall because I couldn’t stop my emotions from surfacing.

But why? What makes someone innately feel this way?

Being sad is a natural emotion, so how can anyone feel ashamed because of it? And more importantly, how can someone feel scared to tell a loved one how they’re feeling?

When I was little, I distinctly remember being told to talk about my feelings. The phrase “Use your words,” was something my parents would say to me and my siblings regularly. And it makes sense! How is anybody supposed to know how we’re feeling if we don’t speak up?

But over time that notion has changed. You’re only supposed to talk about your feelings if they’re good feelings, and if you’re sad you should keep it to yourself.

This is something that needs to change though. Dealing with these bouts of sadness and anxiety and depression alone did me no good. I would push people away, and I would function in my own closed-off world – partly because I was ashamed and partly because I didn’t know what to do because nobody talks about it.

Nobody talks about depression, and rarely anyone talks about being sad. It’s taboo; it’s stigmatized, and it makes you look weak. And this is so backwards. We need to normalize these feelings and open the door for these kinds of discussions.

I felt alone and ashamed about a feeling that is completely common and completely normal. We can’t keep letting this happen.

It wasn’t until I talked to my family about how I was feeling that I started to feel better. I have a way to go before the intensity of my emotional state lessons, and I know that just like anyone else I will have moments of sadness for the rest of my life, but I no longer feel alone. And I no longer feel ashamed. And my hope is that anyone who ever feels or has felt the same way I did, no longer feel this way either.

It’s okay to not be okay.

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