Stop Asking If I’m Okay

The Emotional Impact of Words

Credit

There’s this misconception within depression that it takes a great deal of willpower. Willpower to get out of bed in the morning. Willpower to get through the day. Willpower to do the things that require me to function.

The definition of willpower is control exerted to do something. In my case, willpower has nothing to do with anything.

I’m forcing myself.

I’m not going to lie. I feel pissy when I have to force myself out of bed. I feel anxious when I have to force myself to get through the day and I’m bitter when I have to force myself to do the things that require me to function when I don’t want to. My only excuse is that I just don’t feel like it today.

I get it. I don’t appear jovial, impelled or gleeful AF. I’m probably not going to and if I do, I’m most likely faking it.

Several years ago I went through a challenging spell of anxiety and panic.

I was constantly riddled with anxiety. If I were awake it was crawling all over my body and since I was stricken with insomnia at the time, it never stopped.

Panic attacks occurred daily. I was so freaked out by everything including being in a car. I solved this by riding my bicycle to every counseling session.

I stopped going to school for the semester. I was let go from my job because I showed up to work late with sloppy mascara face indicating I’d been crying. It was an especially onerous two blocks to get there that day.

I had lost too many pieces to put life back together, or at least that’s what I believed. My world had shattered and to stay afloat I had to swim upstream. Some days I was determined. Others, I went back to bed.

Every day it was the same thing.

Family: Are you okay?
Friends: Are you okay?
Coworkers: Are you okay?

Am I okay? I’d look at myself in the mirror and contemplated their questioning of me. If everyone is asking me if I’m okay then I must not be okay.

I became not okay. There were no longer days where I felt determined and the downward spiral picked up pace. In a sense I felt outcasted. Here I was surrounded by all of these okay people asking me if I were okay. It wore on me and each time I was asked I grew less and less motivated to help myself.

People who are not okay are incapable of saving themselves and before I knew it, that’s who I had become. Someone who couldn’t save themselves and not because I didn’t want to. It was because I felt that no one else believed I could.

My family pulled together to get me through. I was staying at their place. I was too scared at home.

I was a burden and dealing with me became quite taxing. I know this because I overheard them talking to friends one night. I left to go back to my own place giving them no explanation.

My feelings were hurt and I felt like a piece of shit. I was a victim even though that truly was not the case. It was in my head. I had convinced myself they were all out to get me and I was no longer worthy of their love.

I would later come to realize it was the turning point I needed to stop feeling sorry for myself and do the work to improve my quality of life.

Depression can kill you if you let it, but only if you let it. It takes one small step to create big change.

The one small step for me was getting everyone out of my head and with doing so I asked my family and friends to be aware of their words when they spoke to me. What I needed more than anything was to hear people say, You are okay.

Are you okay?
You are okay.
Do you see the difference? It’s a mind altering difference. A total game changer.

Now during bouts of depression and times of struggle I look in the mirror and I see someone who is okay because I am. I am okay and no matter how tough or impossible it may seem at times and it does, somehow I will get through it.

Newspaper reporter in Eastern Iowa. The views expressed are mine alone.

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