#BellLetsTalk about how it’s okay to not be okay

Photo by Paige Tanzeel Sayani

Today is Bell Let’s Talk day and I want to talk about something very important: you don’t always have to be positive and grateful.

The mentality that we have to find the silver lining can be extremely harmful, especially to those of us with mental illnesses.

More often than not, there are fluff articles explaining “10 easy ways to think more positive” or “the best ways to drop the depression and get happy.”

Finding the beauty in the world is great, but it does absolutely nothing to help my experiences with mental illness.

Mental illness isn’t a choice. It’s not something that you can find beauty in. It’s not the tragic love story that tumblr portrays it as.

Mental illness is fucking scary.

It’s days spent in a haze. It’s forgetting to eat or pee for an entire day because you’re pushing yourself too hard. It’s the dread of getting out of bed every single day because you don’t want to face the world outside your door.

Those are the facts. I don’t have to be grateful for any of that.

Validating your situation is the first step to seeking help for your symptoms.

You can’t do that if you’re pushing away your real feelings in favour of constantly finding positivity in your terrible situation.

Different things work for different people, but I guarantee that covering your illness in a layer of false positivity isn’t going to make it go away.

This goes for telling other people to think positively as well.

Telling someone to stop being so negative because someone has it worse follows the same logic as telling someone to stop being happy because someone has it better; it doesn’t make any sense.

Just like your happiness isn’t hindered by someone having a better life, my emotions are valid, even though someone has it worse.

Frankly, if someone tells a person with anxiety to “think positively” or a person with depression to “just smile,” they’re ignorant. No exceptions, no apologies.

This rhetoric of finding the positivity in every situation is only adding to the stigma.

If I know that I’m in an area with “good vibes only,” or with someone whose answer to everything is “think positive,” I’m sure as shit not going to open up to them about my mental illness.

When I’ve been doing nothing but work for 36 hours straight, not stopping to eat or sleep, that’s not a “think positive” moment. That’s a “things are really bad right now” moment.

Even for someone without a mental illness, it’s not healthy to constantly be happy. It’s ridiculous to think so.

Life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. It’s tears, exhaustion and heartache. A true friend would never tell you to think any differently.

Be unapologetically sad. Don’t be afraid to be afraid. When you’re feeling alone, validate that experience.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with you when you can’t find a silver lining.

My mental illness is not something that I can think away. It’s not like I can look around, see all the blessings in my life, then magically be cured. Do you think I haven’t tried that?

Though it’s great to recognize the beauty in your life, it doesn’t mean you have to ignore the nasty parts in favour of a constant silver lining.

It’s okay to not be okay sometimes.

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