14 Apr 5 reasons it_ã_s OK not to be OK
by Dr. Timothy Sharp (aka Dr Happy)
In recent years there’s been a very positive change in the way we view mental ill-health and concurrently, an increased acceptance of frailties and vulnerability (although there’s definitely still plenty of room for improvement).
Let me make it very clear; I think this is a great thing.
But let me also state that at times, some of the statements and comments in this area have appeared slightly trite (an accusation that could, no doubt, be levelled against me) and at times, lacking in substance.
Although I wholeheartedly support the idea that “It’s OK not to be OK”, I also think it’s important to back this up with some good, solid, valid and statistically supported reasons. And I list just some of these below:
Those of us who’re not always OK are in the majority. If you look at the statistics, somewhere between 20-30% of people will experience a diagnosable psychological disorder at some point in their lives. If you add to this all those who have “sub clinical” distress (not quite severe enough for a formal diagnosis) I’ve no doubt this would take those figures up to or over 50%. Finally, if you then take into account all the parents, partners, carers and friends who’re indirectly affected by those who’re suffering then we’d definitely be looking at a significant majority.
So following on from Point 1, we’re not “abnormal”! Instead, it’s actually “normal” to experience some level of distress and even dysfunction in life.
Further to this, not being OK is a normal part of being human. No one is happy all the time; and if we expect to be we’ll just be disappointed and frustrated. Forms of “not being OK” such as stress and anxiety and sadness, even anger and frustration and grief, are normal human emotions and pretending otherwise or trying to fight or deny them is a recipe for disaster (trust me, I’ve tried!)
Not being OK can actually be a good thing. For too long now we’ve viewed emotions such as depression and anxiety and stress as “negative”; implying, overtly or otherwise, that they’re “bad”. But as many of us know, stress can motivate us to take constructive action; anxiety can protect us from dangerous situations; and even sadness can help us learn how to understand certain aspects of ourselves or our lives better.
And extending point 4 even further, Positive Psychology has highlighted a concept that’s come to be known as Post Traumatic Growth. As the phrase suggests, trauma is not always associated with stress (although obviously it sometimes is); but rather, trauma can lead to growth given that most of us learn from difficult times and accordingly, become wiser, stronger, better and even happier in some way or other.
And there are many, many more reasons too. Some would add that without the darkness you can’t appreciate the light, without sadness one can’t enjoy happiness. Others would note that experiencing so called negative emotions means you can empathise with the inequities of the world and the unfairness of life at times. And still others would suggest that unpleasant emotions signal to us that something’s not right and that we need to change. This list could definitely be much more comprehensive. But my point isn’t to list all the reasons it’s OK not to be OK; just enough for you to get the point.
And you might have noticed that in a couple of the points above, I referred to those of “us” who’re not always OK; that’s because I’ve recently “come out” and for the first time, publicly shared my personal story of depression. So this is an issue that’s very dear to my heart and something I’m constantly working on myself.
I’ve written about my experiences in a new book that was just published in April 2016! I’m so proud of this book which includes 12 amazing stories from some truly inspirational people who’ve all (as is noted in the subtitle) turned tragedy into triumph.
You can read my chapter (for free) HERE
And you can find out more about the book, “Transformation: turning tragedy into triumph” HERE
For more information or to get in touch to discuss any of these issue further, just click HERE