“It’s okay N O T to be okay.” Really?

For those having Facebook, Instagram, and/or Pinterest accounts, I’m sure you came across one of those quotes saying, “it’s okay not to be okay.” Usually, they are decorated with flowers and written in cute fonts. Looking back, when this “movement” of slogans kindled, it was a way to suppress the mental stigma by targeting what everyone aimlessly aimed to have; the so-call perfect life.   

However, in an effort to balance what people thought was perfect, they normalize the notion of not being okay. The way this phrase is used implies that people are treating feelings as if they’re something that they should handle, whereas feelings are feedback. Feedback to either change or maintain what you are doing. If you set the standards on the not-being-okay level, then, you end up receiving negative feedback and ignoring the results. Inevitably, this is leading to taking no action to handle the situation. 

If I haven’t made myself clear, let me distill this a little bit more. I’m guessing everyone has experienced the symptoms of the flu, at least once in their lifetime. Some of the symptoms are fever, fatigue and the list goes on. Some of you may choose to go to the doctor and get recommendations on what to do to get better, maybe the prescribed medicine. Some of you became so familiar with the symptoms to the point where you feel confident enough to self-diagnose yourself and choose to stay in bed (i.e., take the necessary actions to strengthen your immunity). In the latter case, if the chosen actions do not bring any of the desired results, then you choose to go to the doctor. Nonetheless, none of these scenarios imply ignoring the symptoms and saying that “it’s okay not to be okay” because you know that’s only going to get worse. 

Using this parallelism, I humbly believe we should evaluate our mental health in the same way we evaluate our physical health. We should take care of our mental health the same way we take care of our physical bodies. Not being okay is a state where it should be treated as an opportunity to redirect our focus and drive us to take action to adjust our behavior, not something to be worried over.