Weekly Doses of Pop-up Psych
We all make cringey mistakes and deserve to move on, rather than feel confused or regretful after an icky social situation. Each week, I will dissect a murky social, life cycle, or pop culture topic to help you understand, learn, and move on. As a former academic, I am a super-picky consumer of research (and you should be too) as well as the content I create and share, so those new solutions, data and/or additional resources have certainly met my approval.
Am I Okay? (and Five Ways to Help Yourself When The Answer is No)
You run into a friend who seems really down so you ask them if they are okay. They tell you “yes” so quickly and defensively that you immediately can tell they are lying because they do not seem truly okay. Sound familiar? Or perhaps you have been that person who faked being okay.
Faking being okay can be really easy when someone is really determined to hide their private hell. In 2019, there were 47,511 deaths from suicide, with 3.5 million people with plans to die and another 1.4 million actual attempts. When those people were asked if they were okay, how many of them lied and said, “yes”?
Comedian Robin Williams sadly showed us that suicidal people mask their pain behind a smile.
Regardless of their resources and circumstances, he was determined to die and also probably lied when asked if he was okay. We can lie to other people, but can only lie to ourselves for so long. As much as we need to look out for each other’s well-being, nobody else is responsible for our mental wellness but us. It should not take a meltdown, panic attack, or crisis to realize we need help. Depressed people usually do not go to sleep feeling fine and wake up in a dark hole, unless there is an unexpected loss or traumatic event. There is a slow slip and slide down a spiral path leading to that hole. Checking in with ourselves daily will help catch us before we fall.
There are typically two scenarios when we confront someone who we believe is not okay. Either they embrace our support or refuse it. For the latter, respect personal boundaries if you think they are lying. Hopefully, they reach out when ready.
Nobody is responsible for our emotions other than us. We are also not responsible for other people’s emotions. Behaviors, regardless if they are our own or someone else’s, might stir up something strong inside that might have to be controlled.
Take a long look at your reflection in the mirror and ask, “am I okay”? Take that deep breath. Pause and try not to lie to yourself.
To be okay, note how you feel
How do you feel when you look at your reflection? Your mind might be swirling, but take in another breath and think about what you are feeling. Try to give it a name and call out whatever is nagging at you. This is the start of the path to genuinely feeling okay. Being mindful and aware of how you generally feel is the very first step.
To be okay, remove the mask
Trying to fake it under a mask feels like attempting to walk with a splinter or piece of glass in your toe without limping. Don’t lie to yourself anymore. Emotions are what they are; neither right nor wrong. Free yourself from whatever is making you feel like you are not okay. Live in peace, so you should not be hiding from others or yourself.
To be okay, take care of yourself
When we remove a splinter or piece of glass from our skin, we alleviate ourselves from the pain or toxic object, but there might be some soreness or need for extra healing. You do not deserve to be in pain. Nurturing yourself and doing things that make you happy are necessary in order to heal. Never skip the basic daily necessities like sleep, eating, and exercise, and the extras that make you happy. Starting the extras that make you feel happy also indicates the need for a self-check in.
To be okay, take some time to unplug
Social media can be a blessing and a curse. Although we love to keep up with each other’s news as well as “like” pictures and videos of puppies, babies, and sunsets, definitely choose another activity if you are not feeling okay. Do you want to see someone brag about something you do not feel good about at the moment? It’s okay to not stay in the loop with everything. Never post on social media when you are not feeling okay, so you maintain good digital citizenship and not share anything you that might invite regrets and backlash into your life.
To be okay, tap into additional resources
Don’t try to self-diagnose through Dr. Google, which can be discouraging and confusing. Dr. Google is an excellent resource when learning about something new. Realize it might be the time to reach out for help. There are in person and online support groups, information, and specialists for almost every mental health issue. Focus on resources that from credible experts, professional organizations, and based on solid research, rather than ones that are based on opinion. Do not try to muscle through it alone. Finding good sources in topics of psychology are tough. The following resources are excellent places to begin.
To be okay, be brave and ask for help
Reach out. You need people to be there to cheer you on. Stop the lying to people who want the best for you. Trust that there are people who love you and want you to be okay. Asking for help can be one of the hardest and most humbling actions. Be brave and do it. You deserve to be freed from whatever is weighing on you. You should be able to smile at your reflection and say “yes”, when you ask yourself, “am I okay”?