How to Speak Out: Why It’s Okay to Not be Okay

By Bethany Allen  How to Speak Out: Why It's Okay to Not be Okay

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“Displace the pain. Put it in a camera, in a story, in a poem, in a song, in a lover, in a canvas.” – Unknown

How to Speak Out: Why It’s Okay to Not be Okay

Hello, havingtimers⏳  My name is Beth. Don’t worry; I know this is not the way to start a blog post… But I wanted this post to be different. I am on a mission. And I am so grateful to HavingTime for giving me another platform to spread this message.

You’d think that in this day and age being connected and open towards one another would be easy. We have social media, mobile phones and endless apps to connect and communicate with each other. But it seems that even though so many of us have access to these things we still feel alone.

Why is that?

Through these apps and social media, many of us pretend that our lives are perfect. I’m not innocent either! So many times I have felt pressured to post on my Instagram just to keep up face even though I am having a real rough time. Whack a ridiculously filtered selfie up on your page, and everyone is none the wiser. But everybody knows – nobody’s life is perfect. So why are we striving so hard to pretend that we are blemish free when we all secretly know that some days we just want to crawl back into bed and cry all day?

The answer to that is… because it isn’t easy! In a world where you can be seen as attention seeking for asking for help – it’s easy to think its “dangerous” to be open and reach out regarding your mental health.

I was diagnosed with GAD (General Anxiety Disorder), Emetophobia, Depression and a mild form of Anorexia when I was 14. I felt ashamed, and consequently, I NEVER spoke of the taboo that was my mental health. I went to school, I came home from school, and I hid from the world when I wasn’t at school.

I had two lots of CBT at 14 and 17 years old. It helped me to manage my mental health, but I still felt hugely embarrassed that I needed therapy. Despite the CBT I still often felt overwhelmed whenever I was invited out by friends and family.

I had better days, but the crushing feeling that I shouldn’t feel so low regularly meant I hid away within the cocoon of my bedroom.

But eventually, I had, to be honest with a friend that I had been lying to for a long time. I was involved with my local theater group and had been avoiding rehearsals like the plague. Not helpful when you’re preparing for a show! Yet my anxiety had been so intense I could barely leave my bed let alone the house. I opened up my emails and started pouring my heart out. Apologizing profusely and, for the first time, I told someone about my diagnosis.

“I vow to let go of all worries and anxiety in order to be light and free.” –Thich Nhat Hanh

I was pleasantly surprised by the response! I received an e-mail in a matter of moments later expressing real support and compassion towards my situation. I found myself in a whirlwind of emotion. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry! The over-riding feeling was a relief. Relief that someone had heard what I was dealing with and hadn’t judged me. It was then that I realized that if I felt this way…maybe others did too.

Relief that someone had heard what I was dealing with and hadn’t judged me. It was then that I realized that if I felt this way… maybe others did too.

Something has to change. Why should we feel ashamed, to be honest about how we feel? Why should we be worried about what people think?

I recently opened-up in the biggest way possible. On Social Media… in front of (potentially) everyone. (Which scared the living hell out of me!) I made a YouTube channel – named Miss Anxiety.

I had no idea what to post. I didn’t know the first thing about how to make a video! But I knew what I wanted to say. “It’s okay not to feel okay”.

We are in a world that is changing. We are now a part of a movement that is encouraging people not to be ashamed of their mental illnesses. EVERYONE has mental health like we all have physical health, and consequently, we should not be discriminated due to the diagnosis we are given.  

It is now possible to get support without even leaving the house! I have found solace and life long friends on Twitter and through doing my videos on YouTube once a week.

My point being… if you speak out… if you find the courage, to be honest with yourself and others – you will NEVER regret it. We are all human. We all have good days and not so good days. So I am inviting you right here, right now, to be honest. Just because you have a day where you would rather eat ice-cream and play video games (guilty as charged!) than do all those chores that have been mounting up – that doesn’t mean you have failed. You are enough. You are wonderful. And you are certainly not defined by your mental health.

Together, we really can make a difference. Join in the conversation. You can do this.

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