Mental Health Awareness
Today is R U Ok? Day, and my guess is a lot of people aren’t “okay” right now. The world is, shall we say, challenging, and you wouldn’t be human if you weren’t feeling the effects of what’s happening locally to you, as well as further around the globe. And that’s all without us having been living in a worldwide pandemic for over 18 months now. That, on its own, is enough to make anyone not be “okay,” but added to everything else… I’m sure I’m not alone when I say there are days when I feel so overwhelmed that it’s a struggle just to get out of bed.
Many of you would know that I’m a big advocate for mental health. I was diagnosed with a crippling PTSD-triggered anxiety disorder in 2012, and, at the time, a well-meaning but very wrong person told me, “Don’t worry, it’s just like a flu—you’ll feel better in a few weeks.” I remember so clearly thinking, “A few weeks? Weeks?! I can’t survive that long!” The prospect of a few days in what I now look back on and call my own personal “black hole” was enough to make everything I was feeling even worse.
But I did survive those few weeks.
And I’ve now survived over 9 years.
It hasn’t been easy. Because of what I do, I’ve had numerous doctors advise me not to take medication because it could mess with my creativity. This is something I continually struggle to hear, since I have a lot of author friends who are on anti-anxiety/antidepressant medication and they’re still able to write (and fabulously!). The problem for me personally is, there hasn’t been a gap in my schedule that would allow me the time I need to find the right medication with wiggle room for if there are creative hiccups—and by that I mean, there hasn’t been a gap where I haven’t been mid-series, and if there is a shift in my creativity, I can’t afford for that to happen when it might disrupt the plot or character arcs over joined books. So that’s been tough.
Actually, “tough” doesn’t begin to cover it. I try to keep the things I share over my social media as upbeat and happy as possible since I know—I know—how much we all need that. I don’t sugarcoat when I have hard days, since I try to be transparent when I can, but I do gloss over the details. Perhaps one day I’ll be brave enough to share just how difficult the last few years have been, and the last few months in particular. But I need some distance from it all first, since, at the moment, it’s still ongoing. Once I’m through, then maybe I’ll be able to find the words to explain. After all, it’s always easier to look back and reflect on the battle you’ve been through with the perspective to consider why (and what you learned), as opposed to sharing about it when you’re in the middle of it.
That sounds dramatic. But that doesn’t make it any less true.
Today is R U OK? Day, and the truth is, I’m not.
And I haven’t been for a long time.
But, that’s okay.
Because it’s okay to not be okay, especially in these times.
If you are okay, then I’m genuinely so happy for you, and I hope you share that okayness with the people around you, since they (/we) really, really need that.
But if, like me, you’re not doing so great, then just know, you’re not alone. I’m right there beside you, and so are many others. And we WILL get through all this, because that’s how life works. Winter turns to spring, night turns to day, storms turn to sunshine—dark always, always must yield to the light. That, however, doesn’t make the dark any less dark when you’re walking through it. It just means there’s a reason to keep walking, because things will get better. They will—I promise you that.
So don’t stop.
Keep going, one step at a time.
One breath at a time.
Because you have no idea how much goodness is just around the corner.
Hold onto that.
And soon enough, when someone asks you “R U Ok?” you’ll be able to answer “yes.”
If that day isn’t today, then that’s okay. But just maybe, it could be tomorrow.
So don’t give up. And don’t give in.
You’ve got this. We’ve got this.
One step at a time.
One breath at a time.
“We can look at the darkness and let it consume us, or we can recognise that it’s only temporary, trusting that once it passes, the light will return.”
— The Blood Traitor, coming 2022.
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