If I tell you I’m not ok, what will you do?
Will you listen to what I tell you?
Will you hear what it is I say?
Will you promise to ring me when you have time to talk,
And never find the time that day.
Will you try to understand the how deep my feelings are?
Will you try to understand how deep the pain runs through me?
Will you try to understand the extent of what is hurting me, or will you remain in your shallow, narrow, small boundaries of comprehension and enforce those same boundaries upon me?
Will you call me ridiculous, delusional, insane, because you cannot comprehend the depth and breadth of that which is causiing me angst?
Will you patronise me?
Will you give me advice that I do not want or need … and which I have not asked for?
Will you tell me I cannot change the world?
Or that I can only do what I can do?
Or will you tell me I’m too sensitive? That I need to stop taking these things on board?
Will you tell me to get over it?
Or stop worrying?
Or remind me again that life goes on, and so must I?
I don’t want to tell you I’m not ok.
I don’t want to say.
I may tell you the most recent thing that is bothering me, because I know you need to hear something tangible.
Something that makes sense.
Something that allows you to say “It’ll be ok”.
Or that it could be worse.
Or it, too, shall pass.
Something that gives you the space to give me advice.
Or that it is what it is.
Or life’s like that.
Or to just not worry. To get over it. To move on.
Just something that you can understand.
Make sense of.
When I’m not ok, it is nonsensical.
There is no logic, no sense, no tangible anything behind it.
But I tell you something logical, sensible, tangible, because it is easier for you.
I know it seems I’m really bothered by this minor thing.
I know I appear to be overreacting.
I know I look a little bit crazy, and far to stressed or upset about something that doesn’t require that much distress.
I’m none of these things.
In fact, the likelihood is I don’t really care.
I may be slightly annoyed.
Or even apathetic about it.
It’s not the problem.
It is the vast, deep, dark, black cavern I am trying to find my way through that has me on edge.
I can’t tell you this, because you don’t understand.
You try to help with your flippant, patronising remarks; get over it, move on, oh, well, such is life …
You don’t try to understand how deep, how dark, how cavernous.
How inept I feel.
How inept I am.
How useless, how irrelevant, how pointless …
You take my minor issue, and assume I am not coping … with that particular issue.
You try to help, by protecting me, by doing things for me, by excluding me from things you have determined will make me stress more.
You don’t try to understand the real issue.
Nor that protecting me isn’t.
Nor that excluding me means I have less information, less context, and loads more anxiety.
Nor that excluding me exacerbates my feelings of useless, irrelevant, pointless …
I know you are trying to help.
You are not.
You are making things worse.
When I tell you something you understand, you assume it must be you.
Or that it must be related to the only context in which you know me.
Is it work related?
Is it something about my kids and school?
Have you said or done something that has made me so pissed off?
Or is it something you can control, in the environment in which you know me.
When I tell you a small thing, it gives you a level of understanding.
And gives you nothing at all.
And I don’t want to tell you I am not ok.
Because it makes you hurt me more.
When you ask if I’m ok, I want to know you mean it.
I want to feel safe to tell you.
I want to trust.
When I tell you I am not ok, what will you do?
Will you just listen?
Will you hug me?
And say “I love you, you matter”?
Will you at least, at the very least, try to understand that why I’m not ok has no sense, no logic, and is incomprehensible?
Will you try to broaden your mind, and narrow your comments?
When I tell you I’m not ok, will you really care?
Disclaimer: I’m ok. This is me, but not right now. This is me in ebbs and flows, it is sometimes worse, and sometimes not there at all. Most importantly, this is not just me. This is how many – not all, mental illness is a spectrum like everything else – people with a mental illness feel. These are the words of many. They are the questions many of us ask. It is why we don’t like to be asked “are you ok?”, and why we appear to be overstressed and excessively upset about something relatively minor. Our pain is deep. And we are alone.