It’s okay to not be okay
It is 4 am and you can hear nothing but the faint sound of cars zipping down the road in the distance. Everyone around you is sleeping, but you’re staring at the ceiling trying to count sheep. It’s been this way for weeks, months, and you can’t remember that last time you slept through the night. Nevertheless, you toss and turn and shift around in an attempt to lull yourself into dreamland.
The next morning, you’re awoken by a blaring alarm. How many hours of sleep did you get – two? Three? You throw your blanket off and tumble out of bed, thinking about all the assignments you have to complete and the classes you have to attend. The dread manifests as nausea in your stomach and fatigue in your muscles, but your brush it off and get ready. The nausea should settle by lunchtime, you reckon. And you know that exhaustion is the price you have to pay for results. You look at your phone, see all the missed calls from your parents and friends. You don’t reply because you really don’t feel like talking to anyone. Besides, they’d probably just be fussing over nothing.
All of a sudden, it’s lunchtime. The sandwich you took a bite out of tastes like ash in your mouth, but you manage to gulp it down. Your friends are prattling on about last night’s episode of some random TV show, but you couldn’t care less. Nothing seems to interest you these days. You don’t join in on conversations and you can’t focus in class. Suddenly, your friend snaps her fingers in front of your face. You realise she’s saying something – are you alright? Honestly, you don’t know. You don’t know. But you have to pretend to be fine, because everyone else is doing fine, and so you mumble a couple of words and rush to class. It’s already late, and you don’t pay attention to how your friend’s eyebrows are scrunched up in concern.
That night, you’re at a party. You should probably be sleeping or studying or worrying, but that would be an exercise in futility. Not that what you’re doing right now is any more fruitful, but. . Everyone around you is chatting, laughing, smiling, while you’re sitting in a corner clutching your drink. Why are you even here? Not just at this party, but at this place. There’s nothing tethering you to it anymore. You’ve been failing classes and ignoring calls and you are so, so tired that you can feel it in your bones. You head outside and stare at the building across the street. It’s four storeys tall, and part of you is wondering whether it would be enough. What if. . what if you jumped?
You snap out of it, and chide yourself. You’re not suicidal, are you? You can’t be. Chin up, get over it. You spot a friend and head over to him. It’s about time you talk to someone. You’re at a party, after all. So, you try to transform your grimace into a smile, pretend that you do give a damn about basketball. Talk to a few more people, refill your drink a couple times. And then you head back to your room, put off your assignment. You stare at your phone but don’t call your parents. You don’t feel up to it just yet. Tomorrow, you promise yourself. Tomorrow, but it tastes like a lie on your tongue.
But what you don’t know is this: all the sleepless nights and fatigued limbs will add up. You are not alright, and that’s okay, but if you keep pretending to be your thoughts may turn into actions. And that means you may not have a tomorrow.
That doesn’t have to be your story. That doesn’t have to be your life – tired and restless and indifferent. You aren’t being lazy or sensitive. You aren’t overthinking. It isn’t just exhaustion. Depression isn’t just sadness. It isn’t something in your head. It will leak into your body, your actions, your conversations, your life.
What most people don’t realise is that depression is a very real disease, with very real symptoms. Insomnia, restlessness, nausea, loss of appetite, lack of concentration, exhaustion. And so many more. It’s okay to be sick. It’s okay to need help. You aren’t disappointing anyone or falling short of expectations. Admitting that you’re not alright doesn’t mean you can’t handle your life. It just means that you need to take a break, and maybe you need a hand.
Learn to forgive yourself. Tell the people who care about you that you’re not okay – it’s one of the only ways you’ll get better. You are loved. You will not be laughed at. But you do need to get better – and the first step is admitting that you need help.
Your life may not ever be easy and not everyone will understand your circumstances, but if you feel like you’re going to take a drastic step, please try one of the numbers here instead. You are not alone.
Tara Jaigopal is a 16 year old from Bangalore, India. She spends most of her time reading and stressing out over math problems. Her favourite places are gardens and old book stores.
Check out more of her writing here: https://scatteringstardust.wordpress.com/