“You can cherish and care about people in different ways. Think about the different kinds of yellow. Even the same color can take different names depending on its chroma. The same goes for human emotions, such as affection. Fondness, hatred, love, friendship, and lust. They are like a rainbow.” — It’s okay to be not okay series
Last week was my first time speaking with a counsellor in my entire life. For Asians and the older generation, going to a psychologist is a taboo that maybe we are not good enough with our religion or our relationship with God. Despite that, I insist on trying after I’ve had worse insomnia, around five weeks. Fortunately, my office place offers a free 24/7 consultation service with an expert, so I don’t need to pay a penny.
There are many things that I could learn from the conversation with the counsellor, and if you feel the same as me, I hope you are getting better after reading my story.
After several weeks of nonstop overthinking, I choose to ask a professional about my condition. I don’t have any issue except me, who usually loves to sleep, need to read a manhwa, webtoon, or book after midnight to forget my overthinking and waiting for my eyes close to sleep and in the morning I got headache because the lack of sleep.
A month before I did the consultation, I felt frustrated and go a rampage on my close friend’s story on Instagram. Then, one of my close friends asked me, “why you looks so frustated” and I said, “I feel like my life go stagnan and nothing good in my life”. On the same day, I bought a book about Stoicism. A phrase hit me hard in that book: “Do ever your friend tell you that she/he feel their life is stagnan (doesn’t has any progress)? That maybe one of the symptoms that they may stressed”. Gosh, I just told the same thing to my friend, and I think what a coincidence.
After several days, I also read a Korean book called “I want to die, but I want to eat tteokboki”. The book is about a conversation between the patient and Psychiatry about her dysthymia. Dysthymia is a milder but long-lasting form of depression. It’s also called a persistent depressive disorder. I start to self-diagnose myself because I feel less motivated, don’t want to do anything even if I must do many things, am overthinking, feel bad about myself, and have other negative feelings.
I ever think maybe it’s just the phase, you know, quarter-life crisis. I try to give positive thinking and continue my life as if nothing happens. I try to stick to my activities, do my job, study and exercise every day, but I don’t feel happy. I try to find another thing that could give me happiness, but I don’t find anything. I felt empty.
With uncertain feelings, I am trying to talk and tell the counsellor I am a person with a high standard of myself and a perfectionist. I don’t want to do something if the chance of being a success is low. I usually procrastinate when I can’t do the task; even after a try, I typically finish the job with a good result. I am always thinking of myself as not capable. I fight with my thoughts daily, and sometimes I want to give up.
What I learn after the conversation
After a long talk with the counsellor, we conclude that I’m just exhausted with my perfectionism. I am afraid to fail, and it puts a burden on me. For twenty years of my life, I always lived like that so I could meet the expectation. In contrast, I want to live my life as I am now. I don’t want to give a fuck about what people say about me or compete with people that make me always feel small. I say to myself, it’s okay to be not perfect, it’s okay to be slower than the other, and it’s okay to be yourself and be happy.
It’s okay to slower down
We live for a marathon, so sometimes, at that point, we could feel exhausted. Slow down, rest and charge your energy first before continuing the track. You could take a break from what makes you exhausted. In my case, my counsellor asked me to minimize my activity, do an activity that I love to do 3–4 times a week and only one activity in a week. You could also give a break to the activity that takes energy with walking around your area and seeing the view you may never realize.
Honest with your own feeling
I have always done journaling since I was a student, and I told the counsellor. She said this was already a good step and asked how I usually do my journaling. I said I typically write about what I’ve done and what I need to improve. Then, she asked me to change my journaling style; instead of doing that, try to write about my feeling after doing something, be honest with myself, and write about what I like and dislike. I never think about my feelings; I just do something people say I need to do and ignore my feelings. So, be honest before it’s too late peeps.
Your happiness is what you decide
I always try to find something that could make me happy, but I can’t find any. I read something about our brain bias, if we want to see any blue sedan car, we could always find one because we focus on finding that, but if we don’t want to know, we can’t find any. It’s the same with happiness, define what makes you happy, and you can see that, as simple as having a cup of coffee makes me happy, you could feel it. Tips to define your happiness: never put your happiness into something you can’t control like you would be happy if your friend loved you. You could try to use the dichotomy of control to separate what you could control and couldn’t. Stoicism is one philosophy that I follow to define my happiness.
Stop overthinking and start what you can do
Overthinking is a negative emotion that needs much energy. So, to avoid overthinking, try to do something more positive that requires your energy. Most of our fear don’t be real things, and that’s the fact. You could try a grounding technique to help you stop overthinking. Using the 5–4–3–2–1 technique, you will purposefully take in the details of your surroundings using each of your senses. Strive to notice small details that your mind would usually tune out, such as distant sounds or the texture of an ordinary object.
- What are 5 things you can see?
- What are 4 things you can feel?
- What are 3 things you can hear?
- What are 2 things you can smell?
- What is 1 thing you can taste?
Try to stop the anxiety first and validate the emotion. Is it true? If not, just stop and think about it.
Lastly, be yourself
Whatever your condition, you are just you. You are precious and you are perfect for the person that perfect for you. So, it’s okay if you are not okay right now because that’s part of yourself.
It’s okay to be not because you are just at the phase you need to break. If you need help or support, please find someone you trust. I hope you find your rainbow after the rain.