themighty logo

What It Really Means to Be OK and How to Handle When You Aren't


“I’m OK.”

It’s something we say so often in passing, but do we ever really take the time to actually stop and think about what it means? A friend of mine defines OK as being safe, stable, secure, supported and caught up on sleep. So next time someone asks you if you’re OK, think before you automatically respond.

Are you physically and emotionally safe?

Are you psychologically stable?

Are you secure in yourself and your surroundings?

Are you getting the support you need for yourself?

Have you had enough sleep recently?

But what do you do if the answer to one of these is no?

If you need emergent help, get that first. If it isn’t an emergency, but you’re just not OK, please take a moment to read this.

You need to know that you don’t have to be OK. It’s OK to not be OK.

It’s OK to hurt. To ache, to grieve, to suffer, to break… you’re human.

I don’t know your situation. I don’t know if you’re chronically ill, going through trauma, a caregiver, struggling with depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, self-harming… or even if you just had a long stressful day at work or school and feel like you’re going to fall apart.

It’s OK to break. You don’t have to be strong. You’re human. It’s OK to fall apart. Cry, draw, weep, run, paint, dance… do whatever you need to do to let it out.

If you’re not OK, don’t worry about anyone else. You need to take care of yourself. Take some deep breaths. Take some time to center yourself. Let the racing whirlwind of chaos in your mind calm down. Find your happy place. Go there in your mind. Here’s a great list of 99 coping skills. Find one that works for you.

This too shall pass. Whatever is going on is temporary. You will feel OK again at some point. It might not be right away, it might take weeks or even months, but it will happen.

If this is going to take a while, find a fight song. It’s amazing to me how whispering a couple lines to “Roar” by Katy Perry, “Exhale” by Plumb, and many others can brighten a cloudy day and give me a little extra strength. Look for a song that speaks to you. It can be fun like “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk The Moon or serious like “Trust In You” by Lauren Daigle. Find what works for you.

It’s OK to not know what you need. It’s OK to not know what could help. You don’t have to have all the answers. A good first step at this point is often to reach out to someone to inform you of what some of your options are.

No matter what, keep fighting. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Sometimes it takes everything in someone just to be able to survive. You don’t have to do anything else. Take care of yourself. I promise, at some point, you will be OK again.

If you or someone you know needs help, see our suicide prevention resources.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.