Are You Okay?

Sharing thoughts on how we respond when people ask if we’re okay.

I typically share long, thoughtful posts. This won’t be a long post, but I wanted to share a few thoughts.

Last week, I attended an event [hosted by the Lucas County Suicide Prevention Coalition] about mental health and suicide. The presenter was Kevin Hines – the young man who attempted suicide by jumping from the Golden Gate bridge and who survived. Kevin talked about how on his way to the bridge and before he jumped, all he wanted was for someone to ask if he was okay. For someone to acknowledge him and to know that someone cared for him. Due to his traumatic past, he was battling mental illness at the time of the attempt.

During the presentation, I empathized with him. I felt his pain because I experienced similar feelings at different points in my life. Feelings of hopelessness and despair consumed me. I felt lonely and really thought no one cared for me. There were times when I felt like I had made so many mistakes in my life, that the thought of those mistakes caused so much emotional pain, I felt physically wounded.

I thought about how brave Kevin was to be vulnerable and share his story to strangers. How we all have stories to share and that there are times that we’re not always okay.

So when people ask if we’re okay or how we’re doing, why do we say we’re fine or we’re okay? Personally speaking, I don’t want to be a burden. I think people ask the question as a common courtesy without really understanding the power of the question: “Are you okay?”

There were days when I was asked that question and I wanted to be honest and tell the person that I felt hopeless. That I didn’t know if I wanted to live. Or if I stayed in their presence, that I would break down and cry from emotional pain.

I would suppress my feelings for so long, that I would suffer from occasional emotional breakdowns. I internalized a lot of my thoughts, emotions, everything. Thinking I had to be the strong, Black, praying woman. But we all need help. None of us are perfect and we need someone to talk to. We are not meant to walk this Earth alone.

The presentation has inspired me to be more vocal and transparent with my own past and current mental health struggles. I am not ashamed. Despite everything that I’ve been through, my story can help someone else. That is what brings me joy and hope.

I hope your reading this post has given you hope for the future and your current situation. Or that it has inspired you to be kind to strangers, friends, and families because you don’t what mask they are wearing that day to hold their life together.

Be kind. Be empathetic. Be patient. Love.

Below are several mental health resources to share or use.


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