Rev. Yme Woensdregt
“Piglet?” said Pooh.
“Yes Pooh?” said Piglet.
“Do you ever have days when everything feels … Not Very Okay At All? And sometimes you don’t even know why you feel Not Very Okay At All, you just know that you do.”
Piglet nodded his head sagely. “Oh yes,” said Piglet. “I definitely have those days.”
“Really?” said Pooh in surprise. “I would never have thought that. You always seem so happy and like you have got everything in life all sorted out.”
”Ah,” said Piglet. “Well here’s the thing. There are two things that you need to know, Pooh. The first thing is that even those pigs, and bears, and people, who seem to have got everything in life all sorted out… they probably haven’t. Actually, everyone has days when they feel Not Very Okay At All. Some people are just better at hiding it than others.
“And the second thing you need to know… is that it’s okay to feel Not Very Okay At All. It can be quite normal, in fact. And all you need to do, on those days when you feel Not Very Okay At All, is come and find me, and tell me. Don’t ever feel like you have to hide the fact you’re feeling Not Very Okay At All. Always come and tell me. Because I will always be there.”
Winnie the Pooh always delights me. There is such wisdom, communicated in such a simple and direct way.
I’ve been talking in the last few months with some folks who are going through a time of being Not Very Okay At All. The fact that they would speak with me is a very good thing. Many people know that I have also dealt with depression in my life. With the help of some very good people, I have managed to come through to the other side.
We need to get rid of the stigma about depression. It is not a moral failure, or a failure of any kind. Depression attacks many people, more than we might think. If you’re feeling depressed, it’s not your fault.
This quote from Pooh gives us some insights about how we might deal with feeling Not Very Okay At All.
First of all, don’t keep quiet. When you’re in a rough patch, it’s important to let someone else know. You don’t have to suck it up all by yourself. You don’t have to keep calm and carry on. You’re allowed to freak out for a moment, for a while, to stop, to ask for help. A simple conversation with someone you trust helps immensely—maybe a relative, or a friend, a colleague, a spiritual advisor. If that seems too much, call a helpline or seek advice from your doctor. Who is your Piglet?
Secondly, you’re not alone. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that everyone else has it all together, and you’re the only one falling apart. It’s easy to feel trapped and isolated and overwhelmed. But you’re not alone. Everyone is struggling, even if they don’t show it. As Pooh observed about Piglet, “You always seem so happy and like you have got everything in life all sorted out.” And Piglet responds, “Even those pigs, and bears, and people, who seem to have got everything in life all sorted out … they probably haven’t.”
Thirdly, take the time for yourself. Take a mental health break from work, or school. Take time for yourself. Allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling. That would also be a good time to take a break from social media. Take a nap. Read a book. Watch a movie. Go for a walk. Do some gardening. Whatever floats your boat.
Fourthly, you don’t have to have an answer for what you’re going through. It’s OK not to know what is going on right now. It’s OK not to know how you’re going to fix the things in your life right now. Just take it one day at a time … one hour … one minute at a time.
Fifthly, be open. Things will come to you without you having to stress yourself about it. Stay open to the goodness that is out there in the world, and some of that goodness may well land in your life.
And finally, this is so important that it bears repeating. Don’t keep quiet. Talk with someone. Share what you’re going through. People do care about you, and are looking for a reason to show just how much they love you.
Yme Woensdregt is Pastor at Christ Church Anglican in Cranbrook