Letting Myself Let Go

By Jessica CooneySeptember 2, 2014

Two years ago, had you asked me if I wanted to be happy, I would’ve told you that I would do anything for a light at the end of the seemingly endless tunnel that was depression. I thought that as soon as I saw the light I would run toward it, and I would leave behind the darkest parts of me without ever looking back. So I fought, and I put the work in, and I waited for the light to peek through.

Then one day, the light was there. And yet for some reason, it scared me. I found myself stalled; I was in a much healthier place than I had been, but I still wasn’t living the life I knew I could.

In many ways, this was even harder to admit to than depression. Who would understand a fear of what was undeniably better? I convinced myself that I was singlehandedly embodying the myths associated with depression. Maybe I was seeking attention. Maybe I was lazy. Maybe I needed to just get over it.

In reality, though, that wasn’t the case. After a lot of reflection, I started to grasp what made that light so scary. I was so used to depression that it felt safe. My methods of coping, while undeniably unhealthy, were easy. And staying at rock bottom felt easier than climbing and falling again and again. I had grown so accustomed to the struggling version of myself that I wasn’t quite sure who I was when I was healthy. Surely this meant my healthy self was even more forgettable and insignificant than I imagined.

Eventually, and without me even realizing it was happening, a lot of factors came together that helped me let go and leave behind that darkness. A new project gave me a sense of purpose. A friendship formed that was based on positivity rather than mutual pain. These things helped me realize that most of my fears were unfounded.

Still, I needed to be convinced that letting go of the past was OK.

It’s OK to not be OK” is a message I believe wholeheartedly. It’s a phrase I’ve heard a thousand times and will say a thousand more. We don’t talk about the opposite message as often because it seems so obvious, but I think it’s equally important: It’s OK to be OK.

It’s been over a year since I started to embrace the light at the end of the tunnel, and once in a while I still need to remind myself that being content isn’t a synonym for “waiting to sink again.”

Finding safety in the familiar doesn’t mean you’re seeking attention or choosing to be depressed. The unfamiliar can be scary, even when it is undoubtedly healthier, happier, and freer. Healing doesn’t mean admitting that none of your struggles mattered. It doesn’t mean you are leaving behind the people who are still hurting. It doesn’t mean that you no longer have permission to hurt or ask for help. It doesn’t mean that you are setting yourself up for a fall.

I have spent so much time reflecting on and reliving my hardest moments.

But starting now, I am embracing this “OK-ness.”

I am OK, and I am grateful for the journey that got me here.

I am OK, and I matter just as much as when I wasn’t.

I am OK, and I am still allowed to have bad days and ask for help.

I am OK, and that makes me excited for the future instead of fearful.

I am no longer spending my days desperately searching for the light at the end of the tunnel or wishing for the comforts of the past. This is an entirely new chapter in a long story, but I finally believe that where I am right now is exactly where I am supposed to be.

Wherever you are in your journey, OK, not OK, or somewhere in between – you matter, you’re living an important story, and however you feel is OK.

– Jessica Cooney, TWLOHA Fall 2013 Intern

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Comments (26)

  1. Mary Kate

    Such a great thing to hear & know that it’s ok to feel ok. Thank you!

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  2. Anonymous

    Thank you so much for sharing this, it was exactly what I needed to hear right now. To know that I’m not the only one and that being scared to find the light at the end of the tunnel does not make me a horrible person. I could never explain my fear to people around me because I didn’t understand it myself but this has really helped me. Thank you.

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  3. Melissa Lawrence

    My biggest fear is that I’ll become complacent again that I forget that being content is ok. There is a difference. “I still need to remind myself that being content isn’t a synonym for “waiting to sink again.”

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  4. Anonymous

    This is something that I really needed to hear. I’m currently on my journey to recovery and every time I start to feel okay, I feel completely lost. I thought I was alone in feeling that way but I guess it is okay and I’ll be okay. It’s just a feeling I have to get used to. Hearing that it’s okay to be okay makes feel good that I am okay.

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  5. Kristin

    I’ve felt “safe” in my sadness so many times; thanks for sharing this!

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  6. Anonymous

    How can I contribute my story? I love reading others that are posting and would like to share mine.

    Reply  |  
    1. Claire Biggs

      You can email [email protected] to get more information on contributing to the blog!

      Reply  |  
  7. Anonymous

    I’ve just recently reached a similar point in my life. It’s felt odd and scary because it’s new and unfamiliar but weirdly I’ve easily welcomed this new stage. I’ve jut remained somewhat confused about this mixture of feelings…

    I’ve had those same “Maybe I was seeking attention. Maybe I was lazy. Maybe I needed to just get over it.” thoughts and they have done nothing apart from trying to pull me back down, so thank you for reminding me that it’s okay to feel that way. Feeling confused about the progress I’m making doesn’t need to be a reason to destroy how far I’ve come or discount how hard I’ve worked to get here.
    I also loved being reminded that being complacent isn’t just waiting to sink again.

    For the first time in my life (leaning towards my 30’s!) I’ve actually FELT the hope and the warmth around me assuring me that it will get getter from here.

    Thank you for sharing your story and helping me get back on track!

    “It’s Okay to be Okay!” 🙂

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  8. CaraW

    You give me a new definition of feeling content. Thank you!

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  9. Anonymous

    This is the exact thing that I needed to read right now. Thank you so much for sharing this.

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  10. Anonymous

    This is how I feel right now. I’m not sure of the light. It is very scary. Thank you for this!!

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  11. Makalyn Murray

    I suffered from self esteem or rather lack there of… I allowed myself to believe I was worthless and therefore I also struggled with self harm… the scariest thing about healing is watching my scars fade away. I want them there because I feel like what I went through was real and when they start to fade away I instantly feel like I need to add more to replace them… thank you for this article… it made me think that maybe it’s time to let them go and not be upset at their absence… but most importantly that is okay for me too feel this way. To feel sad or empty without those scars.

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  12. katie

    I am having a hard time being ok….

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  13. Heather

    This post feels like it was written about my experience as I have experienced everything written here, even the time periods are the same for me!

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  14. Anonymous

    So relatable and simply beautiful. Thank you for this.

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  15. Anonymous

    What a great article! I have been there and still fight this! To be scared to get better even though it is what I want more than anything!

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  16. JML

    I can relate to this completely, thank you for sharing. Good to hear I’m not the only one. 🙂

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  17. Cait

    I just had to say thank you after reading this. I have been looking at the light at the end of the tunnel for almost two years now… and hearing someone else who felt the same way made me feel that maybe I’m not a complete screw up. Getting better and the concept being “healthy” has been more terrifying than words can say. I am so scared that if I truly let go and try to fully embrace myself and move forward only to fall down once more down the road, I could not survive such despair and the loss of happiness a second time. Even though I know that being “ok” is what I want, it has been safer and almost comforting to stay down and not try. If I do not try, I cannot fail again. I kept thinking I am truly “crazy” and, yes, an attention-seeking self-harmer, who simply was refusing to just “get over it” and pick myself up again. Thank you thank you thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. I no longer feel so alone as I try to move away from the darkness, reclaim myself, and be “ok” again.

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  18. Melody

    Love this! Thank you

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  19. Raquel

    It’s like you’re in my head!
    This is a beautiful message that so many of us need to be reminded of daily.
    “It’s okay to not be okay,” and “It’s okay to be okay” are two messages that are written all over my journal.
    Thank you for sharing, Jessica.

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  20. anonymous


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  21. Anonymous

    Thank you so much for sharing.. This makes me think a lot about how i’m facing my recovery, and why i’m not happy with being happy, most of all. Not letting myself fight for what makes me feel good. Thank you

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  22. Cristy


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  23. Tiffany

    thank you for this. You have no idea how much this saved me.

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  24. Stacy

    Saying thank you to you for posting this will never be enough. I’ve never be diagnosed with depression, nor have I looked into getting any type of help or validation of my own opinions on suffering from it, but everything you said is something I have been struggling with for quite a few years. I’ve seen depression tear my sister apart and I’m scared it’s beginning to happen to me.

    But anyways, this really helped me. Even in the last few weeks, “Maybe I was seeking attention. Maybe I was lazy. Maybe I needed to just get over it.” reading that was perfect, because those have been my exact thoughts. Particularly the last sentence; that has been my biggest struggle the last few years. So thank you for posting this, because it’s bookmarked on my laptop and my phone and I will come back to this when I need some saving grace because I can’t get it anywhere else.

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  25. Katherine

    I was brought to tears by this. I have been in the same boat for a while and knowing that its ok to be afraid to be happy really makes me feel better. Thank you so much for sharing.

    Reply  |  
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