You may know a lady for her radiant smile and cheerful demeanor, but behind her lively facade, she may be carrying a burden that only she could see.

On the surface, a male coworker may be the epitome of strength, a go-to guy for any challenging tasks. Little do people know that he is engaged in a silent battle with his own mind.

The very strength and cheer that define us in the real world are sometimes what trap our vulnerability within. 

A lot of us are really not okay.

But guess what? It’s okay. 

This is just one of the many realizations I got from the South Korean drama that bravely tackled mental health with both depth and compassion.

It follows the story of Moon Gang-tae, a psychiatric ward caregiver with a difficult past, and Ko Moon-young, a successful children’s book author with an enigmatic personality who is struggling with her own traumatic history. 

For those of you who have not watched this series, this blog post might be a spoiler, but I hope that my insights will encourage you to check it out.

There’s a free resource waiting for you at the end of reading this post. Enjoy and get your download later!

Here’s what I learned from It’s Okay to Not be Okay.

💜Try to understand that everyone we meet has their own trauma.

The characters in this drama have experienced various forms of trauma and as you progress in the series, you will come to know the impact of these experiences on their lives. It highlights the importance of understanding and addressing trauma to achieve healing.

The behaviors, reactions, and coping mechanisms of the people around us are often shaped by their past experiences. By understanding that individuals may be carrying traumas, we can refrain from making quick judgments and appreciate the complexity of their emotions and actions.

It would be useful to have a background in Psychology to better understand our family, friends, partners, and colleagues, but not everyone has this privilege. I believe that a doable act we can do is to observe and interact. This way, we can somehow develop insights into human behavior. 

Everyone experiences love, joy, sadness, fear, and other emotions, regardless of their educational background. Common life experiences contribute significantly to our ability to understand and empathize with others.

💜 Don’t take communication for granted.

I cannot stress this realization enough because we tend to neglect our communication with others. Miscommunications and conflicts often arise from a lack of understanding about each other’s past experiences. If only people will really take the time to sit down and talk it out, we will avoid petty quarrels and unintentional pain. This effort will bring about emotional safety and trust.

When we recognize that those around us have unresolved traumas, this can inform us on the best communication strategies to use. It encourages us to communicate with sensitivity, choose our words carefully, and be mindful of potential triggers that could rekindle painful memories.

Communication is a cornerstone of human connection. Let’s use it to understand the internal states and perspectives of others.

💜It does not hurt to be compassionate.

Another crucial lesson I gained from It’s Okay to Not Be Okay is the power of compassion. This drama underscores the significance of healing and empathy in dealing with individuals who are going through emotional difficulties. It encourages us to be understanding and supportive rather than judgmental. 

It’s good to look out for the wellbeing of others and to have genuine concern. When we show compassion, we will have a more interconnected and harmonious society.

We can be kind by trying to see situations from the perspective of others and validating their feelings by acknowledging them. Small gestures, like helping someone carry groceries or offering a sincere compliment, can make a significant impact.

While being compassionate, it’s essential to set healthy boundaries. We must recognize when it’s necessary to prioritize our well-being and when it’s appropriate to help others. We need to extend the same compassion to ourselves that we offer to others.

💜It’s brave to seek professional help for our mental wellbeing.

In certain societies, it’s still not normal to talk about one’s mental health situation. This drama plays a crucial role in breaking the stigma surrounding mental health. It emphasizes that it’s okay to struggle and that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

The drama recognizes the value of professional help in dealing with mental health issues. It shows that therapists and mental health professionals play a crucial role in guiding individuals toward healing and recovery.

In the fast-paced world we live in, it’s healthy to seek professional help in better navigating life’s challenges. Mental health professionals know tools that can empower us to manage our mental health more effectively. They take a holistic approach to treatment, considering various aspects of an individual’s life, such as relationships, work, and lifestyle. 

When we consult experts in this field, we are in a safe and confidential space for us to discuss our concerns. This confidentiality promotes openness and honesty.

With cases of mental health challenges we see from news and from fiction, we know that even the strongest individuals can carry burdens that are invisible to the naked eye. These realizations I got from this drama are what I carry with me in relating to people around me.

The cast of this series delivered powerful and convincing performances. They really brought authenticity, sensitivity, and emotion to their roles. The way that the plot was showcased is what made this drama stand out. It’s the unconventional storytelling that made it unique. The inclusion of fairy tales and the integration of literature contribute to a narrative that feels fresh and thought-provoking.

I hope you are okay today. If not, may you have the peace to feel that it is okay to not be okay.

I’m sure you have your own favorite character in this drama. Feel free to use this character analysis worksheet!

If you want to read my thoughts on another series, head over to my blog post on Why I Think the Squid Game Series Trended on Netflix.

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Akhilesh Nambiar

I'm an architect by profession and a writer by passion. I've been writing for 6 years now. I've been a part of 9 anthologies including short stories, quotes, and poetries.

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