On August 9, we bid farewell with the well-loved K-drama It’s Okay To Not Be Okay (2020) as it aired its final episode. And while we may be saddened over the fact that the drama has ended, there are positives that we can take away and learn from the drama.
It’s Okay To Not Be Okay is one of the few dramas to tackle the topic of mental health head-on. You might pass it off as just another romance drama, but it’s more than that.
As the title of the drama suggests, it’s really OK to not be OK. Everyone has their own struggles, and it’s OK to struggle. There’s no shame in admitting that you need help, and it’s the first step to becoming OK.
Mun-yeong experiences difficulty with controlling her emotions and acts impulsively. In one episode, Gang- tae teaches her the Butterfly Hug and to count to three in order to calm herself and avoid making rash decisions. This has proven effective in the later episodes.
As we learnt from the show, Mun-yeong’s rashness in the earlier episodes caused her company money and her, her reputation. While it’s easy to let emotions cloud over our judgment, the challenge in life (and at being successful) is being able to control yourself.
Mun-yeong doesn’t hold back at saying or doing anything while Gang-tae suppresses his feelings. Being opposites, they learn how to balance expressing their emotions through one another.
What we learnt from them is 1) not holding back your words can hurt others, including yourself and 2) suppressing your feelings is not healthy. Before making a scathing remark, calm yourself down and ask yourself if you would regret your words later on. And if you have trouble expressing yourself, find someone you can confide in who can help you let your feelings out without judgment.
It’s easy to judge people in a split second. However, there’s more to each person than what we can see. It’s Okay to Not Be Okay teaches us to be mindful and that everyone is dealing with their own wounds. There is often a reason for seemingly irrational behaviour. What we think is a passing remark can be hurtful to others.
Facing your trauma can be daunting. Just ask Mun-yeong, Gang-tae, and Sang-tae! However, one can only start healing after coping with past trauma. It will be painful initially, but you’ll feel more free afterwards. If you need help, don’t be afraid to seek professional help.
It’s definitely easier to remember negative memories compared to positive ones. And in the same vein, we often remember the bad characteristics in people than the good. However, don’t let the negativity cloud your memories. Don’t forget that our memories can be inaccurate. For example, in the earlier episodes, Gang-tae only remembered his mom neglecting him, but it turned out that his mother loved him. It takes effort to remember the good memories, but if you don’t do it, who will?
It’s easy to get shut out and to shut ourselves when we’re hurt by the people around us. For example, Kwon Gi-do (Kwak Dong-yeon) was deeply hurt by his parents and siblings who looked down on him. Instead of living with the hurt, he spoke out and his condition improved after that. Other characters also experience catharsis after standing up for themselves in front of the people who hurt them. Don’t let others belittle you. Know your worth and stand your ground.
It can be scary to seek help and you might even be concerned about the stigma surrounding mental health issues in Singapore, but know that ignoring the problem or trying to deal with it on your own is not going to do you any good. It might even take a while to find the right people to ask, but once you have you won’t regret it! Thankfully, Gang-tae and Sang-tae have benefited from the help of the hospital director as well as others.
Sang-tae’s famous advice to his younger brother is hilariously true. You don’t need to go around kissing everyone, but basically Sang-tae means it’s better to love than to fight. Don’t let conflict and arguments get in the way of love.
Sometimes, family members can cause us a lot of grief and trauma. While you can’t choose who you are related to by blood, you can choose your own family beyond blood ties. The characters of It’s Okay to Not Be Okay have created their own families through loving and accepting one another.
Circumstances outside of your control can affect your happiness, but don’t let any person or event take away your happiness. Gang-tae and Mun-yeong were unable to be sincerely happy for a very long time due to traumatic events. Nevertheless, they chose to make different decisions that lead to them becoming happier.
It’s Okay To Not Be Okay is now streaming on Netflix.
Text: Cherisha Revanda Halim / HerWorld / August 2020
Additional text: Sally Manik
Featured image: Netflix