I'm so eager to get back to writing, to discussing things other than Trillary and Hillarump, to move my blog past all the depression talk... Speaking of depression, let’s talk about it.
Here’s a case for being more transparent with life. I wrote this post, hoping it wouldn’t be too “train-wrecky”, meaning, I wanted it to be useful information that would help one to reflect on their own situation, if they had a situation, but not so much read it and gape at the dysfunction of my own. I’m sure there was a bit of both.
However, there have been new friendships and deeper connections with people-formerly-known-as-acquaintances that have come as a direct result of being open about my mental state that I could never have predicted.
I can’t tell if the following is just a mindset that has changed for me since I’m the one living in it, having people left and right come right out and talk about how they deal with the same difficulties, or if the social vernacular is truly shifting to where it’s more common to hear about one’s struggles. I hope it’s the latter. But here’s how I see the world today:
Today it’s hard for me to imagine a scenario in which people would be surprised to hear about one dealing with depression or anxiety. Or to imagine a group I am a part of where I would feel uncomfortable if people knew I have/had used an antidepressant, was dealing with the weird after effects of coming off of said medication, or that I have the problem in the first place.
Over the past seven months since posting and being open with those around me, trust me: I’ve heard from the people you would never, ever guess are dealing with something major. Dozens of people reached out to lend support and empathy, request advice or a listening ear, or simply build a friendship based on shared experience and honesty.
Most of the time they or someone close to them was experiencing depression, anxiety, or sometimes something different but just as defeating. It’s been humbling and validating knowing that not only am I not the only one, but there are many struggling who just need one person in their life to be open enough about it to give them the permission they need to stop hiding.
Since I put it out there, now whenever I meet up with someone I haven’t seen in awhile or possibly whom I’ve never met, we already have an understanding of sorts. There is already the assumption that I don’t find it weird if they are open about their anxieties, weaknesses, addictions, or relationship problems.
And in return, I don’t find it weird that they ask me outright how I knew I needed help or how my weight has been affected by my medication. Ha.
Before opening yourself up to your world (I mean your world, it doesn’t have to be the world), you really don’t realize just how many pretenses you typically have to cut through to reach the point where those with whom you associate can just be transparent and free. It’s really exhausting and time consuming when you start to add it up.
I'm at the point now where it is more uncomfortable for me to pretend than it is for me to be authentic. That has always been my goal--to feel more comfortable with myself than I do with my “representative” (as G.D. Melton would say)-- and it’s feeling more within reach than ever.
Since I put my problems out there for all to hear, it’s only fair I put the progress out as well.
Sunshine, summertime, new tasks inherent to moving to a new city for a few months, more adaptation to the medicine, more exercise, more husband due to no finals, and less infants due to baby growth, all contributed to climbing out of the dim, shadowy place I’d been holing up for many months.
Still, it continues to be a battle, figuring out how much of how I feel at a given time is “me” and how much is “it”, how much is discipline, how much is mood, or PMS, or IUD, or diet, or kids, or the news or just… life.
It has taught me once again that no matter what place I find myself in life, there will never be an end to the tug of war between contentment and progression. Life seems to be one hunt for a diagnosis after another, one, “what’s really going on here…” after “wow, I feel so at peace and content with exactly where I am…”
I’ve been blown away at how much depth can exist in even an acquaintance-level friendship when honesty and humility are expressed in each encounter. We’re all just in this together, trying to have a good time wherever we are. People understand and love much more than we give them credit for.
Another thing that happened to me this summer was Hamilton*. That’s how it feels, like it happened to me. It couldn’t have entered my life at a better time, and I credit this one "little" Broadway musical as a big catalyst for my healing.
I had heard songs and tidbits all year, but it wasn’t until Jon and I were sitting there one midsummer night, having only listened to song 1 together, that we decided to turn off the lights, turn up the music, and… no, not that. Sit in the dark and listen to the entire soundtrack front to back, fully consumed for two hours, not speaking, occasionally chuckling, crying, and wondering how something like this could even exist.
*If you don’t know what this is, shame on you. Also, the rest of this will seem over-the-top to your pre-Hamilton self. Results may vary. Call me.
Something about Hamilton aligned seamlessly with where my heart was in the beginning of last summer. I haven’t been fully able to place it, exactly what about the story or music put some of my broken pieces back together, so quietly yet so distinctly.
You know how music does that to you? How it can seem to answer the call from your soul that you didn’t even know you were sending? It fit right into my heart this summer, better than I think it would have any other time.
It shifted things in me, my memories, my perceptions, my biases... it worked for good in my marriage, and reached places of my heart that needed mending through understanding.
I know it sounds like a wild exaggeration or just plain odd that I’m saying a piece of music could impact me in such a profound way… I take that back. Of course a masterpiece could touch a heart that way; that’s the beauty of art. What one may call “fun” or “too much rap”, another could call “life changing” and “healing”. If you’ve never experienced the latter, you’ll know it when you find it, and I’d recommend starting the search ASAP.
This Broadway musical was in many ways the soundtrack to so many events taking place across the country this summer. I thought of the police shootings, both by the police and of the police, as I listened to songs about oppression, redemption, and power struggles.
I watched an ugly political race heat up as rhymes of political and actual warfare were spewed across a stage in the form of hip-hop battles.
I searched for more understanding and connection with my husband as I listened to songs about empathy, love, and enduring the most brutal of trials together.
I cried for my dear friends whose lives have been turned upside down by infidelity and betrayal as I listened to songs on both sides of that coin.
I gave a lot of thought to my potential, my legacy, and my words as I got to know the characters (historical figures) whose sacrifices led to my having the freedom to consider those parts of my life.
Perhaps above all, I felt a powerful yearning for more compassion for my fellow women and men, more empathy and more love, as I felt the entire score leading me along a path of redemption, forgiveness, and a desire to make a difference in the world.
I’m going to make an attempt soon to write the things I’ve learned from Hamilton. Like all great art can do, it expanded my horizons, my ideas of what I thought were possible, and forced me to examine various paradigms I had never before considered. And seeing it in person on July 4th weekend with my man was...everything.
Some other things I plan to write about so as to take my focus off of the election of 2016, (in clickbait terms since I know that’s all you know how to read anymore) are:
- This One Weird Trick Will Fix All Your Relationship Problems
- How Tiny Apartments Can Increase Love and Intolerance For Your Family
- This Expert Claims Happiness Comes from Pain
- How to Make a Real Friend on Facebook
- This One Opinion Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity
- A Former President and Future President Walk Into a Broadway Theater (With Me)
...And many other issues on which I am unqualified to speak but that I will publish here because everything on the Internet is true.