Can we talk about mental health for a minute? I know, it isn’t “mental health day” or “mental health month”, but do we really need a day or a month to talk about something that in a normal year affects each and every one of us? Not to mention we’re not living in a “normal” year.
As an artist, emotions are a constant conversation for me. I feel things with an intensity that can knock me right off my feet. Happiness, sadness, fears, hopes—these things slam into me like strong waves at the beach. Sometimes they wash over me. And sometimes it’s that disorienting feeling of being tossed and rolled over and over not knowing which way is up, scrambling for breath, choking on water, and hoping you find a way to get your head above water before your last breath escapes.
We live in a culture where perfection is praised. Flaws are something to be ashamed of and hidden. We airbrush, filter, and hide so many truths. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I love a good filter and seeing the positive. Making the best of situations is something I strive for every day. But there is a huge difference between being positive and hiding sadness. Honesty allows me to tell you I’m having a bad day. A positive outlook allows me to acknowledge that today might be bad, but tomorrow can be better. Lessons can be learned from sadness and hardship, but sadness should not be hidden. It’s ok to have a bad day, month, or even year—that’s honesty. Positivity allows us to experience it, embrace it, allow the darkness to be with us, while also holding hope that better days will come. In sharing the darkness we see the light that can only be seen in sharing that darkness.
Honesty, I’ve suffered from depression. I’ve been suicidal. I’ve spent years with PTSD so bad I thought I’d never live a normal life again. I almost didn’t have children because I worried I’d never have the strength to be a mother. There were times I didn’t feel capable of caring for myself, let alone being responsible for someone else. But time moved on. My children have brought me more joy than I knew possible. I’ve found that being a mother made me a warrior. I love with a fierce intensity. I’m not that warm fuzzy mother, but I will go to battle for anyone that I love and fight like, well, a “mother”.
Worse days came more than I could have imagined, but I kept going. I picked myself up. OTHERS picked me up. I found so much happiness. Good days come, bad days come, but it is in the honesty of sharing that that I always see the beauty in life. When the worst happens, you’ll see miracles. You’ll see people you’d never expect show you beauty in ways you can’t even imagine. Life is beautiful, and life is sad, tragic, magical, intense. Embrace it, talk about it. Never hide it. Big Girls Do Cry—sometimes the tears are happy.