This was originally written on Friday afternoon. It took me a few days to be able to post.
If you were to take a snapshot of my life today and compare it to where I was a year ago, you’d be able to see the drastic change that’s happened. As the one who lived it, it feels gradual in the same way your parents don’t seem to age, or your dog grows up. But when you look back at pictures, you see, perhaps for the first time, how magical change can be.
I’ve written a lot about my journey this year. Most of it came from the need to share my story in the hopes I’d inspire others with a chronic illness (mental or physical), or just down on their luck, to know that life can change for the better. This blog has always been a platform for me to share and inspire, created from the need for a blog that not only showed me how art was made, but that it’s possible to create right where you are.
So here’s my letter to you, from the other side.
I know things are really hard right now. There are family obligations, appointments, a job to deal with, and all the things you “should” be doing.
Throw that word out right now. There is no “should,” no normal or typical path to take. Stop looking at your friends and being jealous. Decide, instead, to celebrate them. Support them. Every time you feel less or bad because they’re out there accomplishing awesome things, choose love. Compliment them. Do something to show them how much you love them and want them to succeed. And use that momentum to get off your butt and start doing all those things you’ve been planning for so many years.
Right now, you have a lot of time on your hands. Maybe you’re not working, or don't feel like socializing much. The days are wide open stretches of pain or fatigue, each hour harder than the next, every minute that passes mocking you for not being able to do anything. Just know it’s not always going to be that way - life comes at us and changes everything when we least expect it, so take comfort in knowing this, today, isn’t forever.
My hope for you is that you don’t let this keep you from living. There are so many experiences you’ve already missed out on because of fear - the fear of the “cost” the next day, the fatigue and pain that undoubtedly comes after any kind of exertion. Be willing to pay the price. I promise you, you will be glad you tried and did something. Even in those darkest moments, you can remind yourself of the joy you experienced.
My biggest wish is that you take that hard step. Going out on your own can be scary! Getting off that medication may be the most terrifying thing you’ll ever do. Do it anyway. Allow yourself the chance to bring more blessings into your life. Get away from the toxic people and places, even if they’re comfortable and worn like home. You will be thankful you broke away and freed yourself. Fear is a powerful force, and darling, I know you’re scared. But you will be so thankful you did.
My dear self, don’t be silent anymore. Talk about the dark days and the narcotic dependance that snuck up on you. Talk about the nights you dreaded and the days when you soared. Talk about the abuse and the terror and ever-present anxiety that comes from being thrown around. Don’t suffer in silence or shame. Don’t let your desire to paint other people in a positive light keep you from owning your story. You’re free, now, in so many ways. Embrace it.
Have faith in yourself and your path because you never know where it could lead. Don’t think your dreams have died - they are still there, under the surface. I swear, there is a place for you where all the things you’ve taught yourself, all the years spent struggling yet persevering, will pay off. Everything will come together, but you must take that first leap and walk out of the dark shadows and into the light.
This doesn’t mean your pain goes away. This doesn’t mean the depression has been defeated. You’ll live with constant anxiety and fight with the urges to self-harm. But you have people who are there for you. In the darkest moments, you probably think no one would notice if you killed yourself, that no one cares or pays attention. This is not true! There are people, I swear. I could name them. They’ll notice and worry and text and send people to your house. You are loved and noticed and valued. You are capable and amazing and strong.
I know this as surely as I know my own self. It’ll take hard work, but you’ll uncover yourself and see how much beauty is there.
And as I write this, I’m seated in my office, at my job, where I’m doing all the things I dreamed of. I’m working on graphics and projects and videos, with people who see my ability and value and care for me. I may be a little heavier, but I’m happy and fed and in less pain. I’m able to sit at a desk, go out with friends, be spontaneous. I have roommates in a nice house and a room I love, but rarely see because of all I do. I have money and a car (that I own!) and all those little bills. But I’m making it. I’m painting and showing my work and selling pieces. I’m living the dream I thought died.
I was just hidden. It’s still there.
And it can be the same for you.
Sincerely, on the one year anniversary of getting help and changing my life,