CW: mention of self harm and mental illness
I’ve lived with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for almost 2 decades. My 20s are mostly a blur of deep sadness and hopelessness, punctuated only by memories of things I failed at, leaving a promising job, dropping out of school, leaving my childhood religion, even failing at suicide added to my darkness. It took me nearly 10 years to finally reach out to a therapist, and several more to find one that helped me to see myself in a way that wasn’t covered in shame and worthlessness. I finally began to hope that I might have purpose in my life. I finally began to believe that I maybe deserved to feel whole. I started trying to find medications to help me. And, luckily for me, they did.
That’s why I loved this article on The Establishment, Treating Mental Illness Doesn’t Ruin Creativity, by Sarah Bronson. She talks to three artists about how their mental illness, and how treating it, affects their work. Treating my MDD and PTSD is what gave me the freedom to begin exploring my creativity, the freedom from self-fulfilling doubts that stopped me from ever trying to create, from that voice that whispered, “you’re not good enough to do that” and “you don’t have anything worth saying.”
I’ve learned that self-care is an essential part of maintaining my mental health, and these sketches of “boring self-care” by Hannah Daisy of @MakeDaisyChains spoke to my soul. Went outside has been my only win on many, many days. Click through to her Instagram account to see her fantastic illustrations on mental health.
To close out Mental Health Awareness Month, I hope you take time to reach out to your friends and family. Listen to their stories, sit with them, hold your embarrassment and their awkwardness in the space between you. There are so many things we can talk about for Mental Health – ending the stigma, the lack of resources and how that intersects with relying on police to provide intervention, the high rates of successful suicides for second attempts, the comorbidity with substance abuse, falsely correlating violence with mental illness, and so much more. All of these discussion are important and real. But for this May, hold your loved ones in your heart a little longer. Hear them. Believe them. The best thing any one has ever done for me, in the midst of a depressive episode both deep and long, was to hold on to me while I cried and simply say, “I know it hurts. I’m here.”
(I love you, C)