Note to Self:
Your Story Is Still Imporant
Real Life: I curate inspirational content that lands in the inboxes of thousands with the hopes of helping them on their path to wellness. Also real life: I struggle with episodes of depression, and right now I’m crawling my way out of one. One moment, one day, one conversation, one therapy session, one hug, one workout, one yoga practice, one mindfulness meditation at a time. Sometimes, life throws a lot at me all at once, and though I try to stay afloat, my brain connects too much of the here and now with the there and then, and my worlds swirl together, past and present, and I start believing the lies that trauma created for me which I’ve fought so hard to rewrite for myself.
This poster, with a message that I’ve tried to instill in the hundreds of people I lead, and which I have believed at a time applied to me, too, has been sitting tucked away and out of sight because of the stories I’ve been making up about myself. You see, when I’m struggling, I can believe its message of “Your Story Is Important” for everyone else except for me.
These are the lies depression tells us: You don’t matter. You’re not good enough. You are hopeless. You are a burden. You are not lovable. You are powerless. You are alone. You are weak… and sometimes, if the lies go on long enough… it may start to tell us the most dangerous lie, that our life isn’t worth living.
These are the stories wired into the neural pathways of my brain by my past experience. These are the lies so many people believe to be true, yet only true about themselves, when they are suffering with mental illness. These lies try to keep us from reaching out. They try to keep us from hope. They try to keep us in silence, in the darkness, suffering, alone, and believing there’s nothing we can do to help ourselves.
If I – surrounded by people who have time and time again proven they love me to the ends of the earth, I, the preacher of hope and positivity, I, the badass bearer of Team RWB “Eagle Fire”, can be fooled into isolation and secrecy by the lies of depression, so can your strongest friend, your stoic coworker, your smiling neighbor, your powerful marathon-running teammate… and you.
My loving husband and I hung this poster in my office last night, on my 13th wedding anniversary, after working another late night, and ordering takeout because I was too mentally and physically exhausted to do anything or go anywhere to celebrate with the man who has ridden the ups and downs of marriage and life with me. With his support, consistent therapy, daily physical activity, and my incredible circle of chosen family and friends, I’m trying, once again, to believe the mantra that now hangs on my wall and exists at the center of all that I stand for.
I’m working to believe, again, that I am neither too much or not enough for those that have demonstrated their love for me. That I possess something in my spirit and in my story that the world needs. That my impact is real and my dreams, big and small, still have a chance to come true, but that I have to both work hard and give myself time and grace to see them through.
Most importantly, I was able to hang this poster in my office last night because recently I found myself in an all too familiar and scary place, and I reached out for help that I am leaning fully into. I started taking small actions to help myself, supported by my family, friends, and teammates. Because, I told myself, the mere existence of this poster, of this mantra, of the organization that I acquired it from, To Write Love On Her Arms., and the organization I belong to and work for, Team Red, White & Blue, means that I’m not alone in any of this. That the noise in my head and the familiar pain in my scarred heart can and will once again be healed – that I can live in the present, in this body, in this place of support, love, and hope, and not where the pathways of my brain have been wired to go. Even if on some days someone has to hold my hand and help me turn the pages, I can keep writing my own ending. And if this resonates with you at all, so can you… but we don’t have to do it alone. We were never meant to.