Be Happy, Bitch
Can we talk for a minute about how much of a rut I've been in? It started forever ago, and it hasn't gotten any better. My brain says, "Snap out of it", but that's the farthest it goes; it shuts down before telling me how exactly to go about following its orders.
It's crazy to me that one day I can be completely content with my life and where I'm at, and then the next day, without anything happening to flip the switch, I'll feel like there's no escape from the stuckness I'm in, and I'll sink into subtle despair, just gentle enough for not many people to notice, but just deep enough that it stalls me. When I hit a certain depth, I'll write about it, or I'll unexpectedly start crying when a friend asks me how everything's going, or I'll get riled up enough to find some kind of escape, usually involving some kind of longish trip to someplace new. Unfortunately, none of those activities fuel any actual change.
Anytime I write honestly about my issues with anxiety and depression, I assume, by default, that people (the nefarious "they") will wave it off as complaining, or try to fix it for me in a way that will magically make everything better; will bring me back to normal, whatever the hell that even means. Why is it considered a bad thing to feel so strongly, and to express those feelings? My honesty often elicits reactions along the lines of, "Okay, I've heard about your feelings, now here's the solution so that you can stop feeling them. There. Solved. Now just be happy".
But what if this is just the way my brain works, and that's okay too? I am capable of extreme joy, but I am also capable of extreme sadness. L.M. Montgomery, who created Anne Shirley, my ginger spirit animal and soul sister 4 lyfe, summed this up so well a couple of times in the Anne of Green Gables series that when I reread the books several months ago for the first time in years, I actually got tears in my eyes.
In Anne of the Island, she writes:
“I hope no great sorrow ever will come to you, Anne,” said Gilbert, who could not connect the idea of sorrow with the vivid, joyous creature beside him, unwitting that those who can soar to the highest heights can also plunge to the deepest depths, and that the natures which enjoy most keenly are those which also suffer most sharply.
And in Anne of Green Gables:
For Anne to take things calmly would have been to change her nature. All “spirit and fire and dew”, as she was, the pleasures and pains of life came to her with trebled intensity. Marilla felt this and was vaguely troubled over it, realizing that the ups and downs of existence would probably bear hardly on this impulsive soul and not sufficiently understanding that the equally great capacity for delight might more than compensate...The downfall of some dear hope or plan plunged Anne into “deeps of affliction”. The fulfillment thereof exalted her to dizzy realms of delight.
This, you guys. So much this, times a million, forever and ever, amen.
What I'm trying to say is this: I want to be allowed to feel ALL THE THINGS. I want to not have some sort of weird guilt for the intensity that lives inside me. I want to say what I'm thinking without other people feeling like I'm asking for help. I want to feel good about my feelings instead of feeling bad about my feelings. You feel me?
That being said, I also don't want to let my feelings affect my ability to live a productive life. There is a point at which, if left unchecked, certain feelings become unhealthy, and if they're allowed to stagnate, they create a level of dysfunction that is unsustainable in the long term.
And that brings me back to where this post began: I am in a seemingly endless rut. As I mentioned earlier, I started crying the other day when my friend Sarah asked me how I was doing. It was a breaking point that came spontaneously in the middle of organizing photos for the last wedding that we shot together; one second I was talking about how I haven't been able to motivate myself lately, and the next second the floodgates opened up. I hadn't realized how much I needed to talk, to cry, to say my thoughts out loud instead of letting them grind up on each other inside my head like unaccompanied teenagers at a school dance.
Once the thoughts were out, I was able to get to the root of the problem, and I think - I hope - I came up with some good plans to overcome my current state of mind. To me, this is a sign that I need to let those feelings out more often, peoples' reactions be damned. As it turns out, it's the keeping everything bottled up that is the real issue. Go figure.
So here's to you, deeps of affliction and dizzy realms of delight. May you not be hidden away by those of us who feel you so strongly, and may you still be expressed even if there's a chance you might be misunderstood. If nothing else, you've got me.
Happy second week of April, lovers.