Moving halfway across the country was kind of a big deal for me. I know, I just blew your minds. I know it was a big thing for my kids, for Ryan, for the dogs even.
For me, the move brought with it a realization that I was completely and utterly lost as a person, and I’m only just now starting to piece that puzzle together. A huge part of that has been accepting my past and putting it behind me. I can’t go back and change the mistakes I made. What I can do is try to understand what led me down those paths and make changes that will help me avoid them in the future. Without using it as an excuse, it’s been really helpful coming to the understanding my depression, and the self-hatred that comes with it, was a major contributing factor.
I know I’ve spent a lot of time talking about my depression. It’s a topic that tends to bring people down, and I’m sorry for that. It’s hard to think about someone you love in pain. I get it. But I’m not going to stop talking about it, because people need to understand that they are not alone, and in order to do that, we need to see what mental illness looks like.
It looks like me. And that girl, and that guy over there, and a million other people who have different personalities and dreams and desires, who express themselves in a million different ways. It doesn’t look like any one person. Maybe it looks like you, and that’s ok.
For the first couple of months after we got here, I literally thought I was going crazy. I could not reconcile this new reality with my past, which felt less and less like a part of my story every day. There were days when the disconnect between now and then felt so great that I truly wondered if I had dreamed everything up until we moved here. It was a terrifying, agonizing feeling. And it was constant.
Getting back on my meds helped immensely. My brain likes to convince me that I don’t actually have depression, that I just need to get my shit together. But I do. And if I go too long without the medication that – while not a golden ticket to happiness – helps to balance the chemicals enough that I can think clearly, I will end up in a very dark place. A dangerously dark place.
I’m in a good place now. Literally and figuratively.
But the truth is there is no one thing that got me here. And I am not deluding myself into thinking that I’m at the end of some kind of magical depression journey. I know it’s a daily battle.
So…who am I? That, of course, has been the underlying question of the past four months. Who the hell am I and how do I fit into this world? What do I contribute? What value do I add?
There is no simple answer to that.
On the one hand, I am a:
And probably a lot of other things that I’ll find out once I get my DNA kit back. I’m better at being some of these things than others. Some of them are more impactful than others.
I am also a friend. I hope I’m a good one. I try to be.
I’m a first generation American, which is cool, but I’m also fully aware of how little I can relate to others in that category, considering my parents immigrated from England. But it’s part of who I am, and it certainly helped shape who I am, for better or worse. Maybe both.
I’m an actress.
Dancer – not like…Beyonce quality, but your girl can rock a routine.
I’m a writer. I’d like to turn that into a profession, but I don’t want to be nailed down. I have too many ideas. Novels, plays, short stories, blogs on many different topics, tweets. Oh so many tweets.
I’m a creator. I like to create. Crafts, art, photography, singing, acting, writing. I’m good at some, better at others, not spectacular at any one thing, but that’s ok. Creating feeds my soul. It centers me. I feel more accomplished, more right when I’m creating. It fulfills me in a way I can’t even explain.
And that’s what I’ve decided I am. I am all of those things. But how do I incorporate any of them into the age-old question of “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
I’ve said for years that there are a lot of things I could be happy doing. And that’s true. I think I could be happy as a nurse, a surgeon, a dentist, a teacher, a zookeeper, a coffee shop owner, a waitress…any of those things. For a while. It’s funny because I think the answer has been under my nose for a long time. I’m sure other people knew before I did. In fact, when I interviewed for my current job, my future boss mentioned that I seemed like the kind of person who gets bored after a few years and needs something new.
He was so. Right. I mean…I lied and denied that at the time because I needed a job. But he was absolutely right. If you make me do the same thing for too long, I get bored and I check out.
Because I can’t be happy doing just one thing.
I mean, I’m sitting here twisting metal into little flowers while I listen to an ASMR video and type this blog, all the while thinking about this really cool idea I have for my YouTube channel.
I need creative outlets. All of the creative outlets.
And what I thought was…if I can stop trying to define myself as any one thing and embrace all of the different things that make me…you know…me, maybe I can be happy. I can write whatever I feel like writing, make crafts, create art, act, sing, make videos, take photos, and still learn new things. If I’m able to make some money doing any of those – awesome! If not, I’ll still be able to give myself that sense of calm that comes with creating, and I can stop pressuring myself into trying to “be” any one thing.
I can stop feeling guilty that I can’t focus on one aspect of who I am. Or feeling guilty that it’s taking me so long to finish things that I’ve started.
Maybe if I’m lucky, I’ll find a job that gives me another creative outlet.
The battle is far from over, but for the first time in a long time, I feel optimistic.