I tell you one thing about depression/anxiety: they truly do make you feel like you have missed out on a chunk of your life. There will be moments in which you question if some memory of your is accurate or being altered by mental illness stained glasses. There will also be times where you try to recall who you were before they developed or if the personality traits you have now are actually yours. In the end you sort of get this feeling that you have to start all over again. Like, “Nope. Scratch that. *balls up life in a wad* Time for a new start.” Then when you realize that this is COMPLETELY impossible you feel stuck and disappointed. There’s also the burden of shame that comes along with it because some of the things you said/did during your lowest moments are things you want to erase. I remember when I was a little kid, probably 7 or 8, I borrowed a stuffed reindeer from my friend. That’s right. I used to borrow stuffed animals from people. AIN’T NO SHAME IN MY HUSTLE!!! But my friend actually brought it with her to school one day and I liked it so much that I asked if I could take it home with me. She consented to the slumber party and parted ways with her reindeer for the night. Well I promise I have absolutely no idea how it happened (swuuuuurrrr I do not) but some time between getting home from school and going to bible study one of the antlers came clean off. I mean I have no idea what ever happened to it. The whole antler disappeared. I felt so guilty about breaking her precious toy that at night when I went to bed and said my prayers I secretly prayed for the day to start all over. The prayer went a bit like this: “Dear Jesus. Please send me back in time. When I wake up in the morning let it be today again. Amen.” I was sure that I was going to wake up and start that day completely over. You couldn’t tell me that it was going to be a new day…until the next morning when it was in fact a new day. It was then I learned that it’s not possible to go back and start over all of the time. It’s possible to go back and right a wrong sometimes. It’s possible to pack up your bags and just leave everything. But it’s still impossible to completely start over. At the end of the day you’ll still be you and what has happened will still have happened.
In society we like the idea of new. Feeling brand new, buying brand new, being brand new. We don’t really feel comfortable with continuing past/through the present. Especially when the situation is uncomfortable or upsetting. But much of life is uncomfortable and upsetting. The first day of daycare/kindergarten. Taking the exam for your license. Moving into your own home. Breaking up with someone. Losing a friend. Losing a loved one. Starting a new job. It’s inevitable that things will occur that we have to endure instead of enjoy. And in the process of living you’re going to make a mistake, so you’ve got that to deal with on top of everything. It can be an overwhelming feeling that just makes you want a re-do button or an emergency exit. In fact you can feel pressured into believing that you have to restart in order to make it. I’m learning now that it’s really okay to just continue. Even if you’ve made the mistake or a couple. Just keep going (don’t keep making the mistake but don’t quit either). We’re also put in a position of having to meet certain goals by certain times (like getting married by a certain age or completing school by a certain age) and if you don’t reach that goal in that time frame people will express to you that you should just quit. Find something new. You truly have to know what’s right for you. If that goal is still your goal then continue. Hell, if you reach the goal you still have to continue on to the next goal. Life isn’t stationary nor is it reversible. You can stop. You can try to turn around, but your days are still going to tick on regardless of your own direction.
I always get mixed up somewhere in these posts and I’m pretty sure I did in that second paragraph. So I’ll give an example from something recent to help tie my loose ends. I decided to enter a lyric competition just to get my feet wet. I’m not saying that I’m….I don’t know any super songwriters that you guys may also like but I’m going to say Lianne La Havas because the woman is a queen with impeccable writing abilities. But I figured it would be worth a try to shake things up, I guess. Well I already prepared myself to not win because for one I’m an amateur writer who needs to improve upon my skills. Regardless of my lowered expectations I was still disappointed that I didn’t win (like how you Saints fans feel. Y’all should just accept that the Saints haven’t gotten it together since that superbowl win…..). You may be like “Amber this example is terrible. What’s the point if you didn’t have expectations?” Oddly enough, I expected not to win so I already asked myself what I planned to do if I didn’t. I wondered would I just give up? Say writing isn’t for me? Take the loss and cry about it then decide on another path? Then I remembered how I got started writing lyrics. The summer that I dropped out of college I was lost in the sauce. I was struggling with the idea of having a future and a purpose. Earlier that year I had stumbled across the video for “Ghost of You” by MCR (and if you haven’t seen it you should because I cried real tears after watching it. REAL TEARS). After falling in love with the song and video I started to listen to their other music. Then I would read their interviews and magazine articles because they are hilarious. And I ended up reading the story behind the song “The Jetset Life is Gonna Kill You” which I won’t fully detail but the song is based off of Gerard Way’s drug addiction. After I read that I could not listen to that song. I just could not do it. Only after 4 years could I listen to it without dying. Weird, I know. But his whole story about his struggle with depression and drugs and how he was a complete mess when they first started the band almost killed me. In fact in one of their movies where they revealed a little of their tour life Gerard collapsed under the influence of drugs and had to be helped up by a band mate. When he got up he said in this slurred drug/alcohol induced voice, “I’m going to be alright.” And you know I cried like Prince said doves do. Because he survived and he began to use his platform to address his past and help others who had similar struggles. It was then that I decided I wanted to write songs. I’m not a musical protegee. I was in band and took piano, but I’m not…Beethoven or anyone. I still play piano at an intermediate level after SEVEN YEARS! But I want to write because I want to share a message with people. Not one of judgement or hatred or even pity. But I wanted to be like, “It’s okay to feel this way. You’re not alone. You’re not broken,” because at that time I felt alone and broken. And here’s this alternative rock dude in a group of dudes who almost all did drugs (I think Ray was the only one who didn’t) whose telling kids to live on. So I didn’t win the competition, but I know what I want. And therefore I will continue.
I used to have the quitter syndrome. When things got tough or didn’t go my way then I would just quit. Throw in the towel. Throw in two towels. Throw out the towels with the bath water and the baby. Then these past few weeks I started to watch Steven Furtick online because I work every Sunday so I don’t get to go to church. My attitude had gotten extremely rotten especially after it was revealed to me that two coworkers were speaking poorly about me when I wasn’t around. It was to the point where I was using verbal profanity which as you know is not my thing. Then it clicked in my head that getting mad was not helping. I wanted to quit that job but what then? So I decided to turn back to Jesus. I backslid on backsliding. Jesus had to be a fence. He had to be the whole darned house with the way I was feeling. And one of the sermons Pastor Furtick taught was about chasing your purpose. Then another one was about Jonah and the whale. And the two meshed together for me because the sermon about Jonah taught that God’s provision is not always our preference. And the one about purpose taught that purpose is not stationary; we have to chase it. So now I’m thinking that there’s a time for everything. It may not be my time, but my purpose is still the same. This may not be exactly what I want right now because I would prefer to have a stable career, a Jeep Wrangler, my own house, etc but my needs are met. My bills are never past due. My family helps look out for me even though I don’t deserve it and didn’t earn it. And it’s okay. I see some of my peers doing really well in school or on their jobs and I start to feel bad that that’s not me. Like they need to have a recall on Amber’s because I’m not functioning properly, but I have to remind myself that we all move at our own pace. I’m probably moving slower because I’ve accumulated some baggage on the way, but I’m learning to drop a piece of luggage here and there to lighten my load. It is legitimately okay. Another point Pastor Furtick made was that we can’t tell our stories too soon because if we tell them too early we’ll only be able to tell of the pain, but not the purpose/provision. And I realize I have been trying to tell my story completely too early. When it’s storming all you can see is the rain and wind. All you can speak on is the storm so it starts to feel like there will never be any sunshine. But if you wait until after the storm, when the sun is out, you can speak on the rain, the wind, the sun, everything. That’s why I say it’s okay to continue. You can be Gerard speaking about addiction after he overcame it. You can be like Maya Angelou or Viola Davis. Like Oprah. If you feel like you can’t start over, it’s all good. If you feel like some screw up and you’ve messed up opportunities you’ve had you don’t have to have a redo. Continue. Because there really is someone out there like you who could use you to share your story. To inspire them. To remind them that they can make it. Just keep going.
PS: I never did tell my friend about that reindeer. I guess she forgot about it or she just let me have it. In fact, it’s at my house right now…..With one antler……And I still haven’t forgiven My Chemical Romance for making us believe they were getting back together. Fallout Boy did it. Why can’t y’all!?!?!