A friend posted a video on her Facebook page and I clicked. If you've got a secret or feel like you're the only one dealing with whatever it is keeping you up at night, you should click, too.
Shannon Curtis is her name. The woman behind the video. I'd never heard of her before tonight. But after seeing the video, I have a feeling Shannon and I are going to become friends. Maybe not Christmas Card and Actual Address Friends; but Facebook and DM Status Friends, at least. The point of this post isn't upping my FB friend count, though.
It's hard for me to share this, just as I know it is for most of us when we land in this place- the one between not giving a damn and wanting to. We are harder on ourselves than we are the people we know and love. We show our friends the grace we fail to show ourselves because we are perfectionists and expect more of ourselves than is fair.
I've said time and time again, through my #chingonafest posts and quotes, that we need to stop judging ourselves through other people's eyes and learn to see the beauty within ourselves. I've said that we define our own perceptions and realities. And when it comes to things like society's ridiculous obsession with impossible beauty and body image standards, I still stand behind those words. But maybe it's not that simple. Maybe, when we are blessed to have friends and family who love and care about us, when we find ourselves treading water with no land in site, maybe this is when we must flip a switch in order to be the friend to ourselves that we know we have been and would be to others.
My eyes see what I've failed at; what I'm not doing; what I've done poorly or flat out fucked up. My eyes see where I think I should be instead of where I am; they blink too much at the sun because it's too bright. My head tells me I shouldn't bother when my gut tells me I need to want to keep trying. All these things I see and feel and think I tell myself I wouldn't and shouldn't if I was stronger, tried harder, and stopped being the mind mess that I am.
And it's all bullshit.
If any one of you came to me with what I share right now, I'd tell you how much I love you.
How incredible you are.
How much you matter.
That depression is a chemical imbalance and nothing to be ashamed of.
That you need to keep sharing and keep trying, if not for you, for me. Because I would know that you wouldn't see in you what I see. That you are too hard on yourself. That you can't do on your own all that you you have come to expect.
I would see YOU.
And I would tell you to stop trying to be a fucking superhero and do it all on your own when there is no reason to because that's just fucking stupid. And then I would remind you how brilliant I think you are and probably remind you that brilliant people don't do fucking stupid things. (Okay, so brilliant people don't do fucking stupid things twice may be more accurate. Maybe?)
Maybe part of my thinking can be blamed on the Latino mindset. We don't exactly share the hard stuff. We are raised to show our best Everything and sweep the shit beneath the collective rug we all share. I've led panels on this very topic with respected colleagues at conferences like Latism. And I believed everything I said about the importance of speaking up. Both for ourselves and for the good of our community. I still do.
Maybe my thinking can be blamed on society in general and the impossible belief that as women and mothers, we need to be able to do it all. We fail if we cant balance work, raising our children, keeping the house spotless, prepping organic non-gmo meals with vegetables grown in our own gardens and served on bamboo dishes because apparently that's not a bad thing for the environment. We aren't trying hard enough if we don't make the time for spin class and hot yoga at least three times a week, help our kids with their homework nightly, update our blogs daily (because how the fuck else are we ever gonna accidentally on purpose go viral?), and feel sexy enough to fool around with the loves of our lives before passing out, getting too little sleep, and doing it all again tomorrow.
Are we crazy? Who fed us this line of bullshit, anyway?
Maybe my thinking is just human nature. what I am experiencing is not exclusive to Latinos and it's certainly not only a female issue. It's science. It's chemicals and the delicate balance our brains are either capable or not of producing. I don't shy away from my severe ADHD and the related anxiety that comes with it. So why have I tried talking myself out of being depressed? Why am I refusing to see myself through your eyes when my own can't handle the sun?
Eliana hasn't been sleeping. She's up all night and can't tell me why. She sleeps all day and wakes up exhausted. I asked her today if there's anything I'm doing that might be keeping her from dreaming.
She's worried about me, she said. I'm miserable, she said. And she stays up because she doesn't know why I am unhappy. I won't lie. I wasn't surprised. She's always been extremely sensitive to my moods and my hormones. Trust me when I say if she's pissed off at the world, there's a damned good chance it's because I'm about to go on my period. So her insomnia about my depression makes sense. And so did the steps necessary to get from where I am to where I want to be when I explained serotonin levels to my very bright 7 yr old.
I reminded her that mama takes medicine to slow my brain down. She understands that. I told her that it's not my fault the way my brain works and that sometimes, our brains may need help staying happy. She knows what serotonin is and that being active helps our brains make more of it, and now she knows that sometimes, through no fault of our own, we still come up short.
She suggested we do more yoga together and take bike rides and that I can walk while she scooters on her new Frozen scooter from her Aunt Cyndi because Best Easter Present Ever. And I suggested she tell me when she's worried and why she can't sleep. We can't fix it if we pretend whatever It is isn't a problem, I said. And there is no shame in the solution involving medicine that helps us be as happy as we were before we weren't.
I'm not fixed. But I'm not entirely broken, either. I'm just me where I am and I'm me where I aim to find myself. Until I get there and can trust what I see, I'm borrowing your eyes and her eyes and my husband's eyes...because I like the view from where you are standing.