Fair warning this post gets really real, and is mostly just a journalistic attempt to self-medicate, that’s often what writing is for me, so I promise I won’t mind if you just go read my chocolate cake recipe, we can still be besties.
So if we haven’t talked over a hot cup of tea or a smooth glass of wine, it is likely that you don’t know that my mom passed away when I was a child. She had brain cancer, a predominantly pediatric cancer that the doctors presumed had just hung out at the base of her head until it grew large enough to start causing problems. She had more than a dozen surgeries over 15 months, but eventually succumbed to a hardcore version of pneumonia that started shutting down her kidneys. Losing my mom totally shaped my future. I have joked that Grief was my first boyfriend, we spent all of our time together, and Grief was a great comfort to me, but then I met someone else, Depression. Depression and I had our go rounds, moment in the sun, and I was infatuated with him for much longer than I would care to admit, we were no good for each other but we tried to make it work. I finally got myself out, ran into the night and said, “to hell with you, you’re no good for me, my family was right!”
Sometimes Grief and I meet up for coffee and just talk about the good times, and what we’re doing now, Grief tells me that he thinks my mom would be proud of me if she was here. Tonight however, Depression and Grief went out together (they’re good drinking buddies) and they both drunk texted me. Grief, always the gentleman said, “really sorry to bother you, but I need you to know that your mom died because it’s been a long time and I think you might have forgotten. Anyways, she really misses you too, and cancer sucks… a lot.” Whereas his counterpart, Depression reminded me, “your mom would hate to see what you’ve become, and you’re not worth a whole lot, you still look like crap, fatty, and you will never stop missing your mom… but, I’ll always be there for you.” My best friend Anxiety chimed in immediately, she’s quite the oversharer, “Depression’s right, you know, you are looking a little gross and yeah, I mean what have you really accomplished, Lorde was winning Grammy’s at 17, what have you got to show for yourself. Gosh, I always liked Depression, you guys were great together!” I tell Anxiety to go home, but she reminds me that we live together and even share a pillow… and makeup brushes.
My remedy for these interactions with the fellas that have gripped my life for so long is just to sob openly with the windows down, cry until my throat is ragged and listen to the music that was the soundtrack to my breakup with Depression. I know that music, just like writing will always be there to comfort me, and it does, I cry myself out, let my breathing become shallow hiccups and slowly bring myself back to my baseline. But I do not go back to Depression, I don’t even respond to his text.
The thing that I want to illustrate most by the anthropomorphism of grief, depression, and anxiety is that yes, I have been crippled by the grief of losing my mom and the depression that followed on its heels, but choosing positivity and love are the biggest supports that I have in all of this. Yes, it is unwaveringly sucky that my mom died before she was even 40, and yes it sucks that I still have the arguments with myself about the impact that this has on my interpretation of my worth, but in the midst of it, I choose to see the love, and to see the good because that’s just who I am.
I am so blessed by getting to have my mom for the first 10 years of my life, and as the tenth anniversary of her death approaches, about two weeks away, I am surrounding myself in memories of how wonderful she was and how my actions are extensions of her memory.
Choosing positivity doesn’t mean that nothing bad ever happens to you, and it doesn’t mean that other people are always positive, but it does mean that you get to choose your reaction and response. I once had a therapist (she was definitely not a good fit for me, our visions just did not line up) tell me, “you can’t surround yourself in this positivity stuff, it’s just not how the world works.” I challenged her thinking, but really I feel sorry for her thinking, it is a way harder life, I remember it, it’s sucky. But, yes, I really do see positivity in every situation, when my car breaks down, it’s a major inconvenience and expense, but it reminds me of my abundance and it’s a chance to support another local business. When I see things about wars and unrest in other countries, I am so much more grateful for the peace that is in my own life and inspired to help to resolve conflicts. I even choose positivity when thinking about my mom’s death, it helped me lose my fear of dying so that I could focus on living.
Being positive and self assured doesn’t mean that you won’t have depression, anxiety, bipolar, an eating disorder, etc. But it will make you more equipped to handle the struggles of living with those afflictions and feel more rooted in your truth. If you have a solid foundation of loving yourself and seeing the good, it slowly becomes easier to hear your truth over the shouting of your mind.
And until you get there yourself, I will say it for you.