The clock just turned 5 a.m. and, if you know me, you know I am NOT a morning person. If you don’t know me, you should already know by now that I am NOT a morning person, unless we’re maybe talking 11:59 and I have a ginormous coffee in hand. I’ve been having random bouts of insomnia lately, often between the hours of 4 and 7 a.m. I usually pass the time on twitter, but today, I had another mission, a mission I’m actually glad I was awake for. I just realized a new way I have been reborn, and as today is the last day of March and the last day of #synCreate’s theme of Rebirth, I wanted to write.
A little back story: on Easter Sunday 2016, Jenny Lawson, a.k.a. the Bloggess, who is absolutely nothing short of amazeballs-level heroic, (you know it’s too early if I just used the word amazeballs) started something of a movement. She used her blog to encourage her followers to find each other. And a funny thing happened… they did! What started in her blog’s comments section became lists made on twitter and weirdos flocking together to say far more than just “hi!” Hashtags like #notalone and #theBloggessTribe and #BloggessArmy were born. People were connecting over reasons that had been causes of alienation for years. Often their personality quirks, unusual collections, and mental illnesses that had cost them so many friends and family had found them a brand new family in a matter of a couple days.
Last night on twitter, I may be an addict but that’s another story, a new friend I’d not yet spoken to, was saying that she couldn’t believe she’d just said something about her struggles publicly. I understand that sentiment. It is hard to stand up and say something definitive like “I have depression” or “I hate the Beatles” and so, I felt like I should encourage her and maybe others by doing the same. I don’t shy away from talking about my struggles, but I don’t often just make a declarative statement on social media quite like these:
We have to be able to say these things. We have to be honest abt our struggles. Otherwise, the ignorance and judgments win. I’m not ashamed!
And the truth is, I am not ashamed. I am about a decade on from the event and I’m in a much healthier place now. This wasn’t courageous for me. It was factual. It’s only courage or bravery only if there is fear involved. I felt no fear by stating this. The only things I felt were relief and hope. Relief that I had someone, my therapist at the time, to pick up my broken pieces and help me put them back together as well as stand up for me and tell the doctor off. And, Hope that I could maybe be a bit of a voice for someone else.
I wasn’t trying to change the world, and I haven’t. I just needed to say something bold so that others could see it could be done, that it gets easier to break the stigma if we talk about it.
Maybe you think twitter isn’t activism, and you’re probably right. But is sure as hell is community, or it can be if you choose to use its powers for good. I choose to! And making that choice, choosing that community mindset, I have learned things about myself. I have found writers who paint the most beautiful pictures with words and who bring me to tears on a regular basis. I have found comedians who can make me laugh out loud in under 140 characters. And philosophers who can enlighten and inspire in the same text limit. I have met amazing friends that I hope to meet in real life someday. I have been able to encourage others and they have encouraged me. I have learned so many things about world events and joy and heartbreak! And mostly, I have learned that the world is a little smaller and a whole lot fuller of love and kindness and weirdos like me than I realized.
Sometimes we are reborn with great labor pains and catastrophic circumstances and it is evident from the moment it happens. Sometimes we are reborn gradually, through exposure to new things like twitter; I know I’m not the same as I was when I joined about seven months ago. Sometimes we are reborn in the tears and constricted-chest moments of sheer panic that make absolutely no sense until years later, when we reach out and make a statement that doesn’t hurt anymore and we are momentarily shocked at the lack of pain and the amount of growth. We look back on the struggle and we thank God for getting us through it and not letting the pain that felt like it would kill us actually kill us, and we realize just how much of a new creation we really are.
I am reborn on some level every day. I am who I am now for a reason. I have to believe that. Maybe the reason is to conquer the world and declare an international holiday of eating peanut butter ice cream while wearing ridiculously awesome brogues. Seriously though, if we could make that a thing I swear we would all be happier people! Maybe the reason I’ve been through so many rebirths, and specifically a rebirth of voice, is to be able to stand up and say:
I am Rhiannon. I have struggled with anxiety and depression for over two decades and there is hope. Life is beautiful, so don’t give up. You are not alone. Everyone has their own road through life and sometimes it is terrifying, but you are most definitely not alone. If you don’t know where you fit, if you can’t even make a declarative statement about who you are or have any dreams of who you want to be, it’s okay. You can borrow my tribe of weirdos until you find your home. Hell, maybe we are your home.
So, I’m going to try to go back to bed now and see what happens on the insomnia front. I’ll probably dream about ice cream and brogues now, thanks brain!
PS: This invitation to join my tribe is open even to those who like the Beatles and hate peanut butter ice cream; and, please, if you don’t know what brogues are, for the love of my faith in humanity and fashionable footwear, google them! You’re welcome.