That’s been my mantra these last few days. I’ve clung to it through this storm, repeating it to myself over and over.
Refresh. Reset. Renew.
I first heard those words years ago at the Connecticut Business Women’s Forum. They were the theme of the 2010 forum. I spent a lot of time emblazoning those words onto graphics, coding them into a website. The keynote speaker was Paula Abdul. I honestly can’t remember a single word that she said. But the other speaker, Jill Blashack Strahan, said something that has carried me through the last five years:
Start. Know where you’re going. Don’t stop.
I’ve been thinking a lot about that forum lately. Those words blew my then twenty-two-year-old mind. I think even then I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. At the time, I was part of the team that designed and developed the 2010 BWF website. My days were filled with writing code. At night, I longed to be writing stories.
Jill Blashack Strahan’s words gave me the courage I needed back then to pursue my dream of being a writer.
Right now, I could use a double dose.
“Fear is the gatekeeper to strength.”
-Jill Blashack Strahan
The last eight years have ravaged me. Chronic pain, loss, and more loss. I’ve only just been skimming the surface, barely keeping my head above water. Lately, I’ve hit a wall. My depression has been at its worst in over ten years. I haven’t written in weeks. The medication I was on only made me worse. Honestly, I’ve wondered whether I would be better off dead.
Depression is a good liar.
I’ve been running scared for the last eight years, barely staying ahead of the ugly monster inside of my head. In the last two years, it’s worn me down. Today I am but a skeleton of a woman.
But not for long.
I decided that the most subversive, revolutionary thing I could do was to show up for my life and not be ashamed.
I’m working on making some changes.
For one, I’ve decided to give all of my work to my publishing house, to be re-released. This takes an enormous amount of pressure off of me. It’s also slightly terrifying, because in order to re-launch everything, I won’t be releasing anything new for a while.
I’ve also basically cancelled October. I had a lot of things lined up this month, but had to take a step back and evaluate my priorities.
And right now, getting better is my first concern.
I’m working on being less ashamed. I have a mental illness, but my depression is not me. My whole life, I’ve spent more energy on trying to appear normal than on getting better.
I’m also trying to be more present in my life. I’m always rushing to the next thing, running to the future. But I recently realized that if I keep going this way, I will end up looking back and not having truly relished any single moment in my life.
That’s no way to live.
If losing two of the people I love most has taught me anything, it’s to live life to the fullest.
It’s time to start living.