From Carrie & Lowell to Illinois
Every spring starts with deaths that, for some reason, I feel like I, personally, could’ve prevented. Which is simply not true. Last year it was Avicii. I was paralyzed by the news, felt so deeply connected to him as a person despite never really being a fan of his music before. Could I have done something different? Could I have been there for him in some way? Of course I couldn’t have, I didn’t know him. But he felt close. Someone my age, from my country, living out what we thought was his dream. But he wasn’t happy. He was sick. And the sickness took over. Universally coded success did not matter.
This spring another beautiful soul Angeliqa Mejstedt, an outdoor/hikefulness blogger from Sweden, took her own life. Angeliqa inspired us to live our best lives, to say no to what’s not bringing you joy and to pay attention to the small things. Always smiling, always advocating for nature and Mother Earth, always rooting for you. To, I’m gonna say, all of us it came as a complete shock that she was suffering from depression so severe she simply could not continue on living. Again I’m filled with the belief that I could’ve done something here, I could have saved her. But I did not know her, I just followed her on social media. We have no way of knowing what actually went on, and I’m not here to speculate. All I can conclude is that mental health is a serious, serious business. And that we can never know someone’s true state of mind simply by following along on their public-persona-journey.
Sometimes it’s not enough to simply do more of the things that makes us happy. Healing from depression is not eliminating everything that doesn’t spark joy and keep whatever makes you happy. It’s just not as straight forward as a Marie Kondo clean-out. We can be surrounded with friends, family, joyful days and houses and things and trips, and love can be ALL around us but we can still feel lonely. And sad. Sad to the core, where love and joy cannot penetrate. For some of us it’s not as simple as making changes in our day-to-day life, some of us need professional help from doctors. But how do we know, how do we know what category we fall into?
So much of how we’re feeling and who we are can only be discovered in conversations with others. When we get uncomfortable, when we’re doing the things that are difficult and exhausting. Sometimes we have to not choose positivity, we have to dig deep into the pile of shit that is our thoughts. We have to do things that are really, really painful. People help, conversations help. But only if you open the door to them. Which is a battle in itself. A battle that’s hard to imagine if you haven’t been there yourself. It’s a “if you know, you know” type of scenario.
It’s hard to ask for help while thinking you’re being demanding; a hard-to-deal-with kind of person. Because people want you to be happy, and people have an idea of what happy means, so they think they know how to make you happy. It’s easy for them, do x, y and z. It’s hard to ask for help because sometimes it means to ask someone to be there for moments in complete darkness and not just for party that occurs when you reach the surface.
Lately I’ve been feeling really low. I’ve been listening obsessively to Carrie & Lowell by Sufjan Stevens, and death has consumed me. Death of people I don’t know, the imaginable death of people I know and love and death of the planet. As beautiful as Carrie & Lowell as an album is, it’s an album about death. I realize this might not be the best type of music to consume when you’re already feeling down. But sometimes it’s necessary to lay down in the hole you dug yourself, to stay there for a while. To realize it’s not too bad, not if you only stay for a little while. Eventually you reach a point where you have to reach out, you have to ask for help. And when you reach that point, please please call on someone. Please let someone know. It’s hard, sometimes impossible, to get up on your own. You don’t (and won’t be able to) have to fix everything that’s wrong there and then, just ask for someone to listen.
Eventually after days of rain the sun will come out. I promise. It won’t stay forever, but life is complex and multi-dimensional. Just as it wont be all sunshine and rainbows, it doesn’t have to be all overcast and cold winds either. Let’s just help each other to battle both conditions.
One day you’ll put on Chicago from the Illinois album where Sufjan sings that all things go. He fell in love again, all things go. There is light somewhere out there, seek it.