I’m posting something rather personal for my inaugural Inspiration Monday. The goal of the day is to post about something that inspires you. Whether it’s inspiration to live differently, to create, to write, to be a better person… or maybe to be a better person and a better writer both.
But first, let me tell you a little bit about myself.
For a writer, I am rarely alone. That may make me a bit of an anomaly in the author world, but I am definitely an extrovert. I consider my greatest skill in life to be my ability to make friends. The good kind.
Overall, I’d say I have a pretty decent life. Is it the life I’d always dreamed of since I was a little girl? Probably not, but few people’s are. I’ve got no “prince” to speak of (whatever, idiot’s probably caught in a tree somewhere anyway). Still no book deal (though I’m never giving up on that dream). And I still haven’t sailed the fjords in New Zealand (but I suppose that’s what bucket lists are for).
What I do have is a stable job, a roof over my head, quality friends, and a supportive family, which is arguably more than most. And for the most part, my disposition reflects that. Ask those who know me and they’ll likely point to positivity as one of my leading traits. “That girl always has a smile on her face,” they might even tell you.
But alas, smiles can be misleading.
No matter someone’s outward disposition, you just never know what’s clawing at them from the inside. And sometimes, that sharp-nailed little diva is called Depression. I never considered myself to be a depressed person. But despair can cloud even the sunniest of personalities quicker than a tornado can fling a cow.
One time, when I was in the midst of the worst wave of panic I’d ever endured, so intense I could barely catch my breath, I decided to grab my phone.
And snap a picture.
Why. Why would I do such a thing?
To remind myself how ugly depression can be. To tell future me to never return to that panicked, choked up woman unable to conjure anymore tears. To inspire myself to always empathize with others, because you truly never know what internal struggles they face.
I used it to create a side-by-side comparison I simply refer to as Happy v Sad. Me on a good day, with my trademark toothy grin, versus me on arguably one of my worst. The contrast is striking, and I believe it speaks volumes to the complexities of human emotions.
I’ve learned to never take happiness for granted. Of course, we also can’t truly value happiness without experiencing firsthand its antithesis: despair. And folks, I have been there. I have seen the bottom, and it’s rocky.
But the bright side of finding the bottom?
Obviously, there’s nowhere to go but up. Up, and armed with a whole new appreciation for everything above.
In writing, I find I write when I’m happiest, while often drawing from experiences that I’ve had at my lowest. Call it a catharsis of sorts, as though I can delete pieces of a deep-seated scar with each key stroke, as though I can unlive those emotions by making my characters live them instead.
That’s what we do as writers, isn’t it? We give life to our characters by using our own personal experiences as their breath.
And when I look back at that picture of myself, of that hopelessly lost and broken girl, I don’t look at her with judgment. I don’t look at her tears as a sign of weakness. I see them as little badges of honor for what she’d been through. I see strength. Because guess what, folks. That girl picked herself up by the bootstraps, she drew upon her experiences, and she marched on.
She lived, she loved, and dammit, she WROTE.
And to all who have been my neighbors at rock bottom, or to those currently filling out the resident application, I pray your eviction notice comes swiftly, and you return to the top where you belong. Never forget the experiences you had down there, but always forgive them.
Wishing you all a happy Inspiration Monday.
Until next time,