Nobody has a simple story to tell. Even what could be the most straightforward “this happened” contains a lot more details than a simple A-B narrative.
I was reading an article this morning about Jason Isbell (if you want to read it you can find it here), one of my favourite musicians. I fell in love with his music a couple of years ago, his take on Americana touched something in me. He’d emerged as part of the band Drive-By Truckers before going off his own. After struggling for years with alcohol addiction he got clean and recorded some excellent albums. The work he has recorded after this aren’t just Jason talking about being clean and how good his life is now. There’s a darkness to his repertoire now, in fact it’s probably darker now than it was before. The suffering the songs characters go through is now more stark, more bleak. There’s still a redemptive side but it’s certainly tinged grey rather than pure black or white.
I know my stories are like this now. What I’ve gone through had certainly affected me. How I see things, how I react, how I try to live my life. It’s all affected by what I’ve gone through. I try to help others because not only does it help me feel good and it’s good to help others, but more because I’ve had people help me when I’ve been down.
I was talking to a friend recently and they said they couldn’t read my blog as they couldn’t read about me suffering in any way.
I needed to go through that. I couldn’t be the person I am now without experiencing what I’d been part of. I see my suffering as being mild compared to what I know others have gone through. Depression and anxiety isn’t a competitive thing, nobody wins with this illness. We don’t have league tables of who’s suffering the most. To me if you have anxiety, depression or any kind of mental illness, you have it and you need support and understanding with what you’re going through. You might not need it all of the time but that doesn’t stop the fact that you have it in you.
I don’t see myself as being clear of it either, instead I see myself as having moments of clarity from it, spells that can last hours, days, weeks. I enjoy these moments as much as I possibly can. I try not to dwell on when the Black Dog will be back, I’ll just try to enjoy these moments the best I can knowing this. We can’t live our lives worrying about what might happen. The possibilities are endless. Live in the moment and enjoy things whenever you can.
Make your own stories, and make them as rich and as detailed as you possibly can. Make sure you’re around to pass them along.