This weekend, I spoke at an event. It was beautiful. Did you see the picture that picture I posted? I was a giant smile. Well that was right after…
Here, let me just tell you what the whole experience looked like, #nofilter.
I have been tied up in knots, in every way a person can be, since the first day I was given the opportunity to do this event. Now, in the grand scheme of, you know, history, current events, and the world, this thing was no big deal. To me, however, it was everything. It was to be the most important thing I had done in my life 26 year old life. I would stand on stage and talk about a time in my life like a chapter…like it was just a chapter. 6 years that I had spent probably 300 hours in therapy, so many failed relationships, so many broken hearts, mine and others, so much pain. I lost jobs, my dignity, and holy cow, I cried so much. Then on Friday, I stood up on stage in a pretty dress, shared a shell of the story, and tied it all up in a pretty bow. So many emotions I didn’t expect or prepare for…I mean I don’t know what I was expecting to feel after publicly airing my dirty laundry, but it was a lot.
After the event, I came across a video of my performance on Facebook. I hit play, watched, kept watching, and thought, “That’s it?” That was my epic speech I had centered my entire life around for three months? That was the finale? That frail girl, in a J Crew dress, who could barely move her hands, or influx her voice, that’s it?
Now, before you feel the need to interject and save me from a seemingly cruel voice in my head, this is where I’m coming from; That speech did my story no justice. Every individual’s speech who stood on that stage did their story no justice. After I “came out” about being mentally ill, so many people from my past said, “I had no idea.” Yeah, because I didn’t tell anyone.
I, what felt like, drowned for years because it didn’t feel socially acceptable to be wrong in the head.
People tried to pray my depression away. I moved from city to city seeking peace, job to job, relationship to relationship, belief to belief, looking for answers. People thought I was flighty and crazy, and in turn I thought I was a Godforsaken mistake. Again these are just words, you have no idea, and I have no idea about your life and your struggle. So here comes the #nofilter part. Did you see my picture after the event? Cute, right? And very true.
“Now here’s the thing about this disease,” #nofilter. I had to stop drinking completely, 3 weeks before this event because I was scared I was going to drown myself in alcohol out of fear and anticipation over the event. What you don’t know is that I memorized the speech on accident because I obsessively read it every day for errors and modifications. What you don’t know is that I walked out of the theater before my time on stage bc I couldn’t swallow and thought I was going to vomit or not be able to speak. What you don’t know is that the next day, I sat at a bar drinking beer, sending thank you emails and working on a new piece. What you don’t know is that around 5o’clock that evening, I shut my laptop, closed my tab, started to my car to go home, and tried not to drop to my knees in tears in the parking lot. I got to my car and cried, and like most times, not knowing exactly why. I called Callie, asked her if I could go cry in her empty house. I picked up a 6 pack, and did exactly that. I cried, self loathed for crutching on alcohol again, for calling my ex, and for feeling sad after such a special and beautiful event. Why am I sad? What is wrong with me? Why aren’t you celebrating? I don’t know. I’m just exhausted from all of it. I don’t know how to process all of it. My story was so much more than those 10 minutes and I watched a frail version of myself who didn’t look like me, deliver it.
It was only 14 months ago that I sat in that psychiatrists office at Springwood where I heard the words, “You’re Bipolar.” ”
Just like my Grandma Bettye?” I thought, who I judged and made jokes about, and now she’s gone.
I had no idea what it meant at the time, I was just happy for an answer. Then, over the course of the past 4 months or so, I forged relationships with so many “mentally ill” people. And here’s why I’m writing, one of the emotions I felt over the whole thing, bear with me on this one, was fake. There’s only so much you can share. Honestly, there’s only so much I feel comfortable sharing right now, and that’s beside the point. We are all like that, that’s the world we live in, sure….fair.
Okay here it is, I just wrote to it, the feeling that surprised me the most was anger. I’ve been angry this weekend. I learned once at a treatment facility, that anger is a form of self-protection. It is an emotion that rises when you feel like you’ve been wronged and you need to get big and bad to defend yourself. The emotion itself is a great notifier, actions that follow, however, you must be careful with. Anyway, I felt angry and confused that it was brave to tell the truth, and that most people don’t. I felt angry that we live in a word where struggle is hidden, and the public only sees our smiley pictures. I felt angry that my Grandma Bettye didn’t get the chance to be brave for being Bipolar.
I spent the two days after my event with the same hair sprayed drenched hair, and makeup from that night because I didn’t have it in me to wash my face or hair. I leaned on alcohol again. I have texts on my phone from days and days ago that I haven’t responded to yet because I’m worn out and don’t have the capacity to respond thoughtfully.
The point here is this, when I was in college for whatever silly reason we tried to make Callie internet famous by hashtagging #callieacuff to see if we could get it trending. I was the only one I’m sure, but I believed we would, and we didn’t. Anyway, I’m going to try again. #nofilter. Not in the actual technological filter sense, but in the human sense. And I’m not asking you to post stuff online, I’m saying in your life, that you terrifyingly dare to be honest, transparent, and true blue. I left this whole This Is My Brave experience changed, transformed, full of love, proud, but also so confused.
We have an organization that promotes awareness, bravery, and truth? This reaches far outside mental health. I mean, thank God we do, but we shouldn’t have to.
That’s like having a nonprofit to remind people to breathe.
My idealistic utopian heart wishes everyday was a This Is My Brave event, but it’s not so in the words of Maya Angelou, “Pick up the battle. This is your life. If you decide life isn’t worth it, that is the worst thing you could do. How do you know? So far. So pick it up and make it a world better. Right where you are. It can be better and it must, It’s up to us.” It’s up to you.
A lot of my depression is spurred on by these utopian idealistic ideations. Dreams of perfect jobs, perfects cities, perfect partners, that I haven’t found. I’ll figure that out, but I’m also not going to quit. Even if this world or one life, is better by the time that I leave it, then it all will be worth it.
Like I said, I’m just getting started.
Let’s #nofilter this world one brave truth at a time. Join me, please? I can’t do it alone.
It takes a village. I want a village of transparency and I am going to utopianly write my heart out till I die. I’m Bipolar, but also I’m Caitlin, and I dream of a world were people can be themselves.
Will you, please, join me?