I read a fantastic piece on NPR the other day, highlighting one of my favorite online cartoonists, Allie Brosh, of Hyperbole and a Half fame. Allie’s book by the same name was just released a few days ago, and I can’t wait to pick up a copy of it. The author of the NPR article was highlighting one of the unique elements Allie brings to her cartoons/writing, the fact that she refused to wait until everything was “better” before writing about her experiences with depression.
In the conversations surrounding her book, Brosh has made it clear that she is not looking at depression in the rearview mirror in some sort of ‘let me tell you about this thing that happened to me once’ kind of way. She’s in it, and she lives with it, and sometimes it’s better, and sometimes it’s worse. It means you don’t see her for a while, because she’s a real person and it’s a real thing.
That’s one of the scariest parts about writing again. I’m trying to write in the midst of all of it.
I believe anytime we write our stories, when we share them with the world, it’s brave. But we usually wait until the story is finished to tell it. A whole other level of courage is required to tell your story while it is unfolding, not to wait until some resolution has happened or until the redemptive elements have been revealed. Because…what if the resolution never happens? What if the situation is never redeemed?
What does that say about our story? What does that say about us?
“We’re more accustomed as readers to the memoir model, where depression — or addiction, or even ordinary anxiety — appears as a monster from the past, one against which you still have to bolt the door every day, but one that’s not there right now, not interfering with your writing about it, not writing about it with you.”
The vulnerability to write honestly in the midst of right now, that’s some serious stuff. But how important, too; desperately important, I think. Because for all of us out here who are not in the after yet, who are slugging through the right now one day or one hour at a time, we need to know that we are not alone.
“It’s very sterile and very misleading to hear about battles only from people who either have already won or at least have already experienced the stability of intermediate victories. It presents a false sense of how hard those battles are. It understates the perilous sense of being in the middle of them. It understates how scary they are.”
And scary they are. It seems like just about everything scares me right now, even the little things, the things that seem almost so insignificant it is foolish to be scared by them.
“If you want to know how hard it is, she’s telling you that’s how hard it is. Not was, is. And as uncomfortable as that might be, it’s a perspective worth offering.”
It’s hard, friends. This was and IS hard for me. It’s not hard all the time, not every day or every moment; there is so much good to be found in and around me.
But hard it remains. Hard to function sometimes (little things and big things alike). Hard to be brave and to put myself out there. Hard to find a way to pull the words out from inside myself. Hard to be honest that my faith wasn’t enough and that I’m still trying to figure out what I believe anymore.
If it’s hard for you too, if it’s scary and overwhelming and just too much sometimes…please know that you are not alone.
(And maybe, just maybe, it’s just a little less scary when we walk through it together).