cw: mental health, ideation
This year was my most challenging one. For months, I descended almost irretrievably into a dark spiral of depression. There were times in which I questioned my own humanity, convinced I was some horrid creature merely masking as human. Paranoia attacked my sanity and safety, even in the brightest of days and in the company of friends. And in my deepest spirals, I contemplated whether the next day was worth living.
But I'm here. And there have been triumphs. This year, for the first time, I printed personal photography prints for a benefit auction, and raised over $200. I have the beginnings of an original musical. I've collaborated even more in film and photography. I finished a masters in Community Health and started studying medicine, pursuing a program in Narrative Medicine. I've seen more of the world, including the Galapagos and Cuba, inspiring me even more to fight against imperialism, colonialism, and rampant capitalism in all its forms. I've met new colleagues and friends who inspire me tremendously. I've laughed more than I can remember. I've discovered the amazingness of a show that is Terrace House. I've picked up painting and sketching. I have grown.
I stand today, still here, with an eternal, unquenchable gratitude for the people to who, through no small effort, I owe my life. Many of those know who they are and have already been thanked. I will carry a bit of them with me, always. But at the end of 2017, I cannot help but, thank the many masses of you who, knowingly or not, are also reasons I am here today, whether it was through dancing, coffee chats, social media interactions, or a simple, smiling hello.
Part of doing 1SE's for five years (compilation pending) is the sobering recognition that our days, despite our careful curation of our public selves, are filled with both the mundane and interesting, the exuberant and the sorrowful. Even when life sucks, those days exist, and I still film them. This realization grinds against our societal conditioning to always 'have our shit together,' but in a way, it is also liberating. The candid acknowledgement, even appreciation, of the spectrum of experience is, after all, what makes us human.
I have found that healing is not always short, nor is it linear. At times, our healing may even injure others. It often resembles that Japanese game show where contestants race up a staircase greased with soap. We're in such a rush to get 'better,' that we lose our footing and slip back down to the bottom. Even if we take our time, we can still fall flat on our faces and slide back into the darkness, dragging others with us. But we can, and will reach the top, one aching step at a time.
Reach out in times of struggle, collective healing is powerful. There are psychiatrists, social workers, mentors, professors, friends, even strangers. Despite the crushing isolation that one might feel, there are always those who will help, even when it is most difficult to do so.
-- those are also the ones, I've learned, that you should hold on to dearly. For those are a rare breed of friend that are irreplaceable in this world.
I originally set out to write more to accompany this video, but I've decided to reserve those thoughts for another time. In any case, my thoughts invariably distilled themselves into the same, simple thoughts:
Be kind to those around you. Listen - critically, but always compassionately. Apologize, then change. Acknowledge anger, but forgive generously. Accept, then let go. Recognize imperfection, but strive for improvement. It is okay to be broken. It is okay to cry.
Thank you to all who have been a part of my 2017.
I move forward, driven even more passionately to educate myself, dismantle oppressive systems, alleviate suffering, serve the people, tell great stories, and to build communities of love, creativity, and healing.
I live on, a bit more broken,
but ever more loving, ever more kind,
ever more human.