Angry Sun

Scroll to the bottom if you want to skip the reading and listen instead.

Disclaimer time…I am about to talk about some mental health stuff and meds and things like that from the perspective of my own personal life story and experience. But before I begin, I need you to know that this is not an anti-antidepressant blog. There are very real people out there for whom anti-depressants and other medications are an absolute necessity — maybe you are one of those people, and I commend you for taking care of yourself. While I don’t think medications are always prescribed properly and, far too often, they are offered up in place of rather than in addition to good old talk therapy and innumerable other tools, I can absolutely understand their need, and I can absolutely understand that not everyone shares the same privilege of access to other options. Please do what works for you.

When I was 14, I was going through some rough things, and I had this doctor who, after invading my actual physical personal space and talking at me through a bevy of unkempt nose, ear, and eyebrow hair for five whole minutes, diagnosed me as “manic depressive” and prescribed me pills. He didn’t actually ask me any questions, he just sat way too close to me with a smug, all-knowing grin and focused in on a sun I had drawn on my jeans. He said it was an “angry sun.” He seemed really pleased with himself for discovering the “angry sun,” but didn’t actually seem to care about what was in my head that might have made it an “angry sun.” Apparently, my “angry sun” determined a need for antidepressants, which ultimately I refused to take.

I think a greater help to me at that time would have been if that doctor (or any doctor for that matter) had bothered listening to me. Much of my identity seemed decided upon for me based on snap assessments. To know a person, you typically need to actually have a conversation. A lot can be garnered in five minutes if there is an actual dialogue, but I am pretty sure making a teenage girl uncomfortable with your proximity to her body says more about you than it does about her.

It also would have helped if I’d had the language or means to express what I was feeling, but the words weren’t there yet. How could they be? I had no context for what was happening to me (something I may discuss down the road), nor did any of the adults in my life, though they did the best they could. Sometimes the words still aren’t there, but I keep pushing. I am in a place in my life now where usually, even when things are challenging, I am able to move through with relative ease. Some of this resiliency came from the recognition that my triggers are my responsibility — both their management and their healing; some of it came from the knowledge that all states are temporary, even if they don’t feel that way while we’re in them; and some of it came from the simple act of accepting my emotions as valid and in need of healthy expression in whatever form I could muster. (Trust me, I found plenty of unhealthy expressions in the process as well…)

Healing is not a perfect, painless, or linear process. What is easier than doing this work, is succumbing to depression, listening to the illogical voice of anxiety, isolating myself and locking my heart away, but I don’t believe the path of least resistance leads to less pain. In fact, I believe it usually leads to more. So I keep pushing back to remind myself that I have a right to be here, to feel my feels, to move forward without anchors dragging bits of my heavier past along with me.

It looked more like this…

And let me tell you something — it is worth every last second of my effort to keep going. I find my strength every single time, even when it feels like there’s no fucking way I can. I continue to adopt new tools and methods, and I continue to invest the time to make them valuable to me. This is a big key… time. Most people want that instant gratification, and obviously no one wants to feel like shit. I am no different in that respect. I just know that, generally speaking, healing doesn’t work like that. I also know you can’t diagnose a child with bipolar disorder by sitting too close to her and “studying” a singular piece of art drawn on her jeans which was based on the suns from CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Kuralt!

What works for me is what works for me. Healing looks different for everyone, and while all tools are valuable, they are not all valuable for all people. It’s that whole frog kissing/prince scenario, but with therapists and coping tools!! Sometimes the coping tool is a bath, sometimes it’s medication. Sometimes it’s both. Sometimes it’s neither. Sometimes it’s some anomalous nameless thing that you haven’t found the magic to obtain just yet. Are these things by themselves going to solve the problems? Not likely, but they can help clear the windows enough for you to see inside yourself. And maybe one day, you’ll be able to do more than cope with what you see through the windows — eventually, you might be able to walk through the door and clean the fucking house.

Just keep trying, and try everything — even if some of the things you try make you seem totally nuts, and even if it feels like you are clawing your way out of a pre-dug grave just your size in the middle of nowhere. Keep trying. You deserve to be seen, you deserve to be heard, you deserve to be expressed.

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