I’ve been thinking a lot about the recent activity on my blog (which has started to slow) and my personal response to it. This is no surprise. It’s part of both my writing process and my mental health process to think about myself and my lingering emotions with a gentle, analytical eye. The way I know myself is through interaction and self-reflection. The way I appreciate myself is by looking at my actions and efforts and recognizing the honesty, strength, or kindness behind them. I try not to be too critical of myself other than to recognize mistakes and process how to healthily respond. I think a lot about how I feel and respond to my feelings. I try to think before I act, but that doesn’t always come naturally.
So I have been thinking–processing–the last few days. I’m really happy with my post about my dad for two reasons. First, I set out to paint a specific picture of a loving father. I feel I succeeded. Second, all of the likes, comments, and shares mean that a lot of people had the chance to find me–find this little corner of the internet where you and I don’t have to be afraid to admit how hard mental illness can be. I love that so many people found out how wonderful my dad is; that was the point of sharing the post. But I really, really love that at least a handful of struggling people found hope and encouragement from the whole blog and the book; that is the point of the project as a whole.
Something else I’ve been doing over the last couple of days is toying with the idea of doing a reading from my book. Once I began thinking about this, I knew immediately which chapter I would want to read if I ever had the chance to share my work that way, so I sat down by myself and decided to read it aloud. In high school I was in theatre, and even went to state twice to compete in poetry interpretation/recitation. I like reading aloud. I think it would be fun to read audiobooks for a living. So, I felt pretty confident in my ability to read something I had written.
But it turned out to be really tough! I started crying when I tried to read some of the things I had written. These declarations of self-love, purpose, and perseverance that I truly believe were so hard to say out loud even though no one was listening. I wasn’t sad though, I was overwhelmed by my forthrightness. When I write about self-loathing and feeling unloveable, I’m not sure the words do justice to the feelings, but I felt like I came closer when I said them aloud. For years I have wanted to vocalize my pain. I tried to show my pain through cutting. I’ve tried to share my pain through art and writing. But for a talker like me (you think I write a lot…), to vocalize my feelings which have been crafted into an edited, written piece was liberating and moving–even though God was the only one close enough to hear me.
So, when I think about emotionally reading my work aloud and how blessed I have been to have new people find my blog and book unexpectedly, I think about my purpose here on earth and the purpose of my writing. And I think about why I felt compelled to follow up my father’s day post with a clarification of who I am and what this blog is. Basically, my friends and family quite enjoyed my “You Oughta Know” post because, well, it’s just so Laura Grace. I’m not sure there’s a better way to put it. I’m pretty certain of who I am and how I want to be seen, and I’m pretty unwavering on those two things. I’m going to make sure that you know what you’re getting into. I also want you to know that I am more committed to serving the marginalized and suffering than I am to selling a lot of books or garnering a large readership. If you are mentally suffering for whatever reason, then you are welcome here. You may not want to stay once you read what I wrote, but I made this for you just in case it helps you even for one moment of one day.
I think my God-given purpose is to spread hope for healing to other depressed and suicidal people. And often those people are marginalized by society for a variety of reasons. I want all people–marginalized or not–to know that time, effort, and help can make a difference in your ability to fight your illness. I think the reason it was so hard for me to get through reading my post aloud is because I desire so deeply to fulfill this purpose, and I think, on a small scale, it’s happening.
Wanting to die by suicide is really, really horrible. There aren’t exact words for the nagging, gnawing feeling. I can’t think of any worse feeling I’ve personally had. I can’t think of a more overwhelming or compelling feeling I’ve ever had. It is truly horrible. If I can connect with and help provide even momentary relief to someone suffering with suicidal ideation or permeative depression, I want to do that through my writing.
So, marginalized or mainstream, mentally ill or a caretaker, I’m here for you. I’ll keep writing honestly. I won’t be quiet. Right now, I feel strong enough to fight everyday, so I’ll go with the vanguard. I’ve said it before, and I still mean it: Keep fighting and I’ll keep writing; we’ll be brave together.