fighting for the northern star.
These photos were taken about 4 years apart, but You could've told me that a lifetime had elapsed between them and I would have believed you.
The dancer on the left is barely 20, but feels 16. Starving in body and mind, she is insecure and constantly fearful - her life is slipping more from her grasp minute by minute. You can see it in her eyes - lightless, lacking focus, devoid of hope. Even her feet look tentative, the relevé barely rising to a place of balance or stability. She masks it all every day, but not well. She gets angry and lashes out, she is forgetful and scatterbrained, she scratches at the surface of her life, failing to grab hold. Her hand clings to her skirt, afraid to take space, afraid to break the electric, sticky air of fear that seems to surround her like a bubble. She is drowning.
The dancer on the right is happier, more secure, less bound by fear. She has an easier way about her. She's on a road to being her best self, leading her own charge and learning every day what works best. She is working hard to embrace all that she is, accepting her gentleness and her strength, her pain and her triumph, her successes and setbacks in equal measure as they happen on any given day. She still gets angry, but she now knows to take deep breaths. She is still forgetful and a bit scatterbrained, but she has a lovely planner and every color pen you can imagine so that she can write things down. She thrusts her heart and hands fully into life to the best of her ability each day.
Both of these dancers are me. Me at my most tentative and me on the road to being my best. And neither dancer is more or less worthy than the other. The difference between these two dancers is that I decided to get my lifelong battle with mental illness under control, but that doesn't mean I'm not still dealing with the effects of my disease on a daily basis. I am still a person with a mental illness. But now, instead of drowning daily in what felt like endless hurt and confusion, I've learned how to manage my symptoms, developed coping mechanisms, unlearned some internalized ableism, and generally stopped caring about what other people thought. And it's done wonders.
So take heart, friend reading here - you can do this. You will stumble, you will hurt, you will try and fail to cope, you will have days that take the wind out of you and days that the breeze on your face feels like heaven, but each day is worth living, worth striving for. Each day is a chance to heal, to learn, to break free, to get back up. .
We'll do it together. Come #BreakTheStigma with me.
only and always love,
p.s. - In school I used to title papers with relevant song titles. I aim to do the same thing here. For this inaugural post, I chose the most underrated song on the most epic debut album ever, "Bella Donna" by Stevie Nicks.