It could be that the connected world that we live in makes us all far more aware of this, but there are too many people as of late who have been lost far too soon. Lately I’ve been wondering how much of that is just because we don’t talk about mental health struggles the same way we do any other type of struggles.
I’ve also been thinking about how social media creates such an inaccurate portrayal of life, and that feeds into the silence we have to struggle in. I mean, here I am struggling while all my friends appear to be having a great vacation, or just crushing it at their parenting right now.
So in an effort to help create a world where we talk about mental health struggles openly, and to hopefully not contribute as much to the silence that friends might be feeling, I wanted to be honest about the struggles I’ve had.
The last year or so for me have been rough from a depression standpoint. Saying goodbye to Chicago was obviously emotional, and though we have great friends in Grand Rapids, it was hard to not feel adrift for most of the last year. That combined with not having a band for the first time in recent memory made me question a lot what I was even doing with my life anymore. I would zoom out and know that my life was amazing in so many ways: two incredible daughters, married to my soul mate, a great job, and still playing a lot of music (almost entirely at weddings). But in my day to day life I felt aimless, unmotivated, and unsuccessful.
What I came to realize is that all of these feelings really revolved around one thing, which is that I’ve lived most of my life with a philosophy of leveling up. Everything I’ve done needs to lead to another thing being done which needs to be better and greater than the previous thing. That mindset combined with my natural energy has led to me constantly feeling like I need to be getting things done, and if not, then I’m not leveling up. Problem is, there is never going to be an end of things to do, and that mindset unchecked has led me to a frantic life where I can never relax, and constantly feel like a failure. So that, combined with moving back to Grand Rapids and not really knowing what’s next for me felt like a big step backwards and sent me down a existential depressive spiral. (The abundance of great beer here both helped and didn’t help with that)
While there are certainly good reasons to live in a leveling up way (going to college so that you can get a degree so that you can get a job you like and gives you stability comes to mind), it’s important for me to remember that life doesn’t really work like that. It’s less like a staircase and more like a river. And my frantic mindset has exhausted me.
I’ve been seeing a therapist for the last few months which has been really great. And though this might seem strange, I took one small step to try to help break that frantic to-do list/leveling up mindset. I gave up Podcasts for Lent.
I know it seems a little strange, but I love Podcasts, and it’s been surprisingly difficult to give them up. But I was tired of listening to Podcasts just to finish them. I had gotten to the point where I was mainly listening so that they would be checked off the list and completed. Problem is, they are never going to stop! Similarly, I’m never going to watch all the movies on Netflix, it’s just never going to happen. So why do I voraciously try to finish all of them, without really enjoying them?
So a baby step toward breaking that frantic mindset was to give up Podcasts for a little while, and I think it’s been good for me so far. It’s been nice to listen through old albums that I haven’t heard in a while, and even sometimes I walk somewhere and don’t listen to anything. Can you imagine such a thing?! It’s also been nice to pray and think about all the people I care about in my life, and overall I think it’s really helped to just slow down my brain and relax. I’m still not very good at it, but I’m getting better, and trying really hard to not treat getting better like leveling up. 🙂
There’s no conclusion or resolution to these feelings, and there never will be, but I wanted to speak openly about it, so that I can stop pretending like they’re not there. And for whatever struggles you might be going through, you’re not alone, as much as social media might make it seem like the rest of us are having a great time without you. I see you and I love you.