INSIDE OUT - ELISSA

A few weeks ago, Elim shot me an email and asked if I would pen something for the newsletter in support of Mental Health Awareness Week.

"Dear God. Am I emotionally stable enough to write about mental health?!" I spat back, half joking.

If you don't know my story, I'm wading through the wilderness of a very uncertain season: a recent and semi-permanent move across the country, an unexpected third baby, a serious health scare, a pending transatlantic move. Life has me on my knees. Did I mention I cry even on the best of days? Ha. Happy or sad, I don't know why I even bother with mascara anymore.

That morning, the voice in my head--the wrong one--piped up when I read Elim's request. "You're not worthy to talk about well-being and mental health," it said. "You're in the thick of the mess."

But here we are. I'm acknowledging my mess, typing from a farmhouse in upstate New York. You're reading my chianti-fueled thoughts from God knows where. The voice that attempted to shut me up is cowering in Toronto right where I left it that morning when, staring at my phone through tears, I said yes. 

I said yes because I knew I had to speak up.

Depression and anxiety sneak in and cripple people because so many of us stay locked in our thoughts out of fear.

We fear we'll appear weak.
We fear being misunderstood.
We fear we're the only one struggling.

I'm here to remind you—to remind myself—that the journey to freedom begins with speaking up, cracking open so the light can seep in and illuminate our minds and hearts.

Shortly after saying yes to Elim, I took a messy fall.

I could write about what happened next in vivid detail, how I lost my footing on precarious stairs, how lukewarm coffee baptized me as I fell, how the pristine ivory carpet below suddenly wore a mug's worth of liquid sanity, how my body shook as I sobbed in the stairwell staring at the mess: the mess of our situation, the mess in my head and heart, the mess on the floor.

But that's not the point.

What I'm meant to share is this.

As I went about blotting up the coffee in tears, a contemplative melody pouring from a nearby speaker brought me out of my head and back to reality. It was almost a divine appointment, a forced meditation, if you will. Blot, listen, ponder. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I'm going to take some liberties here, string the varied choruses together, and let you contemplate what had me weeping that day in case you too could use a trip away from any swirling negative thoughts. The song is called Do Not Let Your Spirit Wane.

--

Do not let this thing you've got go to waste
Do not let your heart be dismayed
It's here by some random disclosure of grace
From some vascular great thing

Let your life grow strong and sweet to the taste
‘Cuz the odds are completely insane
Do not let your spirit wane
Do not let your spirit wane

Do not let this thing you've got go to waste
The pain and the beauty so strange
Do not let your spirit wane
Do not let your spirit wane

Get the fuck out of your head if it says,
"Stay cold and be deathly afraid."
Do not let your spirit wane
Do not let your spirit wane

--

Friends, we cannot stay locked in our thoughts while our spirits wane.

Maybe it's a trusted friend. 
Maybe it's a therapist or a family member. 
Maybe it's any willing ear.
Maybe it's your sweet friend's newsletter audience. (Thanks for the nudge, Elim.)

So long as we let that damn voice thrive alone in our thoughts, let it taunt us, oppress us, and rule us, we simply cannot be free. We need to say yes when it comes to talking about mental health.

--

The appointed hashtag for Mental Health Awareness Week is #GETLOUD.

I find this highly entertaining. The band responsible for the song is Gang of Youths. I saw them play Toronto a while back and was greeted by a wall of sound.

Their latest album, Go Farther in Lightness, is ministering to me and my thoughts in some strange way, the brutal honesty and noise and chaos and stillness.

The final track wraps up with the lead singer practically screaming "Say yes to life!" like some spectacular battle cry.

If I could add one more line, it would be this: Say yes to speaking up about your mess when you would rather hide.

Life was never supposed to be a pristine ivory carpet devoid of blemishes and coffee stains. Let's not treat it that way.

- Elissa Watts