Mental Health, Mary Lambert and Messy Paint
Today is International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day. I carry a few friends with me all day and though my heart is heavy, I remember to be grateful for this one, precious life, in honor of those we've lost. To those who aren't with us, we love and miss you, and your memory has made a difference in our world.
Today I want to share an anecdote from this week that gave me hope. On Tuesday I was fortunate enough to meet a musical (and spoken word) inspiration, Mary Lambert, and watch her work through her own stuff on stage, right in front of me. I was able to do this alongside some of my NYC family, something that always means a lot to me.
Mary is a compelling advocate for body positive ideals, mental health awareness, and marriage equality, and she wears her beliefs proudly, defying stigma surrounding more than just one oppressed group. In doing so, she reminds me that I still have a long way to go.
I watched as Mary met the first fan to approach her at the small venue. She was told that her music had been what helped this young woman choose life when she was at her lowest. She had finally found one voice among the masses that offered her solace and understanding. Mary actually cared about each individual even though she had met thousands of fans before us and even with the increased attention she attracted after performing at the Grammy's. In fact, she cared so much that when I told her about my own mental health and how much I respect her visibility and all of the work that she does, her eyes welled up with tears. It was one of those moments in my life where everything felt like it had been leading up to this, despite the number of times I have questioned whether this whole initiative would hurt me more than help me in the end. It was apparent that she gave everyone there a lot of strength.
For those of us who need more strength today, I encourage you to listen to her music or to find it through other channels / inspirations (Andrea Gibson is also amazing), to seek out resources, or to reach out.
In Mary's song, Body Love, she works through personal insecurities she's struggled with and challenges skewed social norms surrounding body image that fuel the fire of a disturbing national epidemic. By hashing out her own challenges and overtly telling herself to trust her own words, she says, "I know I am because I said I am". After listening to the song many times, I decided it would help me to see the words in front of me at times, because it's not always as simple as just "knowing". So I brought out the paint and let loose a hurricane of messy, creative disaster in my apartment (still getting paint off the walls). I painted a sunrise first because the early morning hours have always been a symbol of hope that I've clung to on the darker days. And I put her words right over it in spray paint. It's definitely not perfect, but really what is? If you need a reminder like I did, of any kind today, message, text, or call me and you will have one before you know it.
On the exterior, her words might appear to be a simple proclamation of self-acceptance. In each of our lives, however, we have places where we experience self-doubt because society, friends, parents, etc., try to assert that we should fit into a certain mold. And some of us just don't and this doesn't mean that we are flawed. Today, try to remember that you should never have to justify the person that you are. You are great, worthy, beautiful, and strong and others can serve to drain you of your ability to see that in yourself. Thank you Mary, for the inspiration and thank you to all of my friends for always keeping me in check. On this day I will try my best to remember that who I am is who I would choose to be 10 times over, in great respect to, and remembrance of, those who lost the fight.