This picture brings me so much joy. That’s me in the snowsuit, living in a time when everything was easy, when all I had to do was play, love, and trust.
Look at that little girl’s face. I can’t decide whether she’s saying “I need to pee” or “Get that camera out of my face so I can go play!” But there’s something about her expression that I admire.
I told my most trusted healthcare provider about this picture, and he said, “What do you think that little girl would tell you today? Go out and play? Think about your past and cry? Something in between?”
This really got me thinking. Somewhere between the child who wore a pink snowsuit and the teenager who wore nothing but black, something happened. I don’t know what, but I’ve been dealing with mental illness ever since. The question “What do you think that little girl would tell you?” worked its way through my brain for several days until it turned into, “Could it be as easy as acting as if I am not ill?”
Now I’m thinking in terms of “taking action as if”, rather than “acting as if.” Somehow, “acting as if” seems to mean I’m just pretending I’m not sick, and never mind my needs, never mind the consequences. “Taking action as if” is about acknowledging the reality of my illness, but acting in a way that promotes my own health, rather than just giving in. Giving in is so much easier.
What pushed me over the edge was reading this essay by The Minimalists , in which Joshua Fields Millburn asks himself, Is this what you’ve been waiting for your entire life?
The answer for me was, not quite. There are so many things in my life that are wonderful, and I am so grateful, but still I cry nearly every day. I think about hurting myself nearly every day. On the worst days, I want to open my veins, or drown myself in the nearest body of water. I don’t trust easily, and I don’t feel safe. But look at that little girl. She’s not thinking about those things. She’s thinking about making a snow angel, or wondering what’s for lunch.
Realistically, I don’t believe I can cure myself. But taking the long view, I can see a few things that I want in my life: more art, deeper friendships, more self-esteem, better physical health. Less fear. Less regret. Less longing.
I want a life where I can play, love, and trust.
And a pink snowsuit wouldn’t hurt.