• Ashlyn

be my guest.

But please don't put my service to the test. You will be disappointed.

If it seems to you, dear readers, like I talk a lot about myself, it’s because I do. I actively try not to include stories other than my own. It feels predatory and disrespectful. I was ashamed of my poor mental health for so long, didn’t even recognize that it was poor, and to have someone else hijack my issues to make a point would’ve been humiliating. Not every story is mine to tell, and I work hard to remember that. But those stories are necessary. The thing about inclusion is that is has to be, well, inclusive. And ultimately, I want to build a community of inclusion, one where we can come together in our struggles for comfort and support.

Did you ever play Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board as a kid? If not, the gist of the game is that one person sits in a chair or lies on the ground. Her friends surround her, each trying to lift her up by putting two fingers from each hand underneath. Almost always, the first attempt doesn’t work. It’s only after chanting “light as a feather, stiff as a board, light-as-a-feather, stiff-as-a-board, lightasafeather, stiffasaboard” that the group can lift their friend off of the floor. The logic behind the game (besides *MAGIC*, gasp!) being that on the second attempt, each girl is focused on working together with others, to lift their friend as a group.

When I first formulated this blog, it seemed wholly necessary to appropriately process my growth and my emotions. I needed the outlet. And I still do! Thanks to you, sweet readers—and probably also Phil because, let’s be real, he’s the tits—I don’t feel lonely anymore. I don’t feel crazy. I feel seen and accepted and held. I know now that my brain isn’t the only one that plays tricks. My group has lifted me up, each one supporting me in sync with the others to become light as a feather. I am more grateful to each of you than I can actually stand.

I’ve discovered three friends that suffered severe postpartum depression. Six with anxiety, some on par with my own. Two with significant clinical depression. People in my life with bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder. Mental health crises are NOT anomalies. They are not isolated incidents or fringe feelings. They are our lives—sometimes for minutes and sometimes, in my case, for years (or possibly forever!)

So here’s the thing—I want to know about your mental health crisis. I want to share in your frustrations and your fears, in your mania or your melancholy. I mentioned to Kyle just recently that everyone will experience a mental health moment in their lifetime. Every. Single. Person.

Did you go through an earth shattering divorce? Have difficulty conceiving a desperately longed for baby? Find yourself with an unexpected baby at the wrong time with the wrong person? Or even the right person? Heck, did you have a baby at all, expected or not? (I hear those little people are hard) Lose a parent? Lose a spouse? Lose a partner or a friend? Lose your job? Struggle with addiction? Struggle financially? Did you get black out drunk once (or definitely more than once) and fall off of a piano? Do you not know why you were on top of a piano to begin with? Is that last one—again—just me?

Those things are hard—impossible—and often we suffer through them alone, unable to share our burdens with others for fear of seeming weak or broken or heavy. Whatever your circumstances, life is challenging, and often, lonely, no matter the company you keep. In the short, few months I’ve been open about my (many) mental healths moments, I’ve connected more meaningfully with people than I’d ever dreamed possible.

So here’s the pitch: I have shared with you (and love sharing and want to keep sharing as long as you’ll listen!), but now I want to hear from you. When you’re ready, I want to hear your mental health moment. I want to bear a little of your burden. I want to lift you up to be light as a feather. And someday with your permission, I hope to share it (anonymously or not) with this tiny community.

And I’m telling you now that this—sharing—is so effin’ scary. It is ugly and uncomfortable and messy. I’ve made mistakes doing it. I still worry about how it affects my husband and my job prospects and my friendships. But it is important. It’s only been very recently that I’ve learned how much. We are stronger as a unit. Because if one of us falters, we have many others to bear the excess load.

So @ me, as the youths say, and help me build up this community! One thing I can actually stand is how much I love you all.

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