Last Friday I went to a Simple Plan anniversary concert at the House of Blues. It was a wonderful show and I had a lot of fun. But it reminded me of my teenage years – back when I had undiagnosed depression and didn’t know it.
I remember identifying really hard with Simple Plan’s music – particularly the songs “Welcome to my Life” and “Perfect” (both of which they played at the concert!!)
Key Lyrics to “Welcome to my Life” include:
Do you ever feel like breaking down? / Do you ever feel out of place? / Like somehow you just don’t belong / and no one understands you? / Do you ever want to run away? / Do you lock yourself in your room? / With the radio on turned up so loud / so no one can hear you screaming?
I remember times where I turned the music in my room up really loud so my family wouldn’t hear me crying. I remember bringing this song up to my dad once, and him saying something along the lines of “Isn’t it funny how they can write a song about no one understanding you, and everyone can relate to it?”
I know he didn’t mean anything by it, but it made me think that the way I was feeling was normal when it wasn’t. I couldn’t tell the difference between depression and teen angst. I don’t know if my parents could either. But while some of these feelings are universal of everybody growing up, feeling misunderstood being one of them, some of them are not. If you are crying in your room with the radio blasting, go talk to someone. It might be just a phase, it might be teen angst. But it might not be. And figuring that out as soon as possible could save you years of hurt in the long run.
A week ago I finished my year-long Selfies for Self-Esteem project. Overall, it was a lot of fun, and it turned into a daily diary of myself. Below are all the pictures I took for my selfies for the past year.
Did the project work? Has my self-esteem improved? Yes and no. I’ve gained more weight over the past year, and now I’m definitely working to fix that. But that makes me feel bad about myself. But also, I know I can look cute in spite of that, so that has helped. My self-esteem is probably in the exact same place overall, actually. But I enjoyed the project, and I’m glad I took a photo (almost) every day for a year!
I like to say the best advice I ever received was from an airline instruction pamphlet. Well, technically, I got it from the book Deadline by Chris Crutcher, and he got it from an airline instruction pamphlet, but I digress.
The point being, the best advice I ever received was “Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others”
You need to take care of yourself before you can take care of others. It was this advice that helps get me through my depression. It’s this advice that allows me to say, “I can be a little selfish, just this one time.” It’s this advice that makes it so I can’t hate or resent my ex, no matter how much he hurt me, because he was putting his own oxygen mask on first. He needed to take care of himself first, before he could take care of me. And that meant, well, that he couldn’t take care of me. I needed too much from him, and he had to get out. Him not being able to handle my depression isn’t a reflection on me, as it took me a long time to learn, but a reflection on him, and his need to take a step back.
But in today’s political climate, can we afford to put our own oxygen masks on first? It’s a privilege to be able to take a step back and say, “I need out of this.” It’s a privilege to be able to think like this. It reaches a point where you have to ask yourself, what is putting on your oxygen mask first, and what is denial or avoidance? You need to help yourself before you can help others, but the point of that is, after you take that moment to help yourself, you need to actually assist others. Put on your own oxygen mask. Then make sure you use your privilege to help others who don’t have it breathe.