I remember being 18, sitting on the couch with my mom, and in such intense pain over something. I can't remember exactly what it was, but she looked at me with her eyebrows furrowed, confused, almost as if she was feeling my pain too.
My mom said, “You feel things so deeply. When you’re high, you’re so high, and when you’re low, you’re so low.”
In that moment I knew it was true and that she didn't mean any harm, but I felt ashamed. I've lived the past 11 years believing my intense emotions were something that needed to be fixed.
So when I began to feel that inner tipping recently, knowing that the decline into a sadder state shortly awaited, my shame reflex was once again triggered.
When this happens my tendency is to isolate, close the blinds, stay in bed. And that's what I did, frustrated with my seeming inability to be "normal". Why must I constantly be on the rollercoaster of emotion? Will it ever end? Will I ever just feel mellow, steady, even-keeled?
I turned to music and found solace in a song by Broods. The lyric:
I know it's hard to see me down
I cry and cry upon the ground
And then, a wistful, almost inaudible line that goes:
A simple price I pay for all the love I feel when I'm okay
I've heard this melody many times, but the meaning never registered. This time I felt every word. It hit me like truth serum, and a little piece of the puzzle I'd been trying to put together over the past month or so of melancholy.
The lyric brought me back to early December, driving over a mountain pass with my boyfriend, walls of snow surrounding the winding two-lane highway.
“I've decided something about life," I said. "You know, we can believe that everything happens by chance and we're nothing more than just organisms floating on a rock in space, or we can choose to believe that there is a purpose. I choose that.
I choose to believe that there is a reason why I am here, why I feel so intensely, both the highs and lows. Maybe it's the only way I would create art. Or maybe I feel these things to express them and help other people. I choose to believe I am here for a reason. In this human body. For a purpose."
There is a reason why I cry and cry, and I truly believe it’s because the elation I feel when things are good is unlike anything I could ever describe. My joy runs as deep as my pain. And all of this drives my art.
Some people may want to label this as bipolar or depression or emotional instability or whatever else. I choose to believe it has a purpose.
I choose to let this human experience shape me and shift me and show me lessons, ideas, inspirations that in this world no other people get to have. I choose that belief. I choose to make it a force in my art, like Broods does in their music.
The world tries to tell us, in various ways, that we are wrong. That our "flaws" need to be fixed. That we need to all be the same. By doing that we are missing out on our true gifts, our unique human experiences.
I wish I could speak to my 18-year-old self and tell her "Don't run from your deep feelings, they are your gifts! If you can learn to accept and love all parts of yourself, you will be limitless."