In honor of May being Mental Health Awareness Month, I wanted to take the time to discuss a bit of my own journey, while also creating a space for others to share and find comfort in Unscripted – a place of no filter, reflection, hope, and of course, my path to the live theatre and entertainment business.
Prior to moving down to South Florida in November, I could feel myself slowly falling back into a bad mental health state. Like many, I have struggled with depression and anxiety since my early teen years, and as we have seen during the past year or so of Covid-19, mental and emotional health issues have skyrocketed. The complexity surrounding mental health issues is something that never ceases to amaze me, and just drives me to talk about it more. I’m very passionate as a young woman in general, but discussing topics like mental health in order to bring awareness and break stigmas surrounding how we treat ourselves and others is crucial. It’s extremely important to help those struggling with their mental health and make it known that no one is ever alone – even though, in the midst of it, it’s so much easier to say than it is to know it and really believe it.
The ongoing weeks and months of quarantine seemed to shake the entire globe and rattle us all in a way that (at least in my lifetime) has never happened before. I became scared of this “new normal” and how it would affect the future, not just for me, but for every human being regardless of age or where they come from or live. As an empath and someone just beginning their career, I was worried and felt hopeless. I know most felt the same way. It’s a lot and it’s heavy. But it proves we are never alone.
After months of constant anxiety, loneliness, and trying to plan my future in any possible way, I realized something within: In challenging times is when your values are tested.
It’s easy to be positive and appear strong when life is going great and you’re not under pressure.
It’s in the bad times when you have to stay true to everything you believe and preach – that is when your true character is revealed.
From my pre-teen to young adult life, I have kept about ten journals. One for each year. For as long as I can remember, my way of dealing with any heartbreak, anxiety or problems (big or small), was to put pen to paper. I don’t know exactly why writing is my chosen way of expressing myself, and to be honest, it was never a monumental, earth shattering moment – I can’t even remember getting my first journal or writing for the first few times, but what I do know is how it makes me feel.
Writing is the one thing that I can feel a complete sense of presence, yet be in another world where everything just melts away.
Writing in my dorm, 2019.
But it’s not just those moments of craving an escape that show us how special the arts are.
Some of the greatest memories of my life were when I was lucky enough to be in awe over great writing, world history, iconic paintings and monuments, surreal shows and concerts, fashion, etc.
Exploring famous monuments in Warsaw.
I’m a firm believer that everything is connected and that there are no coincidences. I often question what the world would be like without access to the arts. It almost seems unfathomable to picture our societies without this great impact over thousands of years. It’s undeniable just how positive an impact the arts hold on individuals and the community as a whole in regards to our mental and emotional health. Whether you are a writer, reader, director, actor, singer, dancer, painter, behind the scenes worker, show-goer, lover of museums, history, concerts, we are all in this together and feel a deep sense of absence without enjoying those irreplaceable experiences.
There is no doubt that our history as human beings, the arts, and works that come with each form so greatly shape who we are and who we become. What you feed your mind and soul and how you choose to spend your time evidently affects the person you become and the world we live in.
Salvation Mountain, California… my sister and I road tripped six hours just to see the incredible art.
I’ve come to realize how positively the arts affect us (whether in low or high points), and how deeply human beings long for connecting to others and themselves through any kind of art form.
The arts – whatever form means most to you – is our saving grace.
We all have our ways to escape the inevitable challenges life throws at us and the ways we celebrate the great beauty and happiness gifted to us.
It doesn’t matter whether we came to the realization because it was stripped from us and we took it for granted, or came to the realization because we were able to dive into the arts more from home.
It just matters that we realized it.
Some of my personal quarantine projects – crafts, painting, wood work, and poetry.