mental health awareness

.two. | Stay Awhile

You may have noticed that I have been somewhat absent from Calcedon lately. The short answer is that I had a baby! The long answer is a bit more complicated...

After the excitement of releasing Echo In last year -- actually, the very week of the release -- I found out that I was pregnant with my 2nd kid. I knew right away that I was sustaining a life other than my own because of that uniquely incessant, debilitating exhaustion. I had carefully laid out plans for making the most of the album release. But I found myself without any energy to execute even the simplest tasks.

I thought - it'll be okay. I'll jump back in after the draining first trimester is over and edit the timeline when I have more energy. But the tiredness refused to budge into the second trimester, then into the third. For nine months I was still completely debilitated, barely able to take care of the every day necessities of life.

Somewhere in there, something deeper set in. The name it was given was ante-natal depression - less common than post partum depression, but just as crippling.

Various Calcedon-related deadlines came and went, and I noticed each and everyone of them. Reminders of all that I could not accomplish. Time kept ticking on.

I am usually quite hard on myself. Hardly a day goes by that I don't feel like a failure in some way or another. And so to fail in such a measurable way proved all my worst fears about myself and plunged me deeper. I felt as though my brain was no longer my own, but was lost in a haze of half remembered thoughts. Some days I felt like my mind had been trapped in a box full of scrambled things that just didn't quite make sense. Like when you hear someone speaking a language that isn't *quite* English and it feels simultaneously familiar and foreign.

After my daughter was born, there was a few weeks of respite due in part to her sweet nature and in part to the deluge of "happy hormones". But a few weeks later - again, the complete exhaustion and with it my muddled mind returned. Again, trying to keep the necessary things together while very much falling apart.

If this all sounds a bit bleak, it's because it is. It was. 

I can remember everything about the day my brain came back. It was a Thursday. I sat down to try to think through a problem, as I had often tried (and failed) many times before. And to my surprise and delight, I followed the train of thought through in its entirety and was able to think through the angles of the problem to their natural ends. I was elated! I remember going out with a friend the next day just brimming with the news - my brain is back! my brain is finally back! 

That was only a couple months ago. It's not like everything changed all at once. I have had to build up my energy reserves slowly. It has been a much slower process than I had hoped. But as I write these words, last night was the first time that, after the kids were in bed, I had enough energy left to sit down for a full evening of creative work. Of Calcedon work. This project that has been both my greatest joy and the greatest measurement of my own inadequacies.

About two years ago, I wrote a song called Stay Awhile for a friend who was going through some really difficult life circumstances. In preparation for a show this past spring, I was singing these words, meaning them with all my heart for my friend, when suddenly it struck me: I was in the midst of being on the receiving end of this kind of present-ness from my incredible community. I had the immense privilege of having people in my life who were willing to just be there with me over the 14 months when I had almost nothing to offer.

And that is the beauty in the dissonance. In weakness and vulnerability, I learned perhaps truly for the first time, that those who love you will always be there. No matter what.

These are the lyrics:

when your bones feel old ... your joints ache from the cold ... so much is left untold
i will stay awhile

when all that's left ... is heaviness in your chest ... the pieces all a mess
i will stay awhile

the sun will shine tomorrow a little brighter than today
and the memories of your sorrow will pass along their way

when the world forgot ... but you cannot ... lost in a sea of thoughts
i will stay awhile

though nothing comes for granted the sun will shine another day
and the movements of the planets will pass along their way
and the pain that almost swallowed - plant it in the earth
where once there was a hollow life springs up from the dirt

but for now ... i'll be here anyhow
i will stay awhile

You can listen to the song here and if you have a minute, share it with someone who might need to know this kind of present-ness from you.