I’m living my best life. I’m grateful. As much as possible, I do what brings me joy. I have my highs and I have my lows. It’s easy and comfortable to talk about everything that feels good, and it’s time to have an uncomfortable conversation. I’ll just go right ahead and say it: I experience prolonged periods of sadness—I always have and I probably always will.
It’s cool, though!
Growing up, when I felt sad, I thought I had to fix ‘it.’ That it was my fault I’m sad, and that I must have been doing something wrong. Sadness brought shame, embarrassment and the stress of the impossible task of fixing my mind, which must be broken, right?
On my low days, I really thought that I was alone. That all the stronger, smarter, more popular kids never felt sadness because they were obviously better than me. I wish I could go back and tell my younger self that all that is baloney. When I don’t feel right, it’s not because I’m doing it wrong, it’s because my life is whole. Wholeness includes heartbreak, failure, grief, and all kinds of uncomfortable events that bring sadness.
Sadness comes and sadness goes. When we’re really low, our coping strategies can feel impossible. For instance, on a recent low day, I wasn’t sure what to do with myself. I couldn’t focus on reading or writing so I tried to go to sleep. Well, sleep wouldn’t come and even though I didn’t feel like I was good company, the only thing that made sense was to invite new energy into my space. I indirectly called for help. I invited my neighbour over and we sat on my deck, breathing in the late summer air under the moonlight. I didn’t mention anything about my intense depressive mood. I just listened to her laughter and venting and was able to silently process what I needed to.
Learning how to process sadness is a skill, and that skill has saved my life. I can’t go back in time and teach this to my younger self, but I have another idea.
I am giving kids around the world the opportunity to share what makes them sad, and how they cope. In collaboration with Child’s Eye, a division of Libri Publishing, I am gathering responses for A Little Anthology on Sadness: a mental health resource for kids, by kids. The responses from my survey will be compiled into a poetic, whimsical juvenile non-fiction book. All languages and art forms are welcome. Words aren’t everyone’s thing, so I accept drawings, photographs or any art forms that transpire.
I honour and respect the fact that participation in this project is emotional labour. The responses I have received thus far are nothing short of spectacular. The word thank you does not even begin to express the depth of my gratitude. My hope is that kids will see this book and be reminded that they aren’t alone.
Thank you for reading.