I’ve celebrated an anniversary every January since 2003. It’s the date I read on my hospital wristband when I woke up from my suicide attempt. It’s the day I opened my eyes to a bright light and my mother stroking the braids she put in my hair while I was unconscious. She mumbled softly to me, “You are here, baby.” It’s the day I was driven to a mental hospital and had my first therapy session; where I had to talk to someone about my gut-wrenching sadness and insecurities. It wasn’t a happy day, but it is one that I am thankful I lived through.
“Every day is a blessing.” — Grandma
EVERY DAY IS HARD.
EVERY DAY YOU PUSH THROUGH.
EVERY DAY YOU LAUGH.
EVERY DAY YOU FEEL.
I learned I was experiencing severe depression, panic attacks, and rapid mood swings.
I learned that I should love myself. I try to remember to love myself.
I learned that I care about others more than myself.
I used to hate myself.
I used to get really drunk and make a fool of myself and fuck.
I used to abuse myself a lot because I’m the only one who is allowed to hurt me.
I stopped carving into my body.
I stopped taking medication after trying it for 6 years.
I stopped pretending to be what others wanted me to be.
“Be your best friend.” — Mom
I moved to New York to get into a healthier headspace and nurture my creativity. I moved to New York to heal my wounds from a past relationship that shredded my trust. I closed myself in after that betrayal and I just needed to get out, give myself space, get a new perspective. I drove cross-country with my BFF; my eyes were set on a job lead and a beautiful brick-walled apartment.
When I arrived in New York, my excitement morphed into crippling anxiety. It held me captive in that beautiful brick apartment for one week. I had left my support system of friends and family; I cried randomly, held my cat, and told myself I can’t go back yet. I didn’t know where to go, or what to do in this massive city, so I decided on a destination; I went to a park on the Upper West Side near where I was hoping to work.
I walked to the pier at Riverside Park and stared at the Hudson River in awe, astounded that my desert days were over and my island days were commencing. The day I chose to chase a dream and move to New York City, the dream wasn’t real. The day I chose to stand next to that river, surrounded by statues and by greenery, I recognized that my dream had become real. On my walk back to the train I repeated positive thoughts to the beat of my footsteps. You may not feel your best but you are here and you matter. A week later I had two part-time jobs and I made a new friend.
“I am my best friend.” — Me
I’m trying to be open and honest about my emotions with myself and with others. I spent a lot of time not talking about my active depression, anxiety, or mania. I don’t let people push me around anymore; if there is an issue, I will address it calmly and immediately. I try to be as direct as possible; I’ve learned bottling up my frustrations is not beneficial for anyone.
I still go in bouts of loving myself and feeling feverishly ashamed. There have been moments when the thought of suicide creeps in again. It does not happen often, but when it does I run through the reasons why I should stay alive. I spent a lot of time building a stable life around my identity as a non-binary queer with Bipolar Disorder. I learned how to handle me is by keeping busy; I lead an artist collective, co-run a magazine, manage a wine boutique, go to school part-time, make artwork, and am in a four-year relationship with someone who accepts my insecurities, and my strengths, and my growth, and everything that surrounds us. Making art and organizing community-building events have given me purpose. All of these things remind me why I am here and I matter.
By Olivia Jane Huffman
Visual and Performance artist Olivia Jane Huffman exposes misogynistic fantasies embedded in our accepted behavioral norms and damaging propaganda. They assemble found materials with sentimental or historical context to critique the tradition of womanhood. Olivia Jane is the Founder of LADY ART NYC and is based in Brooklyn, NY. More of their work can be seen on their website or Instagram.
Art by Linzi Silverman
Linzi Silverman is a Brooklyn based visual artist and intuitive energy healer. She has been making art since a young age, focusing predominantly in collage and photography. Her work is inspired by nature and nostalgia, exploring ideas of mysticism, identity, feminism, and dreams. She loves the occult, camping, and riding her bike. For her, imagination is spirituality and creating is part of her personal mission. Check out her work on her website at linzisilverman.com and her instagram @linzisilverman.
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