I hesitated in posting this because sometimes I think, who wants to hear this. But I personally always need to hear it, so maybe there are some of you who will benefit in hearing this from me.
Believe me when I say, I sing and I create in order to keep going, to stay afloat. A sort of serial artist.
This photograph, taken while I was performing, also felt like a moment of silent prayer for me.
I’ve always used music to pour all of my ‘stuff’ into (pain, rage, heartache, frustration, etc). It’s sometimes hard to put a name on certain feelings or find the cause of them but music lets us do that through an array of sounds that come from deep within our gut and heart.
From a very young age I knew there was something different about me. At the time I viewed it as something was ‘wrong’ with me. I didn’t speak about it until years later. I just silently ridiculed myself and beat myself up in my own mind. Hateful things I’d say to myself. ‘Tonia, you’re a loser, you have an ugly voice, you’re not good enough, everyone is lying to you.’
I remember moments that I should have been incredibly happy and satisfied but I could barely move from paralyzing anxiety or depression. Instead of looking or acting miserable around people I did the opposite. I put on a smile and acted cheerful even though inside I felt like I was sinking, dying. I have empathy for those who experience depression or anxiety, it’s because that’s an all too familiar feeling. If I can help others, I think I feel like I’m also helping myself. I guess that’s why looking outside of ourselves to do acts of kindness for others really does do good for our own hearts.
Depression really does ‘hurt’. It aches and gnaws away at you. You can’t escape it when it’s there because, well, ‘wherever you go, there you are’.
I guilted myself on top of all that because I do, and did, realize that I’ve always been very blessed with an amazing life (that of course came with it’s ups and downs), family and friends, and yet I could feel so completely alone and empty.
People who don’t understand can easily say, get over it, what could you possibly have to be depressed about, wake up! Trust me, I’m awake. I see all my blessings. I’m incredibly grateful. And yet, sometimes the clouds and heaviness lingers way to long and the waves take you down.
After having my first child I looked at myself crying in the mirror one day and said, I have to heal this thing in order to be the best mom and woman I can be and to find some inner peace for myself.
Not only have I worked incredibly hard on my music as an artist, I’ve worked incredibly hard on myself as a human being.
I’ve read tons self-help books, books on being an artist, dealing with anxiety and depression. I’ve attended workshops, taken certification in Neurolinguistic programming, created courses for artists, years of therapy, lots of praying to God and even phases of medication. It never disappears completely but you learn how to deal the more you work on yourself. The clouds part quicker.
I have no problem being vulnerable or transparent. I’m the first to admit that things are not often what they seem from the outside. And just because it might look like you have an incredible life from the outside (we all have so many things to be grateful for) you can still be a complete mess on the inside.
I literally use my artistry and creative projects as tools and lifesaving devices. I will never stop creating or searching for new purposes because it saves me from myself every day. We all need purpose. I use my lows as a silver lining that gets channeled into my music and writing that is then of service to those around me.
Baby steps. Be gentle with yourself.
Find what personally saves you and do it over and over and over again. Art, Music, Photography, Writing, Dancing, Helping others, Looking for hearts, Cooking, Scrapbooking, Exercise, etc, etc.
Talk about it to those you can trust and who aren’t going to shame you or judge you. And don’t be afraid to get help in the form of medication but, promise yourself that if you do, you’ll also do the work to dig deep, heal and create some peace of mind for yourself.
I’m always here for anyone. I’ve always made that very clear to those close to me.
Because of our own struggles and challenges, we can be of comfort and service to others, and that’s certainly something to be grateful for.