I'm thinking about that old saying, when it rains, it pours, because that's kind of how my life feels at the moment. Only in San Francisco, the rain is different. Sometimes, like this morning, when it rains, it mists. The water doesn't fall to the ground, but lingers in tiny droplets around you. You're not sure if you can really call it rain, and sometimes you start to wonder if it's raining at all or if it's just in your head. That is, until you get inside, to someplace warm and dry, and you realize your clothes are all wet and your skin is slick with something that's not your sweat.
That works a little better as an analogy for my life right now. It feels like things have been trickling in, little by little, and I didn't really notice how much it was all building up until I felt soaked in my skin. And now, I believe I'm slipping into a bit of a funk.
Last Monday was The Siwe Project's No Shame Day, aimed to encourage folks to talk about mental illness and break through some of the stigma that often holds black folks back from seeking mental health treatment. Poet and Siwe Project founder Bassey Ikpi said, “We’re encouraging people to tend to their mental health that day without shame."
So that's one of the reasons I'm trying to keep writing, without being ashamed of how I feel. Usually, a funk affects my writing in one of two ways. I might feel paralyzed, unable to create, and then I hate myself for it, sinking deeper into that bluesy feeling. Or I use the funk as fuel, writing my way through it. I'm trying my best to do the latter this time, to tend to my wellness by honoring how I'm feeling.
My hope is that someone else can get some wellness out of it, too. It works that way for me as a reader, at least. Just like I sometimes need to hear the blues, at times I need to read about how others are struggling. I can find hope in happy resources like the Happy Black Woman blog, but personally, I wouldn't feel honest if I wrote about my healing without also acknowledging the hard things I'm struggling to heal from. So I hope I can add to those stories, like the ones from No Shame Day, which help us to feel not so alone.
Writing keeps me grounded. It weaves some invisible thread through me and back to the earth. I can write to get perspective on the bigger picture. I can write to feel like somebody else cares, even if it's only my notebook listening. Without writing, I don't know what I'd do. I might just tune into the blues and out of the world, taking flight like a bird and forgetting that there are reasons to come back down.
Here's one of my all-time favorite blues singers, Bessie Smith, singing "Backwater Blues." She was one fierce artist, known as "Empress of the Blues," who certainly had no shame in her struggles.