It’s too much to ask you to be understanding of everyone and everything. I don’t know that it’s humanly possible – it is, at the very least, excruciatingly difficult.
But if you understand one thing today, let it be this: some people are sick, and need to take medication. And that is okay.
By sick, I mean suffering from mental illness.
And yes, I am aware that the word ‘sick’ may not be how you are used to hearing mental illness described. But that’s what it is – being sick, having an illness.
And if someone with a broken leg can take Nurofen, someone with anxiety can take Xanax.
It is not your job to judge them. It is not your job to have an opinion on whether taking medication is right for them. It might be keeping them alive. It might be getting them out of bed every morning. The only thing you need to know is that it is something they need, and that is okay.
Taking medication for mental health issues isn’t usually glamorous. My friend Zarlo Cooman described it to me once as, “feeling the same at someone’s funeral as you feel at their wedding.”
Which is awful. But it’s better than feeling like you want to be at your own funeral. I imagine that is not a great feeling.
Medication for mental illness isn’t a cop-out. It isn’t recreational drug use. It isn’t to get high or stoned. It’s there to make people feel like people.
You job is to understand that. Your job is to respect that.
“I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately… I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life! To put to rout all that was not life… And not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived…”
Dead Poets Society, 1989
Live deliberately. Because when it is all said and done, what else is there to do but live in hope of avoiding the regret of never having lived at all?
Because no one is perfect, but everyone is rare, and beautiful, like a butterfly. And if we strive to perfection, to conformity, do we strip our wings of their colours so that we may fit in? Or do we paint on thick disguises so heavy they pull our hearts to our knees and we can’t get off the ground at all? And when you are a butterfly, with not more than a few days to live, is it worth it? Or are we wasting our time trying to be something we are not when people tell us, “This is the mold you are to fit to.” And so we bend ourselves until we break to fit the form we are shown and hide our heads thinking that maybe, if we keep our heads down, no one can throw rocks at us for being different.
I was asked a week ago, “Are you artistic or logical? Pick your path.” And after panicking for several minutes, wondering which path to take, wondering “Will I strip, or will I paint?”, I drew a path in the middle of my page and said “Screw it, I am going through the forest.” I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately. I want to be a butterfly with my own wings and yes, there are days when I conform. There are times when I strip myself of colour so that I may sink into the crowd and slip throught the cracks like the light I so desperately need. There are days when I paint on a happy face because I’m afraid my true colours aren’t the right ones. But even if I am only alive for a few days, even if my shoulders break from holding my head above water, I am a butterfly and I refuse to be a moth.
Please understand that your wings are beautiful.