Social media is accused of many wrongdoings in our society, but it is also a window to the rest of the world, which is brilliant to see when used right. An example of this just popped up on my feed this Sunday evening. Singer, Lizzo, just opened up about her struggles with depression and I found myself struck by the words she used to explain how she felt, what she described as her dedication to be more ‘emotionally honest’:
“I used to think of sadness as a constant with fleeting moments of joy in between... but it’s a wave joy🌊sadness🌊joy🌊sadness🌊 and my sadness can be as temporary as my joy.”
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I learned in the last 24hrs that being emotionally honest can save your life. Reaching out may be hard but as soon as I did it, I was immediately covered in love. I used to think of sadness as a constant with fleeting moments of joy in between... but it’s a wave 🌊joy🌊sadness🌊joy🌊sadness🌊 and my sadness can be as temporary as my joy. I went on live to have a discussion about triggers. My triggers are: rejection and inadequacy. But I love that I’m more emotionally honest lately. I love that I can use my sadness constructively in real time for gratitude. What triggers your sadness? What do you do when those buttons are pushed? What do you love about yourself in those moments of darkness?
First of all, I think she is wonderful for sharing this with her community; there can never be quite enough awareness when it comes to mental health because for non-sufferers, it sadly often needs to be re-explained, contextualised, validated. Secondly, I was struck by how much it resonated with the introduction piece for my poetry collection, aptly named ‘Sadness and Short Bliss’. I had to go back to re-read it to make sure I hadn’t imagined it. Please see the full piece below, for reference.
“when I think of moments of extreme happiness or ‘bliss’ shall we say, these were the moments in which I rarely thought of my pen, they were often moments so brief, that I sat dazed - staring at them, as they became less clear in the distance and eventually became another memory stored in my mind.”
It’s important to know that this collection wasn’t originally created for the purpose of publishing. It was created to let things out, express a feeling or two and because the words from my heart and head seemed to take my burden with them every time they reached a page. So of course, upon trying to present them to the world they were essentially a mish-mash of defining moments in my life, mixing the different voices I had as I grew up. Thus - it was hard to group them together.
What I did notice however was that I tended to write when I was mostly sad – feel free to add a long list of synonyms onto this as I realise this is quite reductive grouping. But when I think of moments of extreme happiness or ‘bliss’ shall we say, these were the moments in which I rarely thought of my pen, they were often moments so brief, that I sat dazed - staring at them, as they became less clear in the distance and eventually became another memory stored in my mind.
What is happiness anyway? There is much research counteracting the idea that it is a destination, explaining rather, that it is an emotion. My title is a nod to this, as it is similar to my own thoughts about life. That they are filled with random bouts of happiness. All the moments in-between are longing for that feeling again, or anxiety attached to losing it, or simply the overwhelming state of glee that reduces you to living for it - and eventually drives you mad.
Maybe I am describing love, but as we know, the two are so intrinsically linked so it is easy to sometimes blur the lines. So perhaps, in many ways this is a book about love. That scary, all consuming thing that painfully forces our steps but also makes the world go round.
You may find that as a reader, you question some of the placements in the Short Bliss chapter, and you would not be wrong to do so. Many times they are served with other emotions, or bittersweet. In fact, I’m of the belief that the only poem within this collection that champions untainted happiness is Your Love, a poem I wrote for one of my dearest friends who was getting married at the time.
The Untitled are emotions I could not quite assign, a sort of: I don’t even know how I feel anymore. The other side of sadness, definitely not ‘happiness’, not fear, not anger, none of the basic emotions that we know. I found most of these were acceptance, observation poetry, or indeed a struggling assessment of how I was feeling, as I couldn’t quite place it.
It’s been a tumultuous and wonderful experience to unearth these poems from my phone, laptop and faded notebooks. Shelved emotions have awoken angry, demanding that they re-enter my mind;
I have had to patiently return them to my subconscious, scared that they might again want to be felt by their owner.
I am glad they are now safe, in the sense that they wont be lost, as many words have been before. They are documented. They are sure. They are very real and they are mini-saviours. As I release my words into the metaphorical air I bid them farewell with my heart in my mouth, hoping that they are understood.
I hope you, the reader, may connect with the things I say. I hope that if you feel the way I’ve felt, you know that I understand you, as many poets have kindly done to me. But mostly I hope, that at least for you, the sadness does not last forever.
What moved me was the reminder of how unified the human experience is, and how though I wrote this two years ago, now I had come around to Lizzo’s way of thinking. The thought that sadness, everything in life in fact, is like a wave that comes and goes. And thus, sadness is not an enemy to be fought, rather embraced. Now when I feel down I often refer to it as ‘riding a wave’. I know eventually I will come down, be brushed into shore, and the sun will smile down on me once again.
Just as Lizzo mentioned using her sadness as a tool for gratitude, I found this way of thinking also gave me that too. Down moments can be teaching, can be humbling, can be art. The up moments should be treasured, savoured, meditated on.
This way if thinking has been the source of great progress of my pilgrimage to peace, and so, if only to vouch for Lizzo, I thought it was worth sharing as it might just bloody-well work.