2018 is almost done, and so am I. From beginning to end, it’s been a non-stop sob fest that has me wailing for the ones that I will never see again. I’m also inconsolable with the current status of an existence, that has been kicking my ass long enough for me to be out for the count.
But I’m still here, fighting for the right to keep fighting.
After being traumatized by abuse at an impressionable age, my emotional state went into overload in order to compensate for my inability to process what transpired. The coping mechanisms have done an enviable job when I consider how much more extensive the damage could’ve been, but the price of not seeking the professional help I will need forever is taking its toll.
It’s also the erratic hormones and the middle age syndrome that embraces all the fears you’ve been running away from, and packages them up in neat little buds, that attack you at the least opportune time.
I’m still not sure if crippling life-long depression runs in my family, or if I would’ve been spared the curse if only I hadn’t been violated. Either way, it’s here to stay, and over the years, I’ve done the best I can to tolerate the unexpected darkness, that overwhelms and lingers with the vengeance of foggy threats.
When it finally clears, I’m thankfully sober enough to be proud that I am sober, and not groggy from the effects of mind-numbing substances that only left me mentally victimized and physically defeated.
In this damning era of social media and the appetite for documenting and sharing the blessings of #bestlives through books deals, branding partnerships and the travelogues that spotlight sponsorships, it’s hard not to feel even more insignificant when you’re platter isn’t as shiny.
And of course adding emotional challenges to what’s already less than perfect and too broken to compete, can be a shattering disposition that presents the climate of extremes, that all point to the fragility of feeling terrifically alone.
That’s why when celebrities who can relate to the pounding isolation of mental challenges that are debilitatingly beyond control — decide to make the generous offer to loudly speak up about personal struggles that don’t necessarily fit the columns of Insta-worthy content — it has to be duly recognized and lauded.
Even “The Rock” needs a rock to lean on when he’s feeling wobbly, and the refreshing honesty of globally-viable celebs like Dwayne Johnson, helps to assure his legion of fans that despite his star status, he’s not at all reluctant to put his vulnerability on display.
This season of awareness that forces the required level of political correctness was sorely absent years ago, when superstars Mariah Carey and Britney Spears were publicly ridiculed for their public mishaps, and subjected to demeaning labels.
“Crazy” when the shaved head and hospitalization played out for soulless gawkers; and “emotionally disturbed” when televised interviews fail to disguise the flaws that the “perfect” people perfectly hide.
Carey finally shared her ongoing battle with bipolar disorder after being diagnosed in 2001. And Destiny’s Child member, Michelle Williams is currently engaged in the mental exercise of self-care, after sensibly disengaging from her fiancé, Chad Johnson.
Williams has been vocal about her still-activated fight with depression, and in 2017, the singer didn’t hold back from describing the early days of confusion and disillusionment that overshadowed the brightness of success at the height of her career.
For those of us who can relate to the unbearable burden of mental disarray, that has nothing to do with the dopeness of the moment — it’s hard to articulate the validation that follows after reading the testimony from someone who supposedly has it all — except the privilege of peace of mind.
Michelle Williams is now in the thick of it, and true to form, she has chosen to be consistently transparent; regardless of the uneven reception to her periodic updates.
Media outlets are still flailing when it comes to the appropriateness that must be applied when covering ultra-sensitive topics. Selena Gomez, who sought treatment a couple of months ago, had to bear the punishment of tabloid fodder, that relied on buzzwords like “breakdown” and the silly connection of an ex-boyfriend who has tragically moved on — as the official explanation of the unexplainable.
In the case of Williams, the latest newsflash that confirms why she can no longer continue to perform in her Broadway show, Once On This Island — due to the recommendation of her doctors — arms Page Six with the authority to mention how this entire year has been fraught with depression spells and stints in mental health facilities.
It has been a rough one for the entertainer, and spending some of it in front of the camera with a reality show that showcased a relationship that many took to social media to vehemently denounce, couldn't have been an easy undertaking.
But fighting depression is a never-ending temperament that doesn’t just vanish without a trace after intense counseling sessions or an extended stay at a facility.
Williams is going to spend all the years ahead, bravely getting the help she needs to stabilize her emotions for the sake of healthy functionality. And that’s why it’s vital for outlets to carefully venture into unfamiliar territory; by refraining from standard delivery that aims to separate “the crazies” from “the normals.”
As she takes the scheduled break she’s earned from the spotlight, we have to embrace her as the endearing survivor, who is selflessly willing to be that “open book,” when she could easily suffer in private without the prying eyes of the public.
As a private citizen who can relate to those periods of emotional duress, it’s hard to imagine the extra stress that comes with being famous, and how it complicates situations that are far from ideal.
When Kanye West says what he says and does what he does, fans and former fans suddenly become mental health professionals, who recklessly tweet their diagnosis of the person they don’t understand; as if “crazy people” always act “crazy” on cue.
The sentiment is that we are woefully incapable of being adequately respectful to a community that deserves the empathy, mindfulness and support, that is instinctively given to patients of other diseases that carry the same weight of direness.
It’s convenient to tweet out your disapproval of her ill-fated engagement to a dude that seems disturbingly shady, but when she makes the right moves by breaking free to focus on her mental health, the attention dissolves because you can’t create trends based on the applause of a young woman who is inspiringly imperfect.
The episodes don’t abruptly end for those of us who are invested in a positive outcome.
We wish Michelle Williams all the best in a journey that demands more than we can give, and yet we manage to avoid drowning in the abyss by accommodating the love that surrounds, with the determination to not fade away in shame.
This survivor didn’t just master the words to a hit song, she’s actually fulfilling the definition of those verses, while keeping us close every step of the way. Her courageousness in demonstrating the pride in owning her “untrendy” status by seeking the treatment that keeps her alive and well should be awarded with countless “likes.”
If that’s not #BlackGirlMagic- I don’t know what is.