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Aya AhmedI sincerely apologize for not writing sooner but really, there’s Christmas, kids out of school, weather, stressed out husbands, holidays, visitors, etc. This combination doesn’t lend itself to much creative thinking much less any therapeutic writings that easily give me that feeling of weight being lifted. So I haven’t written lately, and that frustrates me because I thought this plan to find new quotes and somehow use those bits of wisdom to start a new chapter in my life would induce me to think more; and I can only think more on the days that I can write more. You see, I am not looking at the greatest minds to understand what the world needs to know but to find out what I need to know. It isn’t the year of growth as much as it is finally the year of understandings.

Despite being obnoxiously busy (I actually went out in the real world and shopped the other day) I did find my next quote hiding in a corner of a popular algorithm. For some reason this quote hit me. This quote took me by surprise. I was waiting for the normal this is your year quote or worse if you just do this everything will change and I got this:


2017 changed me
2018 broke me
2019 opened my eyes
2020 I’m coming back

Some art gets to your heart because you see a truth in them, even when you don’t want to. You see something that reminds you of a place you struggled to escape. Maybe a painting takes you make to that one moment when you closed your eyes simply to imagine a paradise that would soothe the soul you have irrevocably damaged. Maybe a piece of music flows through your mind, to your soul and out of your fingers, in a quest to move the canyons inside of you, much like that beautiful river cuts through the heavy rock around it. Or maybe it is a piece of sculpture that should actually look like a piece of rock, shiny and pretty, but in reality simply a piece of rock. Instead that sculpture, with the folds of life-like linen and tears swimming in eyes that don’t exist brings out the kind of emotion that you only allow in the tightest and darkest places of your universe.

Every bit of art has the potential to test us, touch us, transform us. Every bit of art can make us have all the emotions that are necessary for us to find a connection to a surface never meant to be. Art provides guidelines. Art provides reminders. Art provides the questions.

Many times it is writing that can grab me. This may or may not be due to the fact that I am a writer and voracious reader. I say may not, not because I don’t believe Occam’s razor can and should apply, but because I often find the moment I learn what the artist was painting, writing, sculpting, the beauty of the creation can be lost. I will always see my stories in the great paintings and know my friends in the books surrounding me. I don’t want to see a truth built by someone else’s mind. But this will not discount the thousands of times that my truth was given to me in a creative way; just the knowledge that it was to me not from anyone else.

The quote above could apply to every one of us. We all change, we all brake, we all find a way to come back to our own lives. And it is quite possible that millions of people could fill in the intentional and vague little quips in the saying above. But really that isn’t the point; because I could fill in those little quips. And I can fill those quips with stories and pure knowledge of the pain each of those things listed brings. And I can fill those quips with regrets, recriminations, and even darkness. I can remember how 2017 changed me. I can remember how 2018 broke me. I can remember how I have opened my eyes in 2019. As for 2020, in this quip it is only a dream.

In 2017 I spent numerous months higher than I had since my son had been born and in a weird twist of fate my postpartum depression went so high that I destroyed myself when I hit the bottom. But in 2017 I exercised everyday, hardly missing a day. I drank thick juices made but cutting up expensive organic food.  I didn’t write because there was nothing to write about – everything in my life was going great – or so I thought. But the problem with the highs is the lows always come. And the those that come from the highest highs end in depths that few can truly recover from. I remember my husband fighting, my children being more cautious around me, and I remember this overwhelming desire to be more than I knew how to be. I was going to clean my home like an Army had moved in. I was going to start wearing makeup in the bid to have all those men look at me. And I was going to take my children to the same dangerous heights that I could so easily climb because I needed to give them the ride that I thought for a moment was so exciting.

But after those highs when I reached those lows I realized something about myself. One could say I changed how I say myself.  When I look back on the enormous depth I rode for those couple of months there are things I must confront. I can’t regret those ups and downs because then I would have to acknowledge I couldn’t handle those climbs; and I don’t regret climbs. I survived the up and the down although it is subjective on how well I did. But the idea that I subjected my children to any of it, in my selfish intent to have them love me, like me, live with me, is unacceptable. The fact that I didn’t control the situation even though I knew the signs, I knew what no one was telling me, I ignored so much. I wasn’t seeing a doctor at that point, although I had some basic mental health pills to carry me over. But I forgot the one rule, the one rule I thought was permanently stained on my brain, that no matter what my children can’t be directly hurt because of my illness; instead, I have a responsibility to not be irresponsible because ultimately, I am a mother. That lesson changed me.

2018 was the most horrible year in terms of my health. And I am not necessarily talking about my mental health, although they all combine. In 2018, my daughter will tell you was a year of her mother sitting in her chair feeling bad. It was a time when others had to take care of me, when others had to take care of what I needed to be taking care of. My hair fell out by the handfuls, my weight dropped, my skin went almost yellow, my stomach and digestive system stopped working and no one, no matter who I talked to had the ability to make me feel better because the truth was my brain wasn’t going to allow it. My mind would not have allowed me to get back up and workout again. My mind would not have allowed me to look at my children and realize they might be bored staying at home everyday. My mind would not let me recognize that simply getting up would have changed everything. It would not have cured me but it would have changed everything. The illness and the mental cage that I was in turned my world upside down (again). I learned that I had the power to be herded by my mind. I learned that I had the mental capacity to destroy my own physical health because I couldn’t find a way to get off that chair. Learning about your own power isn’t as cathartic as it seems. Power isn’t always an answer to the problems that seem easy to survive. Power broke me.

2019 was a different year, although there were times it looked awfully similar to what I once experienced. It started with me wishing for good health in the year; no surprise there. I didn’t ask for money, I asked for health. What I learned in 2019 (and am still learning) is that there is power. And that power wielded with a very deft sword can help you to find your way through the maze of this destiny we seem to be required to follow like a path. I learned in 2019 that stopping people, most especially people, from causing me any harm isn’t a payment for some preconceived emotional tie that is used for a weapon. I learned in 2019 that I don’t have to like the world the way it looks. I learned in 2019 that I don’t even always have to like my children or husband. I learned that I am stubborn. I learned that I say the worst things at the worst of times. But mostly I learned that it was perfectly okay to learn. I could try things, I could find out about things, I could learn things that would make me not a better person, but a person much less controlled by a disease in my brain.

As for 2020, your guess is as good as mine. I don’t know what 2020 will bring but then I don’t know what next week is going to bring. One of the biggest things taken away by this mental disease is the trust that you know who you are and how you will react to the world that cuddles you in their own version of comfort and destruction. Some might find it exciting to think for one moment that not knowing how you will react even to the simplest questions is fun, exciting, mysterious; I can assure you that not knowing who you will be is the nightmares that so many know. So while I will go with optimism and hope for 2020 the truth is that this next year will most likely be a continued trip through the minds of others, while I try to find the answers to make myself better, and the pretty routine trips to never-never land. Here’s hoping that shadow can push me to where I need to go.