Mental Health

Six

No Friday Five this week for a couple of reasons.

First—and more importantly—it doesn’t feel quite right to share a list of things I’m loving right now while the world feels so heavy. I guess I shouldn’t say it feels heavy. It is heavy.

This tweet really summed it up for me the other night:

And it’s not just Ukraine being attacked by Russia. It’s the attack on transgender children and their families in Texas and the fact that a number of states are working to pass various anti-transgender legislation. It’s just a constant barrage of bad things that are harming people. While I feel helpless at moments, I’m reminded that doing nothing is effectively allowing evil to win (because evil counts on people feeling helpless and doing nothing as a result).

So if you’re looking for resources to help out, a person named Max R. Cerrina built a Google Doc with recourses to support transgender individuals in Texas. And if you want to help the people of Ukraine, NPR has a list of organizations in need of help and this Google Doc was also shared with me. With that said, I also encourage you to really evaluate your sources of information right now (especially surrounding what’s happening in Ukraine). Be diligent about misinformation. There are already a number of old videos being passed off as new on social media and that’s not helpful. Be wary of those with BREAKING in their tweets. Double and triple check your sources. Misinformation does nothing but further harm, so being diligent of what you consume and share is a major way to help right now.

The second reason I’m passing on a Friday Five this week is that tomorrow marks the six-year anniversary of the accident that nearly killed me, my husband and a friend of ours. I’ve written about it before (but it’s been four years) and I often joke that if you Google my name, one of two things appears: my work or the accident.

Six years later, I echo what I’ve said before that I’m just happy to be alive. There are days I find myself discouraged by my scars and the fact that I don’t look like I did before the accident. There have been trolls here and there on social media that like to point out my scars as if they’re a bad thing that diminish me in some way, but I’ve learned to brush those off. My scars do not define me, but they are a piece of my story now. I try to embrace that and have become more comfortable with them being seen in recent years.

Who I was on February 25, 2016—one day before our accident—is not the person I am today. I’m glad for that. I’ve grown a lot in the last six years and I hope I’m a better person today than I was then. If nothing else, the accident humbled me in ways I don’t know how to explain. I also feel more confident in who I am now than I did then, mostly because I don’t feel as much pressure to please people. Do I still want to be liked? Sure, but I’m less concerned if you don’t like me now because I acknowledge that I’m not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. Trying to be won’t get me anywhere.

There are hard days and I’d be lying if I told you otherwise. I wish I wasn’t so vain, but I am at times. I think about how effortless things were before the accident, especially with my appearance. Now I rarely leave the house without some level of makeup because my scars are still a soft shade of red and people will point that out. Never maliciously, but I’ve had people ask if my face is “wind chapped” when I’ve gone out sans-makeup. If I can offer nothing else from experiences like that, it’s that you really shouldn’t comment on people’s appearances. Ever. You don’t know what kind of damage your comment might make, even if your intent wasn’t to harm.

I wish I had something profound to offer six years post-accident. I wish I had some great life lesson to offer outside of appreciating every single day but I don’t. What I can offer is this: Six years is a long time. A lot of life happened in that time. A lot of growth happened in that time. I think that gives me a lot of hope and perspective when I reflect back and when I look ahead. Whatever is defining you today could look very different six years from now. Just keep moving forward.

The world is heavy. I don’t imagine that changing overnight, but we are not helpless. We can make a difference, even if those differences are only in our small corners of the world. After all, small change leads to big change.

Just keep going.

Erin

P.S. If you ever need to talk to someone, The Jed Foundation has a crisis hotline. Never be afraid to reach out.

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