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To Bee or Not to Bee

by Autumn Schmidt 7 months ago in coping

My Book of Reasons

The first entry in my album.

WARNING: Themes of suicide are discussed.

I have a garden overgrown and full of wildflowers. Bees of all sorts visit it daily. They bounce from one flower to the next, occasionally bumping into a leaf or another bee that has gotten in their way. The sharp “BZZZ!” that follows as they swirl in the air amuses me as they attempt to regain their path. This is what fills the pages of my sketchbook: wildflowers from the garden and their devoted little bees. Nothing more than what I see.

Life is difficult sometimes, especially during a time when it is too easy to do nothing and stay inside. As an aide to improve my situation, I fill my life with things to do: crocheting, writing, running, art - but the one project that brings me the most joy is my book of drawings. I bought a sketchbook and a photo album so that I could cut out my drawings to fill it with, such as flowers, bees in the garden, small things like that. Whatever it is, I draw it and follow through - that part is important, because the intention is to build up my self worth so that on the days I am down low, I have this book to look back on as proof that I have accomplished something.

The idea for my project came after I reached out to a suicide hotline. It was a difficult thing to do, because I had to admit that I had reached a point where that was necessary. My confidence, my self-worth, my passion for life - these all had wavered over the years in the face of life’s challenges, and it only seemed to be getting worse. A simple project like this is helpful at times. It provides something to focus on when all else seems too chaotic to handle.

On my worst days, my fears guide me. There is no glorification of the self destructive path that I sometimes take in order to find some control in my life. It is an easy way to let all of my responsibilities go, to relieve some pressure for a brief moment while I drive myself harder into the ground. It is during these moments where I desperately give up all that I have strived for in order to feel free from the weight of life.

After a bout of deep depression, I wake up the next day terrified at the thought that I had truly wanted to kill myself. One thought that grips me is that I am riding a wave, and that one day I will come down again. But to stop fighting is not the answer. It is okay to feel alone, afraid, and to keep getting knocked down no matter how hard or how long I fight. I will keep getting back up. Lying in bed thinking about it is the worst thing that I can do for my mental state. So I force myself to get up, slowly, and fixate on each step.

On my best days, it feels as if nothing bad has happened at all. It is as if the previous days had all been a dream, and time had simply passed by more quickly than usual. A defense mechanism, perhaps, after feeling extreme pain. But this is where my chance is: I am stable enough to make a change in my life, and to prepare for future downfalls. Falls which I will take as I strive to become better in life.

There is nothing that can solve the delicate makeup of the human mind overnight. It takes thousands of steps and continuous dedication, but it always starts with a single foot forward. That step is important, regardless of whether it is taken on day 1 or day 1000; that is the main focus of my project. What I do is less than unique. Everybody has a sketchbook. Everybody has doodled in the margins of their notes. The importance of it comes from keeping myself busy and being consistent.

In the case of changing one’s mentality, it is easy to overlook how far I or anyone else has progressed without something physical as a reminder. The solution is simple: keep a record of it, whether it is a journal, a social media page, or in my case, a sketchbook. The aim is to make sure that in the future I have something to look back on to remind myself that I am alive, and that I am capable. It is to remind myself that I have taken steps forward, and even though I have taken steps back, I am still further along the road than I used to be.

At the same time that my grip on life feels most weak, the things that I do to fight to strengthen it shows that I am not weak at all. While I am stuck in this pit some days, I still manage to find a way forward at some point. And the struggle is proof that I want to live, and that I deserve a chance to. So I fill my life with these things that keep me going. Projects like this album that keeps track of what I love to see in this world.

coping

Autumn Schmidt

Read next: The Delusion

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