I’ve been struggling quite a lot recently with mental illness, as I am sure many of you have the same shared trauma of such a debilitating disease. It holds your hand when you think you need it most, it invites you to the table when you feel you don’t have anyone but yourself – and even then, yourself is not someone you actually like, it cradles you in what seems to be your biggest time of need.
However, it also kicks you when you’re down, it reminds you that you are not the most important thing to take care of in your life – it makes it seem like it is, it swallows you whole and spits you back out into a million tiny pieces.
How can we manage such a condition, such an illness, such a demon? We utilize the skills we’ve gathered throughout our life (or continue to gather) and fight back in the bravest attempt at saving ourselves.
Music is such a weapon in my own personal battle, and I have never had such an album as Rainbow by Kesha in my life prior that literally saves me over and over again when I feel I am losing the war.
Rainbow came out about a month prior to what I conveniently had (very inconvenient, actually) as a nervous breakdown. “Bastards” was the track that pushed me to figure out what was “wrong with me” and literally helped me during my hospitalization and processing the new diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder. The track pushed me to take that bold first leap at saving myself, pushed me to stay as long as my doctors wanted me to, and pushed me to accept my newfound reality. “I’ve got too many people left to prove wrong” to lose the war. “(It) won’t break my spirit, I won’t let (it) win.”
“Let ‘Em Talk” and “Woman” gave me the motivation and courage to not let people’s changed views of me due to my newfound reality affect me. I’m not going to “let those losers take my magic.” I “do what I want” while they “say what they say.” “I work real hard everyday” at managing this bipolar disorder and I, as well as anyone living with such a debilitating illness, do not need to have people’s beliefs or disbeliefs about what I am going through affect or change me in any way. It isn’t worth it, and I am so much better and stronger because of this.
“Hymn” and “Learn to Let Go” allowed me to have a safe place in my mind away from everything being about my illness. “If we die before we wake, who we are is no mistake.” I am not going to allow this illness to define me. “(I) know that (I’m) perfect, even though (I’m) fucked up.” Of course this illness is a gigantic burden that I never asked for or wanted to learn to deal with, but I have to live with it and I am going to to the best of my absolute abilities. To learn to cope, means learning to let go of the fact that my life before this diagnosis is never returning. I “(have) a boogieman under my bed putting crazy thoughts inside my head.” This illness constantly has me questioning who I am and what I worth, but I can no longer allow this beast destroy all that has meaning to me and what I mean to myself.
In the famous words of Maya Angelou, “I can be changed by what happens to me, but I refuse to be reduced by it.”
“Rainbow” is the ultimate anthem for me. Everything about this song encapsulates how I feel about my illness. “I used to live in the darkness,” “but now I see that colors are everything.” I can either let my illness be my vice or my greatest strength. “Yeah, maybe my head’s fucked up, but I’m falling right back in love with being alive.” That particular line hit me the hardest.
After spending a number of days in the hospital and receiving this new diagnosis, I thought it was the end of my life. However, as I am learning to grow and manage a life with such a disease as Bipolar Disorder, I am starting to love who I am again. I cannot remember the last time I actually liked myself, and now a month and a half out of my nervous breakdown, I am starting to like myself again – if there ever was truly a time before that I liked myself. “This kitty cat lost her mind, been looking for a star sent sight that I’ll be alright… I found a rainbow.”
I’m still looking for my rainbow, and maybe it’ll never be a tangible thing; but with this newfound life that I am creating for myself, I know that I “can’t lose hope (cause) what’s left of my heart’s still made of gold.” So, don’t forget dear reader, that “our scars make us who we are” and “when the winds are howling strong and you think you can’t go on, hold tight, sweetheart. There’ll be a rainbow.”