With tattooed arms, wild hair, glorious shoes and eccentric personalities, I met two soul sisters from my tribe last night. Rahla Xenopoulos and Melinda Ferguson were in discussion over Melinda’s new book, Crashed. They’re funny, inspiring, and deep as hell. They reflect on lessons learned from addiction and the edge of sanity. Memoirs reflect their hanging on broken fingernails struggles, and the small daily victories and failures. The message of the colourful conversation danced between their words: Transformation.
Anyone in this warrior tribe know in the darkest shades of our souls that this fight won’t end until the day we die. Every day is a decision to stay sober, go to work and face the day, despite the chains of depression that tie us to our beds and the bathroom floor. Meeting kindred writers (who by the way are 120% more likely to suffer from bipolar disorder and mental illness than the rest of the world) welcomes us to a sacred circle where we can beat our drums around the fire. There will always be outsiders who battle to fathom why we cling onto survival with desperate clawed hands, despite the fact that we’re driving in Volvos, have found the one our soul has longed for, and have happy children hugging us goodnight. But they huddle around different fires and that’s OK too.
Perhaps this is why we write. To tell our stories, even if it only helps us understand ourselves. Rahla’s memoir circles around bipolar disorder; her new novel dances with the demon of attempted suicide. Melinda’s trio of her life story rips the mask off the life partner of addiction that julienned her mind into strips of soul flesh that perhaps may be sewn back together, but will never be unscarred. This defiant bravery grafted my vine into theirs and brought a smile to my face despite a difficult day of sadness.
I found comfort in the string that tied us together. An invisible connection that reminded us we’re not alone. Talking about the difficult truths of our struggles unites us and we become stronger. It inspired me to keep writing, even when my trembling fingers battle to find the right keys to pull the words together on the screen.
Please bring your own red cord and tie it to our wrists. Let’s form a network of fighters and run to the front lines when one of us goes down, pulling them back to the safety of the trenches.
The beautiful mind map of connections reminds me of a concept I once saw on “The L Word”. It was an entirely different web with a completely different subject, but it represents the same idea. We’re joined by the common ground of the torment in our minds, and we’re also joined by our fists in the air victories.
Forget the fear of fucking stigma.
You have an entire army behind you.
These are the books mentioned in this post – for you to hold onto when you feel alone: