October 7, 2017

Dear 1360,

In the words of the Terminator, “I’ll be back.”

My Schwarzenegger impression is the pits, but imagine my voice with a spot-on accent and steely gaze from my hazel eyes.

I’m not sure that anyone will actually read this because it’s a lot of words without a numbered list full of pictures and/or memes, which is an immediate, “Thanks, but no thanks, “ these days.

So, if you’re that one person on their lunch break and your phone is dead, welp, this is for you.

I’m on a leave of absence because of my severe anxiety and worsening depression (or in recovery for exhaustion ala celebrity PR reasons).

I’m telling you because communication.

I thought that if I am up-front with everyone (on the assumption that everyone actually reads this), that it would create less room for harmful gossip (or my favorite synonym, scuttlebutt). More importantly, writing this in an open forum, hopefully works to chip away at the stigma of shame that surrounds mental health.

I’ve lived with my barnacles, anxiety and depression, for most of my life. I’ve gone to great lengths to hide my illnesses and I’ve spoken openly about them in front of audiences. Mental illness can be really confusing.

Do you remember being a kid and falling, hurting yourself, and thinking, “Don’t cry, you don’t need anything, they’ll all think you’re a weak crybaby.” (Or was that just me?) Because our world has taught us that being strong means not acknowledging pain, physical, emotional, or psychological.

I’ve never been good at that. I wear all my emotions on my sleeve and I feel every emotion intensely… good, bad, yours. I feel it. I’m a feeler. I’ve been told I’m too sensitive, but I think one of my strengths lies in acknowledging emotions. Just because my version of strong is different, doesn’t mean I’m weak.

Having an illness is hard. Any illness. Having mental illness is made a little bit easier by kind people who continue to treat me with respect, humanity, and support.

We may not all have mental illnesses. But we all need kindness. Some days, some people… this can be a HUGE challenge, perhaps even seemingly impossible. Everyone is dealing with something we know nothing about and luckily, kindness is free.

I guess I lied. Here’s a list for you:

  1. Be kind. Genuinely kind.

I appreciate the hell out of you all and hope you have lots of fun (keep GUIDE-ing the shiz outta this place). I’ll be back after a short commercial break.

Do good, be well,

Shannon

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