Beneath the surface
"I hid myself beneath the surface - the water washed away my tears and hid the depth of my pain. "
Written by Jessica Dine referencing the theme of The River Sounds Festival 2021
I used to think that some things were worse to feel than to feel nothing at all. I was wrong.
Mental illness does not define me, but it is a significant part of who I am. A part that I’m starting to take pride in. It only makes us flawed if we see it that way. Healing begins when you stop trying to overcome or block out the pain and instead give it the chance to teach you and help you to grow. I've spent my whole life running and hiding from the pain inside me, not validating it. Pushing it down. I felt broken, but I didn’t dare make a sound. Ignoring it didn’t make it go away. Instead, it became bigger and bigger until it became a whole other person living inside of me.
There is no one route to healing: some roads are smoother than others, some roads are cracked in some places and some are built on broken pieces. Every road is just as strong as the other and just as beautiful. For some of us healing starts with being honest with ourselves. Honest about the fact that our painful emotions will never go away and that's not a bad thing, because we grow from this pain everyday. I’ve learned that I’m allowed to have bad days. I’ve learnt that I’m allowed to feel empty and broken. Because without these days, I couldn’t appreciate the good days. The days when the sun dances off the surface of the calm waters, and there is nothing that needs to be hidden beneath.
Even when it’s hard to get out of bed, we are healing, we are growing. For me, my journey towards healing began with accepting the broken pieces of me, and that acceptance has led me to embrace honesty and show vulnerability. It’s allowed me to make space for all the unseen parts of me that I was desperate to hide from the world for fear of being judged, rejected and misunderstood. These unseen parts sat beneath the surface of the version myself I presented to the world. Even when the waters looked calm, there was a strong and deadly undercurrent that no one could see and it wasn’t until I allowed myself to be caught in that riptide and swept out to sea - drowning and gasping for air, confronting the pain and anguish of my past and the prison I had created for myself in my own mind - that I could finally come back to the shore and breathe easily.
I hid myself beneath the surface - the water washed away my tears and hid the depth of my pain. But I couldn’t continue to live that life - that lie. I got so tired of saying I was ok when it wasn’t the truth. After years of drowning in this flood of deceit it was time to find the strength I held within. I allowed my true self to emerge, and yes she has scars and yes there will be days she still gets caught in the riptide, but nothing can take away the power and freedom that bringing my true self to the surface has brought me.
Take pride in your ability to persevere even if it means opening your eyes just for today. And let's stand up together for others to do the same - we need to create a safe space to allow ourselves to go beneath the surface and explore what’s really going on - this does NOT make us weak, it will only ever make us stronger. Without diving deep into our minds and embracing the parts of ourselves we keep hidden beneath the surface, we can’t accept what has been, what is and what will be. We need to feel the pain in order to process it and then release it.
Healing from mental illness isn’t about finding out what’s wrong with you, it’s about discovering everything that’s right and learning to believe that you’re already complete.
Dive deeper into the silence, into the darkness until you begin to feel its joy. Because it’s all there - right there - just beneath the surface.