I finished the last portrait of the I Am More: Massachusetts series this morning. I hope it explains what the last two and a half years have meant to me:
In January of 2017 I had been lying on the blue couch. The couch was my place of retreat from depression. The bed was surrender. I had recently owned up to having chronic depression on my blog as a way to explain past and future behaviors. Lying on the couch that afternoon the thought came to me, I am more than this.
I was up. I pulled out a piece of paper, placed it on my drawing table and wrote, portraits, essays, a list of names, I Am More. Soon I sat down with a friend and asked, “Is this a good idea?” She replied, “YES, I think it’s wonderful. But…” she said, “not everyone may feel they ARE more. Keep that in mind.”
Two weeks later I stared at an email from a friend with depression that said, “I’m sorry, Amy, I don’t have anything to say. I don’t have anything good in my life.” I read it to my husband and he said, “Tell him we’ll write it, I can think of plenty of good things to say about him.” It wasn’t necessary. Within days he said, “If it will help others, I’m in.”
Thirty-five portraits and essays later, I’m back on the blue couch. Then I’m in bed. What used to be a slow darkness creeping up on me, is now urgent. I am bottoming out to the place I said I’d never go. A friend once described her labor pains to me–she tried crawling out of her hospital bed and up the wall to escape. I stare at the door praying for an escape, a way to crawl out of this body forever. My husband appears and sits next to me. I don’t want him there seeing me like this but he remains. And so, I remain.
Days later it is my voice saying, “I don’t have anything to say. I can’t be one of the portraits.” He’s sitting on the blue couch listening.
Then he says, “You did this.”
I look up. “Did what?”
“This.” He gestures to stacks of wrapped frames.
When I’m struggling, I open a photo album of all of the portraits on one page, and I just stare at them and remember. Walking through the snowy woods with Ryan, crawling around on the floor trying to convince Danny Boy, the dog, to come out from under the couch, opening each of their essays to read for the first time like it’s Christmas.
We did this. We are more.
I Am More is supported by donations. I have $15,165 left of my goal to bring I Am More: Massachusetts to the public. If you would like to make a tax-deductible contribution you can go to the Donation page of our fiscal sponsor Ocean Alliance and choose “I Am More” from the list of programs.Thank you for your support!!