On my 25th birthday I discovered, by happenstance, that I love having people read to me out loud. I had so many plans for that day. Me and my depression were not on the same page about said plans. I spent the day in bed buried under a pile of blankets. My brain was a fog space void of motivation or desire to do anything other than sit idly by and allow me to drown myself in a puddle of my own shame. My friends arrived to take me to dinner and dancing. My roommates let them in. They came upstairs and found me that way.
They talked me out of bed. Ran me a hot bath with bubbles. They walked me to the bathroom. I eased myself into the water, awash now in fresh waves of shame that sprung from the indignity of having other people witness me this way. They lit candles. It was golden hour. Light from the brilliant setting sun flitted in through the window. The honey hued light was filtered through elegant, waxy green leaves of an ancient magnolia so old that it’s branches reached up to the third story window and beyond.
My friends did not not leave me. They stayed, settled themselves onto the thin rug that clothed the otherwise bare tiled bathroom floor. As I steeped in the hot water, leaned into the perfectly sloped back of the large clawfoot tub. My friends took turns reading to me out loud. Their voices penetrated the fog, made space for me to coach and cheer myself through the process of bathing myself. Their physical presence and the calm rhythm of their reading soothed me and buoyed my spirits. It did not make me feel less depressed. Unfortunately, depending on the person, clinical depression doesn’t always or often or even ever work that way. Anyway, making me less depressed was not the point.
They made me feel loved, held, seen, supported. They gave me permission to move at my pace. To still be celebrated even when I could not celebrate myself. Or even support myself through the basic activities of daily living. They helped to lift the burden of shame off of my shoulders.
Whenever people that I know read to me out loud it transports me back to that day. That moment of being in the bathtub of being allowed to be. Just as I was. Covered in honey colored light and wrapped in love.
I am inviting you to support my joy by sending me a voice note or voice recording of you reading me a poem, a part of a book, or telling me a story.
*For my birthday this year I’m asking you to celebrate with me by supporting my joy, my work and my communities. Each day I’ll be sharing one simple thing that you can do to support me in each of these areas.