Anxiety · Depression · mental health

Mental Health May 2023


Green is for Springtime. Hope, growing pains, shared joy. And Mental Health Awareness. Even though every person is unique, can we unite for mental health?

Robyn, a 35-year-old woman with brown hair streaked with silver smiles, posing with a small potted Peacock Plant.

Mental Health Is…

  • Listening to loved ones.
  • Not saying “Everyone feels that way.”
  • Watching for red flags.
  • Checking in: “I noticed you’re going through a lot, want to talk?”
  • Educating oneself on common signs of mental illness.
  • Not misusing terms: “I’m so depressed about canceling my weekend!”
  • Adults creating a safe space for kids to share emotions.
  • Not saying “You’ll grow out of it.”
  • Normalizing therapy as a tool.
  • Checking: “Do you know where to seek support in a crisis?”
  • Having someone you can call on a very bad day.
  • Asking “I need this done but I’m struggling. Will you please help?”
  • Sometimes medication is a part of the health equation.
  • Calling out misinformation: “Oh-see-dee is not an appropriate term for obsessively neat.”
  • Most people will struggle with mental illness during their life, so health care matters to everyone.
  • Calling out ageism and sexism: “Everyone can struggle with mental health, feminine, masculine, aged or youthful.”
  • Watch for: Losing enjoyment in things you love.
  • Watch for: Unsustainable coping techniques.
  • Journaling your thought patterns.
  • Self talk: “I’m doing a great job meal planning!”
  • Noticing when media is causing anxiety.
  • Knowing when we care for the body we care for the mind. And when we treat the mind we treat the body.
  • Showing the same compassion to yourself as you would show to others.

That’s a sweet list, if I do say do myself! I love a good bullet point journal before and after a video chat with my therapist.

White text on a green background reads, The way you are is okay.

My therapist uses the word “curiosity” a lot! She helps me with curious examination of my beliefs and motives: “Why do I feel nervous? What can I do differently? Who would be happy to help me? How can I meet my immediate needs? If I try, what are the best and worst possible outcomes?

Sometimes, Mental Health feels like a familar, oft-trod meadow whose knolls I have memorized. To me, mental illness often feels like dual realities. The soothing simplicity of fact overlays the imbalanced crackle, like a dying star, at my core. Both realities exist together. On a bad day, I suddenly sieze, fist clenched, caught in a wave of fear. Desperately clinging to my task list, I fight for calm. Anxiety is there. I’m safe, though. It’s there, I’m safe.

Photo: A rippling pond with lily pads, surrounded by green grass and shrubs and stones.

You know what? Sometimes people distance themselves from mental illness. It’s not necessarily intentional. It could be your choice or theirs. Needs change based on where we are in our lives. Close friends or family might not be who we need. It’s okay.

In the future, we’ll become capable of new things. Friendships will morph. Some people will be surprisingly supportive in a crisis! Depending on the people involved, difficult times can reinforce a relationship.

My parents, for example, have made every effort to listen to me while I battle my own monsters. Would I feel I could trust them if they had not consistently shown up for me? Definitely not.

If you don’t know how to help a friend, just be available for the quickest coffee break, notice their strength, compliment their work, and know your support matters.

Yesterday, I discovered a podcast from 2020 about Young Adult books. ALSO, they gush about one of my favorites, Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier. Two podcasters (with impeccable taste) praise this underrated coming-of-age tale of self-love.

I felt excitement. I felt whole. My present self connected with my teenage self. This is the beauty of a story that bleeds truth and poetry. I am not an ABCD (American Born Confused Desi), but, as a neurodivergent teen, I strongly related to Dimple Lala’s lonesome angst. 📚

‘And it now occurred to me that maybe the whole point was, in fact, to lose yourself. But not in the sense of confusion–in the sense of connection to something bigger than yourself…Getting lost to be found.’

Tanuja Desai Hidier, Born Confused

What do you need? How can you be more curious? More prepared, educated, supportive? How can you be more YOU as you struggle to move forward? Green means go! Every single step is monumental in the mental health battle.

Thank you for reading. ☀️

I would love to recommend another bookish podcast I’ve been enjoying! Sisters Arya and Belle produce fun, nerdy content. Also, their Mental Health Awareness episode inspired me to create today’s post! 💚

Spotify thumbnail: White text reads, Blind Girls' Book Talk. Two pairs of wire rim glasses sit on a stack of books In the background.
Spotify episode description reads, Our Mental Health Experience - Blind Girls' Book Talk Episode 69
Find Belle and Arya at Blind Girls’ Book Talk on Youtube and Spotify or @BlindGirlsBooks on Instagram
Anxiety · Hope · Poetry

The Lost Reason To Write

It’s weird to look back on the trepidation with which I wrote my first few ‘Voice Of Reason’ blog posts. Anxious thoughts resisted sharing ideas which could be too personal, too indulgent, too controversial.

“Resisted” may be too soft a word. What is the word for feeling burning regret and shame the moment we are seen or heard?

Oh, yes. It’s Social Anxiety.

Social anxiety disorder is marked by an anxiety about situations where a person feels that they may be humiliated or scrutinized by others.

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

Anxiety has less power these days to prevent me from sharing my voice. Slowly, word by word, I have boosted my faith in myself. I have built up strength by being authentic, thoughtful, and compassionate. I hear Anxiety telling me I’m wrong, but I have structured this blog carefully to support my goal.

Thumbnail photo of me in front of the Mickey Mouse feeris wheel at Disney's California Adventure.
Caption: My First Blog Post! June 6, 2017 The First, A Reason To Write

And yet, sharing my voice was not my only goal. I also strive to be brave enough and open enough to build human connections. I still want this, but…Anxiety still has power there, tearing me down for my loneliness. Kicking me off balance. I often believe I’m unworthy of connection.

This Again 

Are we back to this again
Am I sorry for being weak
For useless, clumsy words
For walking down your street?

Trying to see the good
Is like trying to stop a leak
I struggle within to choose
Whether help is worth defeat

The world is problematic
These worries aren't mine alone
So why can't I imagine
Picking up the phone?

I'm sorry I lost the words
I'm sorry for staying home
Be back when I'm okay
(And I apologize for this poem)

By Robyn - 2018

This again. No matter how far I’ve come, Anxiety can kick me back down to this state: desperate, isolated, despising myself, fearful of rejection. This poem I wrote in 2018 will always describe my life.

What you may not understand about my voice is that reason, compassion, and authenticity aren’t always enough. Maybe there’s someone listening to my voice who will lend a helping hand. At the very least, there is the hope of a helping hand. Hope is always a valid reason to write.

Thank you for reading! 💜

Anxiety · mental health · Neurodivergent

The Privilege Of Robyn the Weird

In my opinion, I am a strong and determined person. I see what looks to be true and right to me, and I go for it.

Is this nature or nurture or both? It’s impossible to know. But I can look back at my feelings. I can explore past reactions to my environment. For example, I cannot remember ever trying to dress for other people. As a child, I didn’t think I should have to blend in or to pretend to be like other people.

Autonomy has been an advantage of my upbringing. My parents had very flexible expectations. Clothing just had to be functional. Food was food. We were allowed to eat outside of mealtimes, in fact the kitchen was stocked with snacks we could choose for ourselves. As for entertainment, we were provided with instruments if we wanted to learn. I felt free to develop an interest in any music genre.

We were not pressured to attend church once we were old enough to stay home alone, nor to be baptized. One could argue that this was not guidance enough for children, but I do aknowledge the privilege of being raised by accepting parents.

Another privilege relates to both family and society. I had the privilege of choosing a lifestyle that was generally understood and accepted. I did not want more directionless schooling. I wanted to work. My boyfriend and I decided to marry and work and travel. We viewed the future as wide open! My parents offered to give us a wedding and made the whole experience very special for us.

I have been negatively impacted by society’s expectations of women at times. But thankfully, wonderfully, my family has never limited me by pressuring me to do the chronologically “normal” things. Although we got married at 20, nobody openly assumed that we would follow the common relationship path (destination parenthood, etc.). Now we’re in our 30s, my husband and I are just as happy and even more excited about our life together!


What I’m trying to say is that I feel grateful. And my gratitude conflicts with the despair I feel as I fail to fit in with a community. Fail. It’s a heavy word, full of trying and wanting and hoping and loss. With each job came a supervisor who looked bemused at my need for clarification. Were my questions so unusual? With each new acquaintance came the rollercoaster: make a plan, open up, answer with too much, answer with too little, go home to collapse from stress, wonder why everything was so hard.

Then, Neurodivergence. (Not the title of a sci-fi film, but the experience of being wired differently from the majority of people.) This was a type, a description, a way of being that fit me. Different forever, from birth to death. And I was not alone! There were adults worldwide living their neurodivergent lives, some with a label and others without. Perpetually anxious, perpetually explaining, often othered, often lonely.

What do you think I did with this realization? I asked myself, what is right and true to me?

No amount of joy in my true self could erase the grief over what could have been had I understood myself sooner. It was unfair! My unintentional mask had sapped my energies, only to barely succeed at appearing normal. And, now what? I had to re-learn what was real and what was forced? I know that many other neurodivergent folks have experienced more pressure and oppression and have much more to grieve than I do. But I am Robyn the Weird so I have to say she deserved much better!


Learning is key to this whole “being alive” experience. The longer we’re alive, the more we relax our expectations. Compare a grandparent’s perspective to how that same person viewed the world as a young parent – time made a big difference! The truth is, we could fasttrack the lessons of time by cultivating acceptance. We would need to unite our families and communities with a shared vision that there is no normal. The goal: to foster communication between people who think differently.

Think what would change if employers were prepared to ask what the new hire needed to succeed. Think of the friendships that could grow from asking each other to be authentic, to share their uniqueness, up front.

When I learned to value my neurodivergent brain, my love for myself extended to others. I wanted to understand how others experience life. It is not enough to hit the local coffee chain wearing a plastic smile and exchange the usual social banter. That shouldn’t be enough for anyone.

Open My Eyes

Every time a neurodivergent voice rings out authentically, our world becomes a brighter place. That is, if the world is listening at all. As with any privilege, the neurotypical experience blinds most people to the dangers of social norms. But a disability points out how the world neglects those who are different. In communicating what they need, the neurodivergent population shines a light on what is wrong with society. However, solutions are not simple by any means.

For example, why are so many jobs dehumanizing? Why are so many laws made to benefit the non-disabled and the two-parent family structure? Whose fault is it that there aren’t flexible living arrangements and careers that accommodate health and wellness? Is poverty the default outcome for those who aren’t attaining full-time work with a spouse, children, and a community that understands them?

A person disadvantaged by society needs creative solutions, yet society makes it even more difficult to put those solutions into practice. (Ranty truth, here we go!)

Don’t you agree that flexible jobs and living arrangements that support mental health and wellness would benefit every human being? How could successful employment and improved health not benefit the entire community, the country, everyone?

(Cue the bemused neurotypical wondering what we just did to their perception of normal!)

A Beautiful Trainwreck

So I’m living in the now, unmasking, and processing old experiences anew to understand my truth. There’s pain and clarity. Privilege and disadvantage. It’s a beautiful trainwreck!

I’m looking with fresh eyes at the messages the world sends reeling through the atmosphere: labels are nothing, labels are everything. Change is crucial, change is dangerous. Corporations care and Capitalism keeps the world afloat. Different is wonderful, but not hirable. I could go on, but the overall message is one you all know intimately.

In my privilege, I write a blog for fun and I write emails full-time for one company or another. I have a loving, happy marriage partnership. I have fought for myself to get where I am now.

In my differences, I find strength, joy, humanity, creativity and a hunger for truth. You can find this, too. 1) Understand your disadvantages and your privilege. 2) Grow an interest in the uniqueness of each human’s experience. See, we all have pain in common. Pain leads to action which leads to bettering the world.

Is the world good enough now? If you answer yes, I might suggest you examine your privilege, too.

Thank you for reading! 💜

Related posts:

Chronic illness · Hope · mental health

Pause For Mental Health

I’m thinking about mental health today. (I’m almost always thinking about mental health.) Anyway, I am almost certain that I have two separate identities: the one that adapts to fight illness, and the innate one.

The Fighter.

The Fighter lacks humor when anxious. Gets jumpy and clings to routine with ferocity. This identity worships efficiency. Stability.

The Fighter connects to specific music, listening on repeat, soothing and ruminating. When depressed, somehow the humor switch flicks and everything can be made funny!


I can be pretty goofy (understatement). I will always prefer deep, insightful discussions to small talk. (A curious question-asker!)

I care deeply, which is especially difficult when others don’t see that I care. Sensitive people can be strong. I tend to subvert expectations because society’s rules don’t make sense to me.

What does make sense? Being authentic. I never want to hide myself away. That’s why I talk about mental health. I’m a very hopeful person. Always, always trying for better.


Another entity in my life is Time. When illness flares, time is there too, amplifying loneliness, warping perspectives, until thoughts last decades and hope falls off the edge of the earth. (Wow. That’s dramatic!)

Where did I go?

I’m likely at home, on my couch. I’ve managed to wake, shower, dress, eat and drink. I’ll boot up the PC and take care of work emails. Breathe in, hold, breathe out.

I’m there but not there. It’s The Fighter, taking charge of routine. We’ve got this down to a science. Priorities lined up in a pretty row. Fun podcasts lined up to distract me from those thoughts while I shuffle through mundane tasks.

In the bathroom mirror, I still exist. But personality is a nonissue. We focus on immediate needs, water-drinking, email answering. I am here. (But not really.)


I have attained many strengths because of The Fighter. The stoic face I wear to the doctor’s office, for example. I like to think my innate strengths transfer, too, blending identities. Open and stoic. Strong and vulnerable.

I am introverted, but I hate when mental health takes relationships fully offline. Robyn is out of office, please direct all inquiries elsewhere. The Fighter has never been much into socializing. And I despair. Will friends wait for me?

I constantly apologize for The Fighter. How could anyone be expected to understand? I don’t even understand myself! But I am here, under it all. The anxiety. The stress. The discouragement. The coping mechanisms. The exhaustion.

Robyn The Fighter

Hi. I am here. I battle and I laugh, I nerd out over books and tv shows. And I love my routine!

I love traveling and trying new foods. Making lists and making the same meals. Coffee and Cheerios. Green tea and dark chocolate. Listening to rock music for hours.

I’m the friend who cares about your stresses and emotions, hopes and passions! I never gossip. Give me a break because I’m processing a lot. But I have so much to give.

Please remember me when I am silent. I haven’t forgotten anyone. My life is just on survival mode. Soon, we’ll unpause. We’ll go for a walk, drink coffee, play a board game! When we do, you might see two identities – both survivors, both hilarious, both kind and caring.

That’s where I hope to be. 🖤

Anxiety · Hope · Poetry


If we compare the global pandemic

To an earthquake

A seismic event

The winter of ’22-’23 is an aftershock


It’s important to prepare

For aftershocks too

Even if they aren’t as violent

As the original threat itself


Help those who need help

Educate, take precautions

Immune systems are structures

Being re-fortified


Avoid unsafe areas

Keep first-aid and necessities stocked

Keep encouraging and bolstering too

Share provisions with those in need


We live on a faultline

Everyone faces fear differently

As we shakily move forward

Keeping together is more important than ever


Winter 2023

I’m shaken. I think everyone is and that’s the natural response to a global shift. It’s disheartening, discouraging as fear stretches beyond the pandemic. There’s no “new normal” that I can see, just billions of individuals struggling to carry on. Is “normal” even necessary for a good life?

Going forward, we seem to be much more self-aware and adaptable. Are these good things? For survival, we need both hope and strategy. Get hope from helping one another. Be prepared, well-educated, and responsible. Remember, invisible things mold our collective future – threats, but also fears and broken hearts.

Thank you for reading! 💙

Books · mental health · Review

Get A Life, Chloe Brown! A Review

Today, I escaped my comfort zone along with brave Chloe Brown.

I have no regrets.

A hilarious  and inclusive, brave and hopeful fiction!

Have I reviewed a rom-com yet? I haven’t? Well, I am picky about them. The key ingredients for me are: sassy characters, an inclusive message, a hopeful conclusion – and, of course, romance tropes! (Hmm, perhaps the Grumpy Sunshine trope?) 😊

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

After a near death experience, cautious Chloe Brown decides to push her boundaries and makes a list of exciting adventures, sort of a bucket list, except she calls it her Get A Life list. Its all things she’s missed out on over the years while dealing with chronic pain.

(Synopsis from The Book Girl Club Podcast)

Chloe gets a new apartment, independent from her family – check! Her building’s superintendent, Redford “Red” Morgan, is tattooed, sweet, and does not like Chloe. That is, until he surprisingly agrees to help with a few items on her ‘Get A Life’ list. Red is a secret artist, getting back into painting after a traumatic relationship.

‘If she died tomorrow she now knew she’d have no regrets.’

Tropes I love!

This romantic adventure provides almost every sugary trope you might crave! Awkward miscommunication, reminiscent of a Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan film, saturates each chapter. Every revellation between Chloe and Red is electric! 😆

Talia Hibbert’s achievement here is a quality rom-com full of sass and hilarity, and a main character with a disability. Disability, mental health, and trauma are not the main focus. Therapy is not the plot. Ill health is not the villain.

Red and Chloe both have good reason to fear of rejection. They have even deeper reasons to overcome that fear. After all, getting a life means taking risks!

I struggle with taking risks, as Chloe does, having lost things due to illness. It can become very difficult to trust good things. There’s strength in surviving and hope in taking first steps. 🌈

Inclusivity means writing characters with real experience outside the norm (whatever normal is). This is brave writing. This is not a mere fun read to pick up at an airport! (Although it is so fun!)

‘“Excuse me, universe,” she whispered to the kitchen floor. “When you almost murdered me today—which was rather brutal, by the way, but I can respect that—were you trying to tell me something?” The universe, very enigmatically, did not respond.’

Sassy Characters

Pay close attention. Watch how Red’s family, friends and acquaintances rejoice in his authentic nurturing and kind personality. His masculinity is beautiful – unapologetic and pretty – and very unlike the male love interests we expect to read.

Watch how Chloe respects Red, treating him like a human being (not just a sexual being). Chloe models respect for herself and others, giving a strong feminist impression. (Feminist meaning equality between men and women.) This is so rare. Even YA books tend to write women/girls romantically or sexually exploiting men/boys as a type of performative feminism. This author clearly believes readers can handle men with emotions – I agree!

I’m not saying Chloe is perfect. (Perfect female characters are misogynistic and cliche.) She makes mistakes, says terrible things, and apologizes like the imperfect human she is. Her actions are inseparably feminist and authentic. Watch how Chloe is not clambering to fix Red, nor he to rescue her. 🙌

‘I can cook. And, right now, you can’t. So I’m doing it for you because that’s how people should behave; they fill in each other’s gaps.’

A Hopeful Message

When I say that this novel makes me feel seen, it is because I have been craving a story that doesn’t solve every pain (unrealistically) by the end credits. When I say this novel leaves me hopeful, it’s because we need as many characters who diverge from stereotypes as possible!

We need Reds and Chloes. Women who are strong, not in a manly way. Men who are nurturing, not in a womanly way. Disabilities that are not plot points to overcome. We need characters knowing better and doing better on the page, modeling true inclusivity.

I take the themes in this book, like compassion, respect and dignity, very personally. I live with chronic health issues. I have felt similar pain to Chloe (emotional, not just physical) and it is devastating. 😭

‘Bravery wasn’t an identity, so much as a choice.‘

We Need More Books!

Content warning: There are sexually explicit descriptions (which means there are expletives used throughout). There is also mention of abuse.

I didn’t read this book when it was first released due to the adult themes. But, there are so few inclusive stories with disabled characters that I don’t feel like I can be picky. When I find wonderful books without explicit language and sexual content, I will share and review them, too! 👍

Let’s support the voices of disabled and marginalized authors! Show the publishing companies we absolutely want more of this. I greatly admire Talia Hibbert for sharing part of herself in this novel. I may even check out the others in her ‘Brown Sisters’ Trilogy!

~ Do you enjoy writing lists?

~ Do you ever forget how to socialize? (Like after a bout of isolation?)

~ What’s your favorite romance trope?

Depression · mental health · Poetry

A Poem Called Sometimes

It’s okay to be not okay. You know? It’s okay if all I can blog now is this old poem.

You know what? I am brave to have told the important people in my life that I am struggling. I know life gets better – past experience has proven that. Sitting with my pain, I remind myself: this is valid. I am valid. I feel this way. I am surviving this.


Sometimes muscles are stone
Clothes binding limbs
Denim chafing skin

Sometimes joints inflame
Knuckles and knees
Craving release

Sometimes the mind numbs
Inert yet aware
Burning to care

A deadened doll form
Lifelike eyes pretend sleep
Pain is more than skin-deep.


I call this an “old poem” because it is about my experience as a teenager, not knowing what’s wrong with me. Sensory overload and anxiety and constant pain being my normal.

Do you feel like mental health is impossible to talk about? Me too, sometimes. Even if there are awareness days, even if the media is normalizing therapy. . . health is always a struggle. And mental health is usually the first sacrifice when times get tough.

One more time, it’s okay to be not okay.

Take care! ❤️

Please do not use my poem without permission.

• Music for mental health:

Music For Uncertain Times

• More mental health poetry:

A Poem Called The Fight

• Hope:

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig (A Review)

• Getting help:

5 Crucial Truths About Medical Care

Note: If you need emergency support, reach out to a helpline immediately.

Anxiety · Books · Depression · Hope · mental health · Review

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

What does one do in ‘The Midnight Library’? Nora Seed might be the first person ever to find out!

Background: yellow fading to green fading to blue. Center: Book cover shown is The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. Below, white text reads, A Review (Reviewing Myself, Too)

This morning, I am listening to (loud) music. Weezer’s new album (SZNZ: Autumn). I’m taking a few moments in time to feel deep gratitide for Lucy and Mon, who read ‘The Midnight Library’ with me. What a journey!

Now that we're together
We're gonna sing you a song
Let these steel strings
Take you home to me
And let yourself be soothed
By the sound of drums
Climb down the stairs and
out the door
'Til your feet are on the earth
- The Sound Of Drums (2022)

Content warning: this post references mental health topics, indirectly (suicide) and directly (depression and anxiety). Take care.

Nora Seed

The first thing you need to know about Nora Seed is she studied philosophy. Yeah. I can relate–I’m a deep thinker, too. It can be destructive. Secondly, she is quite lonely. And thirdly, she is creative. She used to write songs and play keyboard in a band. She used to want to write a novel. She used to imagine a lot of things.

Image credit: Chris Coady,

So, what does Nora do in The Midnight Library?

1. Listen

Nora has been listening, and the signs are telling her the world is better off without her. It’s sad, but she’s accepting it today.

She wakes up from a sad bottle of wine to a metaphysically impossible library, stuck interminably at midnight.

Her childhood librarian (and friend) Mrs. Elm introduces Nora to a curated collection of lives, pretty on display in rows and rows. You can have any of them, she promises. Start with one.

Will Nora listen to these alternate lives? What will she learn from the many paths not taken?

‘There are more possible ways to play a game of chess than the amount of atoms in the observable universe.’ -The Midnight Library

I listen.

I am intrigued by the idea of exploring a different major life choice! What if? What if we chose differently? Took a risk? Moved bravely to another country? Or invested our precious time differently? Studied writing? Learned a language? I’m listening, Matt Haig.

2. Regret

I don’t believe in regret. There’s no editing out the good and bad from the results. This is life. It’s a mess of mistakes and question marks. We’ll never know why some paths fell away. I see the incomparable view from the peak and I regret none of the thorn slashes, aching muscles or uncertainty.

Take a look at where you
started from
And where you are today
You climbed mountains
Swam oceans
You got knocked down
And kept goin'
- A Little Bit Of Love (2022)

Nora’s regret

Second-guessing has become Nora Seed’s favorite passtime. What could she have done to not lose her brother’s love? She should have moved to Australia with Izzy as she’d once planned. She should have gone through with her wedding. Should, should, should. Not once does she think, what can I do to change this? And I understand. She forgets how powerful choice can be.

‘Sometimes if we fill that lack with something else the original want disappears entirely. Maybe you have a lack problem rather than a want problem. Maybe there is a life that you really want to live.’ -The Midnight Library

3. Choose

Nora must choose a book from The Library and give it a fair chance. Will it improve on her life? Replace it? Will it replace her with a better version of Nora Seed?

Yeah, I'm gonna be 
somebody else
Be somebody else
The opposite of me
- The Opposite Of Me (2022)

I choose.

When I choose a book to read, it’s an opportunity and a sacrifice. Time spent reading is time away from my everyday life. It’s a chance to glean wisdom, I suppose. Or to discover joy that I can then share with others!

4. Be inspired

Nora shares music with newly inspired folks as they buy their first guitar. For those who refresh their passion buying guitar picks and sheet music, she distributes potential joy. It’s just a dull job at a music shop.

When Nora examines her regrets, she notices a theme: abandoned inspiration. Why had she decided not to aim high? Olympic swimming, writing, performing with her band, pursuing glaciology (and saving the earth from global warming)- what had become of all her passion? Could she find it again and follow through?

‘To be part of nature was to be part of the will to live.’ -The Midnight Library

My inspiration.

Music sculpts new structures from my mutable essence. When someone else is vulnerable, talented, genius and generous… sharing in the product overwhelms me with joy. It’s not a job or hobby for me. Actually, it’s bigger than me.

5. Hope

Lately, I find hope in my past because the future seems uncertain. I’m privileged, I know. I get paid to work with people I care about. I live with my favorite person in the world. I’m also living with black ropes constraining my movement. Anxiety. Ropes that say, “can’t, shouldn’t, and what if it hurts?”

Nora’s hope.

Nora has depression. “Everyone has mental health”, she reminds her boss. But she loses her job. That’s when the path forward begins to disintegrate. What is her future? What is she good for? And truly, depression has stolen the answer from her. Her memories have warped so she can’t see how much she has survived and achieved- no, not achieved- offered to the world! The music and friendship, talent and kindness.

Corrosion in the wires 
Makes it hard for me to understand
Part of me is curious, part of me
is too afraid to ask
- What Happens After You (2022)

My Review

In the space between seconds in time, Nora has the unheard of option to change everything. The question is, how will this choice affect Nora’s original self? What is she truly leaving behind in the unemployed, fiancée-less, feline-less, friendless woman, besides regret?

Matt Haig leads readers by the hand through a surreal and existential challenge. Mental health is portrayed without many clinical terms, instead feeling out truth and testing lies. ‘The Midnight Library’ is difficult at times. The constant shift from life to life, reality to reality, breaks life apart to build it up again. It feels breathless and dizzying. It feels revolutionary, as we face Nora’s fears and somehow survive.

My friends and I may be divided across the world, but our book club is a source of joy and inspiration. We are branching out from Jane Austen and other classics, this time to share in surrealism. I’m so grateful to have delved into ‘The Midnight Library’ with my two reading pals.

We often struggle and we suffer because life hurts. Yet we persevere. We have built upon our shared love of reading! What is life for if not to share? Books, music, time, truth – we share it all, because that’s what living is. That is my lesson from ‘The Midnight Library’.

Feeding on the fire
Shattering those iron bars
Through the sky
like shooting stars
Wild at Heart
You got me wild at heart
- Wild At Heart (2022)

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Isolation · mental health · Poetry

The Box

Hello, children. Are you ready for a scary story? It is called ‘The Box’.

The Box

I am looking at a box.
I must move this box.

The surrounding silence breathes its barren understanding of how I deeply, painfully, desperately need to leave. Leave this hallway, this house, this emptiness.

The need. It’s all focused in my arms. I slide my fingertips, allowing them to settle along the cardboard edges. Now I’m straightening my shoulders. I’m breathing from my belly and bracing my stance, knowing it must be done now. No one remains to say ‘stay’ or to urge, ‘go!’
There is only me and this box. And the heaviness threatening to collapse me if I fail to take action.

So I palm the solid surface of the hallway table. It's the last object in existence, besides me...and the box. My fingertips nestle into either side of the box, exploring the edge. There is give, only slightly, at the base. The box itself is nothing to its vital contents. The resolute solidity is a reminder that I myself must be resolved in the moment I take on its weight. I will master this box, and in doing so, preserve the residue of my existence. All that results from this moment will rest inevitably on these shoulders.


I stop thinking. I move with the fire of decision and of need, shoulders bearing, arms seizing, grasp firm. I am escaping loneliness; the failures of my past. I obtain the doorway, that opening into elsewhere. Quickly felt, the weight numbs my fingers, tries my back, heavier than any thing could have a right to be. A step or two more and I lock up; I falter. Desperately, I am clasping fingers, the sides of my arms straining toward one another, my stem stretching upward.


I can’t have failed. Yes, my grip breaks. My frame buckles. I stumble. Before I can wish to retain my load from an uncontrolled tumble, it rests immutable on the ground. Bones awaken to a sudden sharpness and despair. It has crushed down on my foot.


I took this on in folly, in my hubris. To resist nothingness, I had made out this hopeless act to be everything. Yet here I stand, unmoving for pain and anger at my own mistake. For bearing my load and failing had always been my greatest fear. Yet I made myself try. I should have known action alone could not save me from myself. I simply am, devoid of purpose in a disburdened home.

I alone remain.
And I own the blame.
Because I made myself and I put myself in a box.

The end.


Why ‘The Box’? One day I was mesmerized by a thought: What would it be like if a person insisted on staying the same in every way while the whole world changed around them?

This person embodies the ‘mid-life crisis’. Their nest is empty, their relationships dissolved. Their self-image is all that remains. They manifest the intangible concept of Self as they are ejected from their idealized life.

The question I am left with is when did this box become so important? Was it always a cardboard box, or did it begin as a childhood toy chest? Did it grow to the size of their first apartment? Their first house, purchased with their new spouse, filled with cute memories and modern furniture? Hmm…


Will this happen to me one day? Is my identity built on an ideal (like my home, or my relationship, or my job)? Is it possible not to become boxed in? Can anyone avoid that shrinking, unnatural, tragic metaphorical box?

The Box is a fear of freedom. I’m reminded of how I cried watching Elsa sing ‘Let It Go’ in the theatres. Something broke inside me – or, probably, it had always been broken, just stored away and forgotten. So it’s not just ice queens and empty-nesters who need this reminder. Free yourself.

Thanks for reading! 💙

Chronic illness · Isolation · mental health · Neurodivergent · Poetry

A Poem Called See Me

I’m a passive poet. I feel the feelings, form a few words. Some of them camp out in my notes for weeks – months – before I complete the verses. The longest time I’ve taken to finish a poem is, to date, 21 months.

It’s completed today! My journey has reached a milestone to be marked by sharing a poem. This poem is the culmination of pain and progress. It is called See Me.

See Me

Not asking the world to change
How it's going to see me
Not asking the earth to move
Just hoping that you'll reach me

Glad of being alone
Uncertain where I belong
Aching for kindred voices
Harmony without a song

Not asking the world to change
How it thinks I should be
Not making too much noise
Just hoping for room to breathe

Training my ears to listen
For notes never before heard
Song fills the space between us
Compassion behind your words

I'm asking the world to hear
The value in what I think
Not asking you to care
Just claiming the right to sing

Breathe in deep and shout
Saved up enough hope to try
Tearing through my world removed
There's pain in living a lie

I am asking the world to change
How it's trying to see me
The earth doesn't need to move
For voices to ring out freely.

Robyn S.
June 3, 2022
Please do not use this poem without express permission from myself.

Different brains. Different bodies. Our oppressed. Our marginalized. Our people.

Take your time to get there. Then use your unique voice for truth.

About this poem

Sometimes I don’t even know who I am reaching out to – I just hope someone will hear and understand. I pray into the night that I won’t give up on speaking. A weakened voice is still a voice. ‘See me.’

I always have enough strength to try my voice again. Maybe the person doesn’t speak my language. Maybe they expect me to speak theirs. Maybe they silence me, refusing to hear. A perspective is like a musical style. An acquired taste. Let’s not miss out on greatness! 😉

Thank you for reading. Stay strong. 🖤

My other shared poems: The Fight, The Neurodivergent, Tethered