Back in October, our team collectively decided to share our voices in honor of World Mental Health Day. While some people struggle silently, we wanted to open a conversation on mental health in a way that was comfortable and free of judgement. Months later, I asked why couldn’t we continue that conversation? What was once seen as something to be fearful of discussing has turned into a relatable topic that has no boundaries. Our journeys may all be different, but they’re also similar in ways that we wouldn’t imagine.
While attending Launch Music Conference and Festival in Lancaster, PA roughly a month ago, I was surrounded by panels and discussions with industry professionals, musicians, and friends on their journeys with mental health. It sparked something in me that wanted to find a way that would allow having these types of conversations comfortably. During a chat with a talented friend of mine, Imani Givertz, a question came up: if you were the sky, what kind of day would you be? It’s a question that seems simple at first glance, but actually allows for a dialogue that may be difficult to openly talk about. There are plenty of questions to be asked in an interview, but very rarely is someone asked how they are truly feeling. Using this question that Imani brought up, we decided to launch a new column called The Weather Report that will allow those struggling with mental health to talk about how they’re feeling in a genuine and authentic way.
I thought the best person to kick off The Weather Report would be the inspiration behind the column, Imani, a photographer, social media manager, friend, and avid tea-drinker. Working in the music industry for about 8 years, Imani has had the opportunity to tell artists’ stories through photos and writing for publications including Cliche’ Magazine. She has a drive for being an advocate for those that struggle with mental health and to be a friend that walks with people through their mental health journey as she continues to walk through hers. You can read Imani’s Weather Report below.
Living in South Florida for 99.9% of my life, you’d think that the constant sun and blue ocean would make for a happy mental state, right? Struggling with anxiety and depression for ten years has proven to me that just because the weather on the outside is healthy doesn’t mean the weather on the inside is as well. It has, however, taught me that the forecast can change at any moment and to embrace where I’m at, while I’m there, and move forward when I’m not supposed to be anymore, knowing that if the sky can change and still be beautiful, so can I.
Recently, I’ve realized that as an artist that struggles with mostly depression, a lot of my art comes from the depths of depression itself. Yes, it is therapeutic to create from dark places in life and can be beautiful but can also be extremely harmful to healing if constantly going back to that place for inspiration.
Sometimes, I find myself in a really great place emotionally and mentally, but artistically barren, so I’ll go back to the darkness and I’ll immerse myself in it, hoping to find inspiration, since that’s the first place I remember finding inspiration to create something I felt.
Usually, it works… but nothing is free and even entry into the darkness costs something. For me, my entry fee is sometimes insomnia; nights where I can’t fall asleep and mornings where I can’t wake up, anxiety; attacks so bad and silent that my skin feels like it’s suffocating, or a deep depression; where the darkness is no longer around me, but inside of me.
There’s a quote by Friedrich Nietzsche that says, “Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.” that I now understand way too well.
I have learned that once you understand something, you have the option to apply the new understanding in everything you do or don’t do.
Today, I’m a partly cloudy sky and the sun is shining to the left.
I’ve never felt more inspired to create art from this place. There’s a longing to provoke emotion that comes from the gut, but not at the cost of my health anymore. I’ll continue to apply emotion and depth that I’ve felt to the art that I create, but now out of new place of understanding; that I can still create art from a place of joy and it can still feel like something, I can still create art from this healthy place I’m finally in and it will still be meaningful.
I will no longer think that I am bound to the darkness of night, but I am worthy and capable of experiencing a sunny day, in its fullness.
View some of Imani’s work below. For more from Imani Givertz, head to http://Imanigivertz.com.