I met Annie in passing at a zine fair. I was wandering around the MCA, a bit overwhelmed by the masses of people and art and books and stickers and things. I was hopping from table to table. Meanwhile, the friend I came to the exhibit with was transfixed at Annies. She was reading something with such intense concentration. I came over and picked up a beautifully bound zine titled ‘Articulation’. After reading it front to back as soon as I got home (an experience which afforded at least a few tears), I tracked Annie down on instagram to thank her for sharing her experiences.
I’m currently navigating through a difficult time, a resurgence of some trauma, of some issues with my mental health that I’ve pushed down for a little too long. The other night Annie posted something on her instagram story about why we decide to live. I sent her a message. The following conversation ensued.
Emily (@emilibras): There’s this quote I read by Emile Cioran that goes “I live because the mountains do not laugh and the worms do not sing” and honest to god that just touched something in me that made me decide to live through that night. I hope this is okay to share I don’t want to put any unsolicited emotional baggage on you. But idk, your story just reminded me of that moment and I’m very grateful. Sometimes it’s just the small things. Sometimes it’s the things that don’t even make sense.
Annie: No share all you like! That’s a beautiful quote. I like it a lot. Do you remember what book it was? I think when things are bad and you can’t even see straight it’s a tall order for someone who doesn’t know what that’s like to ask you to remember your family and friends. You’re barely yourself. I have like a Harry Potter barrel of specific memories that I think about whenever things get bad and some of them are just like…a particularly good day where I had a good coffee. Small things are great and everything, but the important thing is that it doesn’t matter how big or small something you decide to live for, it’s that it’s enough not to die instead.It needs to be just enough to carry you over the moment. In that way it’s always made sense for me to live for whatever the fuck occurs to me in that moment. I remember the first time I laid down on grass on my first trip to France and how unbelievably soft it was, or the first time I was far away enough from the city to see a sky full of stars, or literally like…a good sandwich I had or a hobby I used to have that I should get back into. In context it all makes sense I guess (Sorry that’s a lot of words lmao)
Emily: It’s called “On the Heights of Despair” (there’s a PDF online!) and it’s honestly the most beautiful encapsulation of what it’s like to suffer and live! But yes I completely agree with everything and thank you so much for sharing your experience with me. I really resonate and it’s so comforting to hear it explained from another perspective if that makes sense?
Annie: It absolutely does, and that’s one of the reasons I’ve decided to talk so much about my mental health journey. It’s an honest relief for other people to tell me that they relate or they’ve gone through something too. We’re all collectively suffering in silence and talking about it at least saves us from isolation.
[the next day]
Emily: Hey I didn’t get a chance to reply to ur last message but I just wanted to reiterate that I’m so grateful you’re so open about ur journey with mental health. Honestly I always revisit Articulation when I need to feel less alone.
Annie: It’s ok!!! I’m not the centre of anyone’s world haha I don’t mind if it’s not priority to message me back. And I’m glad it’s useful! It became something a lot bigger than I originally intended but surely that means I’ve done a good thing. Here to talk if you need! I’ve been revisiting a lot of stuff lately and have been learning a lot at therapy.
Emily: You definitely have! I think anytime somebody is just so authentic and vulnerable it inevitably attracts people going through similar things. Thank you so much! I think I need to go back to therapy, I always stop when I need it most which is a bit counterproductive…
Annie: Nah I can see how that happens though (the not going to therapy part). I was just talking to a friend last night about how it took a long time for me to get past the false starts bc all the stuff affecting me was too fresh for me to actually revisit and push past. For therapy to be productive you gotta be able to step back a little bit from the stuff you wanna work through and if you’re too focused on just getting through the day it makes sense that looking at things objectively would be too hard to do. I guess what I’m trying to say is that there’s a balance between prioritising comfortable self care and uncomfortable self care.
Emily: I’ve never actually thought about it that way before but I totally understand. I think lately I’ve just been going through a lot of false starts and it’s so draining that I don’t have the capacity to address what’s at the core of it all. So at the end of the day I’m just trying to be compassionate to myself but it’s a bit surface level, a bit superficial. I’m just waiting for the right time to actually move forward THROUGH all the discomfort to a stage where I’m actually progressing. It’s just a whole lot of trying to be “okay” in the most basic sense. Just trying to get by long enough to actually start repairing.
Annie: Yeah! So valid tbh. In the end it’s necessary to sit down and figure out what exactly you’d feel is best for you in an objective way so that you can move forward with this intention. At the end of my uni degree I spent almost three months in self isolation bc I just needed to finish the damn degree. At one point I didn’t even buy groceries for a whole week. It wasn’t healthy but it got me through to a point where I knew I could put stuff behind me and have time to focus on myself. Knowing that there’s a solid enough time spot in the near future where you’ll be able to focus is important if the plan is to get by until then. Keep in mind that false starts are like your objective mind trying to take care of you with it’s best intentions! Even tho it might not be the best things for you now. I don’t think it’s superficial at all to think like…”this mud mask will get me through this week” or whatever. Anyway this is a lot of words haha. Last thing I want to say is that starting to address past stuff is almost always going to be uncomfortable but it isn’t always going to be as uncomfortable as it is now. I hope your pain eases soon.
Emily: Honestly you have no idea how much I appreciate you taking the time to share this with me! Thank you so so much I think I’m out of words at the moment but just… thank you ❤
Annie: It’s ok 🙂 always around for me if you need. I have a lot of words lately ❤
you can find Annie on instagram at @annieandthemotions or her art account @somethinganniething (the featured image for this post is one of her beautiful creations). her personal website is https://www.annieandthemotions.com/
also make sure to go support her at zine fairs if you can make it out! i promise her art is something you’ll treasure