Letters From Lady JayeLithium and the Ridiculous Ideas of ‘Normal’

Jana Lee MachecaNovember 16, 2021

One of the most unforgettable songs in my personal history would be “Lithium” by Evanescence. I don’t remember it being overly popular, but I remember finding the song and getting lost in it, not only because of her voice, but my own personal understanding of the drug and how grateful I was that someone understood. Sometimes music is the only way to soothe pain, or share it in a way that makes you feel understood and not alone. I always felt she was an advocate with this song, telling others that there are other ways and to never allow yourself to be dulled, but rather find what is right for you.

Mental health is something that’s come a long way over the years but still holds a stigma that I can’t understand. Maybe I’ve just never met a ‘normal’ person? Everyone I’ve ever known has had some sort of depression, anxiety or far deeper issues. I have dealt with depression, anxiety and PYSD my entire life, as well as a bipolar diagnosis that, while I no longer have the symptoms, I will always have to carry that diagnosis. I’m not afraid to say that, and I’m not afraid to admit that I am in therapy as well as on medications to help me deal with my depression and anxiety. I wish the world understood that ‘normal’ is what we all act like people should be, but it isn’t really a thing we can achieve. Normal is defined as:

relating to what is considered standard, average, typical, or healthy....most often applied to behavior that conforms to a culturally accepted norm, especially as an indication that a person is mentally healthy and does not have a psychological disorder.

(But who decides what's normal?)

If so many people have issues with depression and anxiety, ADHD, etc., then who gets to say that normal is the absence of these things? Personally, I embrace these things. Not in the way of enjoying the days I can’t find the energy to do basically anything, or that I like having a weird anxiety every time I have to do pretty much anything, but rather embracing that they may be a part of my life, but they are a part of me that I stand up to and fight each day and I’m not afraid to tell others that they are not alone in their internal battles. We can’t just give in to these monsters in our head, but we can let others know that too many of us have them and that finding help for those demons is in fact, normal.

During a meeting we finally found our simple, easy to say, mission statement as a company. “To help repair the past, to protect the future, including all in what we do.” Our work chats are often a safe place to talk about our mental illness or life issues, we all want to see mental health be normalized, we understand that we are broken in different ways – but we also understand that we must take accountability for our actions and that we have others who will talk with us, support us, and call us out on our bullshit in respectful ways. A large part of that is why we are music media and promotion; we know that music isn’t just notes strung together but rather emotions, life lessons, calls into the darkness that someone else has been there and survived, and so there is hope.

We are born with a window into the world that, in one fashion or another, will often be shattered for people. Our choices then are to remain shattered, screaming into the world how unfair it is, living our lives exposed to the world’s harsh elements and crying in a corner… Or we can rebuild the window. Rebuilding is the worst. It takes so much time, patience, you have to look at these broken pieces and try to understand where they fit into your new world view. You will bleed on them, tears will fall onto them, and those emotional stains will never come out. It’s a scary process but, if you steel yourself for this act of creation, you will design something new, uniquely you, and a beautiful creation that stands above the thin clarity the world pretends to offer.

There comes a time in a broken person’s life that they must accept their pain, their mental illness, their actions. They must accept accountability for themselves and stop looking back. You cannot be a true person in this world if you expect others to take on your brokenness as something that will never change. Maybe if we all understood that normal is just a word for routines that fall within a range of ideas, we’d have a better future.

Medication isn’t always the only route, Lithium has a way of dulling the world and drowning out emotions. I understand the pain of it. Therapy has helped me more than drugs, but the meds are there for the days I can’t do it completely on my own, and to help lessen the amount of those days I have. Psychology is still evolving, and I urge anyone who has the need for medication to do a simple cheek swab test that can tell your provider what you can and can’t take, but I do encourage you all to take a stand against the voices in your mind that try to keep you from living your best life.

Sometimes the battle is tough, and sometimes you’ll feel alone. When you do, music is there, and so are people who love you.