A Declaration of Sanity: I’m Not Crazy, I Just Feel Things Too Deeply.

AndreaBalt_DeclarationOfSanity

‘I miss myself,’ she whispered. ‘I miss the sliding of my fingers on a skin that feels like home. My hands almost forgot how to speak… I miss the way laughter used to be my only medicine and how my heart was able to wake up every morning without weighing a hundred years, and do sky business with the world, like any other uncaged bird… I miss new stories on my body, new metaphors for an old soul that knows no other tune but hope…’ — My mind is a theatre in which the missing meets the dreaming and I, the dust, sit still and watch me happen. One breath is all you really need to start a life.

A few weeks ago, someone left a comment on one of my Instagram posts (in response to the caption quoted above) saying I was clinically depressed, that she wanted to help me but she couldn’t because I was referring to my depression as “creativity.”

I appreciated the sentiment but not the tone, the quickness to judge and diagnose the dark side of my self-expression with a very general and questionable psychosomatic illness. I figured, if she really was a psychiatrist or a professional trained to diagnose and treat clinical depression, she would have contacted me in private and had a few sessions with me, before carelessly sharing my diagnosis through a social media comment. Maybe she was a Zoloft rep? Delete…

But I must thank her because she got me thinking… I don’t know where the line is: the line between depression and extreme sensitivity to the madness of the world, or the passing of time, or the impossible desire to transcend our limitations in the cage of this body, especially after our brief connections with the infinite, or the suffering of others — men, plants and animals — the decay, deterioration, death and change, or the longing for all the life and love lost or unlived…

Where is the line between the natural maladies of a heart awake, aware and full of pores, and eager to express itself no matter what… and a diagnosis with Madness or Depression — in any of their variations — which usually comes with a prescription? Where is the red button and when should we press it? A non-rhetorical dilemma. Tell me…

I’m not sure where I stand when it comes to prescriptions for Life. I tend to just suffer through it, like any other animal. I want to feel it all in the depth of my bones. I don’t just want to suck the marrow of life, I want to chew on it, taste the bitterness as I taste the sweetness, bear my pain as proudly as I bear the joy, let it all happen to me, don’t numb my soul, don’t cancel out my heart, don’t trap my blood behind a glass, let me keep flowing!

Is there a limit to our pain — and do we get to set it? Is there a cure — and do we get to make it?

When my pain becomes unbearable and not even the thrill of creating something new from my own ashes can ease it, I guess I will naturally stop bearing it, one way or another. (Don’t worry about me, I am a journey, not a person.)

But see, I’ve always thought pain is a pointer, not a killer. We each have our own threshold, but none of us is immune. Pain is the Great Communicator. It warns you that something isn’t right. It makes you move, makes you do things: to heal yourself, to heal others, to find more ways, more cracks to let the light pour in.

Pain is a friend, not an enemy. The enemy is the belief (or the unbelief), the truth (or the lie), the dis-order that causes the pain.

And see, I’m not the kind of Queen that kills her messengers. I love them for reminding me of what I’m not, so I can have more strength to become what I truly am, to claim myself back from my own decay, time and again, to re-create my life over and over, until there’s no more me, or time, or pain or why. 

I don’t think I should apologize for feeling things deeply. I am not sorry for being “too much” for you, because less than “too much” is not enough for me.

But I am doing it because I owe myself to the world, so if you feel things deeply too, know that you’re not alone. There’s courage and there’s light in standing up for your darkness, even with shaking knees…in sharing it with others, every day, just like you share your brightest moments. It’s why we make the art, it’s why we try to fill these empty screens with pixelated meaning.

My life and my death, inevitable and infinite, they are both me. I am a daughter of this earth and to this earth I shall return. And in between, I travel through this life and document my findings.

If I’m the independent movie you are scared of watching, if I’m the sad ending or painful beginning you don’t want to have, don’t watch, don’t read, don’t breathe me in.

But I would hope that I’m the kind of film that makes you question your own takes, and helps me and helps you be the directors of our lives, and all the actors needed (the good, the bad and ugly, the joyful, sad and true) to complete the epic, timeless story written on our souls.

So tell your Yin-Yang bloody heart to clear its throat from all the tears and laughter, and join me in this small, (un)broken song:

A DECLARATION OF SANITY


I am not alone by preference.
I am lonely because I’ve chosen
the road less traveled.

I am not undecided, afraid or insecure
I am selective because
I contain multitudes.

I am not depressed,
I’m sad even in my joy,
because I wouldn’t
speak the language of waves,
If I didn’t lose myself in the fire.
And every mirror shows me both:
my darkness and her soul, the light.

I am not crazy,
I am too highly sensitive to the
resounding madness of the world,
so I make up more worlds
to help me deal.

I am what I am. This blessing and
this curse. The nightfall and the dawn.
An ever-changing instant
of infinity. And this beautiful mess
I’m in, is totally okay
by me.*

 

*Written in the Psych Ward, right before Art bailed me out. 

 



SIGN UP FOR MY MUSELETTER

FREE creative resources, soulful life tips & game-changing inspiration.
Creativity is contagious. CATCH IT:



FIND ME ON FACEBOOK, TWITTER & INSTAGRAM

Facebook   Twitter   Instagram



Comments

  1. sweartagod. love you with all my heart. keep sharing for all of us, together is the harmony <3

  2. “If I’m the independent movie you are scared of watching, if I’m the sad ending or painful beginning you don’t want to have, don’t watch, don’t read, don’t breathe me in.”

    Exactly. Why is it so hard to focus elsewhere and let us express ourselves how we love to. Hugs.

    • Andrea Balt says:

      Yes! We forget that hating is a choice and it requires energy. Indifference (not hatred) is the opposite of love.

  3. Wow. You are filled with the juice. You will shine and you will suffer and it will all be the same.

  4. Michelle says:

    Resonates too with me. I’ve always been a feeler since teen years. I remember feeling so much for the global situations, that I felt so disheartened, and no one to debrief I know when I don’t feel, I am not me. I’ve got stories that I have been haunted by, that I celebrate, that I haven’t told or the ones I tell over and over. They are survival stories. From the bones. Thanks for the reminder. From what I know is that women are in tune with the universe because of our role as women, and mothers. It is in our DNA and cells.

    • Andrea Balt says:

      Thanks Michelle. Yes, it’s hard to be an empath. You soak in all the energy around you and then you are often labelled when you try to let it out through art. What else should we do it with? 🙂

  5. Thank you for these words, they resonate so deeply! Much love and gratitude.

  6. Thanks for sharing these feelings, it’s a great shame modern society equates intensity with mental disorders.
    One question though: how do you cope when you feel so much it hurts and creating something new doesn’t cut it?

    • Andrea Balt says:

      Thanks for your feedback, Jemma.

      There are many ways and creating is the main route for me but definitely not the only one. I guess it depends on each person. Solitude, nature, radical self-care, a few good friends who can hold space for you to realize your value, and a new project / new space / new horizons work well for me, when combined.

      I also believe in therapy and I am by no means against a more professional treatment — talking to someone who is completely unrelated to you and who can hold the space for self-healing. What I don’t believe in is censoring self-expression and diagnosing the public acknowledgement of our darkness as “depression.” Too narrow-minded. 🙂

  7. Love Love.. More than words can express.

  8. Totally with you there. I’ve written as well on being on a my own path for it’s own sake, the sense of self a gift of its own. And the multitudes of myself, I am always myself even when I don’t always want to be associated with the story. Life is a fiction we write ourselves into. I honour you.

  9. Tom Osborne says:

    Be honest, you will not post this, you only show the ones which praise you. The Truth is, you really don’t live what you are talking about. Tell it true. What is worse, you lead all these other young women and men down such a dark and deep path, knowing full well you don’t believe half of what you are saying… while a large number of these others end up suiciding, All thanks to you… You also Claim you “Escaped from a Mental Institution.” Another Lie. Why do you tell such things to all these young people who believe in your lies… because you know you have Power over them. Just stop doing it. Quit doing your damage. If you really do Feel Too Much, then feel this… you are Causing Others Deaths. Sign off line before you are eventually found liable for one of your dedicated followers deaths… Most Sincerely, AkCabiinMan.

    • Jessica Wykes says:

      @Tom Osborne

      Your words, “The Truth is, you really don’t live what you are talking about”

      I wonder how you know that? Do you know her personally? Have you lived inside her heart?

      You also said “you lead all these other young women and men down such a dark and deep path, knowing full well you don’t believe half of what you are saying… while a large number of these others end up suiciding, All thanks to you… You also Claim you “Escaped from a Mental Institution.” Another Lie.”

      Can you please provide a list of all the people who ended up “suiciding”? Can you please tell us what was in their hearts at the time of their “suiciding”?

      I do believe the art of metaphor as gone over your head completely.

      And yes she is in a mental institution, I know this because I am in there with her!

      • Andrea Balt says:

        Tom Osborne, I was going to delete your comment, you are right, but not because you don’t praise me or agree with me. On the contrary. I welcome criticism and negative feedback but only as long as it is CONSTRUCTIVE — vs. A DESTRUCTIVE ANGRY RANT YOU JUST TROLL ON PEOPLE’S PAGES without any proof or articulate reasoning to support your statements, which ultimately says more about you, your own hurt and your current state of mind, than it does about my work.

        But since someone else, who without knowing me personally either, seems to yet know me better than you, has stepped forward to defend me, I’ve decided to leave it, so when you are ready to make art with your own pain instead of causing more pain and suffering to those of us brave enough to try, you are reminded.

        (But thank you for making me laugh with your complete misunderstanding of my metaphors.)

        And thank you, Jessica! I couldn’t have said it better myself. Your kindness and support is much appreciated.

        • Marc Weicman says:

          Where is the “love” button on this site…..???! Cause I “love” @JessicaWykes’ comments… and, it doesn’t go without saying, that I adore yours, Andrea. Always. 🙂 ,3

      • heh heh! me too! Thanku so much <3

  10. Speaking only for myself–knowing for certain I am not the only man/male who feels a deep identification with, as well as understanding of the sentiments you convey here, Andrea–you’ve expressed remarkably clearly what I have felt in my soul for the nearly 6 decades I’ve been on my journey in this world. I have only deep gratitude for your sharing openly what’s in (or been in) your heart… I, too, know the walls and barred windows, cages and limitations of which you speak… as well as the open sky in which you, I, and all humanity may fly… but perhaps most importantly, your longing to be free to fly or walk or crawl or simply stand… in peace. Amen & Hallelujah to that, Andrea… Always, Willy

    • Andrea Balt says:

      So glad to hear this, Willy!

      Thank you — SO MUCH — for your beautiful words. Honored to have crossed paths with you in this human experience.

      Love!

  11. Andrea…
    That very thing you wrote was so very touching to me when you posted it. I reposted it on Facebook and had several friends saying how moving it was to them. I’ve been to hell and back (more than once) and find that your writings and so many others from Rebelle Society (Tanya, Caroline, Jeanette, Tyler etc…) have brought me hope and light. Its hope that we can feel everything so deeply and come out stronger and wiser.
    Thank you for what you do…I too am deeply grateful.
    C

    • Andrea Balt says:

      Thank you so much, Chelsea! Grateful for you and that my small butterfly wings reached you on the other side. Rebelle has been a refuge for the creatively maladjusted who feel deeply, for a few years now. Happy to have you among us. 🙂

  12. Love love love this piece

  13. Thank you for your courage and for speaking what so many of us are too afraid to say. You are such an inspiration.

    • Andrea Balt says:

      Thanks Helene. And thanks to each one of you who’ve taken the time to comment and speak your heart. Inspiration is contagious and today you’ve inspired me.

      xo

  14. Question says:

    Feeling is okay; expressing that feeling is also ok; but is there really a need to be so proud of or attached to our feelings? Let it go; it’s not a badge of honor, why try to make it one? Yes, that professional mental health practitioner was wrong to do that publicly; yet she’s possibly disturbed at the constant flaunting of what you cherish so dearly but which she sees as something more to be let go of than pounded and glorified and held up to the light and sung about in all corners of the net…there may not be a limit to feeling, but why are women so proud of airing them, like it’s some award?

    • Question says:

      Unless of course everyone’s just trying to be another Jack Kerouac and they spend their days trying to come up with witty and mentally stressed lines of wisdom that appeal to the mental energy of others who are as mentally stressed but unequipped to express it….

      • Andrea Balt says:

        Your comment is just another proof as to why I needed to write this. So thank you for sharing!

        Two things:

        – Your literary comparison is a far shot. You could have used at least 100 other writers or thinkers that come closer to who “I’m trying to be” (which is nobody else but me) — unless Kerouac is your only library reference.

        – “why are women so proud of airing them, like it’s some award?” — From the way you refer to “women” I assume you’re a man who gets uncomfortable with “women’s displays of emotion”?

        Either way, perhaps we we do it because we haven’t fully recovered from the last nearly 6000 years of recorded history in which we’ve been silenced, tortured, burned at the stake, despised, misdiagnosed and underestimated for “airing our emotions.”

  15. Oh my gosh I love this, Andrea! I can definitely relate. I can’t stand the notion of hiding my feelings to make others feel better…or better yet, to make myself look better.

    I am me. This is what I choose to display. Sure, I may not display it all, but I only share what I am comfortable with. For someone to try to judge you by what they think you are is absurd.

    I love this:
    “I am not alone by preference.
    I am lonely because I’ve chosen
    the road less traveled.”

    I have always taken the road less traveled and though it can be lonely, I wouldn’t hop on the Road Everyone Takes for anything.

  16. I love that you put your art out into this world. You give others the courage to do the same. For years I tried to balance my darkness with the light, and you so beautifully and powerfully showcase your whole self. I admire you for this. A self-care day for me is a cup of tea and catching up on your writing, art and musings. Thank you for living your story fully and completely. xoxo

    • Andrea Balt says:

      Thank you so much for your sweet words, Whitney! You’ve captured so perfectly the essence of my work.

      Ironically, my current Attempt-to-Wholeness through my art, comes as a creative response to all that I’ve endured from the silencing, the isolation and the separation of the different pieces of me I was forced into by different people that had a major say in my life (from caregivers/ family to friends & partners). From not being allowed to live a full life and experiencing the anxiety that results, which I think is far greater than allowing the darkness to have its say and its place in the whole of us.

      <3

  17. Sean Gainford says:

    This is such a powerful piece by you and you have that rare ability to touch that deepness that most cannot, mostly because they are just too afraid to.

    What is definitely the case is that if you suppress your emotions, instead of embracing them like you do, that is where the real psychosomatic illness stems from.

    Every moment is a gift of life, but only if you can embrace all aspects of you, which includes being able to dance with your darkest shadows.

    • Andrea Balt says:

      Thanks Sean!

      I absolutely agree. Without the shadows how can we possibly understand, appreciate and enjoy the light? <3

  18. I LOVE this so much. It radiates all of being human. Oh.My. Thank you so much for this <3

  19. Just two words…great writing

  20. Thank you Andrea,

    Your vulnerability and courage is totally inspiring. What an enlightened gift it is to shift from the constriction of suffering to the opening up that may come from accepting.

    Keep Rocking!

    Ann

    • Andrea Balt says:

      Thanks so much Ann! At some point I’ve said: vulnerability takes courage and gives power — and it’s amazing to be a part of this alchemy and see it work in other people’s lives… It’s one of the most beautiful mysteries of being human — the broken openness that comes as a result of accepting and recycling one’s suffering.

      Virtual hug.

      A.

  21. Andréa,
    Your words have ripped open a part of me that I’ve been trying to mend with bandages for a very, very long time — and I thank you for it. This piece brought me to tears. I, too, feel the world so deeply, and feel atoms and molecules and vibrations around me so intensely that sometimes I make myself numb just to take a break from it — but I’m learning to own my darkness and embrace it so that I can learn from it, and hopefully help others to as well, like you have helped me.
    Thank you for being an inspiration, for your incredible heart that’s pouring out words, and for putting a voice to the things I feel but have been too scared to be vulnerable enough to say.
    Sending you so, so much love and gratitude,
    Kelly Owens

    • Andrea Balt says:

      Hi Kelly!

      Thanks for your beautiful heartfelt feedback. I’m so grateful my words resonated and helped in any way.

      I encourage you (as I also remind myself every morning) to keep practicing your vulnerability. I think all of us hypersensitive people have been so bruised, it takes a lifetime to learn how to stay open — and live everyday from our rawest self, with both our darkness & light present — without letting either destroy us.

      Sending love & courage.

      A.

  22. I read it and I thought…. WoW! I love you 😉

  23. Darian Wolf Surigao says:

    Fuck.
    Thank you.
    Just, thank you.

    Still trying to say it out loud, infinitely repeating in my mind.

    Thank you.

  24. You are simply at the forward edge of the evolution in human consciousness. Empathy leads to telepathy and a deeper sense of connectedness. As a species, we are moving into this new consciousness. When overwhelmed, its important to communicate with others who resonate with your own experience. Beautiful you are building a community of the future here.

    • Andrea Balt says:

      Thanks so much Lynda! I deeply appreciate your words and I fully resonate. Real change must come from within.

      Big love.

  25. Hi Andrea,

    Life is full of synchronicities, isn’t it. They put a smile on my heart. I’m simply one more of the many people who resonate so deeply with your article. I don’t think people feel “too” deeply or that they are “too” sensitive… they are so aligned with spirit and vibrate at such a high frequency that they simply feel so much and with a greater intensity. They feel what others cannot. And, I think that’s more natural than what most of humanity has expressed in the world. Growing up I was always told I was “too” sensitive. I thought something was “wrong” with me. I later grew into a great appreciation of my sensitivities.

    Anyway, thank you for sharing your thoughts, feelings and your song… and expressing them all so beautifully. It would be difficult not to feel your energy; your light! Even your response to the various comments is full of grace.

    On this same day that I found and shared your article on face book, I also found another article. “Rethinking Mental Illness: Are We Drugging Our Prophets and Healers”

    Here’s the link. I hope you can open it.
    http://www.the-open-mind.com/rethinking-mental-illness-are-we-drugging-our-prophets-and-healers/

    Thank you for Being You Andrea!!
    We are all the Infinite Light of OneLOVE, Barbara

    • Andrea Balt says:

      Hi Barbara! Thank you so much for sharing. I wholeheartedly agree. It is never “too much” — though I’m returning the irony & trying to speak the language of the world, of those who tag our sensitivity, intensity and creativity as “too much.”

      I’ll be writing more on this topic soon because this has also hurt me & my creative process growing up.

      (The link you attached seems to be broken, but thank you for the recommendation.)

      Big virtual hug! <3

  26. Michelle A says:

    Thank you. I cried while reading this. I have that tell me that they understand the depth of what I feel. But I don’t believe they really “get it”. And that’s okay. The words you used connected to me in a way that I could never say. I have just started to understand who I am. An Empath and what that entails and how I live my life. Again thanks for expressing who you are and letting us have a connection that some really do not understand.

    • Andrea Balt says:

      Hi Michelle! I’m an empath as well. And yes, we need to accept the fact that some people will never understand and that is TOTALLY OKAY. Accepting this fact, our emotional differences and levels of intensity — and not being crushed by it has been a turning point for me.

      Sending you love. You are not alone.

      <3

  27. Amazing piece. I am an empath also and have been given so many labels that practically destroyed my sense of self for so long. I am learning to love myself at 40. It’s a beautiful gift and I just adore your work. I read it ever morning and it strengthens my spirit,

    • Andrea Balt says:

      Stacey, your comment put a smile on my face. Somehow I fell through a loop & haven’t read it until now. Thank you!

      P.S. I often say that our real age begins the moment of our awakening — that is, when we begin to love ourselves for who we are, and therefore, others. I guess most of us are still toddlers. 🙂

  28. Superb as always, I’ve been following your writing for a couple of years now and have motivated myself to write more due to your openness of being in the shit and wonderful-ness of life. You are a creative genius. Period.
    Gratis for keeping it ultimately real.

    Paige x

  29. I have just been introduced to your work. I am honoured to read it. I too believe life is a journey but one that is painful and involves much shedding of skins. Yes, therapy can work with the right therapist at a particular time in one’s life. But I defy the narrow minded judgemental attitudes and responses to those who think deeply and work through their pain instead of living in denial. There are so many levels of pain and joy, so many highs and lows but if you dare to feel you are labelled intense and most people cannot ‘handle’ intensity. They are frightened of feeling; preferring numbness, ignorance of personal pain, the pain of what is going on in their neighbours house, their town, their country, the world. I cannot ignore what is going on in my life and around me. I cannot but feel deeply. Feelings are wonderful even if they bring the hurt they also bring the joy. I want to keep growing. To read your work is very comforting to me. Thank you

    • Andrea Balt says:

      Vanessa, your words are healing. Thank YOU for sharing. I especially loved this line: “There are so many levels of pain and joy, so many highs and lows but if you dare to feel you are labelled intense and most people cannot ‘handle’ intensity. They are frightened of feeling;”

      It takes courage to feel things deeply. It isn’t just a quality or a preference, it’s an active choice and it takes guts and then commitment to DO SOMETHING about the things you feel and become aware of. Most people bail out of intensity because they don’t want to follow up on the consequence of DOING something about it — in their own lives, and as a result, those of others.

      I’m glad you exist. <3

  30. I really NEEDED to see this today. Thanks for sharing your sentiments :-). I’ve been in a REALLY dark place the last 3 months and while I usually am able to “embrace the pain” and persevere one way or another, this particular bout of melancholy took me to the depths of despair to which I’ve never seen before (not even after my brother’s passing at very young age was my “depression”this dark). Anyhow, I’ve been “fighting” my way out of this one as of late because it was in fact consuming me and Instead of using it, I was letting it swallow me whole. This was a wonderful reminder that this is just part of my wiring.

  31. Andrea,

    Thank you for this. I think actually, you are quite “sane”, because you have the gall and the determination to keep diving into your feelings whatever they may be.. And have the courage to explore even the hurt and not so pretty feelings we all have in this chaotic “civilized” world we now live in. I think people become “insane” when they try to smush down their feelings and try to hide them from others, so much that they end hiding them from themselves.. And never quite understand what they feel or why..
    Thank you for helping me stand strong in my own vulnerability and sensitivity. Thank you for feeling so deeply and never backing down from being you. You give me courage to be more me. <3

    • Andrea Balt says:

      Ruchi — Thank YOU for your kind feedback.

      EXACTLY MY SENTIMENTS: “I think people become ‘insane’ when they try to smush down their feelings and try to hide them from others, so much that they end hiding them from themselves… And never quite understand what they feel or why.”

      We need a redefinition of the word “Insanity.”

      Big love! <3

Say Hi

*