Introducing Our New Editor-in-Chief: Sandra Mercer

Hello everyone!

I’d like to take a moment to introduce our newest team member, Sandra Mercer. She will be serving as the new editor-in-chief for Dear Hope!

Sandra feature

Sandra will now be the head editor managing all the submissions that come into Dear Hope. Please give her a warm welcome! She has been a member of our community for a long time, and recently submitted the article “Questions as Daggers & Questions as Saviors. She also wrote a Coping piece for us last year. Be sure to give them a read.

This is the start of a relaunching period for Dear Hope. Be ready for lots of new content and art in the coming weeks. (If you’ve been thinking of sending us something to publish, now is a great time!)

Always remember that you are not alone.

You are loved.

PF

Want to submit to Dear Hope and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

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Questions as Daggers, Questions as Saviors

But you seem fine.
You look like you’ve been doing well!
You don’t seem depressed on social media.
Why didn’t you tell me you were feeling bad?

Don’t assume. You know what they say. I’ve gotten so good at hiding how I feel, shoving the emotions down so far I seem to misplace them altogether, that even those closest to me don’t see a thing.

I’m sneaky. I’m clever. I know the right things to say and do and wear. I know how to hide the scars, internal and external, and pretend like they’re not even there (are they even there?)

I’m sneaky. I’m clever. This gets me in trouble.
I’m often in trouble.

I don’t want you to take it personally. Really, I don’t. It’s not you, it’s me (really, it is).

The facade I maintain is one I’ve been perfecting for years, my fears of vulnerability stemming from a long list of disappointments and misplaced trust.

I don’t like to worry anyone,
don’t like to be the center of attention,
don’t like to be the one to drag the party down.

So, if I ask you for help, know that it’s taking every ounce of me to do so,
every last fiber of my being to muster up the courage to let my guard down and stand before you with my heart in a box of doubt, tied together neatly with my greatest insecurities and nightmare-inducing thoughts.

And I’m sorry if I haven’t.
Don’t be offended if I never do.

But you have a great life.
People have it much worse than you do.

I know. Really, I do. Guilt is my middle name. It seeps into my bones and erodes my body from the inside out. What’s left is nothing more than a pile of skin cells and disappointment.

People are starving.
Homeless.
Sick.
Dying (why do I wish I was dying?).

I’m sorry. I am. That’s all I can say (that’s all I know how to say).
I’m sorry I feel this way.

I wish I could change it. I wish I could fix the world’s problems with a swish of a wand, with a big bandaid stuck across its oceans and continents, one that heals the hurt across the globe.

I wish I could do the same for my own mind, for my own heart,
for the hurt I endlessly feel as the days stretch on and the months stretch on and this life stretches on and on
and on
and on
and on.

I wish I could fix my problems as easily as magic or medicine.

Maybe that’s selfish.

Maybe that’s survival.

You can’t love anyone else until you learn to love yourself.

But you see, I don’t think I’ll ever really,
truly,
honestly,
love myself.

I don’t think I know how (do I know how?).

Will I ever really learn, as easily as I learned how to write my name or tie my shoes or ride my bike across the pavement?

Will I get an eviction notice plastered to the door of my heart, a “Do Not Enter” sign stapled to the aorta?

Will it whisper softly,
“Beware,
Beware,
Beware,”
As it beats,
beats,
beats
to keep me alive?

Will I just be lonely forever?

Why are you on so many medications?
Why don’t you try exercising or eating healthier?
What about deep breathing or meditation?

You see, I know all of that, too. I lose track of the pills in my medicine cabinet,
all the dosages and names and bottles,
all of it blurring in my vision as I count the tiny circles and oblong ovals in my palm each morning and afternoon and night.

But, you see, it’s taken two years to figure out just the right combination of ovals to make the dark things less dark, the bad thoughts less bad.

Two years is a long time and sometimes I worry if it was time wasted (I worry that most of my time is wasted).

And sometimes the dark things are just as dark, the bad thoughts just as bad, anyway.

Sometimes my only exercise for the day is running away from my problems. This kind of running allows me to stay under the covers. Most days dragging myself out of bed feels like a marathon.

Panicking makes breathing difficult. Meditation seems unrealistic for my clouded mind.

I appreciate the advice, really, but I can’t emphasize enough how difficult it is to hear all of it day in and day out,
and day in and day out,
and day in and day out,
always constructing some combination of excuses to make them stop talking at me like I am a child.

It’s just not that simple, as much as I wish it was (I wish it was).

It’s not that big of a deal.
Stop overreacting.
You’re being dramatic.

But, you see, it is that big of a deal. Making mountains out of mole hills is my specialty and crying over spilled milk is part of my morning routine.

I know I’m overreacting. Trust me, I do. I know more than anyone that my thoughts are out of control and my actions are beyond what they should be. I know.

I know.

I know.

Dramatic used to have a positive connotation for me. I put my extroverted personality onto the stage rather than in my personal life, but here I am panicking under the showerhead because I’ve got six assignments due at the end of the week and my friend hasn’t replied to my text in two hours and 13 minutes but they’ve already opened my SnapChat and I watched a group of girls walk by me and laugh and I’m positive it was because I didn’t wear makeup that morning because it took me over an hour to convince myself to get out of bed and I ran out of time after pulling my limbs into the shower and I nearly died walking to class because I didn’t look both ways before I crossed the street and I haven’t told anyone that I did it on purpose (I did it on purpose).

That stage is now my life and I am constantly putting on a show where people leave at intermission.

Maybe it’s not that big of a deal.
Maybe I’m overreacting.
Maybe I’m being dramatic.

Maybe I’m me.

Maybe I don’t like any of those things (I don’t).

Are you okay?
How are you doing?
Do you need to talk?

Keep asking. Keep asking.
Keep asking.
Keep asking.

Because I may say,
“Yes, I’m okay.”
“I’m good, how are you?”
“No, I don’t need to, thanks.”
And I just might be lying to you (I am probably lying to you).

But one day I may get the courage to say,
“No, I’m not.”
“Not so good, actually.”
“Yes, I do, please.”

One day I might find the courage to ask for help even though it’s taking every ounce of effort not to run the other way,
not to shove the feelings down like I’ve done so many times before,
not to plaster that signature smile across my face like wallpaper, a sickening slap of paste across my lips that seals the sadness in tight.

So don’t be offended if I lie. It’s not you, it’s me (really, I mean it).

So keep asking. Keep asking.
Keep asking.
Keep asking.
Please keep asking.
Please don’t stop asking.


This piece comes from our community member Sandra Mercer. You can find her other powerful entry in our Coping series here.

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Feel free to leave a comment for Sandra below.

Always remember you are not alone.

You are loved.

Want to submit to this site and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

Follow us for more posts, inspiration and art on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram

Creative Pieces dear hope

Windshield

Go ahead
and ask for help
Or confuse your pride
with strength again.

Progress is perspective.
And now the flames are close
as you ran
all the way inward.

Preaching about hope,
While letting ice
grow thick on windshields.
Driving through the night
with the defrost set on zero.

You feel welcome in the cold
As if you were born in it
It’s the extremes that you feel
It’s not the small talk conversation

It’s the knowledge and the worth
You fought to have and threw away
Locked the key and dug your grave
In a cemetery unmarked

When it could have been vandalized with art
But you refuse to acknowledge that
Your brain that used to flourish
Is now a maze you can’t figure out

But walls are only meaningful
if you know what’s inside.
And rusted gears will turn
Until there’s nothing left to try.

PF

Want to submit to Dear Hope and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

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Creative Pieces dear hope

The Happiness Video Project by Zach Cooper: A Preview

Hi, I’m Zach and this is my project.

One day I decided I wanted to film a bunch of people being happy for me. Real, genuine smiles. Everyday you go on social media and see negativity in some sort of way so I kind’ve wanted to break the day to day negativity down with something extremely happy and positive. You also see people claiming life is about spending money and traveling to be happy, but I think you can find happiness right in your backyard.

The idea started with filming a few people but snowballed into filming over 40 different people all smiling and doing something they love to do. My project still needs more people so I’m hoping to finish the project in 2017 but need help, I just moved from Massachusetts to New York City and don’t really know anyone here. Thankfully ‘Dear Hope’ said they could help me by sharing this project, so reach out!

I don’t bite. Come say hi and check out some of my work! I love meeting new people and guarantee we can have some smiles.

Instagram: zachcoop

Portfolio: https://productionzsc.myportfolio.com/projects


Be on the lookout for Zach’s full project early next year back here on Dear Hope.

Always remember you are not alone.

You are loved.

PF

Want to submit to Dear Hope and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

Follow us for more posts, inspiration and art on Facebook, TwitterTumblr, and Instagram

A Lens Into Our World dear hope

Quote of the Day: 10/27/16

A quote I came across today that reminded me of the beliefs we have here at Dear Hope.

“I think people that are driven to make art are coping with things – anxieties or what have you. You feel boiling rage or crushing depression without knowing why, eventually engaging in a lot of coping mechanisms you aren’t aware of. The difference between then and now is just awareness, knowing where it all comes from, what the dangers can be, being able to hopefully exert some control over everything so that I’m not obliviously self destructive or wasting my energy.”

-Greg Puciato of the Dillinger Escape Plan

Source

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Interview with the Artist: A Day Without Love’s “Solace”

Without the ability to find comfort in battle, you will never be able to win the war. I wrote this record so I could win the war.”

—-

Back in January, we talked to Brian Walker about his life’s journey, inevitably intertwining his times of both triumph and struggle. His willingness to be vulnerable, as is with anyone who submits a Coping piece, was extremely courageous and admirable.

One of the focal points of Brian’s life was, and is, music. The inspiration he’s gained from music over the years inspired him to become a musician himself. In his Coping piece, he mentioned how his band, A Day Without Love, came to be.

Now, nearly nine months later, ADWL has freshly released Solace, a new album that speaks to many of the themes and experiences that Brian has thoroughly described to us. I had the pleasure of asking him some questions about the album, the processes of writing and recording, and the future of the band.

—-

1) What inspirations went into writing Solace? Are there recurring themes throughout the album that stick out to you?  

I was inspired to write Solace during a very dark time in my life as well as a very transitional time in my life. I had decided to write this full length after leaving SXSW and beginning to stop drinking. This record is kind of my way of trying to let out all of the vices in my mind. Sonically, I would say Kevin Devine has been a very large influence, as well as Alex G and Modest Mouse. Thematically, there are recurring themes around racism, depression, and alcoholism.

2) Bring us through the recording process. I noted that you took the photo for the album cover as well as writing the lyrics and music. How was the process for you? Was it different from previous recordings?

 Yes. My friend Brianna and I got out to a park with my friend Karaamat (the album art designer) and we took some photos in West Philadelphia. It was a pretty cool day. As far as writing the record, I wrote 60 songs in about a year, chose 15 to pursue, and then narrowed it down to the 13 songs that are on the album. The songs were written acoustically and then built up with me and my former band mate from there.

3) Are there any songs that you particularly like or are proud of? Any songs that were harder than others to put together?

For the exception of Persistence and Solace most of these songs stayed the same way that they were written. Cruel changed a few times before we set it down to recording, but most of the writing of these songs moved very smoothly and I think my favorite song on the album cannot be narrowed down to just one. All of the songs are so different, much like a reflection of so many things that have changed in my life. In terms of difficult songs, I think tracking Too Fast was pretty tough, especially the last riff. I guess you can say that was the most metal riff that I have done in my discography so far.

4) Do you have any plans to play the songs from Solace live? If so, where and when should we keep a look out?

Yes. I will be playing across the Northeast, South, and Midwest on 3 to 4 day tour stints while managing a job. You can view most of my show dates on the band website and subscribe to the Bandsintown link to see me play at a show near you. Also, I will be playing solo sets mostly, and doing a full band show at Ortliebs, a venue in Philadelphia.

5) I hear the emotion behind this music. You noted that much of the struggles you’ve faced (racism, mental health, death, etc.) went into the content of Solace.  How was turning your pain into an creative, artistic medium?

 I find the writing this record to be very reflective and, if anything, the most reflective piece of artwork I have ever done in my life. I have samples of my grandfather in here who died of lung cancer during the writing process. I kind of see the record as a way of reminding myself of who I was, who I am trying to be, and what I am today. I know there are many problems I highlight in the record, but the point of the record was not to discuss problems, but what I do with those problems, and how do I find ways to overcome the things I can not control.

6) You also highlighted that this was your first album sober; first of all, congratulations on that. I remember from your coping piece that this was a struggle for you, and I commend you on that. What emotions, difficulties, and triumphs came from creating Solace from a place of sobriety?

Initially, I felt like I lost my best friend by not writing under the influence of alcohol and drugs. But after giving that up I felt like I was discovering myself again, which is why I think this record sounds so different than my previous records. Creating music from a place of sobriety is not only freeing; it’s comfortable because you know that you are writing from a place of honesty, a place that is clear, a place that is not covered up by the drugs and alcohol I used to drown my body with. So writing songs sober is really tight.

7) What’s the next step for A Day Without Love? How are you feeling moving forward?

Currently I plan on touring as much as I financially can. I am on a major weight loss and self-discovery journey. I want to write a record on body positivity, and I am probably going to make this sonically more different than other records. In addition, I may release a lo-fi record soon.

8) If you had to pick a single message from Solace that encapsulated the album, what would it be? What does the album say more than anything to you?

No matter how much people hate you or you hate yourself, do your damn best to find peace and comfort in the war you are fighting. Without the ability to find comfort in battle, you will never be able to win the war. I wrote this record so I could win the war. In some ways, I believe I am not alone, so I want others to feel that they know they are not alone, and they can fight their battles together. Hopefully one day we can fight our battles together.

—-

You can become more familiar with A Day Without Love here, as well as giving Solace a listen, here. If you’re not familiar with Brian’s journey, check out his Coping piece from this past winter.

Remember-you are not alone,

and you are loved.

-DK

Want to submit to Dear Hope and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

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Article dear hope

Liminal creatures: Lorca the Papergheist and Artistry Through Agoraphobia by Lorca Jolene

None of these collages are digitally created or enhanced.


I am a self-taught artist from Chicago who has been crafting chimerical and uncanny creatures from paper and ink for five years. My collages are deeply influenced by my own experiences, as a queer person with panic disorder and agoraphobia, of claiming and communicating in-betweenness in the context of health and labor.

Jolene_Skinsmith.jpg

“Skinsmith”

Panic disorder – the bouts of paralyzing terror, the dissociation, the bone-deep exhaustion of perpetual unease – is a thing I carry around in my chest like a bullet. Living with it is like circumnavigating a spaceship through colonies of black holes inside yourself that will rip your memories and name apart… and hoping that the steering doesn’t fail. It makes “real” a feeling beyond my experience, and presents the decision everyday to invest effort and love into a world that feels as ephemeral and incomprehensible as dreams.

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“Goblin Market”

And the hardest thing about all that is pretending – around parents, colleagues, employers – that none of it is happening. Presenting to others as functional, approachable, and sociable is a constant process of alternating between different spaces in which my symptoms are more or less not permitted to exist. Years upon years of this practice has made me a creature most at home in liminal spaces and most at ease on social peripheries.

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“Lycanthrope”

A driving force between my art is the desire to create archetypes and mythos that explore liminality and ambivalence as powerful rather than defective or toxic. My collage characters are salvaged, scavenged, pieced together from a myriad of sources – their bodies literally cut nature and society at its joints and paste it back together. It is my hope that they might offer guidance and guardianship for whomever will make a binary – between psychosis and sanity, man and woman, health and deformation – their battleground.

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“Gemini”

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“November”


A special thanks to Lorca for submitting this wonderful work to us. Lorca has had work featured in RAW Artists Chicago’s recent showcase, a residency at Chicago’s Fulton Market Kitchen, ArtAscent Magazine, Chicago Literati magazine, the 365 Days 365 Artists Project.

These images are incredibly thought provoking and moving, and I hope you’ll leave a comment below about what you think.

You can find more work on Lorca’s Tumblr, Etsy Store, and Instagram.

Always remember you are not alone.

You are loved.

PF


Check out some more art on some of our other pages.

Want to submit to Dear Hope and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

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A Lens Into Our World dear hope