MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS: How to build things from the valley

By Kira Hawkins
Special to the Herald Democrat

Last year conversations were heating up about what mental health looked like for adults and children. We were standing in a field of green; intellectual prosperity and decades of lessons learned behind us. We were finally asking questions about being proactive and how to move towards healing and growth for all. I

f health is depicted as having no illness or injury, then mental health speaks to both illness and injury. With the whispers of changes that soon become shouts, we changed. We the collective are mentally injured, hobbling through life in the best ways we can. People have gotten sick, People have died, People have fought over rules, People have done despicable things People have stopped having Sunday meals with their families to connect, People have stopped talkingAnd somewhere in the bottom of the valley, People have gone numb. If Florence and the Machine’s music lyrics “We all Have a Hunger,” apply, how do we proceed, when we are both hungry and chewing endlessly? How do we proceed when we are all somehow mentally injured and stuck in this valley?

Years ago, a friend shared a small book her great grandma had written about life on the farm in the early parts of the century. It was a diary of experience, and whether intended by the author at the time, was a treasure in its completion. Experiences and art from times of suffering, war, and plagues, resonate with us because they are us. Take a look at David Burliuk’s “Time,” from the early 1900’s, to see both the vibrancy of color and inevitability of the woman’s fate. Bobby Hebb’s song “Sunny,” finds a way to paint both depth of pain and hope at the same time. Dorothea Lange’s 1936 photograph titled Migrant Mother-cast a face to the suffering during the Great Depression. These pieces made it so there is no erasure of whole months and years, allowing human tenacity and human experience to endure and color the pages of time.

Find hope in Bobby Hebb’s lyrics as you put your pen to paper, “Sunny, yesterday all my life was filled with rain, Sunny, you smiled at me and really-really eased my pain. Now the dark days are gone, and the bright days are here…” Whatever you have in you to create today, and this month, start. Write, paint, photograph, build, and plan. Years from now, I truly think we will look down and see not only the holes and dark spots in this valley, but also the Eiffel Towers we built out of nothing but human ingenuity, creativity, suffering, and the drive to live pulsing through every one of us.

Kira Hawkins

Kira Hawkins served as an educator for ten years, teaching children in Texas, Zambia, and remotely, in China. You will find her working with Texas districts now, and in her spare time- creating, reading, and growing plants and ideas. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Texoma Marketing and Media Group.