"Even on my worst days" by Jessica Morris
Jessica Morris is an Australian born journalist, writer and author who has been published on various platforms such as: To Write Love On Her Arms and FDRMX, now known as PPcorn where she interviewed Owl City as well as other musical artists. Some of her passions include mental health and pop culture. You can read more on her recent works at jessicamorris.net.
You know what is guaranteed to make fear disappear? Pancakes.
Or, more so, the threat that the pancakes you ordered via Uber Eats won’t make it to your mouth.
That’s what got me outside today. When there was no knock at the door and I couldn’t see an Uber driver holding the double stack of pancakes I had just ordered, I realized I had made a fateful error—I had allowed my iPhone to put in an automatic address.
Within a second I walked out the door in bare feet, and began to walk up the street to house 1917. In the back of my mind I realized this house could be blocks away, but all I knew was that I needed pancakes, right then and there. Thankfully, my bravery (or stupidity?) paid off when I came across my bewildered driver and took the precious fluffy fried cakes of goodness off his
hands. I dutifully walked them home where I consumed them in ten minutes. I can tell you without a doubt, I would most definitely do it again. Because it’s worth making a fool of yourself for pancakes—or anything else worth fighting for, really. I believe in taking big risks to experience big things. On days like today, when my anxiety disorder keeps me in bed until midday, and the prospect of making my own lunch feels overwhelming, that means running barefoot up East Nashville streets in pursuit of pancakes. On other days, it means boarding an airplane and flying half way around the world to start a new life. My life is weird. Let me start again and give you the spiel I give to every Lyft driver: "Hi. I’m Jessica. Yes, I’m Australian (definitely not British, sorry). No, I don’t sound like Crocodile Dundee. I’m a writer. Not a songwriter—a journalist (I’ve had to make that distinction in Nashville), although I do like to write about musicians. Oh, and I’m living here for the next few months. Why? Because I’ve talked about moving to the US for years, and my visa expires this year, so I thought, Why not?" Conversation will then gravitate towards the great book idea the driver would like me to help them write (for free), or I hear the words, “I wouldn’t be brave enough to do that.” It’s sort of ironic, because a few years ago, neither was I.
I was never an adventurous, brave kid. In fact, when I decided I wanted to be a journalist, I genuinely tried to figure out how to score a job as a writer in my hometown that wasn’t at the newspaper, because moving to the big city (an hour away) terrified me.
But let’s be real, everything used to terrify me. Especially anything that was new or different. I have lived under the shade of my diagnosis since I was 13. At the time, being told I had severe depression and an anxiety disorder was life-saving. It gave my pain a name, and my psychotherapist taught me how to be a new type of brave everyday.
Brave one day was going to school.
Brave the next day was taking a walk outside.
Brave another day was choosing to stay alive.
Eventually, brave gives you a new beginning.
My new beginnings have come in increments. The day I was no longer suicidal was one. Another occurred when I finally made it to school like a ‘normal’ student, 6 years after my diagnosis. Then there was my first job, as well as the day I began studying journalism. And then there was the day I decided to travel to the United States. I met some nice people at my university, and thought a road trip around the US for two months (by myself) was a good idea. 13-year-old Jessica couldn’t fathom that season, but she didn’t have to, because 21 year-old me could. Then again, 21 year old me didn’t have the bravery to live in Nashville for 5 months either, but here we are. I’ve longed to move to the US for years. And short of travelling here numerous times (I know the prime tourist spots like the back of my hand), I’ve never quite been able to accomplish it—until this year. Because in 2018 I knew I was finally ready to make the jump. Back in the day, this move would have consumed me. Anxiety would have plagued me, and I would have been eaten alive by the big business, lights and success of Nashville. Even two years ago, when I released my memoir, I would not have been able to healthily survive this new beginning. But I’ve found that there is something powerful in admitting that I don’t have it all together. And instead of trying to be a success by conquering my fear and depression, I have been able to heal and start again by actually acknowledging my pain. Not just the darkness of my diagnosis which has been my calling card since I was 13, but the fears and insecurities that live within 27-year-old me. A woman who has overcome her deep fear of people who are different, the suffering of others, and not being accepted by entering situations that demands I be brave.
It meant that I went back to counselling. Twice.
It meant that I left my broken, shattered heart in the past, and searched for new dreams again.
It meant I learnt to accept my imperfections because they are what have made me strong.
And today, it meant that I ran up the street for pancakes. And each time, being brave enough to start again was worth it. Because my new beginning isn’t as shiny and beautiful as I anticipated at 21, but it is real, raw and full of hope. Even on my worst days.