Artist No. 4: Rosie Thomas The Deal: The folk-pop songstress is best known for her…
- Posted on Feb 14th 2012 5:00PM by Rosie Thomas
Five years ago, I didn't even know I had a thyroid. And if I heard the word, I may have related it to something that existed in outer space, not in my own body. I also didn't know how important it was to have one that was functioning well -- because when it's not, it will play games with your mind, for reals.
The thyroid is like the body's thermostat. If it's overworking it can make you feel crazy, anxious. If it's underworking, it can make you feel sluggish, depressed and super sad. Mine was overworking and, frankly, it made me feel mental. I thought I needed to move home and live with my mother. I had to cancel shows for the first time and though I didn't go and live with my mother permanently, I went and stayed with her on my grandfather's farm, to take a break from life for a while.
I felt small and insignificant and embarrassed. "I was so brave once," I thought, and now I was so afraid. It's hard to describe to someone what anxiety feels like: I felt like I was invisible and the world around me looked so normal and I just couldn't find my place in it anymore. Nothing made me feel better -- escaping my body would have been my only relief -- so all I could do was endure it.
There are times in life when we can't get around what we are going through, when there aren't any side roads or backdoor exits or short cuts, and all we can do is get through it. I think of fishermen on a boat when the storm is coming -- it's too late to turn back, so all they can do is hope for the best, tie everything down and pray that they endure.
My anxiety was with me all day long. I would wake up with fear and panic in the early morning and it just never went away. I even started putting blankets on my windows to block out the sun -- that made me so sad. This went on and off for almost two years, and somehow I made a documentary, even got to be in a movie with Steve Zahn (so cool). I got engaged during that time, and planned a big wedding on my grandpa's farm with my darling loving mother, and married the greatest person I had ever known.
It is amazing what we are capable of. That's what I think about often -- how resilient we are. I learned some really valuable things during that time. I learned that I was lovable after all, even when I felt wholeheartedly that I had nothing to offer: No jokes, no songs, no laughter, no wit. "What was there to love?" I thought. Well, there was still me. Me, without my guitar and pretty voice and one heck of a wit, sure, but I still had value and I began to believe it. Rosie, without all that I thought I had to prove, was still valuable and still had something to offer, and that was so important for me to understand. I couldn't have understood that without my loving family and friends and my brand new husband reminding me daily that I would overcome this time and see beauty again and fit back into the world that I felt was passing me by and leaving me behind. My husband left "hopeful" notes for me all around the house, my brother would build me up every day, my father, Papa Tom, would constantly reassure me, "Your perspective is off, sweetie. Everything is the same, you just can't see it right now, but you will again." And one morning, I did.
For the first time, I lived my life simply. Fresh flowers in the house, a stroll down the street in the rain, watching movies that I never sat down to enjoy, having friends over for tea, writing songs in our living room window without the pressure if they were record-worthy, but with the pleasure that I could sing and make music, even if no one ever heard them. "Maybe they were just for me," I thought. I learned about joy. I learned that the small things are big -- I had just been too blind and too self-focused to notice them. I learned how to be a better friend and how to have deeper friendships. It was as if God himself allowed me to pause for a while and learn about all that I was missing out on. My life was passing me by because I was so career-driven, so passionate, so obsessed with how I was going to make a difference and impact others, that I wasn't allowing myself the everyday pleasures to sustain true happiness. Now I was getting it!
Here's what I know: Our bodies are imperfect. Things can break. It is how we handle it that makes all the difference in the world. Perspective is key. I went through my own bit of self-pity during that time -- and still do -- but the minute I do, I overlook that there is great purpose in the suffering. I don't think what happens to us is by accident, I think every event is purposeful: The good, the not-so-good and even the really bad ones. It changes us, doesn't it? It sharpens us, it grounds us and reminds us that we are just, in fact, like everybody else.
I am a person who wants to comfort people and because of the suffering I went through, I have even more compassion for people than ever before. I can promise you this -- some hardships seem as if they are here to stay, like they brought suitcases and a toothbrush along when they showed up, and we panic, but they do leave and the sun does shine down again and life continues, with a better you in it. Be hopeful and take comfort in that. It's true. Now when I sing, it comes from a much deeper place. My heart has more to shout about. I think it's saying, "Thank you," sometimes. Just, "thank you," because now it has even more reason to sing. It is with a humble heart that I share that gift with the world, and I hope most of all, it helps others feel less alone.
Thank you for letting me.
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