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Interview on The Dream That Woke Me Up by Perri McGillivray

M: This was a beautifully written piece. You really did the theme of this month justice. When you heard that “awakening” was the theme of the month, what came up for you? What does the word mean in your life?

P: For me, awakening pretty much means “transition.” It’s the moment when you pass from one phase of thinking or perspective to the next as you grow and develop as a person. Honestly, when I heard the theme for this month was going to be “awakening”, I immediately thought of the dream that I wrote about. I’ve had other awakenings in my life, but this was by far the most visceral one and had the greatest impact on me, especially long term.

M: I love the idea that a dream “woke you up.” Traditionally, we think of the ones that wake us up as “nightmares.” It reminds me of Billie Eilish’s lyric in everything i wanted where she says, “It might've been a nightmare to anyone who might care.” What was the reason, if any, you referred to it as a dream, rather than a nightmare?

P: I don’t think of it as a nightmare because I wasn’t scared. During the dream, I felt something more along the lines of sadness or acceptance than fear, since it was my choice to be the one to go rather than a decision that was forced on me.

M: I was definitely a Tumblr girl, and felt comfort in the early days of depression awareness online because it could lead to a healing community. But I’m so glad that you brought attention to the darker side. Could you tell us more about that? How did you become aware of the dangers of romanticizing depression/mental illness online?

P: I was in denial over it for a long time. Those accounts felt safe and comfortable because I related to them, but I knew they weren’t really helpful. I think I realized that spending time on those accounts made me feel the same as spending time with the friend I mentioned in my post. They were more concerned with treating depression as an identity than finding ways to combat those feelings or lift themselves out of that mindset.

M: You mentioned that you ended up unfollowing the depression accounts and hashtags and replaced them with more positive healing, but that led to another extreme of potential avoidance. Did you find a more balanced content intake online? How do you navigate that space today?

P: I think I’m still learning that process. For a long time, I didn’t want anything to do with anything even remotely related to depression or mental illness. LYF is actually kind of the start to me finding a healthy balance of content that relates to mental illness but doesn’t promote it. I think the best way I can find to navigate this new space is to find places that acknowledge depression or other mental illnesses, but focus more on the recovery from them than the negative thoughts and feelings that come with them. Reading an article that talks about ways to care for yourself when depressed is a lot more helpful than reading a series of poems devoted to that sinking numbness you can’t shake.

M: What is something that you are grateful for today, that you don’t think you would have said before?

P: Honestly I’d have to say my family. Back then I had a lot of anger and resentment towards them, but we’ve all worked really hard to build healthier relationships with each other. Now when I look at the connections I have with each of them I feel warm and happy inside. I feel comfortable talking to them and seeking support when I need it, something I never thought would be possible when I was younger.

M: What is your dream now?

P: That’s actually a really good question. This is something I’ve been struggling with lately because I’m about to graduate college and I’ve never really thought about my life past this point. Growing up I didn’t have any ambitions or dreams (for obvious reasons), and afterwards I just went with the flow and entered college so I’m only just learning now how to want for things in the future. After missing out on so much growing up and being too busy feeling miserable, a large part of me is anxious for experience. For now, I’d say my dream is to be the old grandma with a ton of crazy stories. I don’t really care if they’re good memories or bad memories, I just want to be able to look back on my life in 60 years and feel like I’m eating a rich stew instead of thin broth.

M: And as always, to close, what are you up to these days and where can we find you?

P: I spend pretty much all of my time working, schooling, or interning these days. The best way to find me is probably through my Instagram @pocketualpieces . I’m always happy to talk or just listen if you need a friendly ear, just shoot me a DM.

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