When you are a creator and your outlet, therapy, and primary coping mechanisms revolved around your relationship with the creative process… things can become incredibly challenging when your ability to create is gone.

I lost my voice for nearly a year and a half. I couldn’t sing. When I can’t sing – it makes it incredibly difficult to write music. Writing music is my therapy. It’s my sanity (or as close as I get to sanity…). And the most beautiful aspect of that therapy for me is letting the sound escape my mouth and vocal cords. THAT part is the therapy. When the words are tied into a melody that vibrates from my soul… That’s when I can let go, that’s when I can heal. 

And that’s exactly what was taken away. 

The cause is still unknown, even after multiple specialists and ENTs… but my voice was gone, and with it, my creative outlet. 

I couldn’t release my traumas, hurts, feelings, anxieties, emotions… I had no channel. It was like someone turned on a tap and plugged up the drain. I felt like I was drowning in my life and experiences. 

Ironically, 2018 was a year of really incredible things for me. And it was also the deepest state of depression that I have visited so far in my life. 

I have never felt so empty, alone, meaningless, devalued, worthless… I didn’t understand my impact on this earth. Why bother. Why be here? I make no difference. I am a parasite. I feel hollow. 

The conversations I would have… felt like someone was wearing my skin and having them on my behalf. I wasn’t in them. I wasn’t there. I wasn’t invested. My laughter was contrived. My smile was painted on. Every movement felt robotic and unnatural. 

I felt like such an imposter. I used to be Tanya Ryan. She was nice, and fun. I mean, shit jokes, but who has it all?? Her friends talk to me like I’m her… but I’m not her. I don’t know where she went… and I want so badly to find her. She would take this in stride. She is a master problem solver and eternal optimist. She’d know exactly what to do. Where is she? I shouldn’t be here. 

My poor husband dealt with me. He kept resuscitating me when I’d emotionally drown… I didn’t want him to though. I just wanted him to go away. She’s not in here! She’s gone. You fell in love with someone else and she’s GONE. Don’t keep saving me. Just leave me here. It’s fine. 

I was in a massage appointment with my incredibly intuitive and compassionate friend Christine. I told her about my feelings of drowning. The image that would replay in my mind was that of being underwater in a black coloured lake. My nose, mouth and lungs filled with water. I kept trying to fight my way up to the surface for air… but it was incredibly futile. 

She suggested in the most beautiful, gentle way…  to just let that feeling be. To just be in the lake. 

I used my imagination to fall back into the imagery of my cold, dark coloured lake… the incredibly awful sensation of my nose and throat full of water. And for the first time, I just let myself be there. No fight. No push. No reach for the surface. No gasp for air. 

It was strange and foreign for me to do. I’m a fighter. No one can take me! I was built to persevere, to push through… I am good at it. I will rise no matter how much I’ve been pushed down. So to be here, not resisting, not fighting… it was so alien. 

I stayed still, committed to my surrender. Moments passed… and then, a shift. Slowly, but certain. I watched as my body floated slowly upwards. My face broke the surface of the water. My lungs began to fill with air and not water… My body remained in the dark lake, fully enveloped. But my face was above… I could breathe. 

This never occurred to me… to just be. I didn’t want to be this new version of me. I wanted the bright, vibrance of my old self. I wanted the naivety and the glow. I wanted to sing loud and big. I didn’t ever consider just being this me. Who would want her? She’s pensive, quiet… joyless. 

When I decided to just be her… to surrender into this darker version of myself. I accepted that I might never be the bright version of me again. I began to adjust to what this looked like, felt like. I let myself be okay with it. 

Slowly I noticed the most subtle changes. I felt more present and less robotic. I had the occasional authentic smile. My voice became subtly stronger.

I am in a much better place now. But I am not who I was. I won’t ever be again. There’s a certain dark place that you go and you won’t return unchanged… but the error in our perception of this is that we were greater before we were stained by the dark. That only those of untouched brightness can light the world. 

I think it’s exactly the opposite… I think it’s in our darkness we become more aware of the dimensions and vastness of the world. We become aware that we are of greater depth, capacity, strength, courage… 

We become the ocean as well as the sky. Our darkness shows us the truest expression of our potential by introducing us to the actual diameter of our capacity to expand. Growth isn’t linear… it’s not up or down. It’s spherical… and growing in this way means the exploration of not only our light, but our dark. 

Let the dark show you that you’re more. To feel hollow is still feeling. Empty is feeling. Alone is feeling. 

Let this be our awakening to compassion, patience, understanding… 

The dark still scares me… but I will now allow myself to venture there – to be there – with trust that I will navigate myself into balance with the compass of my heart. I trust myself, and my ability to be with every version of who I learn I am capable of being.