TRIGGER WARNING: this post contains details of my experience with depression.
So, in honor of Hamilton’s wonderful success at the Tony’s AND the start of UK ticket saaaaaales, I’d like to post a letter I’ve been trying to get to Lin-Manuel.
Some context: around February 2014, I started experiencing extreme depressive episodes that have been coming on in 3-month cycles (i.e., 3 months of depression, 3 months of normality, 3 months of depression etc.). I’ve experienced 4 depressive episodes since starting my doctorate and my most recent depressive episode ended in February/March, 2016.
Because of my own hard work and the support of loved ones around me, I have been tackling my illness head on! But the game changer was being introduced to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical, Hamilton back in March. Yes, I know this sounds corny and ridiculous, but I don’t give a shit.
First off, Thank you. I’m a 25-year old American Immigrant (more specifically, a (culturally) Jewish, Polish, Russian, Greek, Turkish, (New) Jersey-girl mut) living in Brighton, England (home of the Brighton Fringe festival!!!!).
I need you to know that listening to Hamilton Monday-Friday for 3 months cycling to uni (in addition to regular therapy and visits to my psychiatrist) helped me get through a very rough bout of depression…
Ok, you need some context: You see, I’m in the final year of my PhD in experimental, educational psychology, so depression is commonplace. A stupid proportion of academics (i.e., people under great, fucking stress) experience depression at some point during their PhD/career…it’s almost encouraged to “get ahead.”
Like you and Hamilton (my fave politician during AP American History – 2007!), I’m hungry to learn, grow, listen and create, BUT I am ALSO prone to serious bouts of cyclical depression…It first started in 2013 when I began my doctoral program. I spent months reading and making mind maps and making friends and just being SO happy. Then, after a stressful few weeks, I fuckin’ cracked (I.e., started feeling really lifeless). I didn’t know what the fuck was going and I wanted to die. Luckily, I was scheduled to attend my first international conference in Santa Fe and fell in love with academia again. But the depression kept coming back and I tried blaming it on my new relationship, my family and finally, my phd. Luckily, a little voice in my head told me to keep going so I did. I started singing more regularly (basically, singing is home for me), I took up yoga, I started practicing mindfulness, I got back into my PhD with a VENGEANCE.
Unfortunately, depression doesn’t give a fuckity fuck about how hard you try. It will stop at nothing to bring you down. In December (2015), although I was seeing a therapist and psychiatrist regularly, a stressful period took me down. I was lethargic for days, weeks, months. Fast forward to February, this year. My theatre friends back home kept telling me to check out Hamilton. My sister, Laurie, who has a similar emotional blue print, told me I HAD to check out Hamilton. This time, I listened. It took me a few weeks to get through the show (I took my time) but after I got through the show once, I WAS HOOKED and felt like I couldn’t cycle to campus without it (while still paying attention to the road…)! I mouth/sing-loudly the fuck out of My Shot if I’m en route to a scary supervision on campus. If my boyfriend brought me breakfast in bed (or…whatever) that morning, I sing the fuck out of helpless or satisfied. All of Hamilton is absolute magic to me. The catharsis of just listening to the OCR is palpable. Thank you for that.
I’m visiting home at the end of the July and my sister and I are going to be Ham4Haming the fuck out of your show both Wednesdays I’m in town :0) When you’re in London for the West End opening and if you are interested in collaborating with an educational psychology researcher, please, get in touch! YOU’RE AMAZING!
Thank you thank you thank you