How ‘The Greatest Showman’ and His ‘Oddities’ Keep My Mental Health on Track

I recently saw the movie “The Greatest Showman.” I love movies, musicals in particular, but there was something about this one that struck something in me right from the beginning. For those of you who haven’t seen it, “The Greatest Showman” is based on a true story that celebrates the birth of show business and tells the story of an orphan boy who rose from nothing to create a spectacle that became a worldwide sensation, all done with only the love and support of his family and his incredible determination. He gave those who the world shunned — his “oddities” as they’re referred to in the movie — a chance to be themselves and, as a result, shine.

While every song in the film has a message, usually somewhere along the lines of “the world is yours for the taking” or “we can do anything if we do it together,” there are two lyrics that stuck with me and I find myself thinking of them each day.

As someone who lives with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety, each day can be a challenge for me. There are days I wake up in the morning with no motivation and no purpose. While I’ve been working incredibly hard to overcome my obstacles, I am also learning to look at things from a different perspective. The song “This Is Me,” sung by Keala Settle, has a lyric that says “I am brave, I am bruised, I am who I’m meant to be. This is me.” This really resonated with me. It’s OK to be bruised. It doesn’t mean I’m broken. I am brave for getting out of bed each morning. I am brave for going to public places on my own. I am brave for not giving in. I am brave for getting through each day, good or bad. The bruise is always there, but sometimes it fades and I don’t notice it as much. My challenges helped to shape who I am today, and while I don’t quite love myself yet, I’m getting much closer.

Towards the end of the movie, Hugh Jackman sings: “The crazy speed of always needing more, but when I stop and see you here, I remember who all this was for.” When he sings this line he is referring to his wife, but I immediately thought of myself. On the days I come home from counseling with my mind reeling, wondering how I’m going to face it all, or the days self-care seems impossible or leaving the house isn’t an option, I’m reminded of this lyric and it helps to force myself to slow my brain down and think about who I’m doing this for: me. I can do this. My determination sets back in and I know I’ll be OK.

Do these lyrics always work for me? No. Do I still have days where nothing seems to work? Definitely. Do they help put things into perspective and encourage me to keep trying. Absolutely. Don’t get me wrong: I wouldn’t be where I am today without the incredible, unwavering support of my family, a handful of close friends, an amazing counselor and a ton of hard work on my part. But the power of music is strong and sometimes a song or a lyric helps me look at things in a different way and helps to push me in the right direction. So thank you to P.T. Barnum and his group of “Oddities” for being the inspiration I need to get through the days.

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Photo Credit: Niko Tavernise/EPK

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