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How 'Dear Evan Hansen' Made Me Feel Understood in My Anxiety

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I recently saw “Dear Evan Hansen” on a trip with my friends to New York City. I was excited because I hadn’t been to New York in a long, long time, but I was even more excited to see the show. We had been super excited about it since we had listened to the soundtrack for the first time. We, unfortunately, didn’t see it with Ben Platt or Rachel Bay Jones, but despite them not being there it was an absolutely amazing show.

I remember being in the audience, feeling like I was connected to the character of Evan. I apologize for anyone who hasn’t seen the show, but the next paragraph is gonna spoil it. Evan struggles with social anxiety and makes up a huge lie to a family grieving after the suicide of their son — a friendship between him and the son, meant to help the family deal with their loss. He enlists the help of two “friends” to help fabricate their friendship and he gets caught in the lie. So, he tries to fix things by telling the truth but hurts everyone in the process — not only his mom, but also the two friends and the family of the boy who died. He ends up coming to terms with himself, saying that today’s gonna be a good day because “he’s himself and that’s enough.”

I remember crying through the most of the second act, because that was when he got caught and was trying to make things right. I just couldn’t help but see my own life in some of those moments, feeling Evan’s pain and the pain of the characters learning the truth. It made me feel so understood and like I was having some of my struggles play out on a stage. I couldn’t tell you how emotional I was seeing it all unfold in front of me. I felt a sense of connection to a character I never experienced before. I can honestly tell you it touched a part of me that felt a sense of oneness with his character.

I can’t say enough about it, but it gave me a new sense of light — I can continue to get better and I will be found if I fall. It made me glad to know my friends were there when I fell and continue to get me when I fall. It made me feel a new sense of gratitude for my parents, especially my mom, who love me and try to navigate through my anxiety every day. I felt so much love in the room and I felt the love of my friends who were there, and I felt the love of the friends who weren’t there at that moment. It was a day full of emotions, but all good ones; they were the kinds of emotions that were needing to be felt, and tug at your heartstrings, and touch a wound you are healing in the process. It was cathartic but an experience that is needed to heal.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

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Image via “Dear Evan Hansen” Facebook page.

Originally published: September 29, 2017
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