Dear Evan Hansen

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Dear Evan Hansen
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    #DearEvanHansen . This musical is wonderful for anyone strugg

    There is hope

    Community Voices

    How 'Dear Evan Hansen' Made Me Feel Understood

    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 o r text “HOME” to 741-741 . Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Image via “Dear Evan Hansen” Facebook page.

    Grace Rowland

    What 'Dear Evan Hansen' Gets Right About Mental Illness

    The Original Broadway Cast recording of “Dear Evan Hansen” was released on February 3. For those who don’t follow Broadway, this probably went unnoticed. But that is such a shame because the message of the show is absolutely phenomenal. The story follows Evan Hansen, a teenager who broke his arm falling out of a tree. Typical, right? Not exactly. Evan has social anxiety. His therapist tells him to write daily letters to encourage himself, hence the title “Dear Evan Hansen.” Evan later becomes accidentally involved with the family of another high schooler, who has depression and dies by suicide shortly into the show. To cover up a mistake, Evan fakes a close friendship with this boy. The boy’s parents adore him, treating Evan like the son who their drug-addicted, sometimes abusive son never was. Evan begins to connect with the memory of Connor, even starting a foundation to keep his memory alive. Evan speaks out about depression, Connor, and reaching out for help. It is later revealed that the fall from the tree was not an accident but a suicide attempt. Evan’s story could have become many things. It could have been about a moody teenager who makes a big deal out of everything and cannot get a grip on reality. But it isn’t. It could have been about a dangerous teenager who cannot let go of memories and becomes a bully. But it isn’t. It could have been a feel-good story about a boy who just cares so much about everybody and everything and becomes all better in the end. But it isn’t. “Dear Evan Hansen” doesn’t romanticize or vilify mental illness, but it also doesn’t sugarcoat it. Connor is a drug addict. Evan does attempt suicide. But instead of comparing himself to Connor, Evan sees himself, a boy who has been forgotten, who has disappeared. This is what we need more of. The media is full of stories about people with mental illness who either are “too dangerous” to be around or who are “cured” by a miracle tea and yoga. But this story shows a struggle nobody sees in a boy who has faded into the background. The other side of the equation is how the people in the show react to mental illness. Instead of blaming Connor or Evan for their illnesses, people relate to them and are encouraged. That is how the world should react, supporting each other and building each other up instead of tearing down. Suicide rates are way too high for issues like this to be taken lightly. So many people need help and don’t get treatment because it isn’t available, they are afraid of other’s reactions, or because they don’t understand it. Instead of letting these differences divide us, they should make us stronger because where some are week, others are strong. Shows like “Dear Evan Hansen” bring incredible awareness to an issue that desperately needs help. If you haven’t already, I recommend listening to the cast recording (free on Spotify). Listen to it all the way through, in order, and it may help to look up a plot summary. The show is heart-wrenching and emotional but also incredibly encouraging. Don’t let such a beautiful show go unnoticed! If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. If you struggle with self-harm and you need support right now, call the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741 . For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here . We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Photo via Facebook – Dear Evan Hansen.

    How 'Dear Evan Hansen' Helped Me Deal With Anxiety and Depression

    “Have you ever felt like nobody was there Have you felt forgotten in the middle of nowhere Have you ever felt like you could disappear Like you could fall and no one would hear”? I will have been on antidepressants for anxiety/depression for a week as of tomorrow. I started them after one psychiatrist appointment where I learned I might also have ADHD. I’ve been slowly feeling the fog lift, dealing with side effects, and figuring out I still have a long way to go when it comes to talking about “stuff.” I’m a theatre nerd. I’m often singing anything from “Into the Woods” to “Phantom” to “Les Mis” to “Hairspray,” and of course, “Hamilton” around my house, in my car, heck, practically in my sleep. The theatre community is one of the most understanding and genuine I’ve ever been in, and the love I’ve felt from my theatre throughout my diagnosis and before has been unreal. “Rent” was important for several reasons. It highlighted the AIDS epidemic, gave the LGBTQ+ community a new voice, and opened up more roles for people of color. “Hamilton” is important because it blended hip-hop/rap music seamlessly into Broadway while encouraging diversity in a world that desperately needs a unifying voice. “Dear Evan Hansen” is important because it shines a light on the very community The Mighty does. I saw The Mighty’s “high-functioning” anxiety video on Facebook and started crying because I’d never felt understood. Listening to “Dear Evan Hansen” did the same thing. And like I immediately read nearly every “Mighty” story on anxiety/depression and began writing my own experiences about it, I’m writing about “Dear Evan Hansen” and sharing my experience with it. The musical tells the story of a 17-year-old high school senior with social anxiety. Evan feels alone and desperately wants to feel like he belongs. He wants to be understood, and his greatest victories and worst mistakes are out of a genuine love for people he’s come to know. When Connor, a boy Evan barely knew dies by suicide, Evan decides to help his grieving family by pretending the letters he writes to himself (a tip from his psychiatrist) were from Connor. Evan creates “The Connor Project,” a school-wide organization that tries to make sure Connor (and all students like him) don’t fade into the background. “You Will Be Found” is the song Evan sings as he makes a speech about Connor, which is filmed and goes viral. Within that song, you can hear voices reacting to the message: “I knew someone needed this today, thank you!” “You’re right, we’re not alone! I’m not alone!” “None of us are alone!” “Sending prayers from Tampa… Michigan… London.” I think The Mighty and “Dear Evan Hansen” have that in common – we are not alone. There is someone out there somewhere who has felt forgotten, who has felt incomplete, who has felt like they could disappear without anyone noticing. I’m convinced the more times I tell myself I will be found and the more times I’m the friend who finds you, the less alone we’ll feel. “Even when the dark comes crashing through When you need a friend to carry you And when you’re broken on the ground You will be found.” The song “You Will Be Found” is by far one of the most powerful in the musical, but the entire show deals with suicide, parenting, anxiety, individuality, broken families, friendship, and trust. The song “Waving Through A Window” details Evan’s fear of being alone, like he’s “on the outside, always looking in” all the time. “Requiem” deals with Connor’s family’s grief in the aftermath of his death. “Anybody Have a Map?” discusses Connor and Evan’s mothers trying to parent their teenage children when they can’t connect with them. The show lets you feel the characters’ emotions but still leaves you with hope with a mind set on changing others for the better. I listened to the entire thing and felt so uplifted. I, like Evan, am a high school senior. I, like Evan, sometimes feel invisible, even as a raging extrovert. Evan’s love for people mirrors mine. I could see myself going to the lengths he does to make others happy. My mom is often as flustered as Mrs. Hansen when it comes to dealing with my “stuff.” If you can get to Broadway, buy tickets; go support it. If you can’t, buy the cast album and share it. As the show says, “Take five minutes. It’ll make your day.” Share the story with everyone you can. It’s important. Now more than ever we need our voices heard, we need to feel together. We will be found. We are the Mighty. We are not alone. To listen to the “Dear Evan Hansen” cast album, check it out on Spotify, and to read the show’s full description, head here. 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 o r text “START” to 741-741 . We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here .

    Why Dear Evan Hansen Is Important for Those With Chronic Illness

    Recently I came across a new Broadway show. When I say came across, I really mean that I stalked the cast album release date and know every fact about the show, but that’s beside the point. This show, “Dear Evan Hansen,” which is written about teens struggling with anxiety, depression and ultimately one dying by suicide, is an unbelievably beautiful piece of art. While it may be more targeted at those with mental illnesses, it really speaks to me as someone with multiple chronic, physical illnesses. The music beautifully weaves together themes of watching your life pass you by and isolation which are extremely common to those of us with chronic illnesses. When listening to the cast album, a part of the show always stands out to me. In his song “Words Fail,” Ben Platt says: “No, I’d rather pretend I’m something better than These broken parts Pretend I’m something other than This mess that I am ‘Cause then I don’t have to look at it And no one gets to look at it No, no one can really see ‘Cause I’ve learned to slam on the brake Before I even turn the key Before I make the mistake Before I lead with the worst of me I never let them see the worst of me ‘Cause what if everyone saw? What if everyone knew? Would they like what they saw? Or would they hate it too? Will I just keep on running away from what’s true?” These words really speak to me as a chronic pain patient. I do constantly push people away because I’m scared to let them in; I’m scared to let them see the real me. Every time I start a new friendship or relationship as a chronically ill teen, I do not expect it to last. I expect to get to know the person, open up and have them leave me. The worst part is that this theory has been backed up by personal experiences. Instead of opening up, I stay silent. I write, I post in groups and I advocate, but I never let the people in real life in. I constantly think to myself, what if they knew… just like Evan. I relate to every word that slips off his tongue as he tries to ignore the brokenness in his life, just as I try to ignore the pieces of me that have shattered in this last year. I ignore lost opportunities, I ignore my pain and I ignore the fact that my future is unclear. As the show progresses though, I have learned more about myself. I learned that sometimes you should open up to the people around you; I learned that “no one deserves to be forgotten, no one deserves to disappear.” This show has given me so much as a chronic pain patient. It gave me a character to relate to, it gave me a new perspective and it gave me some beautiful writing. Thank you to the writers and producers of this show for making a masterpiece that will help those of us with chronic illnesses for years to come. Thank you to Ben Platt for perfectly portraying a character that thousands of unheard Americans can relate to. Thank you to the rest of the cast for creating a beautiful musical that will keep me pushing through the hard nights to come. I know it won’t always be easy, but this soundtrack has helped me through a lot already. To anyone else with a chronic mental or physical illness, I highly recommend checking out this new show. It is an outstanding piece of art that deserves to be hailed for its ability to grasp you as an audience member, and it is highly relatable to us spoonies who are always looking for someone to hear and understand them. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here. Image via Dear Evan Hansen Facebook page.