I’ve been dealing with depression off and on since the 8th grade. At least, that’s the first instance of it that I can remember. It’s the first time I recall feeling so sad that nothing could save me, but also feeling so many things that my skin couldn’t hold them in. The only thing that kept my head above water was music. That was the year I started listening to Janet and Velvet Rope was the first album that I felt touch my heart and calm it.
Over the years I’ve found various ways to deal when those feelings came up again. Music has always been a go to, with just the voices of certain artists being able to soothe the hurt like a balm. There was years of dance of course, which saved me over and over again. And then there were the countless times that I ignored it.
I would pretend I was fine or blame it on a circumstance, thinking that if only I could fix this one aspect of my life, I would feel okay again.
The latest was leaving Indiana. A large part of it was a life long dream, yes. But part of it was also to get away from the suffocating depression I was experiencing. Surely being in a new place, with new air, and new people, would make it easier, though I never expected it to go away altogether.
I guess I just also didn’t expect it to still be so present. I underestimated its ability to knock me on my ass no matter where I am geographically or not matter how well I’m progressing in my life.
It might sound stupidly obvious to some of you, but it took my being 1,000 miles away from home to realize that the depression is in me. It’s not something I can ever run away from. Running away isn’t going to be anything but a temporary solution and for some reason that gives me so much comfort.
Maybe it’s because now I know that I’m not doing anything wrong. That it isn’t the choices I’ve made in life or the abundance or lack of success in various parts of my life. It’s a chemical glitch that will always be there. And there’s a certain peace I’ve gained from realizing that and knowing that now, all I need to do is learn to live with it when it shows up, to never listen to its lies, and to let it rest when it’s gone.
Its not always going to be easy, I mean hell this week alone has been gut wrenching and painful in itself, but my heart is at peace because I know it will pass. And in the meantime, I’ll bury myself in stories and poems and music that keeps me above water.
Stumbling through the streets of Austin,
music drunk on the sounds of Halsey,
eyes bright but nobody’s watching, lost
but found on this strange road I’m walking
alone, a thousand miles behind
me, nothing to tie me down, hold me.
So, I run this short distance full speed
ahead, focused, and fighting for more
days like this, where my head is quiet
and my heart is filled with music and
floods of words, begging to be let out.
So, I’ve written little poems basically for as long as I’ve been writing, but I’ve never really thought much of it. Poetry was never a real career path to me, never had a future, and besides, maybe it’s terrible anyways. Even still, lately, since a certain concert last week, I’ve found myself scribbling those lines down again, jotting notes and counting syllables. I dunno, maybe it’s terrible and maybe there’s something to it. There are a few projects I’ve had in the back of my mind for quite a while now but haven’t been able to find a medium that feels right for them. But maybe…maybe I just did? Maybe I need to take the chance that it’s awful and just write it anyways and see where it takes me? Only one way to know.
I feel too much. I always have. It’s hard to describe it but it’s like this ball of emotion that sits in my chest, demanding my attention, demanding that I do something to sate it.
I’ve tried so many things to get rid of it; ignoring myself, self care techniques, even changing my life to counteract it. But it follows me everywhere. It followed me 1,000 miles to TX. There’s no escaping it.
And then, out of no where, it hit me. This is the same feeling I used to have as a kid and a teenager. But I didn’t remember it torturing me like it does now, and I realized that’s because I had an outlet for it. I poured that over abundance of feelings and passion into dance. It kept me going, it kept me alive.
Since I stopped dancing, a part of me has felt lost, ungrounded. Since I stopped dancing, I felt that ball of emotion in my chest trying to claw its way out, and I tried to make it go away. Whatever passion I had as a kid with dance, I thought was gone, forever. I thought I’d lost my motivation, my purpose for life.
Then it hit me tonight. This ball of feeling, this screaming vortex of emotion, IS my motivation. It IS that burning ball of passion that used to drive me as a kid. And I do have an outlet for it, I just haven’t been using it.
Because when I write, that knot disintegrates. It spills out of me onto the page, and I’m able to use it to write what I need to say and then leave it behind. Writing keeps me alive, and my feelings have been telling me this whole damn time when I need to do it, when I most need that outlet, and I haven’t been listening.
But here, alone, in TX, away from everything I know and love, I can hear it so clearly. And I can use it again to light a fire under what I love and reignite my life and mind.
I can’t believe it took me so long to figure this out, but I’m really fucking glad I did. THIS is what I came here for, to figure out what I wasn’t seeing about myself when I was comfortable and in a familiar place.
I’ve had a lot of things going on in my head lately, a lot of feelings that I haven’t really had anyone to share with. I know when it starts to become too much because it’s like I can feel my body and mind start to fill up and threaten to overflow. Sometimes I think I feel too much, but that doesn’t really help because either way, I need an outlet.
Being in TX, and now being mostly alone in TX, has been hard. Like, really hard. But I’m trying to think of it as a retreat of some sort, a period of time I can use to grow and challenge myself and learn things about myself that wouldn’t have otherwise surfaced.
One of things that has become my greatest life raft are stories. I find myself intentionally drowning in them, consuming them, and creating them, at a rate I haven’t experienced since I was a child. When things are too much, when I don’t have anything else to do, I read or write. I lose myself in another world or I challenge myself to take out the pen and build a new around me. It’s beautiful and it gives me hope. It keeps me alive, and I couldn’t be more grateful. If I go back home with only this love rekindled, reinforced, then I will consider this experiment a success.
But that is still months away, and even then not set in stone. So I’ll keep waking up every day and trying to get everything out of it that I can. I’ll keep working at the bookstore that I love, enjoying to time I have with the couple of friends I do know here, and challenging myself to take advantage of every new opportunity that comes my way.
This week it has come to my attention that I’m bad at making decisions. Like, I’m terrible at it. Not the tiny, stupid decisions, like where to eat or what to do that day, I’m a pro at those. Plus it annoys me to no end when people can’t figure out a place to eat. It really shouldn’t be that hard for at least one person to suggest something or for both people to just say what they really want!
But I digress. It turns out that I don’t trust my own thoughts or decision making process anymore. Maybe I made too many mistakes in the past or did too many things I regretted or didn’t do enough things and missed out on something, I’m not sure. What I do know is that now I’m constantly scared of making a mistake.
What if my mind changes?
What if I hurt someone?
What if this wasn’t a good idea?
What if I think it’s a bad idea now and it turns out to be a good one and I messed it up by going backwards and blahhhhhhh….
If there are multiple paths to happiness, if you can make yourself a good, happy life, that you enjoy in so many different places and times, how do you ever choose which one is right? How can fate even exist if there are so many choices and directions that nothing makes sense?
What if I become so paralyzed by this fear that I stop living and stop taking risks altogether?
I guess that last question is the most important. There might be a hundred different directions I could go, and I might be scared by the idea of messing up and taking a wrong step, but as long as I don’t become so afraid that I stop living and growing, maybe I’m doing it right after all.
So there are a couple of things I’ve learned this week or am in the process of learning…
1. Drivers in Austin are dicks. Seriously, the worst.
2. It is the weirdest feeling to me to live in a place where people voluntarily go to visit. Like on vacation and stuff. They come here. On purpose. I run into tourists constantly, especially while driving for Lyft and it still boggles my mind. No one goes to Indiana for vacation. They go to visit family or for a job or some other random reason. Other than that, no one is planning their dream vacation and saving their money to go to Indiana. So that’s definitely an adjustment.
3. Now that filming has finished up, I’m back to a “normal” type of schedule. Except I’m in a new city and have yet to actually establish a standard for normal. So that’s the biggest thing I’ve been learning, how to meet new people, deciding where I want to work and what schedule would be best, which meet ups I’d like to join, etc. I’m basically figuring out how to build a life from scratch, which is both intimidating and really exciting. I have the freedom right now to form a life that I actually enjoy and it’s an opportunity a lot of people don’t get in their lives. So, I’m trying to take advantage of it and make myself proud.