Like many of us- I tuned into my newest favorite show last Sunday night or I actually watched half of the episode, fell asleep and then woke up the next morning excited starting it over. HBO’s Euphoria, a show that has woken us all up a bit exposing the struggles of the newest generation while bringing some real modern issues to the forefront. I am 34, and grew up rather sheltered in the suburbs of Atlanta. I didn’t smoke pot or have sex til age 19. So while this show isn’t my teenage recap, it hits home for other reasons when shedding light on issues such as divorce, addiction, and from the latest episode, Depression. My website is actually being redesigned right now to fit my current place in life (hints as to why I haven’t been writing in this space) but I felt something inside of me that needed to write this.
As a mixed race woman looking back on my teen years, I relate to Rue a lot, from her tan skin, skinny tall legs to her long curly hair and tomboyish loner style those parts of her are things that felt like deja vu to me. Navigating through those spaces of awkwardness in middle and high school were very confusing to say the least. I was alone a lot with my cd/tape player, mariah carey, early morning re-runs of saved by the bell on tbs and my favorite day of the week – when SNICK would come on. I’ve never really seen myself on tv til now.
Fast forward to now, in my thirties and very self aware. I still have my skeletons in the closet that the world may or may not know about. About 4 years ago while I was living abroad I started began to suffer from extreme anxiety and depression. Prior to moving overseas around 26, I had been really into my social life (fake friends), crazy love relationships and taking care of my family. I thought I was self aware, but I wasn’t. I had a free attitude and thought the world was in my hands. During the Paris attacks, I was in the city watching everything live from the living room and the window of my flat. The same night I received some news about a family emergency. I had always been a worrier but during that time it turned to something else. I couldn’t be in crowds any longer, let alone feel safe on the metro. I began to suffer from panic attacks often causing me to turn around and go home before I even made it if it wasn’t a work function. Then I began to be more selective about anything I did. Finally, I couldn’t take living in a crowded- dirty- possibly unsafe city any longer so I packed up and found refuge in a safer, smaller, village-like city, Amsterdam. I could still get to Paris fast for my gigs and I was able to think and breathe again.
Until Depression hit me hard- I moved to Amsterdam after visiting family in America. I can’t unpack all of my issues in one piece but I had things to be sad about, you know? After all, that trip would end up being the last time I saw my Mother living, the last time I touched her, the last time we held hands, the last time we argued, the last time she knocked me upside the head (haha).. Rest in Peace, Mommy. There I was in this beautiful foreign city, alone. I was happy to be alone and to not know anyone and I kind of kept it that way. Staying home became my refuge. Maybe I’d go get groceries, or my goodies from the “coffee” shoppes, grab a latte and come back home. I’d get dressed, write a blog piece, practice mixes, work out and cook.
I can’t explain to you what living with Depression feels like but Episode 7 of Euphoria, “The Trials and Tribulations of Trying to Pee While Depressed” pretty much shows you. I cried because I felt like I was watching myself, or looking in the mirror on my life the last years.
It’s not all the time, but it’s like Freddy Krueger in all of his movies. You know he’s coming for you in your dreams eventually. Depression lasts longer than the good times and that’s sad. It doesn’t “go away”- you just have good days and you really relish them for what they are. As someone who is against medication, I feel I often struggle a little harder than others but I work through the phases of this because I know it’s my life.
Rue sitting in a messy room she has yet to leave for days reminds me of the days that loop together as she said into one clump. My mania comes from power cleaning when I finally shake myself out of it and can’t deal with the mess any longer – or being creative possibly through writing, projects or music. I too have stayed in bed so long it hurt me inside because I had to pee. I know what it feels like to stay in bed all day for days and have to pretend you’re okay to the outside world. To step out of bed to a cluttered room or space resembling your mind and heart. All of these things touched home in the way as a friend tapping you on the shoulder to say “don’t be ashamed”. Sometimes, I am ashamed to say to my friends or family that I just couldn’t get anything done. My mind has been racing for me, I’m exhausted. Maybe that day showering or preparing food for myself was a win for me. Going to the gym however painful it gets going on the 30 minute metro ride, is a win for me. Sitting down long enough to write this is a win for me.
The last 5 days, I have been going through a down time as I’d like to put it. I joke around with my friends and honestly tell them when depression is sleeping over. The funny thing is some of them understand, because they have been through it too. I am a positive person at heart, so during these times I like to make baby steps, and I don’t fight myself for taking the time I need. My go-getter, over achiever work side doesn’t love my depression because she cannot work to her full capacity in those times. However sometimes the structure of work helps me. With all the tools needed to be great and successful – Depression is the bully that comes and knocks down all of your jenga blocks. All you really can do is keep rebuilding them, with hope.
photos by Sydney Claire