When I was first asked to do this piece I was extremely apprehensive. Mr. Impaler sent me the email asking me to write 500 words on ‘the one thing that changed your life completely, how it affected you, and why did it change your life?’….
I’m not sure I want to answer that, I thought to myself. Then I thought about it and I realised it was a great opportunity to speak honestly and openly about depression and suicidal tendencies. Are you still with me? Good. I promise it really does get better!
Before I moved to London I lived in tropical Trinidad, many visitors describe it as ‘paradise’ but depression doesn’t care where you live, how sunny it is there, or how much you have to live for and this time around depression wasn’t playing!
I’ve always been prone to bouts of melancholy but this time I hit rock bottom. I would wake up and immediately start crying because I was alive and still on planet earth – a place I came to loathe, I just didn’t feel right here. I couldn’t function in a ‘normal’ way, I couldn’t just get on with it, the way everyone else seemed to. I felt that just by breathing I was adding to the fuckery of this planet. The pain and injustice was always on my mind and that is no way to live. Even everyday tasks were the stuff of nightmares for me. Going to the bank would fill me with anxiety (actually going to the bank still gives me the creeps) – in fact anything to do with money made me feel a bit sick (actually anything to do with money still makes me feel a bit sick) but you know it’s bad when your shrink and your therapist are calling each other to discuss your case! Oh yes, they wanted me on suicide watch, I was high risk, I was textbook! I never actually tried to kill myself, I just lived recklessly like I didn’t want to see tomorrow.
Now, I look back on some of the stupid, really dangerous things I did then, when I was courting death, alone on the streets of POS & NYC and think ‘how did I get out of that unscathed?’ But something out there wasn’t going to let me come to any harm. Yes, I know how that sounds! This is the reason I’m not an atheist. I literally tried to be an atheist. I tried really hard and I claimed to be one once but, alas, it would prove to be a label that would never fit me. I’m not at all religious but I’m interested in developing my spiritual self. I was watching TV the other day and I came across a rather compelling interview with Robert Blake where he talks about taking his boat out in the blackness of the Pacific Ocean in the dead of night and hearing a voice that said ‘Turn around, asshole, the shit ain’t over!’… Just hearing him say those words made me burst into simultaneous tears and laughter because they rang so true to me. He called that voice God. I call it energy. I call it my fierce higher power. You can call it Science. But it’s all the same.
I was on antidepressants for a couple of years, and I went to therapy, but it was always MUSIC that made me want to stick around. I moved to London in a daze, but slowly the smog lifted and I started getting back in to life. The city gave me a home and I will be forever grateful! I started studying music production and went from there to recording my album and getting a band together. All painfully slowly, mind, but hey – I managed to complete it and finally put it out into the Universe in May of this year. On said album there’s a track called ‘Little Sister’ that I wrote for myself from the point of view of my big brother, for those times when I struggle and I feel like giving up. Everyone needs a little positive affirmation for days like these. If you’re reading this and all of this sounds familiar to you, my advice is to NEVER give up. You never know what kind of greatness is around the corner….
I still get down. There is nothing easy about this DIY independent artist’s lifestyle. But I manage it all a lot better now because I realised somewhere along the way that happiness is a choice. I believe it was Einstein that said ‘There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.’ That did not come naturally to me, and I still struggle every now and then, but there’s still so much to learn and so many ways left to grow that now I’m eternally grateful for every single day in a way that I’m not sure I’d be able to appreciate if I hadn’t gone through that much darkness.
So depression might’ve ruined my life, but it in a fucked up way it also enriched my life! So, now whenever you hear me say ‘give thanks’… you know why.
I also find this Dorothy Parker quote amusingly helpful: ‘Razors pain you; rivers are damp; acids stain you; and drugs cause cramp. Guns aren’t lawful; nooses give; gas smells awful; you might as well live.’
Learn more about Dana Jade and download the album at: danajade.bandcamp.com (also on iTunes, Amazon, etc.)
Dana Jade ‘Eyes Like Cinder’ video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=oqP7Fb6WtsU&feature=g-upl
Follow Dana Jade on Twitter: twitter.com/Dana_Jade