There’s Nothing Wrong With You
One of the best pieces of advice I ever heard was “There’s nothing wrong with you”.
It was a Monday morning and I was relaxing with friends in a hotel pool after playing Lollapalooza. A lady bobbed opposite me sipping a ginormous glass of rose, and we started chatting. She was a stylist and told me that, when her clients tried outfits on and looked at themselves in the mirror, she would tell them “There’s nothing wrong with you”. I asked her why and she said, “because we all think there’s something wrong with us ”. It was such an odd, simple notion, but I felt like a little flower had opened up inside of me. It hadn’t occurred to me that it could be a universal feeling. There was always something so wrong with ME, I hadn’t considered that other people might feel the same. The comment stuck with me like glue for the next year.
Illustration by Lan TruongI lived most of my life feeling like there was something deeply wrong with me. Everything I did was somehow geared towards fixing the parts of myself I thought were bad or ‘broken’. There was also an odd safety in being broken. I could quietly blame it for anything that went wrong in my life: “It’s not my fault: I’m f**ed up and I am very sorry!”. For a while, I had counselling, and though it was extremely helpful, I started to feel uneasy at the idea of chatting about my problems, potentially for years, if I chose to. Like, really… When would I be fixed?
For me, life = Experiences + reactions to those experiences. The only power I have is choosing how I react to them. So, though I might have uncomfortable emotional reactions, I can choose to a) accept these emotions, instead of resisting them, and b) not interpret my thoughts as the Solid Gold Truth. Whatever your problems may be, (diagnosed or not), they don’t equate to you being broken. In my own life, it’s been unhelpful to think of mental health problems in this way, particularly when you’re struggling. You are who you are at this moment in time, and you’re doing your best. Brains are plastic. People can, and do, change.
Illustration by LolrelIf you follow my music, it probably won’t come as a big surprise to know that I’ve dealt with mental health issues for a long time. There have been 3 things that have helped me decrease periods of depression though. For anyone in the same position, I hope this helps.
This changed my mind + my life. I started doing meditation in 2013 after Electra Heart had ended. I was burnt out and desperate for change. I took no classes, read no books - just looked at a 5 minute explanation on the internet. I didn’t even do it every day. Just 20 minutes in the morning or evening. In the beginning, I felt a little dubious about the idea of “wasting 20 whole minutes” on meditation each day. But here’s the thing: Meditation is like a vacuum for your mind. It sucks up all the dust and rubbish thoughts. I can easily waste 20 minutes looking at something on the internet that I’ll never think about again, so I can invest 20 minutes in something that changes the quality of my life. This blog described Meditation as “one of the best responses to modern information overload”. I truly believe it can be an antidote to our digital lives.
Illustration by Lolrel
I know, I know. When you’re depressed, the last thing you want to do is go outside INTO THE REAL WORLD! But if you’re bottom-of-the-barrel depressed, you have nothing to lose. For years I loved to declare that I “didn’t have a body that could run” (in order to escape ever having to actually run). But when I start meditation, the negative thoughts about myself decreased and I started to want good things for myself. The motive of exercising was not to lose weight, so it had a different energy to it.
3. Identifying With Thoughts
The reality is, I still deal with depression, but my reaction to it is different. I am more aware of its mechanisms so I don’t take my thoughts as seriously. I try not to identify with a thought and interpret it as truth just because it came into my mind. Why? Because the way I think and respond to events is largely based on my past experiences, so how can I know that my thoughts are my own and not coloured by my past? This is why I don’t always trust my thoughts, particularly when they are of the negative variety. A book I hugely recommend on this is called “Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle.
I’ve wanted to write this post for a long time for people who struggle with similar issues. Our culture has taught us to see happiness as some kind of end goal, but for me, the best thing about it is that it doesn’t stick around forever. Human beings need to experience some level of suffering in order to evolve emotionally and consciously. And though depression often feels like you’re stuck, or stagnating, it can also be a healthy way of your mind telling you that something isn’t quite right, and that it’s in the process of changing. We tend to view sadness as something unnatural, or negative, but perhaps viewing it as a necessary process might help us accept the low periods, and move through them more easily.
Before writing my last album, I honestly thought that I had just been born unhappy and that depression was a permanent part of me. I don’t believe that anymore. When I was writing ‘FROOT’ I felt like I was kissing goodbye to a big chapter of my life. That portion of my youth was heart-splitting and lonely at times, but it was also dazzling and beautiful. And that’s how life is for a lot of us. If only I’d known all those years that it was just part of being human.
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