Gekume – A “Different State” or “next universe” of thought
My name is Cadence.
I’ve always been a fiercely independent human. I’ve had dreadlocks since I was 3 years old after I begged my parents for months. I’m an artist. I’m a high school student. I like physical sports, like volleyball, roller derby, rock climbing, and someday I’d like to try boxing. I love music and listen to music all day when possible and all night as I sleep. I’m an old soul. I’m am only child, and I grew up around adults all of whom always treated me as an equal peer at any party or gathering; I was always the one kid in room full of adults. I am an Everyday Warrior.
My everyday war is against Major Depressive Disorder and Psychosis, a battle I’ve been fighting for years. The Everyday Warrior Project, to me, is a way to express where I’ve been, where I am now, and how I have come to view my battle.
Depression can be very different for different people, and I find the word is overused and generalized. For me depression came over a period of time, and I gradually sank deeper and deeper into it. I began isolating myself over a summer where I stayed home while parents were at work. My choice in music turned to “sad” music. I don’t know if it was to relate to someone or to make me feel better, but either way it was comforting. I wore oversized clothing and covered my face with my hair, anything to keep me from seeing that person I hated; me. I was too lazy to go anywhere, and at the same time I would be so bored. I didn’t have the energy to get out of bed, or shower, or get dressed. Any energy given was at a canvas, and that energy was aggressive. Most of my paintings during my lowest times were dark and abstract including a character I created called Nosome who was a ghost-like stick figure. Sometimes Nosome held a painting of a heart, other times he was in the fetal position with cuts on his arms. I would throw paint and random things at my canvas and stab it then fill the holes with figurines like monopoly pieces.
During this time, I began to hear indistinguishable voices. I don’t remember exactly when they started either. My parents thought I wasn’t paying attention or was daydreaming. My teachers, I’m sure, thought I was spacing out or not a good student. Imagine though trying to learn in a classroom with 20 other students, and on top of that you hear a crowd of people all talking loudly enough that you can’t make out what any one person is saying. Then try to focus on what your teacher is saying. It is stressful, frustrating, and makes it feel like learning this is hopeless. The worst was when people ask “what’s wrong” over and over. I didn’t feel like there was anything wrong as hearing this was just part my regular day – to say that is “wrong” isn’t accurate, so I would always answer with “nothing.”
My parents were concerned and forced me to see a therapist, but I refused to go back. I felt I had nothing to talk about; I was a boring person. I did want some relief though from whatever I was going through. I heard through friends that cutting can help depression. Your just so numb emotionally and mentally, and cutting was supposed to help you feel something; some short burst of euphoria or adrenaline, I guess. I was too scared to cut so I put small rubber bands around my arm. Over several days it broke the skin. I also bit through my inner check and lips leaving sores that were painful. It all came to a head when my teacher found “I am going to kill myself” in my class set book. The counselor called my mom. While the writing wasn’t mine, we all determined that I needed some professional help. We agreed to admit me that same day to a rehab facility. I was actually a little excited about going. Maybe it would help me. Unfortunately, it turned out to be terrible experience, and not at all what we thought I was going into. We were told I’d be there for 5 days, but when I got there and my mom left, I was told it would more likely be 2-3 weeks. I was so relieved when my mom showed up after only two days to have me discharged because she and my dad felt things there weren’t going as we were told. That day I made a deal with my parents that I would get counseling and see a psychiatrist.
It’s been almost 6 months since that day. It is hard for me to see my progress, as it is hard to know how the war is going due to the daily battles. I still have thoughts of self harm. I still hear the crowds and other voices. I see my therapist regularly, and I see a Psychiatry Nurse to monitor my therapy and medication. I feel like I’m winning more battles than I’m losing. I have found it’s the little things that have changed. I am learning to be my own advocate and speak up for myself. I have begun listening to wider range of music. I feel good when I can help my friends that are going through those same things that were my triggers during my depression. I get energy from being active. I hate days that there isn’t volleyball practice, so I work out in the gym or go skating on those days. I love being a part of a team with other competitive people. My art has changed too. I still enjoy making emotional art that is darker, but they aren’t angry or depressed anymore. Now I create art like my series of stop lights. They remind me of places I frequent, or significant times of my life on the road.
This year at school, I feel like I’m really going to be able to “try.” School is hard for me as I have some ground to make up from last year, but I have the motivation, energy, and desire to do well and learn. I’m also excited because I’ll be in several art classes. I haven’t had an art class in a while so I’m excited to learn and have an organized plan for the art I create. Having due dates and commissions are really fun and challenging for me. I am excited to see how my art evolves. I have ideas in my head that I can’t get out on a canvas yet because I don’t know how, so I’m hoping my education will help me get those thoughts out for others to see.
Though I may not be completely happy, I am able to see progress made over time. I don’t think any of us will have the happiest filtered life, but I think the act of progress is important. I’m going to continue on in my journey. I may get stuck at one of life’s stoplights, but I’m going to make progress. My hope is that you will view your challenges, whatever they may be, as a journey worth traveling. This is what makes each of us unified as Everyday Warriors.