I remember feeling like I never fit in, that I was drastically different than those around me, and that it wasn’t as easy for me to be happy as it seemed to be for others. Not much has really changed, except now I have more life experience, and I know how to manage it a bit better than I used to.
Growing up, I was a shy, creative kid in a fairly repressed environment (I went to a private school that for the most part discouraged creativity and out of the box thinking). I was a voracious reader and was constantly penning stories, poems and plays in my notebooks. Naturally, this made me an obvious target for bullying, and it certainly didn’t help that I usually associated myself with others who were thought of as misfits, outcasts, and “broken toys.” I remember being mercilessly teased and ostracized for most of my tenure at that school; so much so, that my parents finally gave in to my pleading and let me switch schools.
Things definitely improved when I went to a public school that had a magnet program with a creative focus. At least I could channel my energies into something positive and that I could feel passionately about. However, I always had this harrowing feeling, this void in me that simply couldn’t be fulfilled no matter what I seemed to do. I didn’t know what to call it or why I was feeling that way. It felt like I was wired wrong, that I wasn’t really a fit for this planet in a way. I went to a few counselors who I felt didn’t get me, and I tried medications on and off for a few years, but they always seemed to just make me feel numb and listless.
I can get all of that bad energy, uncertainty, and anguish out of my system in a positive way. In turn, it’s helped others too, and people from all over the world have written me saying how much certain songs of mine have helped them when they were also going through a hard time. Now that is an awesome feeling.
That’s how I know that I’ve chosen wisely in terms of career – because the only time I feel “normal” or “right” is when I’m onstage or songwriting. Sure, music is a path fraught with struggle, sacrifice, and sometimes financial peril, but it’s the ultimate anti-depressant, and in many ways, it’s saved my life. I’ve been blessed and cursed with being an artist. This issue is not unique to me; many artists also live with depression. You can’t have the yin without the yang.
Despite what I may put out there or what people may see of me on the outside, I don’t “have it all together,” and I don’t have all the answers. Sure, I’m a strong person, but I’m very, very sensitive, and there’s a silent struggle going on inside.
I finally found a medication that doesn’t make me feel completely numb, which silences some of those anxious feelings I have, but I’m not “cured.” I’m just able to deal a little bit better than I did before. I’ve also owned my depression. I know that I have this issue, and like the saying goes, knowing is half the battle. Having that awareness helps me from sinking further whenever I have a low moment. If I’m feeling particularly dark, I’ll know it’s time to rehearse or to do something creative.
Don’t get me wrong though; I do enjoy my life, I have an amazing family and friends, and I get to make music every day with my best friend in my band, Batfarm. It’s not all doom and gloom by any stretch. My depression is merely something I have to keep in check and work with.
I’ve never been as outspoken about this as I am now, and a lot of this has to do with the fact that so many talented people have decided to needlessly end their lives due to depression (some of which I know personally), and the stigma surrounding this issue has started to fall away to some degree. It’s not something that should be swept under the rug. It’s something that should be discussed out in the open.
If my story can prevent even one person from harming themselves or taking their own life, then I feel I’ve in some way done my part. I ask that if you know someone who is having a hard time, give them a call, or if you’re within their vicinity, give them a big hug. You never know the effect something like that could have on someone who’s hurting. Also, very important: if they are telling you they have intentions to harm themselves, talk to someone immediately. That should never be taken lightly.
Thank you all so much for listening to my story. Even though I may have depression, that doesn’t mean it has me.
Check out Batfarm’s song, “Now That You’re Gone” that was released during National Mental Health Awareness Month. Here’s a personal message from Alexx to each of you: We should be aware of our own mental health and the mental health of our loved ones 365 days a year. If you’re feeling low, like you have no way out, or you have thoughts of harming yourself, TALK TO SOMEONE. You have no idea how many people would be affected by you hurting yourself or taking your own life. We wrote this song about the aftermath of someone needlessly ending their life, and the pain it brings to all of those who are left in their wake, so to speak. As someone who struggles with depression every day, this song resonates so much with me, and it is written 100% from the heart and personal experience. It is our hope that it brings you some comfort, guidance, and perhaps some perspective. Know that you are loved, appreciated and important.”
Contributed by singer, guitarist, songwriter, and Free2Luv Advocate Alexx Calise.