True Life: My favorite color is grey.
When asked to pick a “real” color as my favorite, I’ll throw maroon in the mix to humor you. But it is grey that truly gives me more peace and sense of mind than any other shockingly bright or vibrant color. I find simplicity in the deepness of charcoal and calmness in the dusty lightness of grey granite. The hues of black mixed with white, light mixed with dark, are balanced and bare. They are honest. Yet, grey and I have not always gotten along this way.
If you know me well, then you know that A Lack of Color by Death Cab for Cutie is one of my favorite songs (and the inspiration for every internet handle I’ve ever had). Not only do I love the symbolism of it being track #11 on the album, but I have always been fascinated with the lyrics of the song. Over the course of this song’s existence in my life, I have continued to find new meanings behind the lyrics depending on their relevance to my life’s current events. However, the core message that these words have offered to me have always been the same:
If you feel discouraged
That there’s a lack of color here
Please don’t worry lover
It’s really bursting at the seams
For absorbing everything
The spectrum’s a to z
From the time I hit puberty and depression hit me, I have known what it feels like to live with this lack of color. I have known what it feels like to walk around under those never-ending, asshole clouds as I watch everyone around me bask in the sunshine. I have known what it feels like to make that awful, ugly wish for a catastrophe, an accident, anything that would lead to an end to what I was feeling. It’s harsh to admit, but the truth is that there were so many days where the last thing I wanted to be was alive. Every night before bed, I would pray the Lord my soul to take.
Depression is no fucking joke, my friends. It sucks all of the energy out of you and hits you at moments when logically, you know that you should be happy. For those who have had the lucky, rare opportunity to have never felt depressed, I like to show them the diagram below, which I found from this NPR Article.
Image courtesy of Lauri Nummenmaa, Enrico Glerean, Riitta Hari, and Jari Hietanen.
As you can see, depression literally makes you feel cold and empty inside. (Just like that awful Kid Rock song.) But in all seriousness, it is a dangerous mental illness that far too many overlook or write off as being commonplace. In fact, its so fucking commonplace that the US Preventative Services Task Force just put out a recommendation for all adults to be screened for depression at least once after they turn 18!
Yet, learning how to cope with all of that depression bullshit on top of being an angsty teenager wasn’t exactly easy. I ran away often – to jasmine tea and dim lights, to the solitude of my room and my music, to that song by Death Cab. The song gave me peace in knowing that there was someone, somewhere who understood how sometimes it is impossible to see anything but grey. (And they were writing a song about it!)
Regardless of how blank, muted, and numb my world felt, Ben Gibbard and this song were trying to tell me that the color isn’t lost, the color isn’t gone; I just can’t see it right now. I fell in love with those words from the start. They gave me hope that even though this moment of my life might suck complete ass, it isn’t forever. I know now that the color was all around me and it is truly breathtaking. I know now that I am blessed to have people in my life who were trying to see the color for me. They were trying to show me that it really is bursting at the seams.
I am proud to be able to say that I am okay.
That the moments have passed and I have survived. There days that are still grey, but there are many more that are filled with color. I know it feels impossible to listen to those who tell you that the pain and sadness will go away with time, but its true. And even though I’ve been depressed throughout my life for a fuck ton of different reasons – the hormone changes of puberty, the death of my father, being heart broken and alone, L’s suicide, etc. – with time each of these moments have grown smaller and more conquerable. It has taken years of introspection to get to the point where I am today. The point of admitting that there are going to be days that are just awful, but I can stay ahead of them as long as I am cognizant of the cause of my emotions. That is the point of being able to see all of the colors, but still call your favorite color grey.
I am proud to be able to say that I am happy.
I am proud to say that –
This is fact not fiction
For the first time in years
If you are feeling depressed, or cold and empty, or everything is grey, please don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Whether its to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255, or a friend or family member, or your doctor, just talking about what you are feeling can be a huge relief and a giant step towards being able to see the colors.