I was 18 years old when I realized that the way I felt wasn’t normal. I was lucky enough to grow up in an environment that was very aware of how real mental illness is, and my parents listened. Within a few months I had an appointment (I was also privileged enough to have access to good mental healthcare, which made the appointment process much easier), and at 19 years old I was officially diagnosed with manic depression.
The following years were a learning process to say the very least. I had to identify my triggers and catalysts and relearn how to cope with things in a way that was healthy for me. I had to test out different medicines to see which worked and which made everything worse. This did not always go well. I hit rock bottom more times than I can remember (literally more times than I can remember- my memory is hazy during periods where my cycles were most severe). I was angry, I was ashamed and I was hopeless.
When I wrote Werewolf’s Curse in 2012 I didn’t know what else to do. It was the most personal thing I’d ever written and there were a lot of fears I was admitting for the first time in those lyrics. I related to the idea of a “werewolf’s curse” and feeling like there was this darkness inside me that I couldn’t control. It was a hard feeling to pinpoint- like this thing was part of you, but also completely separate from you.
In my highest moments I felt like anything was possible, like any goal was within my reach. I was hyper-productive and I rarely slept. I remember staying up all night writing songs or painting. I felt deeply connected to the world around me and saw signs and inspiration in everything. I also had relatively no impulse control and a tricky shopping habit. There were moments of rash decisions and irritability and very little regard to consequences.
In my lowest moments I felt like I was walking into a fog. I knew there was a world outside, but as I kept walking the fog would get thicker and thicker until it would block out everything else. In these moments there was no sun, no truth, no hope. All that was left was the fog and someone I didn’t recognize. Then all at once it would clear and I would be me again. It was like waking up from a dream and remembering what happened, but having no emotional connection to it. Everything I had known and done and felt during the fog felt oddly distant.
It’s been seven years since that diagnosis. Every single time I thought I couldn’t get back up, I did. The process was the most difficult thing I have ever experienced, but I can truly say that I’m proud of the person I am today. I’m in a wonderful place now and I have been for a few years. All those times that just breathing seemed like the hardest thing in the world are in the past for me. This song is not my daily life anymore, but it was a very important milestone in my journey. Sometimes when you’re better it’s very difficult to remember how hard it was, and I’m glad that Werewolf’s Curse serves as that reminder for me.
It’s so important to be honest about this, because so many people aren’t at the same point in their journey as I am right now. I want people to know that no, it wasn’t easy, but you can get a handle on it. You’re not alone and you’re not out of options. These things that seem like your entire story will just be chapters someday.