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Dressin' for Depressin'
This one is not the usual laugh riot!
CW: Depression… duh
Disclaimer: I am safe, everyone who knows me knows the deal, this is not a call to action. It’s also probably pretty badly written, because my brain is currently eating itself, ouroboros-style, but I feel good about sharing these half-baked thoughts and would love to hear any you may have in response!
It is excruciating to write about depression, just as it’s excruciating to do anything with depression. Every motion of my fingers against the keys induces psychosomatic nausea, and my brain feels like it’s pouring hot and spiky liquid down my esophagus into every inch of my body. It’s not always this bad, I have a condition (PMDD/PME) that makes my omnipresent major depressive disorder flare up to a disabling extent for as much as a week or two per month. Around half my life is lived in a state where I can only, if I’m lucky that day, find a modicum of relief in the right cocktail of drugs or the unconsciousness of sleep (and sometimes neither does anything).
I have been dealing with this condition to varying degrees since I was 11 years old. I’m not really requesting any advice, because if a supposed treatment exists, I’ve probably either tried it to no avail (likely several times) or cannot afford/access it at the moment. I’m not super interested in pity, either—this is just my major assigned struggle in this life (lol ASAB: Assigned Struggle at Birth lol), we all have at least one, and I’m both lucky and unlucky it’s this and not something else. This is not a cry for help at all, I’m truly a pro at living with this condition by now, it’s just a statement trying to convey some kind of outline of my experience to give context to the rest of this post.
I could go much, much further into how this condition has affected my life, how much grief and envy and physical discomfort it’s elicited, how much shame it’s brought me as I’ve failed again and again to be the kind of sibling, child, grandchild, friend, partner, employee, neighbor, artist I want to be, how typing each of these words feels worse than purposefully triggering my gag reflex with a poke at the ol’ uvula.
But this is a FASHION BLOG! Not a DEPRESSION BLOG, lol!
For the past few days (weeks? I just can’t tell when it’s this severe), two things have been true:
The thought (not even the attempt) of getting dressed in any way other than blindly pulling the most comfortable sweatsuit my hand touches first in the heinous pile my closet has become gives me literal, physical symptoms: headache, nausea, extreme fatigue, etc. Getting dressed/looking nice feels like it belongs to a different world than the one I’m inhabiting right now, in which energy is scarce and can only be expended upon important things like: staring at the wall. Sleeping. Peeing in a water bottle cut in half because somehow that is less daunting than walking 10 steps to the bathroom. Watching videos of dogs being rescued by buff men. I can’t watch even my comfort shows, can’t listen to music, can’t make art, can’t vent to a friend. How could I possibly fathom opening the Pandora’s box of my closet and unleashing the demons within? Acknowledging my achy lump of a container by deigning to adorn it with clothes that all feel wrong, itchy, pathetically aspirational?
Virtually the only thing that has somewhat soothed my symptoms for a few minutes or hours has been pretending to, or actually, shopping. I am living paycheck to paycheck, so that has mostly entailed putting things in online carts (or curating them for this blog!) and fantasizing, elaborately, about the feel of the pieces on my body, what I’d pair them with, how different people would react to my wearing them. I have also been frequenting the feria (essentially a flea market/swap meet) near my apartment every weekend, where you can purchase a real suede coat for $15, shoes for $6, a silk scarf for less than $3. I don’t consciously want more clothes right now, at least, nothing specific or hyperfixational, but the potential energy generated in the act of acquisition is a meager salve upon the gash of a void my life becomes when my symptoms get this severe. It manufactures a hope for the future that I can’t produce naturally in this state where everything looks so flimsy, even the next five minutes seem like a joke with no punch line. A future in which I might have the wherewithal to concoct an outfit, put it on, take a photo, maybe share it online or maybe just wear it outside.
I don’t know how much more I can write right now, it’s extremely uncomfortable to put these words on my screen, not because I’m self-conscious about sharing my condition (pretty much anyone who I’d care about knowing this already knows very well), but because every single thing, from the jackhammers roaring across the street right now to the draft of chilly air coming in through my broken window to the way my neck is craned because I don’t have an adequate writing setup feels like physical torture and is overwhelming my ability to process what I’m writing (yes, I am also a diagnosed autist, in case you’re reading this like “How… how do I break it to them…”).
I just wanted to put these thoughts out there, while I’m in the trenches, on the duality of my experience of fashion as mediated through severe depression, because it’s something I’ve thought about often but never had even the wispiest fragment of energy to engage with in the moments it’s most lucid. With this documented, I hope I can return to the topic when my brain is not Hell with some more cogent, generative processing, and maybe even make it creative and fun! And shoppable! Who wouldn’t want to let me use their affiliate links after reading this???