I’m a survivor of a lot of things — abuse (mental, physical, and sexual), suicide, getting mugged in Paris, an attempted kidnapping in Greece, my kitten Geronimo and I even escaped a burning building a few months ago. But the wildest, most harrowing tale, is my struggle with depression. What makes this tale so different is that I didn’t even realize it was depression I was battling until the fight was over.
The scariest part of depression is that sometimes it doesn’t feel like sadness. For me, it felt like nothingness paired with the fear and anxiety that I was going to continue on with my life never feeling again. Sometimes the most dangerous monsters are the ones that are not so obvious.
Though I can’t pinpoint the exact moment my depression started, I can pretty much guess it was from all of the trauma I experienced in 2014. Within a 7 month period, my father died by suicide, I spent my 25th birthday dealing with Estate matters, I distanced myself from toxic family members, I lost my grandmother to cancer (she was only 64) and I dumped an abusive boyfriend. By New Years of 2015 I was so exhausted from the avalanche of extreme emotions that I spent then until recently feeling completely numb.
I moved on with my life, as one does, but I couldn’t emotionally connect with what I was doing or what was happening in my life. My life was really turning around too — I became the Social Media Manager for Matador Network, I was invited to travel the world and speak in other countries, I got to hang out with celebrities like it was no big deal — and yet it was as if I was watching it all on a television screen. Me and the things happening around me felt like completely separate entities. I was blank. Who was this chick accepting awards and working alongside amazing people? It couldn’t possibly be me.
Worst of all was that writing became a struggle. I still had work to publish and projects to complete. But I had such a hard time connecting with my experiences. When I would try to recall a place I had visited, the memories were foggy, and all I could remember were the hard details and not the subtle nuances and emotional observations that once made my travel narratives so intriguing. It felt like I lost my voice and that I would never be able to express myself again. Imagine how all of that pent up energy feels swirling around inside of a person who is emotionally mute. It’s nauseating. It’s seasickness. It’s madness.
I began to accept that life for me would be this emotionless void and it was my burden to bear for my traumatic past. Kae Lani, as I once knew her, was asleep — resting from all that she had to endure — and I had no idea how to wake her up.
But a couple of weeks ago, the bodacious broad I used to be erupted, and my pen moved across the paper in the way that it used to. Suddenly, all of the things I experienced during the past year have caught up to me, like a dam broke, and the moments that were once a blur began returning to me vividly — more vividly than when they occurred because now I can feel them. Life no longer feels like a perpetual dreamlike state and moments in my past suddenly feel real — really real — and holy shit did I really have dinner with Samantha Brown?!
I wish I knew the map of the labyrinth I was navigating for over a year. I wish I knew the anecdote that brought me back to life. Perhaps it was the constant consumption of self help books, the soul searching in yoga class, the support from amazing communities such as this one, the endless hope, or a combination of all of these things. Regardless, it was a necessary path to walk in order to better appreciate the brighter side of life.