“Unfamiliar Cloud” is a conversation with depression and a vehicle for piercing through its shapeshifting cloak. Just as as one identifies, understands, and moves through an inexplicable––perhaps biological––blockage, it manifests itself in new forms, making the path to a strong emotional foundation bewildering for some of us, to say the least.

I have struggled with depression since I was a teenager. My college experience and first years in New York were, while at times euphoric, spiked with stretches of mind-made suffering. I lost friends who I allowed my darkness to reach. I missed opportunities that called for greater stability and presence. With the help of music, meditation, friendship, nature, and serendipity, I have made strides towards wellbeing and am immensely grateful for life against the odds of poverty in New York.

I felt myself slipping earlier this year and realized I needed to re-up my commitment and determination to keep working on myself, to face every last fear no matter how abstract, to illuminate every egoic delusion, every trauma no matter how painful, to mend each inner disconnect and reinhabit my true self. Making Fragmenta became my platform. It is the most naked I have ever felt in my work, and it has taught me that vulnerability is often a precursor to strength. 

I have taken medication which provided temporary relief in critical conditions, but seemed to stand in the way of lasting transformation. I could sense it acting as a barrier between myself and my feelings, just like any drug relationship, and so this year I quit medication.

While chemical imbalances are real, it is a reality that would ideally be proven or disproven in every individual before experimentation with antidepressants. Still, the science is not yet there to offer everyone glimpse into their own neurobiology, at least not for 99% of the world’s population: brain scans that measure one’s natural production of serotonin, dopamine, etc, are expensive/largely inaccessible, and so mind-altering SSRIs are dished out in a multi-billion-dollar profit-motivated industry for every patient questionnaire that points toward desperation.  While I will absolutely never slight anyone––myself included––for taking antidepressants, western medicine has a long way to go in keeping with scientific processes in the field of mental health, and all the more reason for our society to be discussing it openly.

In writing this, I am weary of putting sadness on a pedestal. I am very sensitive to instances of people sexing up tragedy and darkness. Those of us for whom these obstacles are deeply real know that there is nothing desirable or sexy about them. If there is anything I could achieve with my life and with with my art it would be to move the world in a positive way. I think the idea should be not to wallow in pain, but to acknowledge it while aiming always towards the light at the end of every tunnel. It is there; it is always there. It’s staying there (as much as humanly possible!) that is the great challenge and art of life.