Felt inspired to write a part of my story this morning. Read if you are interested in what I’ve been through the past year. No one really knows the whole story:
I was depressed for 8 months. Before August 2011 I had no idea what
“depression” really was and used the term loosely as if it only meant feeling sad. Never in my life did I think I could feel that amount of emotional pain and physical discomfort every waking moment of every day for such a long time. Not one genuine smile. Not one genuine laugh. For more than 6 months.
I dropped out of USC after the first 3 weeks of my sophomore year. I was 109 pounds, drinking absurd amounts of alcohol, working out too much, taking 4 classes in one day 2 times a week, seeing someone I really wished I didn’t have feelings for, and leaving a 2 year working relationship with Darkchild. That of course only touches a few main sources of my stress. On the outside I may have seemed to have everything together but on the inside I was a chaotic mess.
I woke up one morning in September. I remember feeling an immense weight on my heart. My brain felt like it was sizzling, literally. I couldn’t move. I wanted to sleep. Sleep was the only way I could escape my stress and the only way I could get a moment of peace. I started sleeping in between my classes, missing classes, and all together not caring about going to class. I remember telling my roommate not to let me go to sleep because when I woke up I would have panic attacks. At the same time I was pursuing my music career as an artist and songwriter. On top of that I was trying to exit contracts AND going to different studios all over Los Angeles every night after my night classes. So many people told me to slow down but of course who listens when they are 19 years old? As if I’m so much older now. Anyway, I thought I was just working really hard…which I was… but I wasn’t working smart.
I went to see a therapist at school, but she had no idea how to handle my issues, seeing as I wasn’t the typical college student who was upset that I failed a test. She listened and nodded, but I was talking so fast that I couldn’t even organize my own thoughts. At first she was scribbling on her notepad but finally she just stopped and listened to me go on and on about music politics, boys, money, hating my major (music industry), back pain, etc. Things that seem so basic, but were really tormenting me.
That night I was sitting alone in my apartment at USC and I felt a terrible emotional and physical pressure that still hadn’t gone away. I took a picture and posted it on facebook saying I was going to focus on my “edumacation” for awhile. When really I was on the verge of leaving. The world around me seemed surreal…as if it were crumbling. I was talking to my mom on the phone crying. She told me she thought I was depressed and that it was a normal thing a lot of college students go through. I remember telling her over and over “I’m not a normal college student, this is way more than school…this is something else” and it was so much more.
I looked up depression and was relieved to see all of my symptoms listed: not motivated to do anything, excessive sleeping, indecisiveness, feelings of worthlessness or guilt almost every day, etc. I had it all. However, I was even more depressed to discover it wasn’t something I could just snap out of. I kept telling myself I could just snap out of it if I tried really really hard… but I was so deep, it was like sinking in quicksand. It was so bad that going to check the mail and going to do laundry was a burden. I just couldn’t do it. My family told me it was ok if I came home.
I couldn’t stand to be with anyone because no one knew how I was feeling and I couldn’t even explain it. I started avoiding all of my friends. I called my step dad and uncle crying and told them to come get me. I dropped all of my classes and got out of my apartment in less than 24 hours. It was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. I didn’t say goodbye to anybody in person besides my roommate. I couldn’t bare to say goodbye for who knows how long. And if I was even going to be okay.
I got picked up late that night. My uncle and step dad packed up the car with all of my belongings because I could hardly move. I was a zombie, walking in circles and twiddling my thumbs. Writing this now I remember the feeling so vividly and am trying so hard not to cry… I would not wish that feeling on my worst enemy. But depression is so common. That’s why I felt I should share my experience. Because now I’m finally ABLE to share it. I am in such a great place now when I never thought I would get out of. I’m even BETTER now than when I THOUGHT I was at my happiest.
I arrived home in the bay area. I got out of the car and laid on the concrete for what seemed like forever. My family unpacked the car while I just laid there in the baking sun. I remember I had on a hoody and my favorite gray sweats. I was broken in every way. I’ve had back problems since I was 15 and I used that as an excuse for why I came home. People thought I was pregnant too…. oh no! I even lied to someone and told them I was because I just couldn’t tell them the real reason I was gone (of course I quickly took it back). I was embarrassed. I thought I was insane. My mind was so cloudy. I used to have a clear vision for myself and what I wanted to accomplish and now I couldn’t even decide what I wanted to eat. At one time I had so much going for me and it all seemed to go away in one day. I didn’t talk to anyone. My little sister was so excited to see me and I could barely hug her. I couldn’t look anyone in the eye and hold a regular conversation.
This continued for 6 months. I didn’t get a job. My family finally pushed me to take classes at the community college. I gained 20 pounds. I ate so much that I would make myself sick. I remember going to the hospital because I thought I gave myself diabetes. One night I even had to make myself throw up because I ate so much it hurt. That’s all I would do is eat. Make food, go to movies, avoid everyone as much as I could, not answer my phone, play word games, watch more movies and sleep. Sleep was my best friend. I would go on google and read articles about binge eating, depression, bipolar disorder, and all kinds of crazy diseases I thought I had. I swear I found a symptom I had in every disease. Surely enough, turns out I’m not bipolar, and I don’t have any diseases, I was just going through a major depression—something I’d never felt and didn’t know how to handle.
I remember reading articles and threads from people who had been depressed for years and years. I went to bed deathly afraid every night, heart pounding out of my chest. I was afraid that that would happen to me and I would never feel like myself again. I would literally wake up with knots in my stomach and have panic attacks that lasted throughout the day. I went to the hospital multiple times with no physical problems. It was all mental. Stress was killing me. But it felt physical. It got to a point where suicide crossed my mind. Of course I didn’t really want to die. I just wanted the pain to stop. I wouldn’t go through with it, but the fact that “wanting” death as an escape from feeling like shit crossed my mind is something I never in a million years thought could happen to ME. Me, Michaela Shiloh, who has accomplished x-y-z and has a lot more I want to accomplish. I didn’t tell anyone. I kept it bottled inside. I couldn’t even tell my family half of what I was feeling because I didn’t want to seem crazy, I didn’t want them to worry anymore than they already were, and I didn’t want to freak myself out by admitting it out loud. I had suicidal thoughts for 2 weeks in November of 2011. I barely touched my laptop for months. I literally disappeared from the world I had been in.
I would hang out with my 6-year-old sister every day. I felt like she was my only real friend. The only one that didn’t really judge me. I would talk to her and she would tell me “It’s okay Kala, you’re just taking a break.” She would say, “You don’t have to be Mickey. You can just be you, I’ll love you no matter what.” And sometimes hearing that would actually get through to me. Sometimes. But most times nobody could talk to me. I would fake my way through conversations on the phone with friends. As if I was fine… but I was the farthest from fine that I’ve ever been and would ever dream to be in my worst nightmare.
I would drive around for hours. In a daze. Wasting expensive ass gas for absolutely no reason. I didn’t want to see anyone because I was so terribly embarrassed at how wrong my life had turned from being so seemingly great. “Feeling” so ahead of everyone to suddenly falling so behind. Yes, my ego was ridiculous at one time. I would sit in class thinking “man I’m about to go to the studio after this, ya’ll are bout to go do homework.” I was forced to put things into perspective. All of my friends were finishing their sophomore year, my other friends were pursuing music, and here I was doing neither. Just sulking, feeling miserable, feeling like I was literally dying every single minute of every single day. Not one moment of peace except for sleep. Which never seemed to last long enough. I was talking down to myself all the time. Telling myself I wasn’t a real songwriter and that I could never reach the goals I wanted to now. I felt I lost all of my connections. I felt like I was getting old (when I turned 20 in January) and that I was being used by friends just for my talent. I couldn’t trust anyone, and now I couldn’t even trust myself.
The scariest feeling in the world is not trusting your own thoughts. Not believing in yourself. Not loving yourself. Looking in the mirror and seeing yourself regress from someone you thought you always wanted to be and transform into someone you can’t stand to be with. But it’s still YOU. You have to live with yourself. I was in so much pain that I didn’t want to be me anymore. I wanted to sleep forever. I would wake up and literally curse the sun in my head. I had so much back pain and so much mental pain. I just wanted it to be over.
I was also not doing music. I couldn’t listen to the radio. If I listened to songs I’d written I would say that wasn’t me. I couldn’t believe it was me. I couldn’t believe how much I’d experienced in the past couple of years. How many “celebrities” I’d met, how many “great” people I’d worked with and been around. At the end of the day I was making no money. Business decisions had to be made. I was so depressed I couldn’t even think about music, something I was sure I wanted to pursue since I was 7 years old writing raps in blue crayons. My dad used to rap around the house and so I always say I got the music bug from him. Friends kept asking me if I was still writing and at first I lied and said yes, but eventually started saying I was taking a break—which was the truth. I would get panic attacks when my phone would ring or when I’d get an email I had to respond to because I didn’t want to have to explain how miserable I was and how I was literally doing nothing with my life. My family telling me I “needed” a break didn’t make me feel any better.
I completely tore myself apart in every way. I was making my own self sick. The one emotional outlet I had for the past 10 years (music) was inaccessible to me. My recording equipment wasn’t working and I felt incapable of fixing it. I felt incapable of doing anything but eat a loaf of bread. And of course I couldn’t just “snap out of it” like my family and myself wanted me to. One of the worst things was seeing my mom cry and telling me this wasn’t me. I was so scared she would never see the real me again, that my friends wouldn’t see the real me again, and most importantly I would never see the real me again.
The most monotonous 7 months of my life went by torturously slow. I was sick of being home the first 2 days… multiply that by 100. The days would just pass and pass. Before I knew it I was lying back down and praying to God I would feel better in the morning. Of course I didn’t, and I finally thought to myself maybe I’ll just have to learn to live this way. So many other people do it. Maybe I’ll just live in a fog. Go to nursing school and have a stable income, find a nice guy and go that route. There’s nothing wrong with that. But I so desperately missed my fast life, my free life, MY life.
I would look at my old tweets when I was happy and would die inside when tweets that used to say “1d” ago suddenly said “90d” ago then “120d” ago… etc. How did all this time pass? How did I get so low after being so high? I felt trapped in an irreversible cycle. And everyday I told myself I could do it… I could get up… I could go to the gym… I could make a change. But for the 5 months I basically did nothing. I decided not to take anti-depressants because I heard people get hooked on them and it’s hard to taper off. I did it on my own.
I finally got enough courage to set up my recording equipment again in March. I’ve been recording myself since I was 12, so it was actually a good feeling… for once in so long I felt a spark of inspiration. I can only say it was God. Thanks to my family I got a new computer, the new Pro Tools, etc. I wrote and recorded my first song in 6 months and it was dope. I remember feeling like it was like riding a bike. I could still do this. My confidence boosted little by little as I recorded more songs. I got a placement with the second song I wrote, and that was all I needed. I prayed to God for so long that I would fall back in love with the first and best love of my life. Music! And I did.
I came back to LA in April. Drove down and was only supposed to stay for a week to change my major at USC. I came down and didn’t leave. I moved in with a friend from USC and his friends, who are now my friends. I loved it instantly. These dudes cook and clean?! Hell yeah I’m in. I instantly fell back into music. Met new people. Was surrounded by positivity and started cutting out the people and bad habits that drove me into the ground last year. Can’t lie though, when I first came back to LA I was doing some of the old things I used to do. But as the months rolled on and now we’re in June… I can honestly say I’m the most focused I’ve ever been. I messed up a couple times, but I’ve learned from every mistake. I’m working with incredibly talented individuals now that I vibe great with. I am so grateful that I love waking up again. And that I can look people in the eyes again. I can genuinely smile. I can genuinely laugh. I can say without a doubt now that I can make it through anything and everything. God has my back. And I know he put me through a living hell for a reason. It was a test and he was preparing me for something greater. If I was any weaker I would have hung myself from that pull up bar I looked at for 2 weeks. Now the thought of suicide disgusts me. But I’ve finally forgiven myself.
I am more excited than I’ve ever been now. Not just about my recent musical successes, but about the fact that I feel I can help people now too. I can be a light for someone who may still be in the dark. It’s the scariest place on earth and it feels like no one could possibly understand. And YOU are the only one that can get yourself out of it, and that’s the wackest part! I would think “how am I going to get out of this when the very things that are going to help me, I feel like I can’t do?” Unfortunately alcohol, sex, and people telling you to do “yoga” and “you’ll be fine” cannot get you out of it. Exercise and relaxation do help, but it takes a while… a long while sometimes. I didn’t instantly feel good again… it was a process. But I believed it was possible, even when I almost gave up.
After being completely isolated for 200 days and talking to myself because I was all I had…I know myself better than ever now. I know God better than ever. I am happy. I am focused. I am not worried about guys, about negativity, about school, about my back pain, about anything that could take me back down the wrong path. I am exactly where I am meant to be. And I pray that if you are lost or someone you know is lost, that they find their way. There is still a light at the end of the tunnel, you just may have your hands over your eyes. This could have gone on for much longer, but God has something in store for me and the people around me. I am going to see a legend today. Talk more about it soon. Thank you and know that you are loved. You is kind, you is smart, you is important! Thank you to my family especially.