down: The Rabbit Hole

“I feel like I’m dissolving.”

Clarity is a residence that we can’t always make out from a distance. It assembles itself sometimes only when we’ve exhausted the trail leading up to it. We know it’s there. We can see the outline and imagine what’s inside but sometimes it takes driving there and kicking open the door to truly get the picture right – to take inventory.

Over the last month and beyond, I have been struggling with my mentality surrounding a temporary job I was assigned to back in late September. All administrative jobs have been especially monotonous for me, if I’m honest. However, the last few weeks have been especially trying. The job had begun to metastasize in my life and I allowed it to stifle creative desires that I had for myself outside of it. Depression seemed to be setting up camp. I began to browse the internet and a few local places for openings. I didn’t put a ton of effort into it initially, exhausted from my current endeavor. I figured I had time.

It seemed that I did until my stubborn, determined nature to “try – try again” branded my mind with slight hesitation. I thought “Is just my depressive tendency getting the best of me right now?” Fortunately, almost as quickly as that thought could manifest, I was let go from my employer. I like to imagine that they could see from a distance what I refused to see from the inside. No matter of trying was ever going to make me feel right in a job like that. I had been residing in a place not of my own kind; couch-surfing professionally on some unrealistic ideal of growth and success.

The same day one door was closed for me I opened another: queue Fertile Ground Festival. I politely crept through the door to The Museum of Modern Life where I would intimately witness down. I was directed through the performance area to the room opposite of it. I noted Corinne Bachaud getting into character and the walls on either side of the stage; on one there was a screen on which we could view a projected translation of the live performance.

Corinne Bachaud (Alex) in character.
Corinne Bachaud (Alex) in character.

The show opens to our main character, Alex (Bachaud), a 26-year old woman and semi-recently unemployed. She begins her vlogging out of desperation. It seems that nothing has worked to distract her anymore from an impending mental breakdown that circles like a vulture.

The delivery is uniquely in tune with the subject matter. Our view balances between live-Alex and webcam-live-Alex. Interestingly, in between these scenes with Alex there are interspersing vlogs by others sharing their raw experiences with depression. Although the stories are at times vastly different from one another, I seemed to pull a piece from each one relevant to my own story.

“It doesn’t ever go away entirely but comes and goes with intensity.”

What I know of my own depression is that it has haunted me since adolescence. Depression can be an apparition of our innermost demons waiting to feed on doubts about ourselves and our lives. Sometimes we can smudge it away (metaphorically or literally – if you’re into that) but many times it just lingers. It can manipulate our bodies with perverse physical effects and can dissolve the wonder of even the most highly motivated person. It alienates us from our own lives and loved ones. Most of all, it doesn’t even need a traumatic experience to reappear because it’s magnetized to us, fashioning itself as our dark companion.

“The longer I deal with it, the longer I have dealt with it.”

One man vlogs about how depression forces you to ask questions of yourself that there are no reasonable answers for and then cruelly punishes you for not having that answer. These questions are unique to each of us – as is the way we choose to cope with our thoughts. The collection touches thoughtfully on antidepressants and centers on the takeaway that the best remedy for depression is a multifaceted one that provides a variety of resources and mechanisms for one’s disposal. Hear, hear.

“People with mental illness might be drawn to each other.”DSC_6446

It seems that may be how this collective of creatives began this perceptive project. Through their diligent work, overunder arts has provided a performance that fully encompasses an accurate visual of the evolving definition of depression. Their range begins appropriately with general melancholia and extends to severe debilitation. They leave no stone unturned but plenty of room for exploration and discovery on the topic.

Fertile Ground Festival continues through Feb 1st, and the remaining showings of down are January 23rd-26th.

Jen Scholten

By Jen Scholten

Jen remains curious and inspired by all ventures unfamiliar and unconventional. A transplant from Grand Rapids, Michigan, she continues her creative discovery in an artistically inclined community of dreamers. She functions with a background in photography and an insatiable desire to express her swirling thoughts through wordplay.

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