I never used to think I was complicated. In fact, I thought everybody else was more complicated than myself. I felt in control, I felt strong. My creativity was in full bloom; I mean, I was writing songs in Los Angeles with Beck’s drummer while training for my third half-marathon… I was so incredibly inspired. I was invincible.
That was until the Deep Sea Diver episode happened. But what in the world is the Deep Sea Diver episode, you ask? It’s possibly the most traumatizing thing that has ever happened to me. I had just returned from Los Angeles, the album was ready to mix. I was SO proud of it, my best work ever. That’s when my label stopped paying the bills. Everything came to a halt. For almost a year, nothing moved. I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t have any money. I didn’t have any answers. I didn’t have a record.
“At first, I thought it was fatigue or exhaustion, but quickly, a dark energy took control of my muscles, my thoughts, my emotions. It was as though a heavy metal cast had started to wrap itself around my body.”
Something crawled on me. It grew slowly, without me realizing… At first, I thought it was fatigue or exhaustion, but quickly, a dark energy took control of my muscles, my thoughts, my emotions. It was as though a heavy metal cast had started to wrap itself around my body. It felt especially tight around the chest, making it hard for me to breathe… It was something very physical; my hands were numb, my ears were buzzing. There was also a strange phenomena inside my head every time I woke up, like my brain was trembling from within.
I remember lying on my bed one day, unable to move, thinking, “I am a pinned dead butterfly in some museum display.” Life was still. I remember the particles of dust moving slowly through a ray of light. It felt like the blood inside my veins was traveling in slow motion. I couldn’t conceptualize the fact that normal life was happening everywhere else on Planet Earth while I was lying, paralyzed.
”I need to shake myself,” I thought. “I’ll get some herb tea, it’ll help and the store isn’t far.” With great difficulty, I got dressed, left the house. It was the month of May. The sun was shining softly, the air was fresh. It was the most beautiful day in weeks. I got out of the house and started to walk towards the herbalist shop nearby.
Before I reached the next corner, I felt my feet becoming heavy like lead. I had a hard time lifting them, they were stuck to the ground like magnets. Each footstep demanded a superhuman effort… I was turning into a deep sea diver, just like in the old days, with the heavy suit, the metal helmet, the weighted shoes. Suddenly I was walking at the bottom of the ocean, breathing through a thin pipe that barely sufficed to bring me oxygen. Something hit me, like a cruel and cold underwater current. Everything became dark, and stillness invaded my whole body. I stopped in the middle of the street. That’s where I collapsed. I couldn’t move or get up. I was paralyzed. I started to panic. I didn’t know what to do, so I cried. I was scared. I thought I was going to die.
“My doctor concluded that it was an acute anxiety episode climaxing in a panic attack. It’s still hard for me to believe that stress and anxiety are capable of impacting the body in such a powerful way.”
Seb came to get me like a superhero. I don’t remember how we got home. The next weeks were filled with doctors appointments, scans, electrocardiograms and what not. Nothing was found. My doctor concluded that it was an acute anxiety episode climaxing in a panic attack. It’s still hard for me to believe that stress and anxiety are capable of impacting the body in such a powerful way.
It took me about a year to get through it (and to come to terms with the fact that what had happened fell into the ”mental health issues” category). The Deep Sea Diver Episode was the absolute trigger that made me rethink everything. I cleaned up my whole life, removed toxic relationships, made big moves in my music career. It was hard to make those decisions, plus I was sick all the time: pneumonia, nervous coughs, body pain… Even swallowing food was difficult. I felt like I was going to choke. It was so weird.
I underwent psychotherapy, did yoga, changed my diet. I had to accept that getting back to normal was going to be a slow process. Eventually, I got better, and things also settled with my label… The record came out, and life continued. But to this day, I feel a fragility inside of me that wasn’t there before. The path has been travelled once, and my body remembers. I feel anxiety in my throat, in my lungs, in my legs. Sometimes, it’s scary. I’m on the lookout for those signs in my body. I take days off. I get more sleep. I don’t feel invincible anymore. I’m officially a f*cked up artist.
A career in music is a fragile thing nowadays. Cherish what you have. Build a safety net around yourself. Don’t put all your eggs in the same basket. And most importantly: don’t take anything for granted.
*That being said – I just scored a French film called ”Tenir Tête” about three people living with bipolar disorder. I am not that f*cked up after all*
Sending love & light,
Photo Credit: Dan Esteban