When I was a depressive teenager, my parents hated the black I wore—even my hair. I remember I once snuck out of the house with black eyeliner on, and when my mom finally noticed, she freaked. Granted, I probably looked like a raccoon. That black eyeliner was the first makeup I ever wore.
As an adult, I look back and laugh, because now, those things that made me creepy and “troubled” as a teen have become my trademark. I wear black eyeliner every day, usually paired with dark purple lipstick. I wear tons of black clothes and skulls—skulls galore. Even my friends love this; so much so that when they see anything skull-related, they spend their hard-earned money and buy it for me.
The things that were once exterior manifestations of my depression have become … style.
When I was a teenager, the black hair and dark makeup were cries for help. I wanted to show people how disturbed I was; isn’t that what writers are supposed to do—show not tell? Now, I wear dark makeup because I look good in dark makeup. I have purple streaks in my hair because I like lookin’ funky. No longer does darkness on the outside mimic darkness within. Darkness on the outside just means I’m keeping up with Vogue.
The last week has been a week of endings. I finished my novel, Something about a Ghost, and my grandfather passed away Saturday night. The dark makeup has been smeared by tears that wash in like high tide. My toenail polish started peeling, so I painted them black. I try on three outfits before I put on a black tee and call it a day.
For the first time in fifteen years, it is possible that my exterior mimics the internal pain. When I was a teenager, my grunge-phase call for help was hormonal. I suppose today the black couture and blood-red lipstick are purely circumstantial.
When I was a teenager, I listened to Nine Inch Nails to drown myself in auditory misery. As an adult, their music reminds me of sex. Many things change, but depression doesn’t. I have good days, bad days, but I’ve been fighting this disease since the eighth grade, and there is no cure. There is no magic pill. This has been a week of endings, but not an end to sadness.
I will not be deterred from the way I look. No matter how I feel, I’ll still wear skull jewelry. I’ll still paint my nails black and go total goth for Rocky Horror Picture Show at the end of this month. I may be depressive, but I still got style. I also still have sadness, and I admit: that teenager in the Kurt Cobain t-shirts still lives inside me. She says hello whenever I buy Urban Decay lip gloss or hear Jim Morrison sing “The End.”
We are who we once were. We change in many ways, but certain things remain the same. I embrace the old me—pay her homage—every time I bemoan another sunny day. (Sunshine can be so depressing.) But I sometimes turn my back on teenage me, too: go makeup-less and lay in the sun.
I am in a dark place for now. The black fingernails and dark lipstick are more than elements of style. Yet, I will move forward, and soon, this pain will pass. Who knows? Maybe someday I’ll buy something in a shade of pink.