Hi, I’m Hima Batavia - a writer, cultural producer, artist, and community organizer based in T’karonto and the great infinite. This newsletter is a space to write liberated futures into being. You can learn more about me, my social location, and this newsletter here.
I am really depressed.
Like a wow, is this depression?
I am certainly not a stranger to lows, but I have not met this part of the well. This isn’t a shocking or novel emotional state in the midst of a police-public health-profiteering pandemic; we are all somewhere between languishing and finding the will to feed ourselves. Still, I wonder what is here for me, for us.
I heard someone call depression an opportunity for ‘deep rest.’ A time to voyage into the underworld; the place not where you bend reality, but see reality for exactly what it is. ‘I am sleeping a lot,’ I confided in a friend. ‘That’s not deep rest,’ she guided. ‘You have to put down the heavy bags.’ When lucid, I observe the slowing of my body; sluggish in each step, diaphragmic breaths, conserving energy like a flickering bulb. Like a newborn, I pine towards suckles of dopamine; needing and tiring from the quick hits. Responding takes a week’s worth of effort and existence feels like a rat trap. Even here, the body’s acuity is vivid. There is more to let go of, it says: how my relationship with mom may never improve, how my parents may never find peace with each other, how my nephew’s formative years are being spent in front of a screen, how the white psyche is relentless and dismembered from our collective screams, how we must witness Black and Brown death and resume normality with few places for our rage, our sacred rage, to be held - not gaslit. Anyways.
There is no playbook for depressive episodes, at least none that are physiologically appealing, even if necessary. If we are lucky, we pick up some spiritual medicine on the way to coping, transmuting. As a generation, we have become as familiar with depression, as we are eager to return to the light, unable to withstand the way the shadow crawls up and through the skin, halting the organism to reveal its insight. This manufactured incapacity is why we don’t know each other, really. And, while there is value is meeting and being with your depressive episode, how long is too long?
In my time, I have learned that when I can sit really still, and calibrate this stillness with the depression, something reconfigures. Even if temporary. I take a walk, purposely leaving my phone at home to calm my nervous system and breath in oxygen that is closer to the source. I keep chocolate digestives on hand, recite, ‘this will pass, even if I don’t know when or how,’ and muster some creativity to unfurl the dense energy. Sometimes, I try to guide the heavy emptiness towards something funny - which if effective, can feel like transcendence, singularity. For a blink, the light and shadow are indistinguishable, and all of the universe’s known states: hurt, pain, fear, joy, wonder, love combust in the same microsecond. This is my ecstasy.
Laughter has always been my portal for healing. I have a signature move that arises by complete surprise sometimes when I try to tell a funny story. As I begin to introduce the story, the thought of it moves faster than my mouth, invoking an uncontrollable laughing fit. The telling quickly turns into single, disjointed words trying to escape, muffled through hisses escalating in volume. In trying to control my body, while aware of the audience watching me possessed by my spirit who has taken this opportunity to release, a second chord of laughter will untether. The minor laughter now propagating the major laughter in orgasmic, operatic waves. At some point, there is so much stale life pouring out of me that the sound ceases, and there is silence. My mouth freezes open, while my body convulses. The story is now long gone, and I am suspended, between a mass of trauma, and clear space. Slowly I try to regain control, stuffing the escaped and free spirit back into the body form, returning to consciousness and table manners, clear and cleansed. What is perhaps most awkward about these cathartic episodes is that the story is usually not that funny.
In trying to lift my depression, I thought maybe I can try to make us laugh this week. But that felt ambitious so I am settling for a smirk. There is no solution to a depressive episode, but it’s nice to know, joy is always available, for when you’re ready.
Sending some care from me to you,
Rest in power, Ma’Khia Bryant.
P.S. Next week I will be sharing the beginning of a short series of audio talks + meditations on creating a space for sacred rage. Stay tuned.
affirmations for when you feel like the end of existence is near
It’s been a good run! But since running is inaccessible, it’s time this run is over.
At least our data centers will survive us.
The trees really need this personal space.
My hologram pod is going to be lit.
I knew I was on to something eating all those croissants this year.
Not having to drink 8 glasses of water is really going to free up time in the eternal.
I hope my ashes turn into baby pandas.
Dogs and cats are coming with.
Even in our demise, we will grow.
Nala, THIS is your moment.
A centaur civilization seems like a solid next move.
This is really going to throw off some newborns.
‘Last IG'-post’ consultant would be a legit side hustle right now.
Good thing we cracked Da Vinci’s code.
Animals finally watching Planet Earth.
Fast track to Enlightenment, am I right?
Asha, Adele, Aretha, Amy. We’re good.
Otherwise, Kim would become President.
Winter is (no longer) coming.
Stretchy pants will truly be forever.
lift me ups
Listening: Make Art, Not Content is my new favorite podcast, produced by The Mystery School (which is aptly still such a mystery to me). Short, clever, and sassy pep talks on being an artist.
Planning: Mayworks Arts Festival launches on May 1 and has virtual programming on labor justice and worker’s rights all month long (!). Being in solidarity with the most vulnerable is how we redesign liberation systems for all peoples. I am especially excited for the conversation on Essential Work, but Disposable Workers, the feminist choir performance by Choeur Maha, and the collaborative work between artist, En Lai Mah, and immigrant grocery store workers, called MoneyMoves.
Reading: Fran Tirado’s Joy Digest is like frolicking in the streets with a retro popsicle and barely-there shorts.
This week, Shazia Abji — an expert in designing experiences for human connection and wonder - and I are getting naked, literally and figuratively.
Join us for a connection game with the popular cards, We’re Not Really Strangers, Naked Edition. Each round, we will remove a piece of clothing, getting closer to our skin and heart. We’re looking for 2-3 people to join us on the stage. Interested?
What better way to get naked when no one can see you, but can actually see you? See you there.