I’m a Porsche with no breaks
I win every single game.
I’m so powerful
Don’t need batteries to play
I’m so confident
Yeah, I’m unstoppable today.”
Listen to Unstoppable: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxjvTXo9WWM
Just look at those lyrics. This song is phenomenal. And the first time I listened to it, two days ago, I was not entirely aware that I was only scratching the surface; superficially listening. I didn’t really understand it. But something about it hooked me strongly enough that over the next few days, that would be the ONE SONG I kept coming back to. It’s hypnotic. I don’t know whether it’s production, trademark (the kind of song you can TELL is Sia’s because it’s so classically Sia), or whatever. As of today, it’s the only song I can listen to. (A week ago, it was Rihanna’s Consideration.)
The lyrics of the chorus are misleading, and I love it for that. From just this extract, it looks like the perfect motivational get-your-buttocks-out-of-bed-and-achieve-ish kind of song. The kind that I considered putting on the same playlist as Andy Mineo’s You Can’t Stop Me – another hopelessly abused track in my music library. Mineo’s refrain goes like this:
“They try to shut us down but it ain’t gon’ slide
Only thing I fear is God, and He on my side
That’s the confidence of God, cause He got me
That’s why I really feel like YOU CAN’T STOP ME!”
Watch You Can’t Stop Me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WopyrETP-CU
Now, upon first glance, you might confuse the two songs to have similar themes, albeit Mineo’s having a faith twist to his. Upon further inspection, however, the songs couldn’t be more different.
Sia’s Unstoppable is self-elevating, and laced through entirely with denial. You can nearly see how these lines are being repeated as a mantra, for the persona to convince herself as much as anyone else that all these lies are true. And this is me every single morning. I tell myself I am invincible. Earthquakes can’t shake me. Like, for goodness’ sake, if you were going to break me, you’d have broken me by now, or?
But the thing is…I am already broken. I’m not living; I’m just…functioning. On autopilot. And it is strange because, at the same time as everything Sia (or her persona) is saying (singing?) is false, it is true as well. Every day, we are on a wrecking ball, headed for disaster, smashing into walls without mercy. We are not okay. And yet, every day, we have made it to the next day. Somehow, miraculously, we are winning every single game, even as we fail.
To understand the full irony, we must look at the content of the verses themselves.
I know what it takes to fool this town
I’ll do it till the sun goes down,
And all through the night time”
Do you understand? This is acting! (This is the name of the album, and I cannot even stress to you how brilliant the name is.) Of course, we know how to act. Of course we know how to hide our demons, swallow our tongues and blend into the crowd. You are the town. And we know exactly how to fool you! It is merely second nature.
“I’ll tell you what you want to hear
Leave my sunglasses on while I shed a tear
It’s never the right time.”
People aren’t hard to please. When you ask me how I am, you want to hear “fine”. When you ask me how school is, you want to hear “great”. When you ask how my friends are, you want to hear “we’re cool”. It is horrendous, do you see? Especially when none of it is true, but lying is too easy. Let me show you.
Sundays are visiting days in my school. Sundays have also classically been the days that Depression hits me hardest. My hypothesis is that everything that I have suppressed during the week gets up and says, “Can’t run forever, can you?” In 2015, when the episodes were particularly bad, I used to call it Deprimé Dimanche. But that is beside the point. The point is that my parents see me smile when they come to visit me. Just yesterday, my father sent me a Skype message saying how impressive it was that on Sunday, when they visited, though I was under pressure, I was smiling. Do they need to know about the breakdowns I suffered before and after their visits? This is acting!
When I was sick at home with “typhoid fever” – and to find out why this is in quotes, read The Sickness Lives Here – last week, I experienced one of the most severe, random depression waves I had had in 5 months. There didn’t seem to be an identifiable trigger, as usual. Just as it was coming on, my father came home from work. I quickly made myself busy trying to fix myself ampesi for supper, while suppressing the storm. He came in, I wasn’t looking 100% fine, but I told him it was heartburn that was distressing me. (This wasn’t entirely a lie; I was experiencing heartburn, a month other things. But goodness knows nobody was ready to deal with the “other things” at that time. After all, what could they offer that the 5 mental health professionals that I saw during 2015 couldn’t?)
“Break down, only alone
I will cry out now
You’ll never see what’s hiding out
Hiding out deep down”
I kept it up all night, you know. The wave lasted from about 6pm to 2am. Somehow, every single time my parents came in to check up on my health, I appeared okay, with a carefully dried and smiling face. How are you? Oh, the headache’s better. The heartburn’s gone. Yes, I have more energy now. I’m fine. LOL. “Fine”. Fine is why I’m crying for hours into my pillow so you won’t hear me. Indeed, there is never an appropriate time to break down. All day, all night, you must be Unstoppable. Wait for the right time to break, and it shall never come. This is acting.
“I know, I’ve heard that to let your feelings show
Is the only way to make friendships grow
But I’m too afraid now”
This is amateur psychotherapy Lesson 1, n’est-ce pas? Oh, talk to a friend. You need someone to share your feelings to. LOL. Excuse the pun but…’sia! Do you know how much my distresses and mental illness scares people away? They just cannot handle it! They cannot handle me. People don’t want to talk about depression for goodness’ sake; they want to talk about Snapchat and Kylie Jenner. (Speaking of having a mental illness, it is difficult to tell how much of what I feel is valid response to my life’s circumstances, and how much of it is the inexplicable randomosity of a diagnosed, recognized mental illness.)
http://www.depressioncomix.com is pretty good, BTW. Brilliant stuff on there.
Afraid? Of course I am afraid. That is why I am alone. I witnessed the disastrous effects of sharing my depression with the person I liked to call my best friend. In fact, I’ve witnessed this way, way more than once.
My social media and blogs are blowing up with my depression, dissatisfaction and outrage. Do you know why? It is because my reality is not. If there is no one to share with in my actual tangible life, what else shall I do but post outraged statuses, blog rants and upset tweet threads? I do this because I can do nothing else. Anyone I can talk to is merely connected to me through a screen. (Maybe it’s my way of compensating for staying silent so long in the middle of my Everydays. I just come and offload to prevent myself from going mad, and perhaps test futilely if anyone will care…Sometimes, it doesn’t even matter if they don’t, because at least I know someone’s read it. They’ve heard me out, even if they won’t respond, I guess…)
“I’ll put my armour on, show you all how strong I am
I’ll put my armour on, I’ll show you that I AM!”
And yet, to everyone else, this armour that we wear is just skin. Acting.
I must continue to walk around like I have an idea of whatever the hell is going on with my life, and go to class, and smile, and say hi to people, and fool the whole town. Fake it in an attempt to believe it. This song is so encompassing. I can’t get it out of my head or ears. Why? Because I’m so confident; I’m unstoppable today. Of course I don’t need batteries to (press) play. I AM the game. I AM the actress in this play. THIS IS ACTING.