In her new memoir, When I Grow Up , Boston icon Juliana Hatfield comes clean about her depression, and why Wal-Mart would have been blamed for her suicide
I was living in New York in the mid 1990s, gearing up for a short tour of mostly college venues in New England, to warm up for a series of European dates promoting my Only Everything album, after which there would be still more shows in North America. In the weeks leading up to the start of the college tour, I fell into one of my depressions, and with it some strange and disconcerting new sensations presented themselves: I would wake up every morning at 4 am — regardless of when I had gone to bed the night before — suddenly wide awake, unable to sleep anymore. Once out of bed, facing the day, a pervasive inner agitation, like tiny wheels in my brain were moving way too fast, made it impossible for me to concentrate, on anything. Not on my writing, not on any book or even a magazine, not on any one continuous thought, not even on the most mindless TV show. So I had no way to distract myself from the awful, oppressive gloom I felt. At the same time, I had no physical energy. I felt weighted down and slow, and the air, inside and out, seemed thicker than normal, like a dense fog. My movements, my reactions, and even my speech were leaden.
I would sit on my couch looking out the window at the sky, grinding my teeth, too frozen in mute, silent terror to cry or even to move, really, and completely saturated with dread, worrying — believing — that the sun might not come up the next morning or that it would drop out of the sky and leave the world dark and cold and dead, like my spirit.
As usual, I didn’t know where these feelings had come from and I didn’t know how to make them go away. I was alone in New York. I had failed to make any real friends in the year I’d been living there. (I only ever left my apartment to buy food or to work out at my health club a few blocks away.) I didn’t have any kind of therapist, nor was I in the habit of confiding in anyone in my family, which was scattered around the country. I had no one to talk to, really, and what was happening to me was worse and more frightening than any depression I had ever experienced before.
It felt like this time, unlike all the others, the cloud wasn’t going to dissipate. This infernal woe had spread its poison all through my brain and body, as well as the city and sky, and I couldn’t see any way out. And I had to go on tour. It was all planned and scheduled and arranged. I guessed going on the road would be no worse than sitting in my apartment waiting for the end of the world, alone.
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