The Sun Is Not Enough

By Alex Catarinella 12/08/17

I know that at my deluded highest, I’m on top of the world and no one can fuck with me, and at my lowest, I hate myself, all of myself, plain and simple.

Image of Alex and Sia
The author with Sia Image via Author

The sun will come out tomorrow. But if you can’t see the sun because it’s a day that’s grey and lonely (or you don’t get out of bed), does it even matter? What’s the point? (Sorry, that all hurt to type.) Optimistic Annie is annoying and not real, and that musical (Annie) is the worst (child actors!). But, as of late (mostly at night), I cannot get sad siren Sia’s acapella cover of “Tomorrow” out of my always overcrowded head.

Fun fact: The super Sagittarius and bipolar II (takes one to know one!) Sia tweeted this Garage Band-recorded gloomy yet glistening gem pre-superstardom/aborted suicide attempt/sobriety/face-veiling, maybe during a manic moment, because maybe, in true tormented artist form, she had to purge the pain into beauty. Something… hopeful! It’s the only way to make things okay/slay! That rhymed!

For me, the tragic thing about tomorrow isn’t the unreliability of the weather man. It’s that I have no fucking idea who I’ll wake up as. This doesn’t make my mind-losing experiences anything special. I’m pretty sure I Ambien-read this mess many manic moons ago when someone sad was describing how it feels to be bipolar II on I think Reddit.

Understatement: The world is batshit crazy. So much noise pollution. So, why would anyone other than a shrink want to hear what’s in my head? Crazy people don’t even want to hear it. I felt the judgement and the side-eyes from drugs and/or drinks addicts replete with a “shut the fuck up” subtext when I’d whisper-croak that I was a bipolar sex addict in rehab several years ago, which made me feel like I didn’t deserve to be there. I was just a pathetic and sad millennial who’d do nearly anything to bury the madness inhabiting my brain. (And with a career in entertainment journalism—JK, I’m basically a freelance fraudulent fashion writer—the burying-the-bipolar would involve the thrill of interviewing my idols and partying it up at New York Fashion Week open-bar flowing parties.)

In hindsight, what I really needed was a non-shitty psychiatrist and a change of meds, but the best docs don’t seem to take Medicaid. Anyway, bitching about mental illness in this insane world just makes me and many of my fellow mentally ill peers feel guilty about feeling sad. Ashamed. We want to vanish. We want to snap out of it. We want everyone to stop fucking telling us to snap out of it. We cannot afford to scare off anyone else with our sadness. We’re lonely enough. So, we’ll hide behind Instagram filters. Behind designer clothes. Behind anti Yulin Dog Meat Festival petitions sandwiched with Mykonos’ sunset selfies. You know, be a part of something greater than yourself! Also, get those followers!

I’m all about turning up the brightness and adding a little warmth to my Instagram posts. I’ll capriciously post something emo, but it’ll be deleted. Too attention-seeking/not enough likes. It’s like, I want someone, anyone, to notice that I need help, but also, get away, I don’t deserve help, I’m a piece of shit. The Melancholia screencap of a wedding dress-clad Kirsten Dunst resting in corpse pose in a dramatic stream didn’t perform well. (I wish my rock bottoms looked like that.) She’s all “I smile, and I smile, and I smile!” when confronted about her ridiculous sadness at her over-the-top wedding to Alexander motherfucking Skarsgard. She’s a Debbie Downer: “I know we’re alone” and “The earth is evil. We don’t need to grieve for it. Nobody will miss it.” She’s also intolerable (same), but she gets it. Is the world ending really that tragic?

“This world is bullshit!” (Fiona obviously a Virgo Apple iconic quote). Reminder, SOME PEOPLE HAVE REAL PROBLEMS, you know? P.S. ‘Some People Have Real Problems’ is the name of my favorite Sia album, released in 2008. I interviewed Sia a bunch back then—this is when she’d admittingly find herself popping pills solo while indulging in The Real Housewives of insert franchise here marathons. Twinsies!

My most memorable sit-down with the now household name was on the set for her “Clap Your Hands” video where she was, according to my now mysteriously deleted (I keep receipts) Paper article, ‘“‘schvitzing’ off the multi-colored gems glued to her face and chasing after her pom-pom balls that detached from her crafty costume while getting her Bollywood dance on.” (That vid ended up getting scrapped for a Labyrinth-esque puppet acid trip.) She seemed so zanily happy and fun and free, particularly in that wild costume. The type of cartoon-like human you’d wanna kick it with every second and soak up then overdose on their shine. Little did I know (even though, hello, one of her albums is titled ‘Healing is Difficult’), she was sad. She was sick. (Side-important-note: YouTube her mental health-friendly Howard Stern interview from a few years ago. She talks about being bipolar II and being prescribed Lamictal, and I could relate.)

Anyway, my goddamn editor cut Sia’s response re: why she named my fav depressed ballad of all time “Lentil.” I expected her to be all like “Oh, I lived off of canned lentils after a bad breakup.” But don’t judge a book by its bedazzled cover! The lyrics for my AIM away messages that I related with my penchant for breaking hearts ("I never meant to let you down, awake with a stake in my heart") were actually about the always reliable, best-secret-keeping cuddler known as man’s best friend. (Her dog, who she was forced to give away because of her grueling touring schedule, was, you guessed it, named Lentil.)

"But you can project whatever you want onto it. I don't care; it's yours. Once I put it out, it doesn't really matter. I guess everyone just makes it their own anyway.” People see/hear what they want/need. Fucked fact.

I feared seeing the light when I was at my amphetamine highest/sullen boy lowest, because that often translated to being greeted by furious UV rays as I’d exit somewhere sinister (gay bath houses that were open 24/7) around 7-10 AM, when I’d weave in a ghost-crab-like manner through the stroller-pushing nannies and the equally as aggressive Citibike-ers. I once arrived to therapy on actual time (10 AM), when my very Cancerian therapist went in for a fucking hug! This was before my I was higher-than-Britney-Spears-strapped-to-a-gurney because I had just left the bathhouse admission, and minutes before he and his sad eyes offered rehab recommendations.

A few days later, I was full of hope, so I Instagrammed a screencap of “happy” Britney (another sad Sagittarius and probably bipolar II favorite pop goddess of mine) exiting a sewer rave and emerging from a manhole in her “Til The World Ends” music video. She’s smiling, her hair extensions are immaculate, the sun is out, and the world hasn’t ended! YAY! I went with a mysterious “brb” as my caption. The subtext was supposed to hint at me checking into rehab for a month, but I actually lasted a week. It was a cruel summer.

Alas, the darkest of hedonism-heavy days are over... I am better and worthy of being better! AFFIRMATION. It’s true. I’m better. I’m chilling. I’m Buddhist chanting. I’m bored. I don’t go out. I don’t know that problematic person from the majority of my twenties. I’m thirty. I’m kinda responsible! Despite the awful natural light in my apartment, I try not to kill my plants. Most importantly, I know who I am. I know my strengths, my weaknesses, what “triggers” (ugh) me, what makes me feel like shit (drugs, chit-chat, my Facebook feed), what makes me feel safe (my bed, authenticity, empathy, my boyfriend, my cat, making music. Fun fact: I actually have the songbird herself to thank for freeing my croon—I took a few voice lessons and the first song I worked on with my vocal coach was, you probably guesses it, Sia's "Chandelier.") I know that at my deluded highest, I’m on top of the world and no one can fuck with me, and at my lowest, I hate myself, all of myself, plain and simple. I know that it’s my illness talking, and that’s the me I hate. But I don’t hate all of me! And I’m aware of the dangers of pretending like everything is and should be always sunny. Sia wears paper bags over her head, Britney lip syncs, and I wear SPF. For protection! I hate a beach. Unless I’m frenetically frolicking through Bondi Beach on a press trip, mostly so I can take a pit stop to the go-to suicide destination for Aussies known as The Gap, where the probably-sad-and-ashamed-about-being-sad peeps belly flop from the cinematic cliffs to be swallowed by the raging whirlpool. It’s a Sydney must-see. An ominous beauty. I’m certain Sia’s visited.


Some days I’ll wake and all will seem so hopeless, meaningless, pointless. What’s wrong? I don’t know. I’ll tell myself to take a breath. Put down the phone, delete the Twitter app, definitely don’t read the news headlines. Otherwise, it’ll be another stay-in-bed day/week. Meanwhile, the whole “silence is golden” thing doesn’t exist in my world. There’s always chaos and clutter in my cranium. The late, great, and also bipolar Carrie Fisher said it best: “You know what would be cool? To get to the end of my personality and just like lay in the sun.” Is that too much to ask for? Will my illness never end? (Not really. There’s treatment, but bipolar cannot be cured.) And, uh, will my illness end... me?

Oh God, please interrupt me… Snap out of it. Stop being so intolerably fragile.

So I’ll—breathe in, breathe out—remind myself that I am not alone. We’ve all got our own shit. ‘Tis life. You know, “normal” people sans mental illness of course have grey days too. But I bet my bottom dollar that it’s comforting for them to know that when things inevitably turn to shit, there’s always tomorrow, where the sun will go on with its rise-and-fall routine. And they’ll see the bright side of things. They must! They’re like, living, breathing humans! They’ve got kids! Careers! They have no choice but to hop out of bed, never hitting snooze, because they believe life has so much to offer. That they’ve got a life worth living, a fantastic future, or whatever. They see the light. Sunshine. (I’ll sidestep the Debbie Downer and avoid pointing out to them that UV rays are inescapable, even in the winter.)


But hang on ‘til tomorrow, the Sia anthem-y side of me will belt at me tonight. Who knows who I’ll be tomorrow. Having options is nice. I’ll wear an eye mask, switch to airplane mode and suffer in silence; I’ll go out into the cruel world to write about some painful fashion party or interview some painful designer wearing my perfected put-on-a-happy-face. Or maybe I’ll be stable… or, better yet, genuinely happy. Endless possibilities, endless personalities. I don’t know. I say that a lot.

I don’t know.

I do know that sometimes tomorrow’s sun just isn’t enough. It is what it is. And that’s okay. It’s all about trying to find your own light, anyway. Natural is best.

Sincere shout-out to my friend/sad soul sister siren AKA Class Actress who encouraged me to tell my story via our daily GChats and for writing a song that explains everything I'm feeling every other day. As for my response to the question in the lyrics to "Let Me Take You Out": "Do you get out of these waves?" Maybe not, but that's what life vests are for. I'm finally using them. Oh, and I covered the song:

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix
Alex Catarinella-Final_HighRes.jpg

Alex Catarinella is a New York City-based writer. Music, fashion, travel, the occasional Britney Spears-related think piece, etc. It's all happening. He also loves a press trip. Maybe you've noticed Alex's byline over the years in, to name a few/a lot, The CutVogueELLEi-DDazed & ConfusedNylonPaperVViceGaloreMTVWonderlandFashionista, and, RIP, His personal career highlights involve interviewing many an icon, like Patti Smith, Courtney Love, and Ginger/Sporty/Scary Spice. He sometimes writes (see also: over-shares) about his lunatical life, as detailed in Fashion Weak, a five-part series of salacious/spiritual/sad essays published on Dazed & Confused. Follow Alex on Twitter or LinkedIn.