Billie Eilish’s “idontwannabeyouanymore” is a song about her body image insecurities and battle with depression.
Recently, I woke up hearing this song in my head, feeling the familiar hatred for myself, wishing I was someone else—someone with the determination to experience life rather than just let day by day pass me by in complacency.
The song was released on her debut album when she was 15 years old, and a year later she sat down with Genius for an episode of “Verified,” breaking down the lyrics of the song and what they mean to her.
After the video’s publication, she expanded on her struggles with depression stating, “The real truth is that depression can happen to anyone no matter who you are or what you have and there is no shame to admitting that you feel this way. It’s a very real thing and should never be ignored or labeled ‘a choice.’”
In the beginning of the video, she says something that makes me sad because I relate to it too much. I know exactly what she means and how it feels.
0:00 Billie starts things off with, “I really, really, really, really hate myself. You know, you can feel so unbelievably lost and horrible and like you’re nothing and invisible, and for no reason at all. Which is almost worse than having a reason.”
It doesn’t matter where I am or where I go; this part of me always follows. I can run away or try to hide from it but it’s always there nagging me, and sometimes into a self-sabotaging oblivion.
And I’m tired. I’m so tired of this happening to me, over and over again. It’s been happening for more than 40 years now. My struggle with depression goes back to my early childhood.
0:57 Eilish quotes the lyric, “’I don’t wanna be you.’ It’s so annoying to feel this way all the time, all the time.”
I can’t get her song out of my head. Sometimes, I relate to the first three lines of the chorus—the lines about fashion models’ sadness—the times when I’m upset over losing my youthful looks as I slip into middle age. But my depression, unlike Eilish’s, has never really been about my body image, and thankfully, I’m never plagued with suicidal thoughts like she experienced in her early teen years.
For her, it wasn’t about a lack of attention, which naturally became a byproduct of her immense musical talent and led to her very public life. In fact, it was partly the attention that drove her depression because she felt like she needed to be like the models she was surrounded by and had always idolized but didn’t look like.
For me, it was the opposite. I wasn’t paid enough attention. I was often left alone or teased and belittled for not measuring up in ways that had nothing to do with my appearance. If anything, I received positive attention for how I looked. That seemed to be more important while I was growing up than nurturing the actual person I was.
My talents were hardly praised. I was shot down or ignored when I tried to speak what was on my mind, reprimanded for bringing home a B+ on my report card, or labeled materialistic and dramatic when I got upset over a prized possession being messed with. Unlike Billie Eilish, who’s had 104,000 fans show up to watch her sing, I couldn’t even get a single family member to come to any of my band concerts in middle and high school.
The people in my life never showed up for me, and it taught me to not show up for myself. And I struggle often to show up for others too.
3:55 Billie sings, “I don’t wanna be you, anymore,” and goes on to say, “I’ve never said anything that meant more than that. You are always you. Forever. And that’s terrifying.”
I can’t get her song out of my head. It’s stirring up feelings of frustration with myself. Anger that I keep falling back on bad habits and patterns of self-betrayal. Continually giving in to what feels good or easy instead of staying consistent with the hard work it takes to heal my depression.
Just when I think I’m doing better, I slip up.
Just when I think I’m on the healing path, I realize that I’m lost again.
Lately, I feel like I’ve ventured off into the deep woods and don’t have any idea where the path is anymore. I have a compass but don’t fully know how to use it. I’m questioning the process. Each step seems to take me the wrong way, even though I know every direction will eventually lead me to exactly where I need to be.
I know my healing journey is forever-work and getting lost on the path is normal.
It’s a logical explanation I tell myself when I’m muddling around in the dark, but it doesn’t take away the sadness and despair that comes when I’ve lost my way. When I’m lost, it’s hard to know if I’ll ever find my way to the path again, even when I have the tools to help.
When I get lost, I sometimes forget how to use the tools that will help me find myself again.
I woke up disappointed in myself for sleeping late yet again, knowing this was my last day at our beautiful campsite surrounded by native wildflowers in brilliant yellows, whites, and purples. The flowers were constantly teaming with buzzing bees and fluttering butterflies with multicolored patterns on their wings.
Clusters of mesquite and live oak trees were attracting lovely cardinals, summer tanagers, and vermilion flycatchers—their feathers in many shades of red contrasted against the dull grey color of moss balls covering the branches.
One day I noticed a pretty golden-fronted woodpecker with his red mohawk and gold underbelly mate-feeding his lady companion as I sat outside my Airstream under the shade of my striped awning.
For three days, I had been content to simply sit outside and observe the nature happening steps away from my traveling home, but I wanted more. I couldn’t stop thinking of how much wildlife I might witness if I got out on a rugged backcountry trail and away from the paved campsites surrounded by barking dogs and noisy humans with their electric and gas-powered machines.
At least, that’s what I thought I wanted. Yet every day passed and I kept failing quite literally to walk my talk.
I knew the exercise and a more remote nature experience would do my troubled mind some good. Lately, I’ve allowed the fear of my uncertain future to creep its way back into my thoughts. It’s a battle I’ve been fighting most days this year with the circumstances that constantly surround my waking life.
It was the last day to explore the gorgeous Texas Hill Country state park we were camping in—my last day to go on a long hike and summit Mt. Baldy, climb into the cool air of Crystal Cave, and reward my sore body with a refreshing dip in the cold, crystal-clear blue Frio River to cool off in the heat.
But nope. Instead, I let the day get away from me. It’s a common occurrence in my life, sadly.
5:43 Eilish touches on mistakes. Talking about herself, she says, “She makes all these mistakes, but I help her out with every single one. We make them together. We’re a team. But I hate her. Ugh!”
The heat climbs hour by hour, and there is little shade on the trail that can turn even a short and easy hike into something more difficult and potentially dangerous. I make excuses to myself and continue to sit on my ass.
“It’s stupid to hike in the 90+ degree heat. You will be miserable.
You can’t carry enough water. You’ll get dehydrated and could suffer a heat stroke.
It’s irresponsible to expose your skin to the burning sun. You don’t want to get wrinkles.
Just sit here and drink a cold beer or two, or six. You know cold beer tastes so good when it’s hot outside.
It’s okay. This is better. Doing nothing is your favorite pass time.
Then you’ll be content, you won’t even remember to be sad that you were lazy yet again.
This is who you are, why fight it? Just give in. It’s so much easier. You know you want to.
Look at the pretty birds and butterflies, listen to the buzzing of the bees. Nature is right here; you don’t even have to get out of your chair.
It’ll be enough once you have your own buzz started. You’ll feel better, then. Go ahead, it’s okay.”
Giving in and gulping down the cold temporary liquid pleasure, my happy buzz turns dark. I tell myself I could still go for my hike. The heat would be a punishment that maybe I deserved.
Not maybe—I do deserve to suffer.
I never do what I say I’m going to do. I never do what I think I want to do. How could I really want it if I never do it? I’m a fraud. I’m a loser.
5:59 Billie says, “I will never know what you’re thinking right now, ever. Even if you tell me, I still don’t know because you could be lying.”
I can’t help wondering what people think about me, especially when I’m in a dark place and feeling shame over my mental health weakness. It’s not a constant, but sometimes I allow myself to believe people make the worst assumptions of who I am. When I’m clearheaded, I know it’s a reflection of my own mean thoughts about myself. And when I’m not…
I don’t deserve this easy life that others are judging me for—even if they don’t know what I actually go through day by day.
Hell, I judge it, why shouldn’t they?
I don’t deserve an easy life; I haven’t earned it.
It doesn’t matter that things have been hard the entire time. Life is hard for all of us, what makes me so special?
I don’t deserve to be happy if I’m not willing to work for it. I always fall back on the same old bullsh*t ways so why fight it?
I am who I am. I deserve to suffer.
Hearing the song in my head—feeling sad, mad, and hopeless with tears filling my eyes—I drunkenly scribbled this in my journal:
“I don’t wanna be you…so content with doing nothing.
I don’t wanna be you…never doing what I say I will do.
I don’t wanna be you…paralyzed with laziness.
I don’t wanna be you…wanting to drink and escape my mean thoughts.
I don’t wanna be you…one step forward, 100 steps back.
I don’t wanna be you…blocked, tired.
I don’t wanna be you…unable to adult.
I don’t wanna be you…wasting in so many ways.
I don’t wanna be you…while loving him, neglecting to love myself.
I don’t wanna be you…WASTE! Wasted! Wasting! Wasteful! Sad.
I don’t wanna be you…no trust, I won’t ever amount to anything.
I don’t wanna be you…never happy, always wishing, never accomplishing.
I don’t wanna be you…ANYMORE. ANYMORE. ANYMORE.”
6:06 Billie quotes the line in her song, “’Only you know the way that I break.’ No matter how many times I tell people, ‘It’s this. It’s that. It’s nothing.’ It’s something and (pointing to her head) it’s up here.”
I know I will always have this head trash. It’s futile to believe it will ever disappear. I also know it will get better with time and work, and I can give myself grace when I slip up and fall back on my old ways of coping.
I may wish to be another person, someone who doesn’t have to continually work to keep depression under control, but I can acknowledge the hopelessness that sneaks up on me sometimes. I can give it attention and validation and have faith that I will remember to use my tools to guide myself back to a healthy healing path again.
The next week, after moving to another Central Texas state park along the Pedernales River with red and yellow fields of Indian Blanket wildflowers as far as the eye could see, I continued to waste my days away with the usual bad habits.
I also began some new healthy ones.
I read two books that have been sitting on my desk for months, started Julia Cameron’s 12-week The Artist’s Way creative course, and journaled more than I ever have in my life. Something finally clicked after reading these books and the words that poured out of me every day helped bring some memories to the surface that I’d forgotten about.
The good and the bad habits of the last 10 days coexisted, and that realization reminds me that all is not lost, I am still on my healing journey, even as I felt the threatening darkness.
On our last full day of the trip, my body naturally woke up early in the morning, something that rarely happens, and I went on the long hike I desperately needed for myself.
I had the best time snacking in a creek bed and hung out with the most vivid red dragonfly, watching him fly up and down the creek, patrolling his territory, then coming back to perch on a twig as I cooled off in the shade. He even buzzed over to me at one point, hovering a few feet in front of me, checking me out. I felt like he was as curious about me as I was about him.
I was completely present with the joy of that moment and in awe of the experience. It reminded me that even in times of darkness, there is light when I’m paying attention. And it’s those sparkling moments that will be a compass pointing me back to my healing path.