“Aiiiiiiiiiiiiiii mi corazonnnnn…” crooned the wavering falsetto. As the radio gleefully crackled and spat in the corner of the cafe I grimaced and slid a handful of coins across the coffee-stained table. The year was 2007, the location Honduras, Central America and, once again, I had lost the bet.
The game of chance my little travelling gang had been enjoying so frequently was simple – how many seconds into a song would the singer last before uttering the word ‘corazon’. Heart. In this instance it was approximately seven – and although my Spanish was limited, even I could pick up on the torrent of grief and woeful tale of spurned love that followed. Latin Americans don’t take affairs of the heart lightly.
Back in England it was business as usual, and songs on the radio took on a less desolate timbre. But when those sad melodies crept onto the airwaves there it was, time and time again, that same word once more. Heart. And every melancholy tune cataloguing the destruction of this essential organ seemed to be about one thing and one thing only – the woes of amour gone wrong. I felt like the world was on the edge of despair and it was all down to romance.
But it’s not just romantic catastrophes that can tear you in two and I was starting to deal with a whole new sub-set of pain – of the mental illness variety. But no-one was singing about that.
I haven’t had much opportunity to experience tragedies of the heart of late; thanks to my illness my love-life has been barren as the Kalahari. However having spent the last four to five years on-and-off very ill and debilitated, I’ve experienced a different kind of loss – that of a large chunk of my twenties. While my friends have all been out adventuring, building careers and humping anyone with a pulse I’ve watched a lot of things pass me by while sat at home in a fatigue fog. I mean, I knitted a LOT of hats, but there was always a sense of something lost that I couldn’t quite process. How do you mourn the loss of opportunities when you can’t touch, hear or see them? How do you grieve for something that hasn’t even happened – that isn’t tangible, solid, real?
At least in the aftermath of a tragedy or relationship break-down you can off-set some of the pain you feel against the good times once shared with the lover you’ve parted with, or the loved one that’s departed this world. Mental illness presents a double edged sword – it can cause you insurmountable grief for seemingly no reason.
I think it’s this lack of logic and sense driving the arrival of depression in people’s lives that can prevent them from appropriately grieving for what they’ve been through, and what they’ve lost. But grieve you should. As with any traumatic event in life, whether romantically tragic or not, I think you have to spend some time wading through misery in its aftermath – crying out the tears that are trapped in your body – to get to the other side.
If this means weeping into a Doritos packet while listening to Michael Bolton, then so be it. Shriek, rant and rail, sob, claw at the walls – do what you must to feel what you need to feel when depression has stormed in and out of your life.
Then when the time is right you can move on. And perhaps write a song about how lost love isn’t the only thing that can rip your life apart and shatter your corazon.