When Cat Couture approached her husband, Adébayo Bolaji, to direct the music video to “Loved & Lost” she had one request: “I want the video to be a visual representation of what depression looks and feels like”. Cat Couture isn’t one to shy away from opening up about mental health, but Loved & Lost was so close to home, that it made sense to put her trust in someone who is literally that - close to home. Bolaji was ideal, not only because of his incredible experience in the theatre, film and the contemporary art world, but also because he knows first hand what it is like to live with someone who deals with mental health struggles. Couture: “I’m very fortunate to have such an exceptional director and partner for the video.”
Directed by Adébayo Bolaji
Production Manager Alan George James
Edited by Gregg Houston
Steadicam Laura Seears
Lighting Jon Ball
Focus Puller Bis Oseni
Assistant Mary Odesey
Grading Thomas Mangham (The Mill)
Location Walpole Bay Hotel
“The beautiful and terrifying thing with love and vulnerability, is that you can not hide. They see all of you, all your imperfections, the good, the beautiful, the ugly. Having depression, anxiety attacks, mental and emotional breakdowns, thats not really a side of ourselves we want to share, especially not with the person we love most. It is so easy to fear abandonment and doubt our value, doubt whether someone is willing to work through these things with us. It’s a lot to bare, for the person going through it and for the one supporting that person, because we rarely even understand what is going on with ourselves, where exactly the trauma lies, what the triggers are, it can be a mine field thats a constant surprise and shock.”
The song “Loved & Lost” deals with how we recycle pain. I realised that I was carrying a lot of internalised abuse that I had associated with myself, which I would then inflict and project on others in moments of weakness, projecting my worst fears onto the ones I love. On my own journey trying to navigate my mental health, I came to learn that the majority of people who abuse, had been abused themselves and how much of a cycle it all was.
Being someone who had been emotionally abused for many years of my life, it was a hard pill to swallow when I realised I could indeed also be the abuser. Through projecting my suffering I am no longer just the victim, I am also the abuser. In a way we’re all just victims really, but with Loved & Lost I want to acknowledge and encourage everyone that we do actually have a choice, it’s a hard choice, because often times when we’ve been a victim we can get stuck in this victim mentality, we just want to be heard and seen and forget our actions and words have ripple effects, but we do have a choice. We can either choose to break the cycle, or we will continue it.
They say you can't help someone unless they’re willing to help themselves. Well that applies to ourselves too. It’s very easy to stay in denial and distract ourselves. We can distract ourselves with social media, with work, drugs, alcohol, even with seemingly positive things, there are so many quick fixes we are sold all the time, it’s like you never get a moments rest to just breathe and check in with yourself. But when we constantly distract ourselves or brush it under the carpet, it does accumulate, and it can become too overwhelming, so it all comes crashing down, all the stuff we’ve been burying comes rising to the surface, fears kick in, we fear abandonment, unworthiness, judgement, we judge ourselves, we can even resort to self harm, self loathing, abusing ourselves with our own words, our thoughts and other substances. I know this because I kinda wrote the book. I’m not proud, but I think it’s important to share these stories and be honest about what we are all going through, because many of us spent too many years not talking about it, and all that brought us was more shame and less connection.
Since opening up to friends and family step by step, I’ve been able to learn I am none of the things I fear I am, the way I perceive myself at my lowest is the exact opposite of how my loved ones perceive me, so for the first time I’m starting to understand how valued and loved I am. Now if I never opened up to my friends and family, they would never have had the opportunity to support me and prove my fears wrong. It’s important to allow our loved ones to be there for us. Of course no one can magically heal us, but it helps so much to know people are there and care. And if they don’t, or aren’t able to give us the support we need, we can find other people, or find professional help.
It took me 10 years to get the courage to see a therapist and once I started I honestly didn’t understand what I was fussing about, there’s absolutely no shame in getting support, we know this in our heads, but sometimes fear is still there, and that’s ok. Yeah it feels weird sharing your most personal thoughts with a stranger, but you get used to it and there are some absolutely fantastic therapists our there. It’s also important to take breaks I’ve found, taking breaks from social media, taking breaks from the news, having little holidays alone can be incredible as well, I love to take myself off to The Walpole Bay Hotel in Margate for my own little mental health retreats, where I just sit by the seaside and read books. It’s also where we shot the music video. Bit hard at the moment with lockdown, but we can still take time aside every day, spending time with ourselves, practicing positive affirmations, filling our minds with love, kindness, care, empowerment, building and practicing new and healthier habits.
It’s a continuous journey though, I’m nowhere near out the other end, just this week I had an emotional breakdown, but they happen less frequently now, and my recovery time is quicker. I’m able to allow myself a sick day and sleep as much as I can, I rest like I would if I had a fever, because the mental and physical toll it takes on your body is just as strong, I try my best to love myself and allow myself rest like I would a sick child. It’s important to remind ourselves that these moments do not define us, we are so much more than our weak moments, these moments are such a small part of everything that we are, we are powerful, beautiful, lovable and we are truly enough. All of us. I believe that with all my heart. We are not alone, and we can get through this.