If you’ve struggled at all during the past seemingly endless 24 months of screaming uncertainty, you’re going to get the underlying message: Sharon Van Etten wants to make it clear that you are not alone.
The video for the much-celebrated singer-songwriter’s new “Porta” arrives with a message about its creation. In a statement, Van Etten admitts to having had a particulary heavy bout of depression in 2020, to the point where she ended up at one of her “lowest lows”. Hold your head up high if you can relate.
“For most of my adult life, I have struggled with bouts of depression and anxiety and coping mechanisms,” Van Etten shares in her message to her fans, “and I sometimes let those dark moments get the best of me. During this time I felt very dissociated. Not connected to my body and I felt out of control.”
If you relate to that, here’s where you’re going to be able to relate in “Porta”:
- The first 10 seconds, which quietly drives home the reality that, sometimes, deep breathing is all that's going to get you through the next 10 minutes of life.
- The 1:21 mark, because even when you’re in the workout zone and doing an okay job of clearing out all the inner clatter and chatter, sometimes the doubts, fears, and self-shit-talking rears up and you have to start the refocusing all over again
- The ending, starting at 3:28, because as much as Van Etten comes up smiling, what may or may not be the darkness seems to creep in a couple of seconds later.
Whether that final bit of uncertainty is real or imagined is up to you to decide. but it seems like an important and subtle message to everyone been in the same place as the famously confessional singer. Keep in mind that losing yourself in black skies happens to almost everyone. There is no shame in that.
In her statement for “Porta”, Van Etten reveals that, even while down as low as she goes, she found the strength to reach out to friends, including a North Carolina pilates teacher named Stella Cook.
“I was seeking a friend, someone to talk to who understands what finding the core means but also knows what my weaknesses are and can help me work around them and find my other strengths," she reveals. "I knew I was entering a no-judgment zone and I needed to be held accountable for my actions and Stella helped me step up. We would meet once a week on Zoom, have a catch up on life over a quick coffee and then get to work. Then, a day or two later she would send another video my way so I had something to work towards the end of the week.
“She was encouraging, but not pushy. If life got in the way, I didn’t feel like I let her down—but I loved our sessions. I looked forward to them. I started feeling closer to her, and closer to myself, and it helped things seem hopeful. And I just wanted to share that with the world. Instead of the darkness. Instead of my fears. My message is to work through them. Even when it’s hard. Even when it hurts. Reach out. Reach out to that friend who helps you reach out towards yourself.”
No one said it’s always easy. But if you’ve struggled at all during the past at-times-hellishly-surreal 24 months, you know that it usually always gets better. Even if only for a while. And sometimes that’s enough.