At age twelve I cut myself for the first time. I used to think that physical pain was much easier to manage than emotional. From a young age I struggled with depression, feelings of inadequacy, and extremely low self-esteem.
Growing up, a lot of things were rather easy for me. I did well in school and picked up piano with ease. Because of this, though, I faced a lot of pressure from my superiors and even my peers. I felt like I was obligated to strive for a level of perfection that was unattainable. I constantly felt the need to be smarter, thinner, prettier, and more advanced in my music. I struggled with self-harm for years until eventually people began to notice. I was humiliated and terrified that people would view me as weak or think I was crazy. Throughout high school it was a constant struggle not to revert back to self-harm as a coping mechanism. I felt like no matter what I did I could not find happiness. I had great friends, a loving family, and a boyfriend who cared about me, yet all I could see were my imperfections.
I graduated from high school six months early so that I could travel and tour the country playing my music. During that time I felt the happiest I’d ever been. I was playing music and making new friends every single night, making other people happy while doing what I loved. I realized that was the only way I would be able to achieve happiness in my life. I needed to pursue my passion and continue making music.
Soon after that realization I became sick. I had developed large lumps on the sides of my neck. After a few tests the doctors were concerned that it might be lymphoma. During this time all my closest friends moved away and went to college, and I was stuck in my hometown without the ability to leave. I felt so trapped and alone. After a few weeks went by I received the news that it was NOT cancer, just an abnormality in my lymph nodes. The next day I put in my two weeks’ notice at both my jobs and informed my parents that I was moving to Los Angeles. It was time for a drastic change.
In November of 2011, with all my belongings in suitcases, my parents and I began the cross country trek from Wisconsin to California. I didn’t know anyone in LA, had nowhere to live, and no idea what was in store for me. Luckily, I found an apartment and job within a matter of days, was able to enroll in school for music business a few months later, and made some incredible friends. I was finally beginning to feel the happiness I had chased for so long. It felt incredible to be in a city where my hobbies and goals weren’t so out of the norm. I was surrounded by ambition, desire, and dream chasers. It was such an inspiring feeling. For the first time, I felt stronger than my depression. It was then that I wrote my single “Break Free” with the help of my friend Dan Zerin.
More than three years have passed since that day, and I am so proud and excited that I can finally share the song and my story with everyone. I am busier and happier now than I have ever been. I graduated with a degree in music business, obtained a job at a prominent music management firm, am back in school working toward a second degree, recently became a certified makeup artist, and my band is doing better than ever. We have released three singles that I am extremely proud of, a beautiful music video directed by Adam Newacheck, and will be officially releasing our full EP within the next month. We are also preparing for our very first West Coast tour this June with stops in over nine different cities. I am working hard to make my life everything I want it to be, despite my fight with depression.
Everyone has something they are struggling with. It is just important to remember that there is always a way to overcome. Focus on your passion and work hard on your happiness, because at the end of the day, that is what is most important.
– Autumn Skibinski
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Have you ever been told you can't because you're a girl?
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