Depression Hits New Low on Last Day of Canceled Festivities

Nadine Drummond, Trinidad Carnival 2013

The Greatest Show on Earth, Trinidad and Tobago Carnival is supposed to be happening now! The Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. Ordinarily, thousands of Caribbean people would travel from all corners of the globe to feel their love of life unfold.

The annual event was canceled back in September 2019 and globally Caribbean people have been reeling in despair.

With the almost two and a half million deaths Covid-19 has claimed globally, Carnival was postponed as a result of the pandemic which continues to take and mash-up life everywhere.

I have been listening to soca music non-stop, looking at old pictures and videos and crying like ‘smaddy mi love lef mi’.

Prot of Spain Trinidad and Tobago, 2013

This emotional low is called Tabanca. It’s an extreme sadness following one's break up or separation from a significant other or thing. In this case, my heart is aching because of my love of live soca music and my inability to participate in exuberant celebrations rooted in African revelry and spirituality.

Thousands of carnival-goers experience Tabanca usually after the event and this is also referred to as ‘Post Carnival Depression (PCD)’. It is a legitimate mental health issue, albeit a mild form of depression revelers can experience after the emotional, spiritual and physical high of Carnival season.

This is the first time it’s happening to me as a result of a canceled event.

“Jouvert” Mike Neville, a global Carnivalist based in Atlanta has written extensively about his PCD. He says, “The impact of a global pandemic far exceeds missing out on fetes and playing mas - it is definitely not some crushing defeat or depression for me personally -- there are far more consequential things in life happening to plenty of people.

This includes the tremendous loss of income and financial pressure Trinidadians are experiencing. Carnival is an economic driver for the twin islands and the impact of the postponement can never be underestimated.

In February 2020, 37,861 tourists flocked to the twin-island nation, just before the pandemic lockdown began. This was a 6.5 percent increase from 2019, when visitors spent roughly $58 million dollars over a three-week period.

The financial fallout has been brutal and has affected almost every facet of island life from costume DJs, musicians, designers, to food suppliers, concierge services, and hotels to the doubles man or fella selling jelly water (coconut water) on the corner.

London’s Notting Hill Carnival was canceled last year as well and offered virtual events and this effort seems to be the only tool available to keep the spirit of Carnival alive.

Like most of us, I now know I took a lot of things for granted. I’m wishing I took that extra whine or that shot of rum, stayed on the road a little longer, and jumped a little higher.

Being denied the opportunity of my spiritual and cultural rebirth, I have realized that no matter how many lives I live, I will never feel this free.

Bacchanalist🧨, Journalist🥇, Filmmaker 🎬, aspiring vegan 🌱 with 👸🏾Feminist politics who praises Rastafari🔥 & studies no Evil💕.

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