Highs and Lows (and, How Time Can Make Things Worse Instead of Better)

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Mark and I arrived at the Festival excited and looking forward to performing. To abbreviate a long story, things didn’t go as planned. A rough crowd and a worse sound system ensured failure regardless of our talent and performance. Needless to say, it was a bummer. However, last night, when it happened, I handled it with objectivity and humour; instead of throwing a tantrum and dissolving into a torrent of tears and ragings against the bastard that is life, I was calm and positive. “Hey, it happens to the best. This wasn’t our night or our crowd. There will be other/better gigs.” I consoled my friend and music partner, even regaling him with one of my mother’s favourite gig horror stories. I wasn’t even faking it. I was disappointed, but I didn’t feel despairing.

But, that was last night. Time is supposed to help things. This is a myth. It rarely helps. It often makes worse.

When I woke up this morning, the despair sat waiting to pounce on me. I’ve been drowning in it since.

Last Sunday was such a massive high, and it’s difficult not to get hopeful from such experiences.

Life plays this cruel cat and mouse game. And, I’m sad and angry. And, so tired.

Tomorrow, I have a very overdue appointment with Mental Health. I wonder what new exercise in futility it will be. The Dr. I had previously seen is no longer there, then I missed an appointment back in May because I had forgotten the date and was too ill to get out of the house and deal with it. Now, there’s someone new to have to deal with. And, I have no hope to spare for the appointment. Perhaps, I’ll be pleasantly surprised, but it’s most likely going to be a waste of time.

Did I mention, I’m tired? When I say I’m tired, I mean that every aching bone in my body is crying out with weariness.

I am still very thankful for those rare good times, of course. And, a little good is better than no good at all. But, those times always make me want and expect more. I get hopeful. I start visualising success (which “they” say is the thing to do).  And, then, the kick in the teeth comes…and, it’s overwhelming, gut-aching sorrow.

And, yeah, maybe there will be some more good coming…there will be the last Sundays. But, then, there will be the last nights and the tomorrows, too. And, I’m just so fucking tired.

I’ll leave you with this… because it’s what I do, and this song seems fitting…and, who doesn’t love some Mumford & Sons? And, because, I’m still pathetic fool enough to hope.

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Grab A Note and Hang On

What actually helps someone suffering from mental illness and chronic pain? Nothing goes so far as a combination of friendship and doing what you love.

Just doing what you love to do, whether with anyone else or not, is a therapy. But, add in doing it with people you like who also love doing what you do, and doing that thing together…well, magic can happen.

Magic happened this past Sunday, the 19th of July 2015.

In a life that is long and characterised by pain, it’s these moments that are the saving grace, and they deserve to be celebrated. They bring the closest thing to hope and happiness that we get. And, therefore, they are exceedingly precious.

I wish us all many more such moments.

Grab a note and hang on.

To Quote Sir Elton John…

“Sad songs say so much.”

Autumn Live at Queen's Park

Yesterday, an exceptionally talented fellow artist, Robin Chapman (seriously, if you get the opportunity to hear this guy, do it) asked me if I was going to sing depressing songs on this beautiful day.  It was a beautiful day, and, yes, I was going to sing depressing songs.  Although, that’s not quite an accurate description. They are written and performed by someone with severe clinical depression, and they reflect a lot of my experience. But, you’re not going to catch depression from them, any more than you’re going to catch my irregular heartbeat.

I have an advantage in that people like sad songs.  Music is a safe place to express and explore what we call negative emotions and life’s pain (and, life is FULL of pain). All the better if you’re good at it (the music, that is).

Yes, I sang sad songs, but I was glad to be doing what I love (even if I did have to wrestle with a keyboard that didn’t want to cooperate with me  – bloody electronic things *&^£”!!! – and everything didn’t go strictly to plan); I was out in the open air, making music for an appreciate audience, and that felt good.

Two moments in the day stand out for me as precious. One was, when the last performer of the day, the delicious Mo Shotter, called me back up on stage to sing some improvisational blues with her.  So, we sang ‘The Queen’s Park Blues’ together. This was a magically spontaneous and pure fun.

The other was when I was singing this song:

There’s a point in this where you see me smile, and it’s where I look into the audience and see my 6 year old son singing my song along with me. It was one of those serendipitous moments, a fixed moment where time stops.

Things had come full circle.

I was on the stage and my child was in the audience proud of his mummy and, very happily, singing one of my sad songs along with me. And, I saw myself at that age, in the audience, proudly looking up at my mother…singing along with the sad songs…’I saw the harbour lights. They only told me you were leaving’…

Pardon me while I wipe the tears. Pardon me while I smile during a very unsmiling song. And, pardon me while I cherish the songs – and the moments – that say more than the sum of their words ever could. Because they interpret what cannot be said, but only be felt.

Not Today

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A quote from Lauren Child’s book ‘Clarice Bean Spells Trouble’.

 

Longing for death is different than being suicidal. With being suicidal, one is actively looking for a way to end their existence in this world. Longing for death is just wishing it would happen without lifting a finger to do it oneself.

Most of the time I am firmly rooted in the longing category. Not today. Today I am suicidal.

I received some bad news yesterday, news that suggests circumstances are getting worse, with even more worse than that to come.

I find myself researching how much of my meds I’d need to take to be fatal.

It’s a practical matter.

Someone says to me, “You’ll survive this.” I don’t want to bloody SURVIVE! Not if it’s going to be so much worse. Why do people think that as long as you keep existing, that’s all that matters? (See my post “Life Goes On”)

However, patience being a virtue, I’m going to wait and see if it’s going to get as terrible as it most likely will. After all, sometimes things do turn around or one gets a bit of a reprieve. There isn’t much hope but, at this point, I cling to a shred. So, I’m not going to down every one of my pills yet. Not today.

I can’t promise about tomorrow or the next. Just not today.

Today I will read my new book and I will make more music that only a few people will take notice of, but will be beautiful nonetheless.  I will make love to my piano. And, I will hold to that tiny shred of hope until it, too, is ripped from my aching hands – but, that won’t be today.  Today I will let time play out.  And, when the stinging tears fall hot and angry from my eyes – as they will – I will tell life I’ve got its number. I will end it when the time comes. And that’s not today.

Life Goes On

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“Life goes on.” Don’t you just hate this saying? It’s right up there with “snap out of it” and “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” (gag). The problem is, unlike those latter sayings, “life goes on” is true.

I recently watched an episode of a tv programme I like. In this episode, one of the characters has lost his wife to cancer. He looks out the window and laments that the view is the same. The love of his life is gone from him and so the view shouldn’t be the same.

I agree.

When there is grief, or when life just generally fucks you over, or when the complications that are a part of chronic illness happen, the world should stop. Life shouldn’t go on. But, it does. Relentlessly. Maddeningly. It just keeps going on. And on. And on. It’s wrong, on soooooo many levels.

And we wear our fake smiles and masks and try our best to appear normal because people we encounter are going to tell us “life goes on”. Human compassion has its limits, and they don’t have the capacity to deal with our pain (another reason life should not go on). So, we prepare our lies for when they ask us how we are. “I’m fine.”

I’ve often said this:

Life goes on. And that, my friends, is the tragedy.

It isn’t the loss, or the unfairness of life, or the issues that arise because of our illness – those things are bad enough, but they aren’t the tragedy. The tragedy is that life goes on…when it shouldn’t.

And, so, with all this in mind, I wrote this song and created the artwork for the video.

No, not everyone will get it or like it. But, there will be many who will. It will resonate with anyone who has ever suffered a significant loss, and it will resonate with my fellow squishy brainers. We’re the ones who know what the tragedy actually is.