Thinking Like A Dreamer

Friendship is a tough road to traverse for those of us who suffer from social anxiety and those of us who suffer from bpd.  Relationships are tricky and highly emotionally charged…and, unfortunately, sometimes they’re very hard to keep. I wrote this song, with an ache in my heart, as it came to me in a whirlwind. And, sadly, I know that I’m not the only one who can relate.  It will resonate with many who know what I’m talking, um, singing about.

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The Unbelievable Stark Contrast Between Me and…me.

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It’s time I wrote about this.

A few months ago a friend of mine I have known for a few years now came for the first time to see me perform. Her amazement at the difference between the person who makes and performs music and the painfully awkward, strange person she sees almost daily at the schoolyard reminded me of something I need to make clear to those of you who have been avoiding coming out to a gig for years because you just think ‘someone like that couldn’t be very good.’

IMG_20150928_125813[1]I see it all the time, in the people who have seen or talked to me elsewhere and then seen and heard me perform. The shock. The sheer amazement. That not only a singing voice can be so vastly different to a speaking voice, but that I could actually entertain people instead of repel them – it’s one of the many reasons I would like to be a hermit that never darkens the outside world EXCEPT to step on a stage and perform.

Your misinformed preconceived ideas of what consititutes a person who is talented, able to perform well and entertain people, is sorely wrong!

The fact is, many of the most talented people in the world suffer from some form of social anxiety or are neurologically untypical in some way. The great majority of artists (really good artists) draw their inspiration from their pain and difficulties with this ridiculous thing we call life.

Of course, the reverse happens.  People who have seen and heard me sing before getting to know me better are just as flumoxed by my inability to handle what other people just take in their stride as ‘normal’. But, that’s not as bad, because I’ve already won them as fans, and their inability to comprehend my inability to function in ‘everyday life’ is not so much of a problem…except when it is.  I also remember immediately after Robin Williams committed suicide, an uber extroverted positive type friend of mine remarked something along the lines of, “I don’t think he could have actually killed himself – he was so funny and seemed so happy.”  I love this woman, but this statement is pure ignorance.  Depression just doesn’t work like that.  And, more often than not, the great comedians are the ones that struggle the most with severe clinical depression and thoughts of suicide. One who only sees the talent and doesn’t see the struggle is in danger of losing the whole person.

I was also talking to another musical friend of mine last night.  She is very talented.  She is highly educated and intelligent.  She also has Aspergers and suffers from severe anxiety, among other things.  We were both lamenting how we have encountered the attitude (even from health professionals) that ‘we are too intelligent to be mentally ill.’  WTF????!!! This is just ridiculous.  Would you tell a well-educated and articulate person with cancer that they were too intelligent to have cancer?

So yeah, it works both ways…but, what I am mainly focusing on in this post is the former problem of getting people who avoid coming out to hear me because they can’t believe that someone who isn’t capable of making a phone call and struggles to get out of bed in the morning would be able to entertain them from a stage. PLEASE, get rid of the preconceived (ignorant) notion. You’re missing out on some good music.

Now, I realise, I’m probably preaching to the choir here. And, those of you who read my blog have already been won over, while those of you who are thinking ‘someone like that couldn’t be very good’ are also the ones who would never ‘waste your time’ reading my blog.

Do I sound a bit angry?  Sorry/not sorry.  It’s just frustrating.  No one wants to be judged on just one aspect of their personality and ability.  And no one wants to be judged on their DIS-ability.  Yes, I have issues.  Yes, they are a pain in the arse and make life a burden a great deal of the time. NO, they do not stop me from being a talented person worth listening to.

And that goes for everyone who is ‘different’ in some way.

Take your bloody filters off.

Accept both sides of the coin.

We are fucked up (so society would say), but we are also awesome.

Watch “Is It Me You’re Looking For? (The answer-phone message for those of us whom phone calls make ill)” on YouTube

I’m not really sure if my inability to cope with phone calls is more to do with the avoidant personality disorder or with the social anxiety. Whichever or both, I don’t do phone calls. And so…this is my new answerphone/voicemail message.

Some Things Fall Under The Category: ‘Because I Can’

wpid-20150624_080214.jpgAllow me to set the stage for you: it’s morning, and I am NOT in any way a morning person (mourning? yes. morning? no! however I think there’s a good reason these words sound alike); my husband brings me a cup of coffee (because he’s amazing like that) and then proceeds to check his Facebook feed on his phone.  This is where he discovers that someone has shared something about a cover of Stairway To Heaven, and he clicks the link and listens to said cover. I won’t go into details.  It’s very good, as covers go, if a bit too much like the original for me (after all we HAVE the original already; I believe in putting your own stamp on a cover, not trying to make a carbon copy; I see no point in that… but I really, really digress, as this is not what this post is about). Then, he finished looking at what he was looking at and prepared to leave for work, leaving me with a cup of coffee and an earworm.

The opening riff of Stairway To Heaven wouldn’t leave me be. On a technical level, this is not a complicated song.  What makes it what it is, is simply the artistry of the performers and, no matter one’s interpretation of the song, or whether you like it or not, that artistry is quite tremendous.  This makes Stairway to Heaven a song that most people consider a guitar classic. A guitar classic that was now stuck in my head.

Sitting on the bed, I gazed down to the floor where my lyre harp sat.  I picked her up and began plucking that opening riff.  And, it sounded pretty.  It sounded light and bright, instead of dark, but still haunting and unmistakably Stairway To Heaven.

I went on to record it on my phone and make it my ringtone.

Why play a guitar riff on a lyre harp?  Answer: because I can. Why make said riff my ringtone? Again, because I can.

See, there are just a whole hell of a lot of things I can’t do, things I am prevented from doing for one reason or another. I find life to be a very great adversary, and most days the uphill, losing battle is extremely obvious.  But, while everyone with a smartphone has the capability to create their own ringtone, not everyone could make one that sounds good. Not everyone can play the lyre harp, and not just anyone would have thought to play Stairway To Heaven on it even if they did know how to play one! All the things I cannot do sometimes feels like a very unfunny joke. Oh, but what I can do seems like a highly amusing one – a laugh in life’s face.

I did it because I could.  And, in a world where I don’t fit and don’t belong, it’s being ABLE to do things like this (and, then actually DOING them), that can bring a feeling of cool accomplishment (and, yeah, that bit of needed laughter).  ‘Yeah, I rock.  Hear my ringtone?  I’m not going to answer my phone, because I suffer from social anxiety and don’t answer or make phone calls, but just listen to that lovely ringtone.  Isn’t it nice?  I played that. Yup. I made that.  Why, yes.  That is Stairway To Heaven. Played upon the lyre harp.  Yes, it is.’

Life is a harsh bastard. So, I take what I can get. And, I give what I can give, as well.  And, I do it….because I bloody well can.

Don’t fret? Apparently so.

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Here’s a picture of frustration for you, and a personal metaphor.

I’ve been considering my inability to play the guitar. In theory, this instrument should not evade me. I should be able to play it. It isn’t like it’s difficult, or a mystery. Except, I just can’t. Like being able (or, rather, not able) to cope and function in life, the guitar remains a source of failure.

It would be nice, helpful, perhaps profitable, if I could play such a portal and versatile instrument.

It would also be fantastic, helpful, etc., if I could make and answer phone calls and face social situations (i.e. going out my door), not either fall apart in or, alternatively, avoid stressful situations (stressful situations = life), not wish with every breath that it’s my last breath.

But, the guitar won’t let me play it…no matter how I’ve tried. And, life is just as contrary and hostile.

I can still make beautiful music, of course. Just as I still have moments of happiness, small victories while, ultimately, losing the war. But, the things out of my reach affect me greatly.

For the musically (or, humorously) challenged, the title of this post is a play on words… the guitar being a fretted instrument.  Don’t fret. Ha! Get it?

Why can’t I make the guitar and life sing for me? Well…it is what it is.

Not sure how to end this one. To stay with the music analogy, this post feels rather open ended and not resolving to the home chord…but, eh, I do that in songwriting all the time. So, yeah…life being as it is, I find it fitting to leave this…

Scattered Bits and Pieces

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I only write today to put down some of what I’m feeling.

Anger.

I suppose this anger has its root in resistance, in wishing things to be other than they are…wishing myself other than I am.

My frazzled, anxious state. I detest feeling this way, but this is the way it is.

Anger at my inability, my disability, dysfunction.

I slightly changed my voicemail message. A while back I recorded a message telling callers, basically, “I don’t make or answer phone calls; hang up and text.” I re-recorded the message today, using my improving accent.

I get a lot of automated calls, so no matter what the message says, it won’t make a difference to those.

Sometimes, I get a call from “private number”.  I wonder who’s on the other end of that line. But, while curious, I don’t spend too much time thinking about it; if they wanted to reach me, they’d text – or, as I said in my re-recorded message today, use a carrier pigeon or send a smoke signal.

I know I’m getting worse, and it makes me want to withdraw more. I dread any social encounter; my nerves are frayed.

It’s Getting Harder

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I’m deteriorating. I want things to improve. I want to be getting better. But, it’s just not happening that way. It’s getting worse, more difficult…looking more and more hopeless and desperate, relief nowhere in sight.