Because it’s a Good Thing.
I fought the Back Dog, and for a long time, and I won.
Because it’s a Good Thing.
I fought the Back Dog, and for a long time, and I won.
Rehearsing with Birmingham Philharmonic Orchestra later this morning. Last time I played with them was about 15 years ago.
I seem to be delving horribly closer and closer to (but still not even yet reached the core of) a past life I still can’t seem to deal with. I had forgotten what panic attacks felt like; it feels weird exercising everything within my puny power to battle through this, and not just retreat instead.
Sometimes I wish I knew how to quit stuff easily.
(I am DESPERATELY hoping people will not tell me “oh you’ll be fine”; that’s akin to telling me to “keep my chin up” when the Black Dog is sitting on my head.)
(Also, it would be a terrible thing to throw up over my cello, right? I’m thinking I should avoid doing that.)
I’ve agonised over a way to get through this for many, many years. Should I call you and speak to you over the phone? Should I email you? Should we meet up over coffee?
The thing is, all those possibilities just fill me with dread. It’s not enough that I carry years of hurt and don’t know how to do with it, but that you’ve made yourself unapproachable for me kinda makes this doubly hard.
So, aaaaaaages ago, I thought maybe the only way for my own closure is to just type this stuff out in an email, and then just delete it. Don’t send it. But I’ve done that before with other people, other scenarios, and it’s just never worked. I dunno why. Maybe when I need it to be out there, I need it to be heard, before disappearing into the ether. It kinda makes sense; we all want to be heard, in some way. But ironically, I don’t even know if I want you to hear me.
But if you don’t hear me, that’s ok. I just feel that, after so many years, I should maybe have my little say.
I don’t know what I ever did to upset you, or make myself the target for your teasing and bullying, or why you thought I was sub-standard to everyone else you ever knew. I wish I DID know, because I’m honestly not sure why you let me stick around so long! I find that weird. One minute you would say we were best friends, and then the next you would be telling me I should quit cello and do something else instead.
That never, ever, ever stopped hurting.
Going through my music degree, which was pretty much everything I ever hated, I couldn’t understand why you would rip the shit out of my performance pieces, right in front of me. I couldn’t understand why you made a point of my degree not being a serious degree, just because I did it at a university and not a music college. It wasn’t great fun having you ask me why I didn’t have a full orchestra performing with my concertos, and instead just having some “unknown pianist who didn’t really give a shit about whatever the hell I played”.
Thing is, I know you had an awful time whilst you were at uni. I know your lecturers tormented you, and made you feel like shit. I know you were upset on a regular basis. I know of your performance anxieties, or “stage fright” if you will.
What I understand even less is how you treated me in orchestras. There were just SO. MANY. OCCASIONS. I just didn’t get it. Organising string octet performances and making sure no one ever mentioned them to me. Taking the piss every time I had a solo performance, knowing how nervous I was every time. You knew I had no confidence in myself, and you seemed to almost go out of your way to shred the tiny desperate glimmer of hope which remained in me. Why did you do that? Would I even understand now if you explained it to me? Would you understand?
When we went to Canada, I opened up to you about my depression. You asked me that classic line: why can’t you just cheer up? I humoured you, because I knew you didn’t understand at the time. Anyone who asks that question, doesn’t suffer from depression. And I don’t begrudge people asking that. Or at least, I didn’t back then, because we were only on the verge of turning 20, and had so much ahead of us to understand. I was at the worst of my depression on that trip with the orchestra. You knew I had just come out of the Mental Home after trying to take my life again. You knew how badly I wanted to play in orchestras. You saw my devotion to the youth orchestra; you couldn’t miss it. No one could. You knew I was on antidepressants…
Was that all against me? Was I not helping myself with that? Did you resent me for that? Should I have given up then, stepped away, not bothered you any more?
I didn’t bother you with my problems, I made sure not to do that. I didn’t lay my shit on you. I knew you weren’t interested. And that was cool too; I never ever was the sort of person who felt comfy laying shit on other people. You knew I was ill, and I suppose that was all you needed to know.
So, years later after we had both had our first child, and you confessed that you felt like you were suffering from depression, I tried to be there for you. Maybe you told me of it because you thought I would understand. I understood. I understood. Everything you said, I understood. You were very strong, running that orchestra, with me as one of your team members. (How did that even happen? Was I just gullible and easy to use? Maybe I’ll touch on that later.) And I worried for you. I genuinely worried for you. You took on so much with the orchestra, and was never quick to delegate tasks to the rest of us. I worried about how much you took on, and wanted to make sure you weren’t getting swamped. I wanted to make sure you had the support you need.
I had a chat with AB about you; I was so worried. I didn’t know how to talk to you, but I knew he talked to you all the time, and that he knew you (and I) well enough to understand. I told him I wanted you to have more help and support; that I was worried that you might get snowed under. I never ever told him the things you confessed to me.
In an email, I remember you spitting words at me. I remember you saying that I had told AB that you weren’t capable of running an orchestra. Apparently AB had passed on to you, that I didn’t think you had it in you, that you shouldn’t be in the position that you are in, and that pretty soon you were going to destroy yourself.
Why didn’t you talk to me, A? Do you think I would ever say things like that? Why would you ever think I would say things like that? How could you not see that I was worried about you? After the conversation about depression, how could you expect me to just sit back, not give a shit, not be worried that you weren’t getting more help and support? How could you think that I would suggest you were incapable of running the orchestra?
I wanted you to have more help. Despite the way you treated me, I was still concerned for you. In Canada, I told you I would never in a million years wish depression on anybody. That still applies. And I reiterated that when you confessed to me. I said the same thing again. And I said you could come to me any time.
I don’t understand.
Why did you think I demanded to be orchestra principal? Who told you that? Where did you get that piece of information? Why didn’t you ask me? Why didn’t you ask me what I thought, where I wanted to be, what role I wanted to play?
Being principal terrified me, and not once did I think I deserved it. I’d had principal cellist woes since I was maybe 11 years old. The day I became principal of an orchestra, looooooooooonnnng before I met you, taught me to be humble. I was always honoured to be in that position. And with such a weight on my shoulders, I took it as best as I could.
If you didn’t think I deserved to be there, then why did you put me there?
If everyone in the section hated me as much as you say they did, then why didn’t they tell me?
Why didn’t you tell me?
Why did you keep dragging me along, for so many years, leaving me to think I was doing sort-of kinda ok?
There are so many things I don’t understand. There are so many answers I think I might still need. But the saddest thingI deal with right now, only came to light late last week.
I picked up my violin (not even my cello!) just to play some old folk crap. And then I started playing along with a piece I think we had worked on, one time. And something you said popped into my mind. And then another, and another, and another. Maybe 2 minutes after that first thought (I can’t even remember what it was, there were so many more which pummelled me in those 2 minutes which seemed to go on forever), I put down the instrument, turned off the music, and cried. Hard. I think I physically crumbled.
I don’t understand what was happening.
And I don’t know how to deal with that.
What I do know, is that I need closure. Sadly, I know that I will never ever get that from you. I tried to be friends with you, and I have this horrible feeling that you never wanted a friend, you wanted a toy. Like an old football that you can kick around, and then kick aside when you’ve had enough.
I think I was very gullible, and very stupid. And I wish so much that I had woken up sooner.
I wish I had gotten angry sooner, maybe that would have helped me move on faster. Hell, maybe it would have helped me move on at all. I am not sure I ever got angry at you though. I was upset, so very upset. And sad. And sometimes I felt sorry for you. But mostly I think, just sad and confused. I spent so much time wondering what, exactly, had I done wrong. I still don’t know.
When you sent that last email to me, full of accusations, of things I had done wrong (which I didn’t even know I had done wrong), I didn’t argue back. I think I should have done, I think I should have defended myself, I think I should have given my point of view. But I think that was the first time realised, after maybe nearly 10 years, that you were never going to hear me.
When you sacked me as principal cellist whilst I was on maternity leave, and gave no thanks for the endless advertising admin I put in for you, I think that was (finally!) when I realised there was no point in talking to you. I deleted your emails, I withdrew all my musical and administrational input, I shut down from playing music, I put my cello on ebay. It felt like you were coming to the close of a long-standing war with me, and I was done fighting a battle I a) didn’t understand, b) didn’t want to fight and c) didn’t even see coming in the first place.
Sometimes, I look at my dusty cello in the corner, and wonder if you felt happy with yourself after I quit everything. Did you feel like my weight was finally off your shoulders; that you wouldn’t have to bother with my crap any more. I could only guess yes; I had no other conclusions I could come to. There’s still sooooooo much more that I want to say, but I don’t think there’s any point. Or maybe this is the first layer of personal crap I am to wade through. The rest will come to surface later. Maybe I’ll be stronger, more ready for it, if and when it comes.
I’m exhausted now, and yet I still deal with echoes bullying and torment so many years later. How do I let go? I’m hoping this post helps. I haven’t named you, and those few who read my blog – well, I’m pretty certain they don’t know you. In the unlikely event you read this, I would never dream of getting answers from you. I don’t think I want an apology, I don’t think I want explanations, and I know for a fact I do not want to start arguing again.
This is my closure. Or at least, this is the start of my closure. I know you bitched about me to many people; I avoided doing that of you. I understand now why people were so weird with me toward the end of it all; I get that now. This is my outlet. This isn’t me bitching. This is me asking all the things I should have asked myself (and perhaps you!) so long ago.
So this is my closure, and I wish you well.
My frustration is that, when I’m sinking, what I REALLY want is someone to help me not drown.
The frustration comes in that suddenly, I have no voice.
Or maybe I do still have my voice, but it can’t be heard over all the fucking noise in my head.
All. That. Fucking. Noise. In. My. Head.
I’ve been sitting at my desk for several hours, swinging violently from being ecstatic, thrilled and ridiculously excited over the current wedding I’m editing (it really is fucking amazing) through to crying my eyes out and feeling empty as fuck (current state as I type) while touching on someone get me the sleeping tablets, pronto.
The Sleepers were always my weapon of choice; perhaps because they were easy, clean, produced the desired effect. Whatever the desired effect was.
Thing is, I want to shout for help. And even when I DO shout for help, there doesn’t seem to be one person with whom I can feel comfortable venting out everything. EVERYTHING. There’s always something to hold back, something to bottle up, something to withdraw. There’s always that fucking ridiculous guilty feeling that I’m being a burden – seriously, who wants to listen to someone whine about fucked-up bullshit inside their head? Everyone has worse problems at the end of the day. Isn’t that always the case?
I find that hard to deal with. It’s hard, when shit is hitting your own fan, and you want support. And you get that support, briefly, and it’s followed by “yeah, you have noise in your head? Well if it makes you feel better, my entire family died in a contained nuclear fallout caused by a 3 year old who’s mother was a surrogate to us all and now she has to go to prison while I have to sort out the funerals and insurance. Oh, and I crashed my motorbike into a bus shelter and now I’m being sued.”
We all have problems. But as life has gone on, I’ve never found it easy to just open up to people. I WANT to, desperately. But the time never ever feels right.
And then when I do feel like I’m shouting, quite loudly, it turns out that actually, I was barely moving my lips and nobody really heard.
Which makes me feel pathetic.
Cue more tears.
There are some major shifts going on in my mind right now, and I don’t know if I can deal with them. I feel very, very broken; the only thing holding me together is the smile on my face. If that goes for too long, the cracks start to show. Somehow I have to stay strong, but I’m seriously fuck-out of energy and strength. I’m not entirely sure where I’m supposed to summon new supplies. Or maybe I’m not; maybe I should just let this consume me? I don’t even know.
Oh wait, I can’t let it consume me, because that’s giving up, and that’s selfish, and that’s more guilt, and that’s more than I ever need in my life, ever.
I’m going to do that thing where I put it all down to being very tired. I’ll cry some more, I’ll go to bed, I’ll wake up feeling like shit, emotionally and mentally exhausted, but hey. Tomorrow is another day.
I just have to do one more day, each time. That’s all. It’s easy. Sure it is.
Shit is happening, but I’m just going to pretend it’s not happening.
I can’t rush on my next batch of weddings. I can’t stop and take a break from life. I can’t do half the things I want to do right now. I can’t shake the shit funk I’m in.
So I’m just going to pretend it’s not even happening.
There’s a ton of shit, a load of bad feelings sitting on my shoulders, but a) I just don’t have time for it, and b) I can’t fix the things I want/need to fix. I’m tired. But I can’t seem to stop. I don’t seem to be allowed to stop.
So fuck it.
I’m Indie Niall.
I’m reeeeeeeeally tired. I’ve been treading water for months now, and I am reeeeeeeeeeeeally fucking tired. For a while, back there, I was swimming. Like, actual arms and legs going, swimming, moving along. It felt ace it felt like I was actually going somewhere. But I’m tired of swimming now. I confess, for a while, I’ve just been treading water.
See, thing is, my head has dipped below the surface a couple of times. It’s ok though, because I held my breath. I didn’t breathe underwater; I didn’t let my lungs become become full of horrible murky shit.
I didn’t take a breath under there.
And I thought that was pretty cool, because sometimes I was beneath the surface longer than I think I was. But I kept treading water. Just below the surface. That’s a Good Thing, right? Right. Because I know what happens when I stop treading water.
But now I have a problem because I want to stop treading water. I just kind of want to stop breathing. I want to take a break from it, y’know? Maybe just take in one massive mouthful of water. It wouldn’t hurt, would it? It’s not like I’d swallow the water or anything. In fact, maybe I’d just float there, just beneath the surface, unnoticed, undisturbed, unbothered, not moving. Not getting in anyone’s way, not being seen. And I could just lie there. Float there, I think. Like seaweed. Tangled in my own strange mis-shaped mass.
It would be so, SO easy.
I could just do that. It would be a welcome break. Maybe just as long as it takes for me to need to breathe again. It’s not like I’d be quitting; lord knows the guilt placed upon People Who Try To Quit Life. I know that guilt, I’ve dealt with that guilt and it’s oddly unfair.
But then who am I to whine about it? Who am I to complain that I’m tired of everything? Who am i to say it’s unfair? Me, here, who has such a seemingly wonderful life, with amazing children, and a supposedly flourishing career, and wonderfully perfect partner, and lovely little home in the countryside…don’t I have it all? Don’t I have everything I want?
I don’t even know. But I do know that, all of the above doesn’t mean it’s easy. I’m not good at juggling my life, with everything in it. I don’t know how I’m doing it even now.
But I DO know I’ve kinda had enough. I just want to float for a bit. Gulping water.
Maybe breathing water.
It would be ok under there, wouldn’t it? I could just embrace the strange noise pressing in on my ears and mind, instead of fighting it. I could just shut my eyes, and see my own darkness. I wouldn’t even have to look at the darkness that would surround me. Close my eyes. Keep them shut, and just breathe water instead. It would be strangely peaceful, I’m sure of it. And easier, too. Who says I have to keep treading water? It’s so hard. It’s too hard, for me, I’m sure.
Float onto my front, face down, and gulp. Then I could just stop. Just for a while.
It would only be for a while. Just a little while. Just a quick break. Just for everything to stop, just for a bit. Just one gulp.
Hello Slippery Slope.
I’ve been expecting you.
You took longer than I thought; it’s been a while since you were last here; easily sometime before Christmas, right? I think this is the longest you’ve been away.
So I’m not entirely surprised you’ve moved yourself into my travel path.
I’ve fought long and hard, and I know I should be proud of myself for going so long without having to deal with you. So long successfully fighting against you. No meds, no therapy, no intervention, just making sure I choose my life carefully. It’s not been easy, and I’ve almost made some fucking MAHOOSIVE mistakes which would have brought you on sooner. But it seems, I did ok.
Now, I’m not sure if you’re going to make a full appearance. I don’t know if you’re just going to linger for a bit, like the shitty bad smell that you are. I don’t know if you’re even going to get any more present than you already are. I feel like convincing myself that, in this state, you are manageable. However, I see my short temper with everything, my instant self-loathing, my instant hatred of everything, the suspicion that many think I’m an idiot, that feeling of being a punch bag to the world, the wanting to be accepted, the need for closeness, the rejection of everyone, the desperation to keep going, the urge to stop everything.
When that urge comes, it’s really weird. I guess I don’t want to actually die…no I don’t think so. I just want to stop functioning. It would just be easier that way. Numb everything a bit, dumb it all down, lessen the senses. Dial it all down. Turn it all off.
Make it hurt less.
I guess it would be easier if everything just hurt a bit less. I guess it feels like I spend time strengthening my shields, and then I take a beating, all manner of shit in every form. At first I’m blissfully oblivious, and nothing bothers me. I’m not invincible, I’m just flying high and going the right way. Bullshit bounces off me, and changing direction, away from it, is really easy. But then I get slower, my defences get weaker. I get weaker. I can’t take as much as before, and it becomes easier to hide. And then I feel pathetic for hiding, and then the self loathing kicks in and…well. Here we are. Hello vicious circle.
Maybe the down time is when I can recharge. That’s always been my theory, my hope. That when I do go into the fucking horrible shut down state, that I’m just slowly rebuilding from the inside. I don’t always believe it, because every single time, I find myself wondering if I can start up again. Wondering if I can kick the mechanics back into gear.
In my “waking state”, shut down really scares me. The fact that I literally become a cabbage, unable to speak, move, eat, barely breathing, it scares me. Only 2 people in the whole world have seen me at that state. I don’t ever want it to be more than that. It scares me. I should keep fighting, keep going, like everyone will probably keep telling me. But it’s like being underwater, so deep, where no one can reach you at all. The only thing you can do, is try to find some way to breathe. And even that feels near impossible.
It scares me.
I’m tired. I wanted to be kick-ass this year, and now I feel like, in admitting all of this, I’ve just instantly let myself down. I should be able to work through this by now, I should have mastered this by now. I’ve been dealing with this for nearly 30 years. Why do I still let it get the better of me? Why the fuck am I even whining about it?
It’s time to Put On The Happy Face I guess. I don’t always put it on, sometimes it’s genuine.
It’s going to have to be a fake one for a few days. I hope it’s just a few days. Nothing more.
It’s been gone a while. And yet all the time, I (weirdly) wake up expecting to be ill. Like it’s some kinda bitch, taunting me, waiting to shit on my face while I sleep so I find it in the morning.
That’s putting it nicely.
Fact is, 2012 into 2013 has been very good to me, so I haven’t had time to be ill. I don’t have time to be depressed.
What’s really shitty is watching a number of my friends, recently, succumb to the hideousness of feeling the worst. It fucks me off because weirdly, I’m almost “too well” to remember what it’s like to be seriously, really ill. And even worse, I want SO BADLY to help my friends who are currently suffering. How do I? I want to relate to them, I know I can relate to them, but I can’t remember how to relate to them without sounding like the assholes I despise when I AM ILL.
“It’s ok, I totally understand how you’re feeling”. (No you don’t, you haven’t got a clue.)
“I’m always here, you just need to call or text me.” (Pfffft like I can even say my own goddamn name out loud right now.)
“Always thinking of you. Honestly.” (Uh huh, sure, right until you get on with your own life and forget about me. Geeze.)
These are the thoughts and feelings I dread. I can almost cope with the suffocation of depression, just because I’ve dealt with it for a stupid number of years now. But I can’t deal with what everyone else thinks. And so, how am I to deal with that, when I have to bear in mind that I need to be a social person for work purposes?
Truth is, I am terrified of being ill now I’m reaching my element. The thought of being mentally comatose and physically paralysed, while I have to (and want to) maintain that ridiculous air of excitement around weddings…how do I do that? The excitement I emanate before each wedding is always genuine. I get such good feelings and run on such a high with them, it’s almost euphoric. But something clicked in my mind last week, which made me wonder if I’m going to ride the wave of mild bi-polar, and come crashing into the world of HOLY SHIT MAKE IT ALL STOP NOW PLEASE AND THANK YOU BECAUSE IT’S TIME TO HIDE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PIT WHERE IT’S SAFE AND NO ONE WILL EXPECT ANYTHING AND ALSO IT’S OK TO DIE DOWN THERE BECAUSE THAT’S WHERE ALL THE SOUL-LESS SOULS GO.
Sensible, well-balanced, healthy people will tell me to “stop worrying about it and just get on with life”. OHHHHHH is that what I have to do? I’m sorry, I didn’t realise. Also didn’t know it was that easy. I’ll just shut down my perfectly normal worrying nature, and pretend it doesn’t exist. Fo sho!
Only, when I do step off the edge of that dark hole, and plummet head first down into the slippery slope of DEATH AND DESTRUCTION AND DOOM, should I, um, act surprised? “Oh my goodness! What is this lack of emotion I am feeling? Is this depression? Is this what it is? Well oh deary me, I didn’t expect that! Oh dear whatever shall I do.”
That shit ain’t gonna fly.
Thing is, it’s always on my mind. ALWAYS. Not a day goes by when I wonder “right. I’m fucking stoked about yet another wedding it’s gonna be ACE I can’t fucking wait and ohhhhhhhhhh god I want to sit on the kitchen floor just out of reach of all tablets and think about thinking about killing myself or making me sleep for a few years cos that’s easier or maybe perhaps I’ll just lie here like a cabbage not saying or doing anything and barely breathing because that’s just toooo haaaaaaarrrrrrrd.” It will come back.
I don’t have time for it.
I’m not sure if I should MAKE time for it. Brace myself maybe.
It will come back.
That old bastard will be back.