Mind wellness recovery and loss.

Losing people due to having a “mental illness”* is difficult to swallow but it happens. I’ve lost people in my life because of my “mood disorder.”

Sometimes it’s only in hindsight that you realize your behavior was XYZ, but it is NEVER your fault and there is NOTHING wrong with you.

What IS wrong is the tendency for people to distance themselves from or make snap judgments about a person who seems “crazy” or “weird” or awkward.

People who care for you will take care of your relationship with them. People who care for you will ask if you’re OK and if you need support. People who care for you don’t say things or ask you questions that make you feel “other.”

You are not an other and you are not alone. 💖

 

Have you experienced loss due to your mind illness? How did people in your life respond to your mood disorder? What’s your experience?

Mental Health Recovery
Image courtesy of A Rich Mind (@mentalwhealth) via Instagram.

*in quotes because I think most of the clinical terminology we use is stigmatizing in the brain health world.

Buckle Up with Seattle’s Alt-Rock Band, Gypsy Temple, at The Funhouse Tonight!

I think you can’t have a conversation about powerful artistry without including one about mental health. For me and Gypsy Temple, music is an outlet for our physical, spiritual, and most critically, mental health.  — Cameron Lavi-Jones

Cameron Lavi-Jones
Gypsy Temple Frontman, Cameron Lavi-Jones. (Photo courtesy of Gypsy Temple website.)

Gypsy Temple
is the second

fantastical teen Seattle band

I’ll be hanging out with for my

Teen Music & Mind Wellness

project, &

they have a show TONIGHT!*
Wed., Feb. 7
6:30-10pm

Tix avail @ the door still! $12

@ The Funhouse
109 Eastlake Ave.

Gimme Directions!

 


Frontman, Cameron Lavi-Jones, reached out to me to participate in this project with an enthusiasm that inspired me.

I texted Cameron yesterday to ask if he could send me a quick line or two about mental health for this announcement.

Within minutes, he busted out a thoughtful, badass response that made my heart jiggle.

I’ll tease you with an excerpt.

You’re going to have to come back to read it all when I post our upcoming interview.  😉

“Our songs are based on negative emotions and experiences, but through the process of songwriting, performing, producing, and playing the music, those negative emotions become the guide for positivity. Those negative emotions become something we are proud of and something that makes us unique as artists.”


BUCKLE UP!

I have no doubt that this show is going to be fun as heck!

Come say hi, if ya like.

I don’t bite.      usually.

Psssst!  I’ll be streaming a bit of the show live on my Instagram @lady_archiva.

 



 

*The forthcoming post of my interview with Cameron Lavi-Jones will include more details about the other bands. This show is part of the Love vs. Logic West Coast Tour with AMOR.

Full Interview with Foxy Apollo

Full(ish) Interview*

O: I love the fact that you’ve kind of taken the ‘Fine, Fuck It’-DIY-we’ll-just-do-what-we-can-ourselves approach. It seems like that’s been going pretty well.

SA: Yeah. It definitely has.

SS: We’ve definitely been growing in the past couple months, for sure.

O: Been listening to the EP you guys put out, earlier this year, right? It’s really new, right?  Sounds great.

SA: Yeah, it came out a few months ago. Thanks.

O: I don’t know much about funk so I don’t really have much to draw upon in terms of comparisons. Maybe you guys can say a little bit about – Why funk? What your inspirations are…what does funk mean to you?

SA: I’m really into funkadelic. That’s a huge inspiration to me. I hadn’t really been super into. I wasn’t growing up listening to a shit ton of funk…I kind of started…we just started playing it. We started out as a blues band and then we started doing breakouts.

Who’s in the band?

The band is still forming. A few people who started out in the band ended up having to leave but they made a big impact. Currently, Foxy Apollo is Sam, Satchel and Zach, but these are the guys who played the show I attended:

What’s With the Band Name?

SA: It started with me and my cousin jamming a couple summers ago. It was kind of an inside joke. We thought it was funny. It was catchy. It didn’t really mean anything at the time…it got its meaning a lot later.

SS: We’ve jokingly called ourselves Oxy Pollo. (Remove the first two letters.)

O: Or you could be Foxy Pollo – Foxy Chicken.  (haha!)

The Creative Process :: Writing Your Emotions

SA: I’ve been writing songs for a while. I started out imitating a couple musicians – mainly Nirvana. I was in a couple bands that were basically a mirror image of Nirvana.

In high school, I was really stressed out. I was a little down. I got really into writing songs, putting words to how I felt. It kind of just like spills out of you. But yeah, it kind of all builds up and you’re like, Oh shit, now I have a bunch of songs. Now I can do something with these.

O: I started writing when I was 14-15 because of depression. I didn’t know what it was then but, for me, writing poetry…they’re like lyrics. Eventually, it turned into music so I totally get the importance of having that creative outlet.

SA: Yeah. And definitely, as I’ve gotten older, too. We just started going to Edmonds Community College. They have an amazing music program and access to studios so we’ve been working a lot there. Every day we’ve been trying to spill a little bit out.

[At this point in our conversation, Satchel recognized The Roots playing overhead.]

O: I heard some Nirvana and Built to Spill in your music, and my friend said he heard 90’s and 70’s rock.

SA: I could see that. 70’s rock is huge. I grew up listening to Neil Young and classic rock, and I got into indie rock in high school

SS: Definitely 70’s funk like The Brothers Johnson. That’s so tight. I love that stuff.

Songs: Mental Breakdown and I’ve Gone Mad

O: Part of why I’m talking to you guys is because I’m interested in mental health and depression, especially teenage depression. I don’t know what it’s like to be a teenager now. Music is usually a personal thing, so I wondering about your song, “I Think I’m Mad.”

SA: I started writing that song about drug addiction and a lot of self-analysis; more of a bond I shared with my cousin. We were talking about a lot of deep things but writing these really silly songs, covering it up with happy melodies but really kind of writing about more deep things that we couldn’t really completely comprehend.

O: That’s awesome. It’s awesome how music does that.

Teenagers and Ageism

SS: Like Sam was saying, self-analysis has always been a big thing. I think with being a musician sometimes…if you’re like me, I like to practice a lot and you could go six hours and feel like you’ve gotten nothing done and you’re really hard on yourself.

It’s gotten to a point sometimes with me, where like, I won’t have any friends at the time, except for Sam, because I’ll shelter myself and then you realize everybody’s out and you’re like. Oh, alright I guess I’m here alone with a pad..messing around.

O: Right, and is that hard sometimes because you don’t have that social interaction with more people?

SS: Yeah but I just put it back into music though. You go and listen to an album so it’s both a good and a bad…

O: Yeah, you have to sacrifice something, right? I mean, if music isn’t something you’re willing to sacrifice then you have a to find a way to be OK with it, right?

SS: Yeah, absolutely.

O: Do you actually practice six hours a day?!

SS: Yeah. I try to. Today I did four. I want to go to music school next year, hopefully, so I’m trying to get as good as I can for auditions.

How does this band fit into your music career? Is it a project band?

SA: I’m always gonna be making music. It’s kind of inevitable. It’s not a sacrifice for me because it’s something I’ll always do. Even if this, specifically, doesn’t work out at some point, I’d still keep making stuff and sharing.

O: When you say that, do you mean that you’re thinking you’re gonna work in the music industry? Like you want to try to be an artist and make money from that or…?

SS: I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily about the money thing. I mean, yes, I think we both want to become professional musicians or people who work with audio. Even if it’s just becoming an audio engineer or something, doing that kind of business, but I think it’s just about the love of music. Both of us wouldn’t care living in a shithole for like..I don’t know, 40 years.

SA: What about the industry where you specifically asking about?

O: Have you thought about or considered the fact that maybe you’d have to work in something else to sustain myself.

SA: We’ve been studying a lot of stuff around the music itself, too. We’ve been studying some sound engineering and visiting studios and hearing a lot of audio engineering stories. I still wanna tackle the music industry and see what else you can do around it.

Obviously, there’s a chance I might end up with another job around it but I think it’d be cool to learn about all the other stuff instead of just coming [at music] from one direction.

SS: Do you think you could ever see yourself in a desk job?

SA: Fuck no.

Laughter ensues.

SS: That’s a big “no.”

~18:45 [I blab on about entrepreneurship. Don’t have to be stuck at a desk.]

***

O: There are a couple of things in particular I’m curious about your description of the band on FB.

“Lack of respect that you’ve experienced” – can you tell me a bit more?

SA: We’ve been playing at some bars and people see these kids playing –and I’ve experienced this a lot cause I’ve been playing since I was really young– and they kind of just like…

O: Write you off?

SSel: Exactly.

SA: Yeah. They’re kinda like, “Play your show and get the fuck outta here.” I mean, they don’t really treat you with the same respect.

SS: We’ve played shows where I’ve literally had to set up my drum kit outside the venue and carry it in onto the stage and right after, immediately leave.

SA: ..and get escorts to the bathroom.

O: What?! That’s not cool…

SA: I mean, I get it. They’re cracking down…but it’s less about the concerns of underage drinking and more about how people view young musicians, their perspective of them.

SS: We’re like free entertainment to them and they can just treat us like crap…

O: That’s messed up. It sounds like you’ve found some places that are better about that?

Both: Oh yeah. Those are only a select few.

SA: It’s really opened our eyes and it made us realize that we really want to be doing this ourselves; not relying on others to promote us cause a lot of promoters aren’t doing their part…

O: That’s frustrating.

SS: It makes it fun though.

“Meticulous approach to playing” – What do you mean? Meticulous in what way?

SS: We both play in a very distinct style and they’re both very exact in their own ways, that together makes a whole new sound..it’s different.

SA: Also, aside from the style, we connect a lot to it. Each part of it is telling its own story in a way.

SS: It’s definitely a very thoughtful process…

“Emotions and stories that come through….” that’s kind of what you’re talking about. Channeling your experiences

SS: Working on writing and recording a lot of new stuff. We’ve recorded a bunch, just need to record drums and its good to go. Not ready for a release date yet. [Edit: Foxy Apollo has since released a few tracks, which you can listen to on Soundcloud here.

SA: We’re trying to get into the mixing process too and mix our own music using studios at school.

O: I’m excited to hear what you guys come up with. I think your energy is super cool.

I have a special place in my heart for teenagers because of the age-ism you were talking about. People, culture don’t take children/ seriously.

****

Notes: Sam does most band mgmt (booking shows, art) with help from others. Satchel ends up recording the practices, usually.

****

Note: Some portions of the interview were omitted to respect confidentiality and privacy. Additionally, some portions of the interview were slightly edited for clarity and brevity.

Continue reading Full Interview with Foxy Apollo

Colorful cognitive dioramas.

Looking for a job while experiencing depression illuminates how thick a slice of self-confidence gets hacked off. Just like that. I’m not talking about the run-of-the-mill insecurity, the “normal” kind that reminds us we’re human. The kind that well-meaning friends, family, lovers point to in an effort to bring you some calm, to help you feel not so alone because, “Everyone feels insecure at some point. You’re not the only one who feels this way.” But you feel so desperately alone.

  • Items on bullet-pointed lists of job postings that interest you sum up requirements that seem improbable for you to fulfill.
  • Colleagues you imagine you would work with already dislike you and wonder why you were offered the position.
  • You’ve fallen behind on your task list for a project that you’ve not yet been hired to manage.
  • Your resume is a sheet of neatly organized words spelling out accomplishments and trainings you somehow completed.

Depression is a creative jerk. It creates colorful cognitive dioramas, falsely foreboding failures and fissures. It’s fucked up fantasy. Paralyzing bullshit serum. It’s a snake with three heads. A tiger with tentacled talons. A shade of black too dark for the human eye to see.

***

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 1.26.37 AM

Besides feeling that way sometimes — fearful, hesitant, twittered, jittery — I also do the things I enjoy (like record silly raps for potential employers and Vanilla Ice covers) and have meaningful interactions with people. I’m not always depressed or anxious but sometimes I am. Sometimes my mind feels like a cognitive stew with a side salad. Sometimes my mood rides out pretty smooth an entire day; sometimes my body and mind course through multiple moods by noon.

Do you have days when you wake up feeling irritated? Does your mind go blank and your limbs buzz with adrenaline when you hear a loud noise? Do you remember how your stomach felt in the moments just before your first kiss when your lips met hers/theirs/his lips?

We all are affected by our environment. Some peoples’ responses are standard, expected, predictable. Behaviors are conditioned, but for people with mood disorders (e.g. Major Depression, Generalized Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder/rapid cycling, Schizophrenia), their internal and external experiences can be 10x as intense as yours (persons who don’t experience a mood disorder first-hand.) Can you imagine that? I know some people are more “sensitive” or empathic than I am, and their experiences can be 50x as intense. I can only imagine.

 

A salvo of magic into the world.

I’ve been sleeping terribly the last few days.
(or do I feel that way every day?)

I just realized why.
(and it’s a good reason why)

🙂

There are so many creative project ideas in my head.
(thatIwanttothrust a salvo of magic into the world!)

I want to do it all.  (I feel good)
and that makes me happy.

{that’s not a hyperlink, #beeteedubz.
#bluetext
#iwonderhowmanypeopleclickedon”good?”}         anyway

That’s why
I’ve been getting
terrible
sleep.

[HASHTAG]nightynight

Image128

Cartwheels across the room.

When I was little, I spent my weekday evenings in my parent’s room while my Dad lay on the bed reading. Usually his face was hiding behind a newspaper or magazine held up between his clutching hands. I tumbled around as he read, doing handstands at the foot of the bed and cartwheels across the room. I said silly things and asked questions every now and then to get his attention. This was how I spent most of my childhood with my Dad, desperately trying to get him to notice me and make a connection with him.

This yearning for his attention continued and has haunted me throughout my adulthood. As a child, I was able to playfully insert myself into his space, and I wasn’t developmentally aware enough to think to myself, “Hey, my dad’s not paying attention to me. That sucks. He’s my dad, he should be doing what parents are suppose to do!” As I grew into my teen years, my playfulness turned into an anger and frustration that my dad was neglectful and non-responsive. My mom was too, in a different way. Neither of my parents reflected back my feelings or asked what I thought or felt about something. Anything. It’s no wonder that, as a young adult, it was difficult to identify my emotions, much less describe or communicate them aloud.

Through years of therapy and learning Buddhist teachings, including mindfulness, I have explored my inner landscape. I have learned the language of emotion and learned to connect emotion to physical sensation and thought. I wonder how different my growth would have been if I had received therapy as a child. What if I had Cognitive Behavioral Therapy treatment? I would have started drawing my thoughts/emotions/physical sensations map at a much earlier age. In this way, I have been grieving my childhood. I developed a rage around what my life could have been.

I could have dealt with my depression and anxiety earlier in my life. I could have avoided the starts and stops in my life. It probably wouldn’t have taken me 10 years to earn my Bachelor’s degree. I would have applied to graduate school in my twenties instead of my thirties. I could have avoided all of those messy and painful relationships.

These are some thoughts that circled in my head for years. I held on to them, as I held on to my anger toward my parents for not connecting with me in the human way that every child needs from a parent or caregiver. Allowing these thoughts is fine, it’s good to let them flow, but, as Epstein (1998) wrote, “Isolated in our heads, we yearn for the kind of connection that our own thinking guards against” (p. 59). It’s the clinging to the thoughts and not working through the associated emotional and physical sensations bit that keeps us stuck in the mud. “This is…the heart of the Buddha’s teaching: that it is possible to cultivate a mind that neither clings nor rejects, and that in so doing we can alter the way in which we experience both time and our selves” (p. 62). This is also true of therapeutic work. By assisting clients with exploring, identifying, and describing their emotional experience, we guide them in literally changing their brain chemistry. We hold a space in which they can unfurl into themselves and feel more grounded in who they are.

This has been my experience. Through the combination of therapy and meditation and mindfulness practice, I have observed and felt my perspectives change. I have witnessed the growth I have made from emotional reactivity to an emotional regulation based on awareness. I have experienced the shift in relationships and how I view, understand, and connect with people, especially my parents.

I don’t talk with my parents very often and when I do, there is a specific purpose behind it, a question that needs to be answered. Also, I’m not a fan of talking on the phone but a couple of weeks ago I had the urge to call them just to say, “hi.” It was perhaps one of the best conversations I have had with them. I felt as though I talked to my parents for the first time as an adult and as myself. I didn’t trudge through the conversation distracted by the disappointment that my dad didn’t ask about me. I listened to him talk about his fishing and tennis playing. I really listened and I responded with curiosity and playfulness. And I interjected to tell him about my internship not because I was looking for a particular response from him or as a passive-aggressive way to tell him that he was a shitty dad for not asking about his daughter’s life. I told him because I was proud of myself. I am proud of myself. I know that I would not have gotten to this point if I had not tapped into and worked through the unpleasantness of my childhood. Getting in touch with that pain was difficult, torturous at times, but it also motivated me to work through it so that I could let it go. My pain was “an invitation to change” (C. Matsu-Pissot, personal communication, August 1, 2015). It’s an open invitation that I will continue to accept, as I know that this work is never done.

This is not a woe is me.

If you’ve been diagnosed with a mood disorder. If an inpatient stay has been scribbled in your record. If your suicide attempts have been clinically documented. It doesn’t matter how long ago these things happened. It doesn’t matter that you’re in a different space now. That you’ve been treated. That you’re in treatment. That those records don’t resemble your life now. That they are historical medical notes and a part of your history. They are your past.

The most stellar of stellar letters of recommendation or opinions are weightless. Professional decrees of support don’t matter. A formulaic combination of notes in your record add up to shoving you in a box. A box of “you’re not capable”.

I’ve been denied opportunities because of my medical history. I’ve been denied the option of volunteering in a particular program as a result of my medical history.  I’ve been mistreated because of my medical history. I’ve been forced in to following a punitive system intended to address behavioral and performance issues. A system that runs under the guise of counsel and support. News flash: depression is not a voluntary behavior. The impact of depression on ‘performance’ is symptomatic. And temporary. They are not performance issues as defined by the system. Punishment is not support. Allowing no room for medical context in the conversation is not counsel. Corrective action is detrimental and does not foster improvement or compassion.

As PC as we strive to be, bureaucracy dictates who passes, who’s allowed, and who doesn’t fit in to the mold.   {one of these things is not like the other}   The majority of our public systems is rife with rules and policies fortified by judgement and discrimination. You’re not aware of this until you or someone you know has run up against it. You can’t understand the impact unless you’ve been cornered into deciding whether to retaliate and muscle through the consequences or jump in to the box and just get through it. To steer these injustices toward a system that truly supports, these conditions must be made visible. By fists with pens. By a phalanx of words. To snuff out the stigma suffocating our basic human rights.