singing to survive depression

I feel isolated. Not all the time, but often. I’ll let it happen, sit in my feelings, maybe do some breathing exercises, stretch, write, cry. Sometimes I try to ignore it and stay busy or engaged in something, a book, music, a movie. The best way I ignore it is by doing chores or exercising. If my body is moving, my mind quiets down some. I can usually handle it just fine. But it starts to hurt, mostly when I’m somewhere with a lot of people. A restaurant or a festival maybe, or just a busy night when everyone is out. People–families, friends, lovers, young people, old people…they all look the same to me. Idiots, I think, Idiots, the lot of them. Don’t they realize what all this is??? Look at them. Talking about the most insignificant crap, worrying about banal things that have no meaning. They don’t know what they’re doing, and they probably don’t even know who they are. This is possibly accurate in some regard, but it is largely incorrect and unhealthy. Certainly, everyone is not the same. We all have something extraordinary and wonderful that makes us each who we are, but aggregates of people tend to gravitate towards talking about the weather, what schools are the best for their kids, or worse, how busy they are. I like certain individuals very much. But get a bunch of individuals together, and that always culminates in people. Vapid, irritating people. I don’t think it’s their fault really. Thinking about my depression isn’t my favorite thing to do, but I’ve been trying to figure out what makes me feel better. I’ve been told it’s going out, being amongst people, going to a concert or out to eat, or maybe just to the park on a sunny day. C’mon, step outside your door and get out of your head. Shake off those bad vibes. Or as my mom likes to say, “Snap out of it!”  What I have come to learn is that being out in public is often difficult. I don’t mean for it to happen, I definitely don’t want it to happen, but I will become inundated with all sorts of conflicting feelings and thoughts. It starts with a small pang in my stomach. It creeps up into my chest. I can feel my arms getting heavy and I’m acutely aware of how the skin feels on my fingertips. My face gets hot, and my mouth is dry. I feel nothing and I feel everything. Anxious, inadequate, overwhelmed, jealous, frustrated, impatient, irritable, indignant, and isolated. Is this my problem? I watch other people, I listen to them, and I surmise that they are all idiots. But maybe it’s me. I can’t tell. I don’t like to admit this, but sometimes it’s tricky to know what’s real and what isn’t. I start to feel completely naked and not the fun kind. Does anyone like me? Or am I just horribly bad at life, and everyone else has figured out how to play the game, while I continue to lag behind? I can fake it for a while, but inevitably, I disappear and go home to my own world, where being alone doesn’t feel so bad. 

Being an introvert is a big part of my life, but I also perform intermittently. I sing songs and tell stories and do what I can to create an environment of love, value, connection, and fun. Oftentimes, I’m there to serve as the environment. The milieu. The background. It’s awful. It’s lonely being the background music, I’m not there to showcase my talent or connect with anyone, I’m there to serve as perfunctory filler. White noise. However, when people are engaged and that shared connection is there between an audience and myself, I love it, I love it more than anything. It’s when I feel most happy and most in love. I feel wild and chaotic and unrestrained and completely whole. It’s not that I necessarily want attention. I enjoy spurts of adulation, of course. But really, when I think about why I love it so very much, it’s that I want the experience where we all become one living, breathing organism. We’re all the same. That moment when nothing else exists, nothing is real. We cease as people, and the music allows us to become vibrations of that inexplicable oneness. We’re not an aggregate of people, we’re simply a community of weird individuals who have shed all layers of protective normal, and we’re floating through an intangible ether. No one knows where any of us begin or end and nothing matters. This connection transpires during various performances, whether it be mine or someone else’s, ranging in music, art, poetry. The rarity is a miracle, and I try to hold space for it as long as possible. Sadly, it’s very brief. Once it’s over, the miracle is absorbed into thin, stale air, and the world goes back to beige. The moment, the magic, the passion, the incorporeal…it’s gone. I remember it always. But most forget. I look around, and I can tell. Everyone has shaken it off and we’re back to being people in a society. I try not to let it faze me. But it breaks my heart, every time. I go home, brush my teeth, go to bed, go to work, check my email, get groceries…feed the machine. I know I’ll have to patiently wait until the next time there is an opportunity for that transcendent elation to burst through.

I suppose that’s all great and whatever, nothing can be special all the time. I try to remember that there is a way to see this beauty and magic in other parts of life besides music or art. I see it in my kids. I see it in certain friends and lovers. I want to see it in myself, but it’s hard. I feel like sometimes I’m wading through my own fog. I’m desperately trying to not feel like a complete stranger to myself, living a life that has merely happened to me. I don’t know that I need there to be a reckoning necessarily, or an awakening. More like an excavation. I need to find out just where exactly I went. I need to find more or what I like, rather than what it is I don’t like. There is art in everything, and I need to remember to not be such an asshole about it. It’s ok if we’re not all one living, breathing organism, experiencing the same amazing moment together. Connection is out there in so many ways, with so many people, just waiting for each other. And while I love to connect through music, I love it even more when a regular moment brings people together. Not necessarily because of some moving piece of art or magical song, but because of what each of us has to offer to the other. Yes, people are idiots. You. Me. We’re all fallible, fucked up humans. That’s what makes us special. Human beings being human.

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