Editor’s note: This post talks openly and in some detail about depression, anxiety and OCD. This post was sent to us and for the time being, the author wishes to remain anonymous.
You don’t know me. I’m not famous and you haven’t seen me on television. You have not been moved by my writing in a way that made you feel as though you are not the only person in your current predicament and you don’t think i’m cool. I am the painfully average. I am/was a touring Australian musician dealing with anxiety, depression and OCD.
Although i have only been diagnosed in the past 12 months I have dealt with this in some form from my teenage years until now. Now I am a jaded, grumpy 30-year-old.
I have been touring this country since I was 21 and as a frontman dealing with anxiety and depression I was constantly being pulled to and fro internally by my anxiety I was usually one of two people. I was either:
a) outgoing, confident, loud and potentially annoying.
b) reclusive, distant, quiet and sometimes I had the capacity to be a prick.
These two people were my every day on tour. This was me, waking up the next day and spending five minutes on someone’s floor or couch figuring out which version of me I was going to be on that day and adjusting my day accordingly to deal with it. The problem is having to turn on person A when you really feel like person B. This is the struggle that most people are dealing with when it comes to mental illness; an unquenchable thirst to be normal, to be like everyone else, to not feel the way that we do. To just get through the fucking day.
As a person collaborating with other musicians it is never easy to let people down so I didn’t. Every rehearsal, every show, every tour, every band meeting I was there because I was scared shitless to tell my bandmates that I didn’t want to go to any of these events because I felt depressed, or because I had so much anxiety that I would worry myself into a state of not being able to calm down, no matter what I tried or what people said. In any given situation I would convince myself that the worst outcome was always going to happen and then I would spend the rest of the day/night overanalysing every single thought I’d had across the duration of the day. It was and is fucking exhausting.
And then there was the self assessing, self defacing and downright disgusting view I had of myself; as I had been told on many occasions “you are the face of the band.” I became so self-conscious that I felt constantly uncomfortable on stage which was something that used to calm my anxiety, a place I could let out my demons. Now my demon was me and I was kicking the shit out of myself on a daily basis.
Now that I am not on the road, my crisis is how do I adjust to life off the road? How do I identify myself as “Insert name from insert company I work for” when I used to identify myself by my band? Not only am I now anxious but I am now having an identity crisis. And once again, I’m really fucking tired.
It took someone in my life to stand up and recognise my behaviours after more than 15 years of this and actually tell me what was happening. Once I researched into everything I was feeling I found that I wasn’t the only person who it took four hours to pick the exact perfect song for that exact perfect moment (OCD), or someone who spent a week in bed unable to move (depression) and I sought treatment both from a medicinal sense (prozac, temazepam etc) and through therapy.
While they like to tell you with mental illness you’re never out of the woods, I am equipped with the right tools to take this on. While initially it is terrifying to tell those around you what you are dealing with, the alternative is much fucking scarier and much worse.
Now is the time for us to talk about this. And now is the time for us to stop making this something to be fucking ashamed of.
If this article has bought up any issues for you, you can contact Lifeline on 131 114. Beyond Blue and The Black Dog Institute are also a fantastic resources for you to learn more about bipolar, depression, suicide and for any help you may need. Remember that you’re never alone in this.
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