Understood

All along the way from when I first got sick with anxiety, through the dark days of depression and during the ups and downs and unknowns of bipolar disorder, I’ve always been comforted by music lyrics.

Probably I would have been similarly consoled by poetry, literature, plays and movies but of them all songs are the most accessible form of written word, and come with the added benefit of mood modulating sound.

Having been an avid reader all my life who could read write through the night, read in the almost dark, read with a failing torch under the covers, read in the toilet, at the beach, in the car until I got car sick, it is disappointing that I am now a very light reader. Books are out, magazines are okay if they’re mostly pictures with captions, letters are manageable, journals can be tackled in short passages, and reading my Bible is an ongoing battle.

Which makes songs perfect! I can turn on the radio and the music is fed to me song after song and takes no effort on my part. It just lilts into my ears, is filtered by my brain channels and either goes upward into storage or outwards never to be listened to again. Kind of like all the apps out there; Pandora, Spotify etc. No effort, just listening and enjoying and trimming all the gross ones while storing all the good ones.

I’ve written about some of the songs that have resonated with me: Sia’s Chandelier, Eminem and Rihanna’s Monsters, and maybe a couple of others when I was talking about the Songs That Made Me tour of Katie Noonan.

Here’s a new one: Pitbull and Neo’s Time of Our Lives. Now Pitbull in real life seems to be a very scary and possible violent person…actually I think there are court cases to show the possible is a certainty. But I can’t help it, I just love the timber of his voice. I love it!

So I was listening to it today and I want to share the lyrics that grabbed my heart and my gut and my thoughts all at once and made me say, yes!

Yes, that’s just what it’s like! I had a thought about the idea in my head but now you, creative artist, have put my muddled thoughts into clear words that are just so right to me. Yes, that’s just what it’s all about. Someone gets me, someone understands my thoughts and here they are in a cool song! It’s almost like these are the words that I need someone to say, and here you’ve gone and said it and filled that hole in my spirit.

Everybody going through something (repeated 8 times)

This is for anybody going through tough times

Believe me, been there, done that

But everyday above ground is a great day, remember that

-Time of Our Lives – Pitbull feat Ne-Yo

Isn’t that nice? I think it’s nice. And for the same reason Eminem always connects so strongly with me. There is something very soothing about a big, tough, strong, violent, criminal man saying to me through song, I get what you’re going through, and I’m settled enough in my own personality to admit that I’ve been there too, I understand it, and you will be okay. How sweet, big, tough man!

I’ll mention in a brief passing note that listening to the whole song might not exactly be the lovely calming thing I’ve made it to be. I’ve taken these words way out of context. The main point of the song is a guy in a tight financial jam who can’t pay his rent or bills or keep up with his life but he has just enough money to go and get smashed and perv on the hot bartender and maybe get lucky! Soooo….yeah. I took this nice bit out, but maybe you should just read these words and trust me that hearing them straight from Pitbull was a sweet moment for me. My recommendation in difficult times is never to drink yourself into a stupor before you get evicted/repossessed/arrested!

But I think it is always refreshing and relieving to hear anyone say that they realise others are having a rough time, that they realise you are having a tough time or that they have had a tough time. It makes me personally feel closer to a person who says this because I feel they are someone I can trust with myself because of their empathy, experience and/or care for others. A person like that seems to be one that won’t let you down, or give you a hard time over your difficulties, or expect miraculous recoveries. A person like that knows just how to be what you need most, cares about you and understands you. Isn’t that a wonderful thing?

Even if it’s just for a moment, and comes from a celebrity, and is sung in a song.

Even if you know you’ll never know the artist, and the moment of hearing the song will pass, but the world is a better place for them getting your struggle and singing about it!

For a few brief moments you and they are as one, and your loneliness and feeling of being misunderstood and people not ‘getting’ you and finding it hard to express your pain are resolved and made better and you are soothed.

That is truly wonderful.

Voices

 

I’m friends with the monster that’s under my bed

Get along with the voices inside of my head

You’re trying to save me, stop holding your breath

And you think I’m crazy, yeah, you think I’m crazy

Well, that’s nothing

-Monsters by Eminem feat. Rihanna

 

I love this song called Monsters by Eminem with Rihanna and always sing along when it comes on the radio while I’m driving. The chorus mainly, I’m not skilled enough to rap along with Eminem! “I’m friends with the monster that’s under my bed”. To be friends with whatever our own particular monster is; what a great goal to have!

To accept that I have a monster in my life, to accept that it isn’t going away and can’t be gotten rid of, to accept that it will always be right there lurking under the bed is one of the biggest parts of reaching remission with mental health disorders. Acceptance is key.

That’s what I’ve been told by my therapists and I really do think that this is true. I’ve seen enough patients with mental illness, mostly schizophrenia and sometimes bipolar disorder, and every now and then depression, anxiety or panic disorders who do not believe that they are unwell to know that believing the diagnosis and accepting the need for treatment is the biggest advantage you can have on your side. From then on out, having a good relationship with your doctor, having faith in the treatments given and doing what you can for yourself are added bonuses towards successfully managing your condition.

Fighting against the diagnosis, disbelieving the doctors, resisting the label, not wanting to accept the idea of illness takes so much emotional energy, so much mental energy and makes you prey to so much more time exposed to the condition that is ravaging you. It can also make your condition harder to treat once you finally succumb to the idea of needing help as it has had so much more time to get a strong grasp in your mind and the symptoms may be a lot more advanced. You wouldn’t do this to your body if you had diabetes, leave your body exposed to high levels of blood sugar damaging your blood vessels and nerve endings while your organs starve for sugar. So why do it do your mind?

Because at the end of the day, mental illnesses like diabetes or thyroid disorders or heart disease are conditions that are not curable, in the sense that they never go away but can be well managed. Bipolar disorder doesn’t just pop up then vanish away again. But it can be managed away to the extent that it no longer controls your life and so that people around you have no idea about your condition, and maybe you even forget that you have this monster.

Here’s to becoming friends with whatever it is that scares the pants off us! To becoming friends with our monsters.

 

[ I ] Get along with the voices inside of my head”

 

I don’t have voices inside of my head.

That sounds like a statement of denial, but it isn’t. I’m just telling you a fact about me. Trust me; I’ve been thoroughly checked for voices! By my GP, my psychologist, two psychiatrists and a number of nurses. And myself, just to quintuple-check.

I mean that I don’t have voices in the sense that most people expect voices. I don’t have auditory hallucinations such as people can have if they suffer from schizophrenia, psychosis, some forms of bipolar or delirium. I don’t hear people who aren’t physically present telling me things, commanding me to perform certain actions or speaking to me through objects like the radio or TV.

But I’ve come to learn about other types of voices that can be just as damaging. The inner voice. Everyone has one, to whatever extent they allow it to be heard in their own mind. The little voice that chats away in the background carrying along beliefs, ideas, thoughts, judgements, criticism and hopes and dreams. And sometimes not only one voice. There’s my inner voice that carries the weight of history, experience, self esteem and knows me well. There’s the inner voice which is other people’s beliefs projecting as their voice and most importantly, my new inner voice!

One of the things I’ve been trying hard to work on during my recovery is to change my inner voice, or develop a new inner voice. Depression and anxiety can both have a large self critical and other people critical component. When my current voice criticises or judges or makes snide remarks, I try to correct it. Not with judgement, or criticism, or rudeness. If I took that approach, my new voice would be as difficult as my current voice!

So when my old inner voice sparks up a thought train that I don’t want to follow, my attempt is to gently override it with a better thought, or kindly redirect it. When a critical thought comes to mind, I try to tell it, no that’s not how I want to think about people anymore, and then I try to impose a better thought onto that thought to overcome it.

Maybe the idea pops into my head that that girl over there is fat. But that’s not how I want to think about other people, and I have to bear in mind that I myself can be classed as fat, so instead of thinking those thoughts about her and me, I’ll think about her beautiful hair and her lovely smile. Which will make me smile, and enjoy these nicer thoughts 🙂

It is not easy! It takes a lot of hard work to get along with the voices inside of my head! Being friends with the monsters is much easier for me! I don’t know if everyone has the same difficulty, but it’s taken me a lot of work to get to where I am and there’s still a way to go. I know consciously exactly how I want my mind to be, but it doesn’t change just for me wanting it to! It takes practice and repetition and solid thinking!

But at least I’m on the way to getting along with my voices, a little progress is better than no progress!