I could speak about my boyfriend, or my favourite bands, or the artists I’ve recently fallen for but this Valentines Day, I want to speak about the music that we often forget about.
The music that we discover when we’re going through any kind of transitional period, the music that we never properly listen to until we need to, and it speaks to us.
To Biffy Clyro, the band that carried me through a dark depression, doubts about my relationship and myself and ultimately made me feel that even in all of my chaos and confusion, I wasn’t the first to feel this way.
To Bright Eyes whose poetic lyrics carried me through my first couple of years in Glasgow
To Amanda Palmer whose fearlessness helped me regain my own sense of fearlessness. Who made being an outspoken pain in the arse seem as badass as it can be.
To Lamb of God, the band that I unexpectedly found myself identifying with on a core level
To Christina Aguilera whose album ‘Stripped’ inspired me at age 13 and still continues to
To Snow Patrol, the band that held my hand through 2008
To Joni Mitchell who still has all of my love and affection
And so many more…
These are acts that I adore, love and would definitely not be the same person without but for the most part, I can’t listen to them a lot. They were there through times that I’d rather forget or at the very least, not dwell on. But they deserve just as much credit as the acts I still live for. The short-term fling music is great for that time, that place, those emotions but once those are gone, there is just a soft spot.
A very soft spot.
So for the music that’s too difficult to listen to now, thank you for having such an active part in me getting through tougher times. I love you and am thinking about you (if not listening to you) on this Valentines Day.
My friends get a little uncomfortable when I describe myself as crazy. It is a slur but it’s also a nice comfort blanket for me. I feel like when I call myself crazy, I’m owning my OCD and accepting that it’s part of who I am.
I don’t always get to say that, though. In fact, sometimes I have to cancel plans with friends so I can go and check that my flat isn’t on fire with my cats trapped inside of it because I’ve been away from the house for over 8 hours and in that time, my brain has been in overdrive with intrusive, disturbing, graphic thoughts about dead cats, lost belongings, my boyfriend not being able to forgive me for letting the flat burn down… etc.
These thoughts can come from nowhere. In fact, my first true breakdown happened while I was on a family picnic. I was so happy that we were having this picnic, that my life seemed to be improving that I suddenly realised that this wasn’t possible; nobody gets to say their life is this good. This is a common thought, a lot of my friends have shared similar feelings with me but for me it didn’t end with me embracing the moment, or thinking that I should be or anything even close. No, I lost my mind. I climbed into the car and called my boyfriend to check he was still alive and well. He was fine if completely baffled.
That wasn’t enough. I was convinced something was going to happen to me, and soon. So I didn’t do anything. I was so cripplingly terrified that I was scared to leave my bedroom to go the toilet. I spent a lot of time staring into space, hoping that the bad thing would happen soon so I could breathe again. I fought my way through obsessive thinking patterns, I checked in on my boyfriend so often that he became frustrated and exasperated with my anxieties.
At this point, we were living with his parents so when we went to a festival, I had nothing to worry about. My boyfriend was right there with me and my poor brain so I wasn’t scared for his wellbeing.
A year later, I’d started to recover with the help cognitive behavioral therapy. For me, this meant that I had to agree with the thoughts. I had to say yes, Gavin’s probably died. He has. That’s it. And at first, it was harrowing. I’d have intense panic attacks because I’d convinced myself that by agreeing with these thoughts, I was making it happen. Eventually though, it worked. I left the house, I made friends, I enjoyed life again.
Then we finally got our own flat together. It’s no secret that I’ve had a bit of a messy life and after leaving home, I never really felt like I had a place that felt like home to me until our flat. It’s tiny, cosy but it’s ours. I loved it. I was so excited for our future. We got two cats, as well which made it even more homely for me.This time, I focused on fires. I would obsessively read about fire procedures, look up statistics and unplug, then plug, then unplug, then plug back in everything that I could. I instinctively felt this gave me control over the situation. Of course, it did nothing of the sort.
Again, I recovered. I got by. I stayed busy.
Nowadays, I’m fine if I stay busy and keep my mind busy. If I seem to be working harder than ever, I’m fighting. I have pretty strong willpower against my destructive tendencies because I’ve been dealing with them for so long but the thoughts still come. All the CBT I’ve had, all the recovery I’ve experienced hasn’t stopped the thoughts. And I think that’s the worst part of it for me- the thoughts are terrifying and graphic and can hit me when I’m doing something as innocuous as writing an email. So, even though I now am able to recognise my demons and know how to tell others to help me, I live in the knowledge that I’ll never be fully free from my little hell.
Good news is, Gavin and my cats are fine and weird, as ever. I’m also fine if a little bit crazy.