A Dead Pancreas & A Broken Heart

Diabetes, heartbreak and depression have changed the life of Marie from Punk Rock Avenue in 2018, but she’s brave enough to share the tale.

Guest post written by Marie-Line Cyr, who runs the fabulous French-Canadian blog Punk Rock Avenue. This is part of our #MentallySound series, discussing mental health in music. 

Last year, when I was thinking about my 35th birthday, I pictured myself on Vancouver Island. My plan was to drive across Canada all by myself and celebrate my birthday by the Pacific Ocean. Actually, I celebrated my 35th birthday last September alone and crying on the couch, with a dead pancreas and a broken heart. Here’s the story of my downward slide to the bottom.

2018 has been the worse year of my life. I started having health problems on January 4th. Something wrong in my right eye directly linked to an immune system disorder. Which disorder? Nobody had a clue. I was so scared of what they would find. Finally, they found nothing but prediabetes. So I stopped eating sugar and crap and took care of my health. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to stop the disease. I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in June. That’s when I started being super sick and had to stop working. I was so weak and tired and I was literally melting while doing nothing at home. There was something wrong. My blood sugar became so high that I spent a couple of nights on the verge of a diabetic coma. I was going to bed at night so scared of not waking up the morning after. It became obvious that I needed insulin and that I was in fact a type 1 diabetic.

I started insulin on July 18th and I will always remember that day. I was in my bathroom, staring at the needle while being too scared to put it in my belly. But I knew I had to do it to stay alive. Just like I knew I would have to do it for the rest of my life. My pancreas was dead and I had no choice but to do its job to survive. So I played Survive from Main Line 10 on Spotify, my diabetes anthem as I call this song, and put the freaking needle in my belly. My diabetic life had just started. Continue reading “A Dead Pancreas & A Broken Heart”

The Monster’s Teeth Aren’t As Big As You Imagine

LITFO’s Jimmy Carroll explains how getting onstaged helped him overcome social anxiety and shyness.

Guest post written by Jimmy Carroll, bassist in Laughing In The Face Of. This is part of our #MentallySound series, discussing mental health in music. 

I was a painfully shy child.  Other kids who had never met before seemed to be able to integrate with each other in a way I would never understand, only observe.

It wasn’t without trying or effort, I just couldn’t seem to summon up the courage to simply say ‘hello’.

In my mind at the time the prospect of rejection or even worse, all out mockery was too terrifying a prospect to entertain.

This isn’t to say I was friendless or a total loner as a kid but I would never make the first move in an interaction of any kind.

Fast forward to my early teens and this social anxiety was supplemented by a broader type.  All the ‘what if’s and over-analyzing every single aspect of the most trivial things led me to my first panic attack (which at the time I was convinced was a full blown heart attack) and left me fucked up for about a week in the aftermath.

I think a big part of it was unfounded paranoia.  Are they looking at me? Why are they looking at me? Are they talking about me?  Why are they talking about me?

I began to learn to play the guitar.   Some of my friends learned to play instruments as well.  We started a shitty nu metal band (cut me some slack, it was the year 2000) and then, before we knew it, we had our first show booked.

I vividly remember how scared I was before we played that gig. This was the embodiment of every situation I had tried to avoid up until that point.

A little lightbulb went off though.  There was no doubt or second guessing that people were looking at me.  They definitely were. Instead of it being pure speculation, it was reality and it wasn’t the horror show I had drummed up in my head.  In fact, I really enjoyed myself and developed a taste for it (waking up the next morning, late for double maths and covered in peach schnapps puke wasn’t so good, though).

I’d love to say that this one revelatory moment destroyed my anxiety and I saw the light. It didn’t though. My constantly-chomped fingernails are testament to this. To this day there will be some social occasions where I try to blend into the wallpaper as best as I can, however it did teach me something very important.  The monster’s teeth aren’t as big as you imagine.

There has been a meme doing the rounds lately which basically says that anxiety is a bunch of conspiracy theories that you create about yourself.  That really chimed with me.

Music continues to help me launch a counterattack against these automatic, negative thought patterns.

Getting to travel to new countries, make new friends and ultimately instead of worrying about “what if” and seeing “what is” has given me much needed extra fuel in my 33 year long fight against this fucker.

I really wish I could offer some advice or a cure of sorts to conclude this brief ramble but I’m not the pony to bet on in that regard, I’m afraid.

If any of what I have typed touches base with you then I’ll just reiterate the four most beautiful words in the English language:

You.  Are. Not.  Alone.

Guest post written by Jimmy Carroll, bassist in Laughing In The Face Of (among other musical projects). This is part of our #MentallySound series, discussing mental health in music. 

We All Fall Apart At Our Own Pace

Reaching out to your friends is hard, but we’re all going through this together.

Written by Sarah WilliamsPart of our #MentallySound series, discussing mental health in music. Trigger warning: depression, self-harm.

During an especially dark and turbulent bout of depression I endured recently, I found a familiar Iron Chic lyric rumbling round my skull:

“We all fall apart at our own pace.”

That one cadence repeating itself over and over; an old, beloved song suddenly taking on new meaning. I was wrapped up in my own personal apocalypse, but that one line reminded me of the importance of reaching out to my friends.

For me, depression comes in waves. Some days the sea’s calm and I’m stood on a beach in the sunshine, digging a moat around my sandcastle and enjoying a Calippo. Other days there’s a light ebb and flow, lapping round my ankles. Sometimes it’s choppy in the waves but my head’s above water, I’m staying afloat.

In this particular period, it was like a tsunami had hit. I’m toppled by giant waves, levelled by the force of it, choking on salt water, crushed by the weight of it on my chest. This is as bad as it gets: I can’t eat, I can’t speak, I can’t get out of bed, I can’t wait to get the courage to kill myself.

Sometimes depression just feels like a part of regular life, like an itch you can’t scratch but you can just about ignore it. But on these occasions, it becomes frighteningly apparent that it’s an illness. It’s utterly, hopelessly debilitating.

I lie still and wait for it to pass. It takes days. Continue reading “We All Fall Apart At Our Own Pace”

How To Beat Post-Festival Depression

Written by Sarah Williams, cover image by Josh Sumner. Part of our #MentallySound series, discussing mental health in music.

The struggle is real. We have all been there after a great weekend: suddenly alone, wanting to grin and cry in equal measure. Post-festival depression is the worst part of loving live music.

You’re mentally exhausted from the sheer amount of fun you’ve had. At best you’re a hungover, sunburned mosquito-feast, at worst you’ve sustained an actual injury. You’re bruised and broken from the physical exertion of a ‘holiday’: mosh pits, human pyramids, sleeping on floors.

You’ve showered but you can’t cleanse your insides; sitting in the office on Monday morning feeling like a ragdoll stuffed with shit spaghetti, desperately hoping none of your colleagues notice your mental state.

In the weekend punk-bubble it’s completely appropriate to curl up in a ball on the floor if you need to, to joke about your hands shaking or your jaw aching. You can show off your pit bruises and laugh about all the stupid things you did when you were peak drunk.

Suddenly, Monday comes and you’re crash landing into the reality of your day job, forced to keep schtum about this ‘other life’ you’re living. When your colleagues have innocently spent the weekend ferrying their kids to swimming lessons, doing a spot of gardening and redecorating their kitchens, you can’t exactly counter it with tales of gincidents, Class A’s and a complete disregard for your own physical well-being. When you’re enduring this inevitable dip, the worst part is that you have to keep quiet and pretend you’re totally fine.

Having experienced the crushing loneliness of post-festival depression umpteenth times now, I wanted to share my advice on overcoming it.

Reach out to your friends

There’s a good chance that they’re feeling just as shit as you are, so reach out to your mates and make sure they’re okay. Share the pain. The post-fest depression hits us all at different times; for me it’s usually about half an hour after I say goodbye to the last person I see, when it’s had a little time to sink in. It might vary a bit depending on the strength of your bangover, how long your journey home is or who you’re going home to. Continue reading “How To Beat Post-Festival Depression”

Video: Practicing Meditation for Wellbeing On Tour With Waterweed

Jo of Bad Juju Yoga created this insightful short film whilst on tour with Japanese skate-punks Waterweed, recording the benefits and challenges of keeping up a daily meditation practice.

Part of our #MentallySound series, discussing mental health in music.

When you think about life on tour, meditation isn’t the first word to spring to mind. However, when you consider the long, hard hours spent on the road, sardined into a van with a stack of equipment, the boredom of travel, drinking to excess and charging through sweaty half-hour live shows… taking 15 minutes for yourself to recentre begins to make sense.

Jo Smith, of Bad Juju Yoga, created this insightful short film whilst driving Waterweed on a seven day tour around Europe. She relays the challenges and benefits daily meditation practice in this entertaining tour diary.

Here’s what Jo had to say about it: “In April, I spent 7 days on a European tour, co-driving/ managing/ merch-wenching with Japanese skatepunkers Waterweed. I documented this journey for a bit of fun, and to also see if I could commit to my daily mediation practice on the road. I regularly felt tempted just to drink beer, chill out and not do my meditation but I by the end of the week, I had some self-realisation of what the meditation really did for me. So here is my doco/ tour vid of my experience.”

 

Bad Juju Yoga began in 2015 after founder, Jo Smith, discovered the Punk Rock Yoga manifesto. The manifesto empowered Jo to do what felt most authentic when teaching, which is why most of her classes use a variety of music genres.

Bad Juju is more than just physical exercise. It is a lifestyle, promoting a philosophy of community spirit. Bringing together like-minded people into a space where they can develop their own practice and knowledge of yoga and wellbeing. A space where they feel welcome and where they can be themselves.

You can find Bad Juju Yoga on online, on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Jo also teaches punk rock yoga classes at various UK and European festivals, teaching in a creative way using a style that is all-inclusive, sharing yoga through the love of music, mantra, sound and vibration.​ We highly recommend that you check out her online classes in the near future.

Explore our #MentallySound series for more articles about mental health in music.

 

How Punk Rock Solved My Problem With Mortality

Life feels shorter than ever; so I’m going to fill it with the noises I love.

Article by Sarah Williams. Part of our #MentallySound series, discussing mental health in music.

N.B.: I’d intended for this to be a happy article about how and why I enjoy live music so much, but it’s turned out a bit on the dark side. Oops. Trigger warning: Depression, suicide, bereavement.

Waterweed

I’ve been going to a lot of gigs lately. In the last month alone, I figured out I’ve travelled over 3,500 miles just to see bands. As I’ve started booking in festivals later in the year, more people are asking me why I’m doing it.

Typically it is a question I get from the ‘normal’ people I work with or my long-suffering family, however lately it’s a question I’ve received from people in the scene, usually accompanied by an incredulous look because I’ve just turned up in yet another city.

I’ve got an answer for you, but it might not be the one you’re expecting.

Why do I go to so many gigs? I go because I know I’m going to die. I’ve become hyper aware of my own mortality.

I can feel the time slipping through my fingers, and enjoying the music I love is my way of remedying and recognising that. Every show I go to, whether that’s a sweaty Propagandhi pit, a crusty post-hardcore melee or a gentle acoustic folk gig, I will have a massive grin plastered to my face. I’m enjoying the noise, the adventure and spending time in the punk community, because I feel like it could end at any second.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been berated with the following: “You’re going to burn out;” “You should drink less;” “You need to concentrate more on work;” “You shouldn’t waste your money on that;” “You need to calm down.”

They’re all right, of course, I probably ‘should’ do all of those things. I’m fucking tired. I’ve got tinnitus. I get stressed trying to keep track of all the gig-dates on my mental calendar. I struggle to motivate myself to do my day job because it’s so different to my ‘other life’. I’ve given myself alcohol poisoning more times than I can count. I’m running solely on caffeine and enthusiasm. Getting out of bed to be at the airport at 5am when I’ve still got the flu from last weekend’s festival is a hellish struggle.

It is worth it, because I am happy. Right now, I am happier than I have ever been. And I have been for a long time now. I haven’t felt the tug of depression and the cold sweat of anxiety has washed straight off me. I’ll say it again: I am really fucking happy. Continue reading “How Punk Rock Solved My Problem With Mortality”

The Road to Pouzza Fest

Read Joelle’s insightful journal about her trip to Montreal’s Pouzza Fest – a both heartwarming and heartbreaking account of travelling thousands of miles for the love of punk rock.

Article by Joelle Laes. Part of our #MentallySound series, discussing mental health in music.

Monday – May 14th

5AM

I wake up as if I’ve just been given the biggest fright of the century. Turns out it’s only my alarm.

I feel confused. Anxious. Almost in a state of panic. I need to rush and get to the airport.

After spending the weekend at El Topo Goes Loco and being home for two hours to pack before heading off to another gig to catch The Affect Heuristic again on Sunday, I had a slight panic when my Airbnb host failed to reply in a timely manner (according to my standards). I had a bit of a meltdown once back home and turned to the only people I know to keep me sane no matter what: the Punk Rock Women’s group. Lots of love and reassurance later, I finally managed to fall asleep. This morning: still no reply. No time to call him, as I run for the train.

7.30 AM

“You could be stuck an office with a guy wearing a tie telling you what to do. You are living the fucking dream,” Richie Cooper (Eat Dirt.) comments on my obligatory Facebook airport-check in.

Am I? Living the dream? I can’t tell as I’m stood queueing at Brussels Airport, stressed out to fuck. I haven’t had a proper sleep in weeks (too many festivals and work); I still feel a bit fragile after the boozy blinding madness that was El Topo Goes Loco.

El Topo w The Affect Heuristic.jpg
Shout Louder vs. The Affect Heuristic antics at El Topo Goes Loco

I could use a cuddle to be fair. Or a straight jacket. That might feel like I’m being hugged too? I don’t know. I feel like I might cry.

I am tired, stressed out and alone. Why do I do this to myself? The pity party continues on and I contemplate sitting in a bathroom stall to have a cry. Could I still be hungover from the weekend? Or is this another case of post-trip-depression?

Whilst I make my way through border control, my phone buzzes. It’s my Airbnb host. He confirms the booking and tells me where to find the keys. The tight feeling in my chest loosens a little bit. At least I won’t be sleeping outside in a fort made of pizza boxes. I can breathe a little again.

Moments later I get a PM off a good friend: “Lovely to see you this weekend, don’t have too much fun in Canada x” I sense a stupid grin appearing on my face. I feel my muscles relax as I think of where I’m headed and why I’m heading there.

I’m about to embark on an adventure some can only dream of, about to spend money I don’t have on things that most adults consider irresponsible. Sometimes I think, should I be spending this much money on punk rock? Is It worth all the stress and anxiety?

Does my Mom worry? Absolutely. After all, if you are somewhere on your own, the only person you can rely on is yourself. But it is worth every ounce of stress it gives me. Like me, my Mom’s come to accept that this is the only way I can make myself happy.

Never have I forged more genuine bonds with people as when I’m singing along to bands, surrounded by people who love them just as much as me. It doesn’t matter if we don’t live around the corner from each other, there is a connection there that some people will never understand. Looking into other people’s eyes, seeing that moment of pure joy when they hear their favourite song. Watching bands pour their heart out on stage; these moments mean everything to me. In these moments I am truly happy. Continue reading “The Road to Pouzza Fest”