writing

The Mourning Song

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This is a fictional essay inspired by current events. If you are concerned about my mental state, I promise I am doing well. Inspiration strikes in weird ways, and I felt I needed to write this.

TRIGGER WARNING: This essay mentions depression and suicide. If these things have negative impacts on your mental state, please do not continue reading.

The Mourning Song 

© Joana F. Simoes 2017

In Honor and in memory of all those that gave us something to hold onto in our darkest moments, but could no longer fight for themselves. We miss you.

 

 It is not poetic this morning that the rain is coming down harder than it has all year. It is not romantic or cozy today that even with all the windows wide open, the clouds and the pouring rain aren’t allowing much light to shine through. I imagine this is what my head looks like right now. I want to let all the light and brightness to come in, but something just does not allow it. I would turn to my favorite singer’s voice and lyrics, but it’s too hard.

Last night as I scrolled through my phone, as one does to pass the time these days, I started to see little trickles of news that were less than appealing to me. Also not exactly a shocker at the moment, but it was something harder to believe. This had to be some kind of hoax. He could not be dead. As time passed it was harder to ignore. News agencies all around the world were reporting it now. He died. My heart turned to stone and instantly dropped out of my body.

People take a lot away from teens, and their emotions. They chalk it up to hormones, and body changes, but for some it’s deeper than that and their feelings still go ignored. This is why as a teen I turned to his music. His voice, his melodies, and his powerful words were the stable ground I had to walk on when everything else seemed to be crumbling underneath my feet. As an adult it was still a coping mechanism and the most powerful tool I had in my arsenal.

He died, because he lost his fight with depression. I don’t like to say he committed suicide. The only thing he committed was a life of putting forth strong and powerful music that somehow saved so many lives without him realizing it. The battle with depression is a hard and treacherous one. It deceives even the most pure souls into believing they have nothing left to give to this world. It will make a great day turn to dust in a split second, and you cannot reason with it, you cannot negotiate with it.

I am having a hard time this morning. I am ignoring my medication, which I should never do. I am ignoring all the things I have learned from my therapist about what I should be doing to get myself out of bed and into the day. He has left this big black hole in my soul, and I don’t know how to fill it. Am I worthy to be here if he was not? How many people in the world are feeling the exact same way?

People have been writing online that mourning a rockstar’s death when there are other important things happening in the world is a waste of time. I don’t accept that at all. If people knew or felt a quarter of what some of us feel when we hear a certain song or watch a movie that makes us laugh deeper than we have laughed in ages, they would get it. They would understand that not only do these people deserve to be mourned; they deserve respect, our love, and attention.

That was the moment that it hit me. Maybe he would no longer create music that could bring meaning to my dark days, but all the music he’s already created will always be a part of me. I am doing myself and his memory a disservice by ignoring all the steps forward I have taken, that his music had helped me make in the past.

I get up take my medicine. Give my depression the care and love that any other illness requires and demands.

I put on one of his records and let the words and music roll over me, blanket me in comfort. This is a song like no other, but today it is the mourning song.

 

 

life

A Little Louder for the People in The Back – A Look at Mental Illness

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I feel tired.

I feel tired all the time.

Anxiety and depression can do that, but having to explain myself a million times also does that. I get tired of getting skeptical looks, and strange waves of anger from people because I don’t and CANNOT fit into their mold of what a sick person looks like. Because I am not running a fever, I cannot be ill. Really there’s so much more bullshit that I have dealt with through out my struggles with anxiety that I felt the need to once again talk about it.

Everyone who deals with mental illness deals with it in their own way, not only that but not everyone will have the same feelings and symptoms even when they deal with the same illness. That’s always something that many people can’t seem to grasp. I cannot tell someone else’s tale of struggle, but I can tell you mine.

I was always a really shy kid. I also cried A LOT. When my parents would say that they would pick me up from say the babysitter at a set time, and they didn’t show up at that exact time, I would instantly start to sweat and I would begin to pace and ask a million questions because my mind was imagining the worst kind of car crashes in the world. At the time most people chalked it up to me being an emotional kid, but looking back I think that was just the beginning of my anxiety. I was definitely always known as the weird quiet child who liked to read. I was never a super talkative person, to this day I am not a talkative person, UNLESS of course I feel comfortable with you.

Let’s get a little darker now. I remember a time when I wasn’t aware that what I was feeling wasn’t just normal anxious feelings. In high school, I was told that I definitely had social anxiety. But it wasn’t until my early twenties, that at some point where I was having trouble breathing, I was crying nonstop for what felt like decades, and I dug my finger nails into my face that I finally realized something was really wrong with me. Since then I have sort of learned to manage it but it isn’t something with a cure. I have my really good days and I have my really bad days. I don’t hurt myself anymore, but I do still deal with panic and anxiety attacks.

The thing is, sometimes my anxiety is exacerbated by all of the negative shit that has been thrown my way in the past or even recently. I talk very openly about my struggles for a number of reasons:

  1. I want to be open with the people closest to me and also to the people I work with. Not for pity, but for understanding. There can be days where I have a hard time functioning.
  2. I want other people who are fighting this to know they are not alone.
  3. I want people who are completely ignorant about this, to learn how to deal with someone close to them and their anxiety or depression.

I also do it, because I always get asked weird shit, or talked about in a negative light because people just don’t understand. When I cancel plans with people because the thought of having to be around a group of people or public transportation is just terrifying that day, I don’t need to be told that I am flakey. I am not flakey, I am putting myself and my mental health first. I don’t feel that it is necessary to possibly be alone on a train, having an anxiety attack just to meet up for a drink. That’s not what I will ever do. Many friends stopped inviting me to places in the past, and many people were extremely rude and aggressive about me canceling plans. So when I find someone who understands without missing a beat, I try to hold onto those people. My advice to anyone who has dealt with this is to let go of the ones who tear you down over your struggles, and keep close those who let you take care of yourself first.

Recently someone said that they knew I was trouble when they first met me because I couldn’t look them in the eye when I first met them. This angered me greatly. Not because they don’t like me, not everyone has to like me, I really couldn’t give two flying dicks about that part. It angered me because when I first meet people, I tend to have a hard time making eye contact. Meeting new people causes an alarming amount of stress for me and I have a hard time making eye contact. They took that as me being –I don’t know…some kind of vixen? An evil queen wannabe? Don’t know. It’s just one of the many times someone has misunderstood something about my anxiety and twisted it to make me look bad. It’s not new for me.

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When someone has a physical illness everyone is ready to be helpful, supportive, and show empathy. As it should be. I am quite grateful that physically at the moment I am healthy. The thing is that many people don’t see anxiety and depression as a real illness. They seem to think we are all drama queens who can’t get our shit together. I wish I could be that good at acting because I would probably have an Oscar sitting on the mantle of my big ass house on a hilltop in Portugal. I hate when I have a bad moment in front of people I don’t particularly like or trust because I know from experience how they will use that against me. I also hate getting “advice” from people who have never in their lives dealt with anxiety or depression themselves. Stop telling me to do yoga or to drink tea. I’ve done those things and they don’t work for me. Everything you can possibly name, I have tried it. I already have my ways of dealing with it, but again there ISN’T a cure. You get better with time, and then you will still have a few bad days here and there. It’s just how it goes.

None of us want your pity. We want your respect and yes a little bit of empathy would be nice. If I feel so tired that I need a nap, then let me nap. My brain doesn’t function like yours. It spends hours and days sometimes trying to untangle my thoughts, and that in itself is really exhausting. Pretend my brain is running a bunch of marathons through out the week there comes a point where I just can’t take it anymore. I am drained of all energy.  I do not nap on a daily basis, but if there’s someone out there that does and needs it, then let them. This is another one of those moments where we get told that we are being lazy.

So when I am asked why I constantly talk about my anxiety, my response is because people still think I am being rude, lazy, stuck up, or generally awful all because I choose to do certain things to better my mental health or I do them because my anxiety sort of makes me do things that people find strange. I shouldn’t have to constantly explain myself, but because mental illness is still a topic that many people ignore, I HAVE TO explain myself so I can hopefully make a break through with some people.

Know that this is a REAL illness, and millions of people are struggling to move forward every single day. Stop treating us like we are liars and stop telling us to relax. I promise you, it really doesn’t work that way.

Metal, Metal Monday

Metal Monday -Not All Press, is Good Press

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Mic check…One, Two…

Are you all paying attention now? Good!

I don’t post as much as I would like on Metal Mondays, and this particular topic I debated whether or not I wanted to post it at all. I already said a quick word on it on my personal Facebook, but there’s just something about this that rubs me the wrong way. For most of you who know me, you know I am heavily opinionated and quite unapologetic, when I get a thought and an emotion attached to it, I am a freight train, and you either hop on, or fuck off right out of the way. So here’s what I want to write. Call it an open letter if you’d like.

Yesterday there was a post from Blabbermouth that kept popping up on my newsfeed. I tried to ignore it, but then felt this weird feeling in the back of my mind, call it my spidey sense, and I needed to speak out. The post in question was an interview done with Rob Hakemo who is the bassist of The Resistance. Never heard of him? No worries, that’s okay. In the interview he blasted Jesper Strömblad’s addiction problems out into the public, and not only that but went as far as saying that Jesper saved the band by quitting.

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This in itself is pretty funny, not that he said those things–I will get to that in a minute–but essentially he makes this loud and proud statement that the band was saved by Jesper quitting, meanwhile he just crapped all over his chances of being respected and by association his band’s chances.

I met Jesper back in 2008 when he was still in In Flames. He was quiet but kind. I do not know him on a super personal level, so I am not writing this in honor of an old friendship, but indeed as a matter of respect. It is somewhat common knowledge that Jesper indeed has had his battles with alcoholism, BUT my problem with Mr.Hakemo going on record about these things is that, it is not his story to tell. Not only that but how believable of a source is he when he just goes on and on about it like a gossiping 16 year old girl? The line that honestly made me want to punch him in the face was:

“So he’s an alcoholic or drug addict. I think he doesn’t want to go sober.”

Did no one else feel a problem with this statement?  His entire statement stands on two assumptions. “I think” isn’t a credible line to be printing. Especially following such a line of thought. Someone also mentioned to me that maybe he was being lead to answer with these statements. I say that someone who has even the slightest bit of common sense would know that saying NOTHING is also an option.

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To get a bit more personal about it, and why this infuriated me, I know what alcoholism does to a person. I’ve seen it firsthand on more than one occasion, with people who I love dearly. Had anyone tried to talk shit about their struggles, I would probably rip them apart. Whether or not Jesper is sober and clean at the moment, I can’t say because I truly don’t know. Mainly because it is none of my business. The truth is that addiction is a long battle. It is up and down all the time. Addiction coupled with depression, is virtually one of the hardest mountains a person can try to climb. But these struggles, these demons are VERY VERY personal ones. To go on record, and talk straight out of your ass about someone and have it posted on the internet is the lowest of the low. YOU JUST DON’T FUCKING DO THAT. Honestly I can’t believe we even need to have this conversation.

Here’s the real message I have though. If for some reason you thought throwing Jesper under the bus would have people talking about The Resistance, then well you’re correct on that point, BUT if you thought this was going to be a good thing for the band, and people would be running around trying to listen to the music, just gotta tell ya…”You shot that horse in the face” Personally if I didn’t really bother to listen to the band before, I am certainly not going to bother with it now. You made yourself and the entire band look like a bunch of tools.This isn’t the hall of a school where people will point and whisper about others. You put your livelihood on the line by opening your mouth.

I honestly think Jesper deserves an official apology. There are lines and boundaries you don’t cross. Telling someone’s problems, or in this case Supposed problems out into a public forum, is a big NO NO. I am guessing you don’t really have anyone guiding you through the ins and outs of press. Well let me guide you then, STOP TALKING.

Like I said before, you probably don’t know who Rob Hakemo is, and at this point, no one is going to want to know him. Good luck digging yourself out of this shit storm sir.

 

life

The Hardest Mountain I Will Ever Climb

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I cannot speak for anyone else. This is my story, and as such it will probably be difficult for others to understand. I decided to write this because all day I have felt really excruciatingly tired. About half an hour ago, I felt the back of my neck feel like it was underneath an open flame, I started to sweat profusely and suddenly I felt like my chest was caving in like this is it, this is certainly the time I go. I know what’s happening with the subtle signals my body begins to give me, but it has never made it any easier. I had another panic attack. In fact I am still coming down from it, my eyes still slightly blurry from the sobbing that ensues. First and foremost, I am not writing this for pity. I just needed to write it down. I follow Jenny Lawson and her two books have inspired me to share an aspect of myself that most people are aware of but that they probably don’t quite understand.

I sometimes still feel that when I have panic attacks in front of strangers that they are thinking “Oh god look at this drama queen!” I gotta say that I have even gotten it from people I know, so I can’t exactly expect strangers to understand. I honestly wish I was that good at acting. Sobbing on cue seems like something that could get me an oscar. Unfortunately, I cannot control it.

How do I explain it to you? Well for one, it feels like my mind is a giant mess of wires. You know you probably have a box somewhere with a bunch of different kinds of wires that have different purposes, but they are currently tangled together into a giant useless blob. Well, my anxiety/depression issues are me spending entire days trying to untangle those wires. I could be laying around looking extremely lazy, but the reality in my head is much much different. There I am, day in and day out trying to untangle the wires, and when the end of the day comes along, I feel exhausted. For an outsider it looks like I have done nothing at all, but now you know what it looks like. It is a frustrating situation.

The thing is, I don’t want to stop. The only time it really affected my work, was when I was given Vicodin for pain and it sent my brain chemistry into a frenzy. I was away from work for a week, and I think that might have been my worst moment. Currently, I am dealing with some serious anxiety. I feel okay, and then I don’t, and when I don’t that is when I have a hard time focusing on anything other than those damn wires. I think what helps me is that I genuinely love my job, I also know that I have understanding coworkers. School is getting tougher, but that is to be expected, and I am pushing through, and getting pretty good grades. I think of those things, and there’s always this slight moment of clarity as I panic, where I KNOW I am going to be okay. I just wish that would compute for more than a split second. I think what I really need is to be honest with myself, and get new meds. When someone has a physical ailment no one even blinks when they take medication. So I think I need to be good to myself and just go and figure out what’s best for me.

I decided to share this because like Jenny Lawson, I have decided to be Furiously Happy. Even through this struggle, I tell myself every single day “You are, and will continue to be Furiously Happy” yes, panic attacks are scary, but I am stronger every time I go through it.If you’re reading this and are having a rough time as well, just know there is no shame in asking for help. Go to a professional, and really get the help you need and deserve. Be furiously happy, because we are all climbing this mountain together.

Games

Life is Strange – NEEDS A TRIGGER WARNING

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I haven’t written about games in a while. Even though I have been engrossed in The Last of Us remastered and some apps on my phone. I haven’t gotten the chance to write about them. Well I felt the need to write about Life is Strange again. While I know it is a game, I would now use quotes around that…so lets call it a “game” as I think it would have been better as some kind of mini series or a book.

My main concern with this “game” came about when I finished the most recent episode, Episode 4, titled “Dark Room”. I will try to avoid Spoilers but here’s fair warning that some of what I have to say may very well ruin the plot points for you.

Many people in the world suffer through mental illness, honestly I include myself in that group. I suffer from anxiety. This game had me feeling really uncomfortable this last episode. A lot of discussion is happening about this game, and now that I am looking at it, I really feel that it needs to come with a Trigger warning. What is a trigger warning? A trigger warning is a statement at the start of a piece of writing, video, etc. alerting the reader or viewer to the fact that it contains potentially distressing material. This “game” contains some pretty distressing material. While I dealt with it fairly well, I can see how some players might have difficulty dealing once the fourth episode is done, and there’s even some distressing scenes in earlier episodes.

Trigger warnings are a kindness to those who do not handle some hard topics well. So while the companies don’t seem to be putting trigger warnings on this “game” in fear of revealing plot lines and twists, I am going to write trigger warnings for Life is Strange here. Be warned that if you play Life is Strange and you suffer from anxiety, depression, or any form of mental illness that there are topics of rape, kidnap, murder, death, and suicide in this game. If you typically cannot handle these topics then please do not play this game. They should have provided a Trigger Warning to begin with because from the first episode you are inclined to believe that this is where the story is headed. You may be trying to save your precious plot line, but you should also be concerned with someone’s mental health and making sure your game does not cause unnecessary emotional distress.

Those are my two cents.

MATG