On Trying

This is how my mental illness influences my musical work:

I have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, caused by repeated traumas. Thankfully, the traumas ended when I was 20, but the damage had been done. The symptoms took years to surface, suddenly popping up without warning. Even then, I lived with the symptoms for over a year, not understanding the severity of what I was dealing with.

I wrote A LOT of songs during that period, before I had a label for my mental state. Most of the songs were shit! But some of them were golden, and I’m recording them for my second album. Now I see how the illness was manifesting itself clearly in each line of music – I just didn’t have a name for it yet.

Now, I feel that music is an expression of more than just emotions and intellect. It’s my body/spirit as a whole. This “embodiment” shows up incessantly – those of you who have seen my live shows know that I perform with my entire being. I often write lyrics about body sensations and deep knowing.

In the process of learning to function/live with PTSD, I’ve had to integrate my body with my experience of the world. My body is in a constant state of high alert, even when I am physically safe, and I am still learning to accept that. I’ve worked so hard. Therapy, body work, dance, meditation, and medication. A LOT of breakdowns that interrupt my relationships. The alternative to this hard work is living in a constant state of dissociation and fear.

PTSD doesn’t ONLY happen in people who have been to war. It happens in some people who have experienced any kind of trauma.

Symptoms I’ve experienced include:
-severe anxiety
-uncontrollable flashbacks that bring me right back to the trauma
-avoidance of things that remind me of the traumatic event
-difficulty maintaining close relationships
-being easily startled/frightened
-overwhelming guilt/shame
-angry outbursts/aggressive behavior
-hopelessness about the future

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