We all carry our own personal soundtracks with us, everywhere we go. Music soothes us, encourages us, reminds us, heals us and hurts us. How it affects us is up to us – we choose to be soothed, encouraged, reminded, healed or hurt, and there’s probably no other aspect of our behaviour where we can exercise such control over ourselves on a daily or even hourly basis, marking the highs and lows as we do so.
Sometimes though, it doesn’t work.
I can’t remember exactly the last time I simply stopped listening to pretty much anything, presumably because it was a time when I didn’t want to particularly remember anything. It seemed to have worked, and it lasted years. If I had to guess, it was probably when my Dad died and I did all I could to (successfully, as it happened) to blot everything out while making sure that there were no songs to trip me up in later years. Then in 2003, the light came back on. I found joy and beauty in music again and a community of new friends and it cost me a bloody fortune not only in voraciously soaking up new experiences but also in going back over the years to discover what I’d missed.
That period seems to be over once more. The reasons aren’t as catastrophic as last time, but there are a lot of them and I am struggling to variously fight or embrace them. But it’s not as if I’ve just sat there and thought “Right, sod this – no more artistic input for me”, because that’s not how depression works. Depression is a horrible, vile part of the psyche that prevents you from listening to things that may well provide catharsis, hope or a glimpse of light; it sits there and tells you that you’re an idiot for even thinking that something that someone you have never met and never will has made can speak directly to you and makes life easier or bearable or easier to understand. It essentially makes sure you are alone.
It’s something I’ve fought with a lot recently, and it’s proved a bit futile. I’ve tried the comfort of age-old favourites, I’ve tried diving headlong into the new and unknown, I’ve tried revisiting stuff that I haven’t listened to in a couple of decades, but it’s all just passing through without leaving a trace of anything that used to move me. It’s quite upsetting to realise that, which of course then begins a lazy circle where the thing that used to lift me out of such a state currently has absolutely no power to do so, and I sink lower while the process repeats itself. And if I’m honest, I’m no longer quite as stupid as I was the last time round to find solace (or at least a state of absolute zero) by other means to either attempt to feel something/anything, or just to pass the time.
This is all utter nonsense of course, and again that’s what depression is: it’s bloody stupid. But here it is and here I am. This may well change tomorrow, or it may change in ten years’ time. Or it might just stick this time. It’s frightening to contemplate, so I add it to the long list of things I try not to think about – which naturally means that I think about it constantly. I am fully aware that it’s not normal, and suspect that it’s not particularly normal for others with depressive illnesses, but whatever. There will always be some tiny part of me that strives to find the sort of little joys and pitfalls in life that can only be found in music and the people who create or discover such wonders, and while that part is currently broken and ragged, it will mend. I look forward to the time when it does.