Exploring Depression and Anxiety Through Music

For the past week I have been so excited, so happy and so into Chastity Belt’s new album I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone. It’s not officially released until this Friday, June 2nd, but NPR so graciously put it up to stream.

This album is no doubt about depression, anxiety and those occasional moments when it all goes away and you’re “feeling like a real champ” (but for how long). And for once I feel like I am listening to an album that has no gender identity based around the identity of the band members. It is instead stripping these issues that can sometimes seem “female” or “male”, down to the core of just human. This album wraps the experience of being human into one.

I appreciate all of this so much from musicians, and it’s something I hope I achieve through my own songwriting. Music gives us the ability to communicate through a collective consciousness and help each other figure shit out, even if we don’t know each other!

I could cite half the lyrics on this album and talk about how they resonate so hard with me, but I recommend just going right into it (and the band’s previous works). If for nothing else, it’s because you’re intrigued by their name.

Thank you Chastity Belt.

Sometimes

Sometimes you have to break away.

Sometimes you have to feel like you’re going to run out of money.

Sometimes this is what it’s like to live.

Sometimes you cannot be secure.

Sometimes you can feel free.

Sometimes you can heal.

Sometimes you can grow.

Sometimes you can eat cereal at night.

Sometimes you are okay.

You have cereal.

You have your breath.

Sometimes you want to roam the Earth.

Sometimes you want to connect with every soul.

Sometimes you want to live in every corner of the world.

Sometimes things are crazy just for the sake if it.

Sometimes taking a leap is boundless.

 

Today I am playing this Dan Croll song on repeat, because sometimes music is all that makes sense:

 

 

In The Meantime

A month ago I trekked to New York City to see an Endometriosis specialist. I blogged twice that day, feeling excited about what I found out during my visit. I didn’t feel like my life completely and suddenly changed, but I did feel a small weight lift in just knowing that I have Endometriosis. Putting a name to the pain seems to be something us humans need to do, especially when it is chronic. I wasn’t surprised I felt the way I did, but I also wasn’t surprised that I didn’t feel completely different.

I have become so skeptical over the past 15 years to the point where I rarely do what anyone says, so you can imagine how I might react to a doctor (a surgeon at that) telling me he’ll “clean me out” and then I’ll be “good to go”.

Sure, surgery has felt like the only option as far as long term results go, but I’m still skeptical. Surprised? 😉

I’ve gotten this far in life without my body being cut open, so I not only feel skeptical but extremely cautious about just jumping into it and thinking it will fix everything. Is there not another way?

Through the several people I have met with Endo, stories I’ve read and medical texts I have poured over, it seems that it is simply just different for each person. A lot of us with Endo know that changes in diet are very helpful, especially when it comes to pain and inflammation. I, for example, have cut out gluten, soy, dairy (except grass fed butter), meat, alcohol, caffeine and processed sugar. I am a tailored vegetarian of sorts, and it has made a difference.

Natural remedies have also made a difference, including a castor oil pack recommended to me by my acupuncturist who has worked in fertility clinics. In fact, I have been lucky enough to have just started weekly acupuncture treatments with the aforementioned acupuncturist who has known me since childhood and done emergency treatments after painful episodes during my teen years. I have already noticed my anger and anxiety around the disease moving through my body to where I am fully feeling and experiencing it. I am working with my emotions instead of pushing them aside or back down into my body. There is definitely an emotional component that comes with Endometriosis.

The other shifts I have noticed since starting acupuncture are with my physical symptoms. I have not had to urinate as frequently (some Endo symptoms seem similar to pregnancy, but instead you’re pregnant with the spawn of Satan and not a human) nor have I had as many irritable bowel problems (I haven’t been diagnosed with IBS, but it’s clear to see Endo is causing it and who needs a ton of lame diagnoses anyway).

Seeing even these small improvements in a short time period has made me very curious about this disease and the non-surgical/non-synthetic methods that could be used to manage and possibly eradicate it. My body always responds quicker and better when I use natural remedies versus synthetic.

It makes​ sense. Herbs have been used for healing purposes since forever. Chinese medicine is ancient. We are apart of nature, so why not utilize it to heal us?

From a more practical side, natural remedies are more affordable (at least in the United States) than a lot of synthetic options and most certainly surgery.

Because we do not have universal healthcare, things can be much more difficult when you do need prescription drugs, surgery or long term treatment.

Right now in this country most surgeries for Endometriosis are considered “experimental”, despite the fact that 1 in 10 women have the disease and that surgery is quite a common occurrence. Most women have to pay out of pocket for the surgery itself, with usually only the hospital stay and anesthesia covered by insurance. This leaves the patient with the highest part of the bill!

I was quoted by the office in NYC $25,000 for the surgery portion. The hospital stay would be about $5,000 and the anesthesia $2,500. But wait, there’s more! I would also have to have a physical, bloodwork and EKG all done at the hospital where the surgery would take place, which would be around $450. I would also need another consultation with the doctor (the first one was $625) and a visit with a therapist. I was not given any extra price points for this, but I really wouldn’t be surprised if it was not “included” in any of the aforementioned amounts.

After receiving all of this information in an email that looked like it was copied and pasted, I replied in a timely manner with several clearly asked questions. I did not hear back for what turned into weeks because I was too annoyed to call the office and find out what the deal was. Finally I had some adrenaline and called to see what was up. The person I was emailing with answered the phone and had in fact received my email, but somehow missed it at the time it was sent. So they started haphazardly answering my questions, but really seemed like they needed to get off the phone. Luckily I was thinking on my feet and continued to ask more questions to a point where I felt like I was getting something out of them. I felt like a spy interrogating someone. Sheesh.

I found out several things. One being that because I am not a resident of New York State I would have to pay out of pocket for everything. The doctor works out of network with all insurances anyway, so even if I were a resident it’s very likely that only the hospital stay and anesthesia would be covered (and maybe the pre-op tests). I could change my insurance from Rhode Island Medicaid to a plan I would have to pay hundreds of dollars per month for, but how much money would that really save me? It’s all water under the bridge at this point.

They also told me the surgical fee could be brought down to $20,000 depending on my case. Great (sarcasm). Is this some kind of lottery on women’s bodies? Who decides if my body is worth less or more?

I asked about a payment plan, but the company that used to offer this is no longer with them. So they just don’t offer that option anymore because I guess that was that.

So I asked what other people have done (to the best of their knowledge, which was obviously not much). They said most people just “come up with” the money (ok, so they rob a bank), do an online fundraiser like GoFundMe or charge it to their credit card (which means they have a great credit score and a card with a very high limit).

I asked about other specialists, anywhere in this big-ass country, and was told that they are all basically like this doctor in NYC. They even said he is on the cheaper end (to the best of their not-so-great knowledge).

I told them that I don’t think I can afford this and they apologized for not being able to help me more. Ha. Ha. HA. I said I would think about the information I was given anyway, and be in touch in a few months if anything changed with my situation. They hung up the phone by saying “see ya later”.

So, here I am with these options in front of me. Inevitable stress and invasive surgery or a potentially long journey of natural healing and personal growth.

I’ll just be over here eating some gluten free toast and drowning my sorrows in hemp seed oil (for real helps with cramps and inflammation though) in the meantime.

Hiding

As I continue on my journey of life I feel like I am starting to come out of hiding. Maybe this is what real “growing up” feels like. Maybe being 30 is the shit.

As a child I adopted this hiding thing when I didn’t want to feel my own emotions or those of my family. I would go into my room, lock the door and listen to the positive tunes of Hanson. Sometimes I would write my own music, always starting with lyrics, probably as a way to process the words I was hearing from myself and others. Looking back at these early works, hiding and not feeling heard was a theme.

At other times I would hide in the corner of my closet, carefully hidden behind clothes, hoping for someone to come find me even though I made sure I was so well hidden. I wanted to be alone so I could process my emotions, but I wanted to be found because I wanted to be heard. It was a double edged sword.

As I started entering “adulthood” I believe I got trapped in metaphorical closets of the mind. I was simultaneously starting to experience the serious pain of Endometriosis. I wanted more than ever to be seen and heard, because I didn’t want to be in pain.

There were quite a few closets in my mind. But I told myself I would only be stuck in them temporarily. I was working on that music career while I nannyed for the kid with the crazy mom. I was just surviving. Waiting for someone to listen to me; to come find me. I did that for about a decade.

But all along that person who I needed to listen, who I needed to look for me, has had to be me. I have to open those closet doors. I have to walk out alone.

I Am Waiting

I’ve spent a lot of my life waiting

To see if the pain will stop

To see if I’ll feel better

Waiting

For them to love me

For them to come home

For them to let me go

Waiting

For a true purpose

For the wind to stop blowing

And the weather to get warmer

Waiting

For a parcel in the post

For an epiphany to solidify I am human

And not a ghost

Waiting

For my plane to arrive

And waiting to take off

I’ve spent a lot of my life waiting

For things to begin

And end

 

Tuesday

Good things happen on Tuesdays. Airfare is cheap. It’s a good day to travel. It’s an unassuming day. People are just getting on with things on Tuesday.

For me, this might be the most important Tuesday in 15 years. I am on the train to New York City to see the Endometriosis specialist Dr Seckin.

I get really anxious when I go to the doctor. The thing with me is, is that I tell doctors everything that is going on and suggest what it might be. I dare say I know more than them when it comes to my health. In fact, I was the first person to figure out I might have Endometriosis, years before a doctor even used the term. I’m agressive.

After years of feeling like I was not being listened to by most medical professionals, I adopted this behavior. I feel that it got me to where I am today, on this train, going to see a specialist.

But every time I see any doctor I get anxious. I’ve been let down so many fucking times I barely have any hope left each time I have to talk about​ my symptoms again.  Will they listen to me this time? For real? Will they just tell me how to manage my “condition” for the next 6 months, next year, next five?

I hope today is different. I hope today is the most important Tuesday in 15 years.