Tyler Joseph, the lead singer from the brilliant group, Twenty One Pilots, openly talks about the meaning of some of the lyrics they write. Having looked at them, and also the videos, I can certainly relate to what they present.
Why feelings matter..
The feelings of depression have lived long with me. From early childhood, if I analyse the facts, it would have had an impact. Into adulthood, there have been many feelings and choices that have contributed to the ‘downfall’ of my existence. This may be a strong term to use but when you look back at what life has given you, could you relate to it?
One thing after the next in a procession of events that have impacted upon me and led me down the road to feeling at my worst. During this time, I have asked myself, and indeed, by others, how I am feeling. This has been one of the most difficult questions that I have ever tried to answer.
What it looks like from a personal level
I don’t believe that it can be the same for everyone as we are all different in many ways. But below are some of the labels that have connected with me.
What is it that haunts us?
The confusion of not knowing why you’re angry is the most annoying thing in the world. AJ would ask what the matter was and I had no answer to it. I knew there was nothing but it felt as though I was a hormonal teenager struggling to understand what was happening in the body and mind. The feelings of rage towards others was astounding and to this day, if I apologised to everyone I offended over recent times, I wouldn’t have much life left.
Counteracting this trait is not easy. Especially if you do not understand why you have the feelings you do, and why you use reactions that are so offensive to others. I guess for me that the way I continue to deal with anger is to accept. Not needing to understand why I am feeling the way I do, but I do need to act better to maintain control of myself. Learning to understand what may trigger me, and to act in the opposite way as to diffuse the situation. For example, walking away from the beginning of an argument is something that I try to do, until the situation calms, and I can talk.
The analogy we think about…
You get it. The feeling of despair when all is against you. The tension and suffocation of a gravity blanket which, while keeping you safe, it can also make you feel uncomfortable. But the picture remains that you have these imaginary clouds that surround you from all directions and no matter how hard you try, you cannot escape it.
These clouds are thick, dark and full of heaviness. Not a brilliant description but all the same, an apt one for me. Describing this feeling on occasion, as seeing a break in the clouds and making my way towards the blue sky was short lived. The clouds would soon come back again and I would find myself back where I started. Looking into a future clouded by a fog which wouldn’t lift. A destroyer of life, and meaning.
The fog seemed as though the clouds were hung with an expanding substance that choked the airways you used to breathe with. Running away form this imaginary scenario is a struggle and you would do and say anything to fight your way through it, no matter who you hurt. Metaphorically speaking, I was shit at punching fog!
Distrust of Self
Why am I similar to Jackyll and Hyde?
I know I am a nice person. I know this. But try telling me this when I am distrusting of who I become when the feelings descend. You are not saying the things you need to say and when you do, it comes out in such a manner that it offends all that are with you and nobody understands. The words used are not directed in a personal fashion, but once they escape from your mouth, you cannot take them back. It can have the most devastating effect on others, and indeed yourself.
Feeling remorseful after the event of attacking someone with your vocabulary can be destructive. The ‘people-pleaser’ in me always wants to rectify a difficult situation but how productive is this? We as humans will not agree on everything all of the time. Opinions differ, and arguments happen. Even so, the distrust of myself can open a position whereby I negate my argument through apologising, even when I am right!
A further analogy
Not only were the clouds there to tease and torment the damaged mind, but I also felt as though I were housed in a perspex box that allowed me to float around inside, surrounded by the tortuous clouds. Gaps of any size would appear and I would head towards the clearing. Imagine the words ‘peace’, ‘serenity’, ‘calmness’, ‘happy’, ‘laughing’, ‘fun’; these words you can see beyond the box, in a perfect blue sky. You cannot get to them as you are obstructed by the perspex box, a sort of glass ceiling that goes in all directions.
The box can feel massive and small at the same time. The imagination you have is enormous. It is a powerful tool, your mind, and to use it against yourself will harm us in so many ways. But on the flip-side, why can’t we use our mind to benefit us? What is stopping us?
It IS us. We stop it. We feel as though we cannot change, it is too difficult for us to do so. But what if we didn’t think like this and allowed our mind to process something happy? It would bring benefit to us, surely? That said, it is difficult to move your mind but I don’t believe it isn’t possible. I have mentioned before that we are all so unique, it makes us amazing and we should recognise that this is amazing, and we are amazing, flaws ‘n’ all.
Depression has many forms
Looking back to Tyler Joseph and the brilliant depiction of how I personally have felt in the past, one of the videos using the scene of a deep valley. Tyler is part of the story that shows him walking along the valley floor, with a bishop chasing him to drag him back to a state of unhappiness. Also, on the top ridges of the valley, are people. Each one trying to help Tyler out of the crevasse, to rid him of the clutches of the Bishop.
My own understanding of this (alongside FMD’s – (stepson)), is that the depression that has got hold of Tyler, is so strong that it keeps chasing him down until he is caught, and put back into the place that is depression. On looking at the video, I relate to the many facets of what I have been involved with in my life, and how it has contributed to my own experiences.
Hatred of Self
What does it mean to self-loathe? Psychologists will say it is a feeling of low self-esteem, but for me, it is a hatred of the person I am. It didn’t matter that people would encourage, support, offer wisdom but more importantly, they couldn’t understand why I was feeling the way I was; neither could I. This would affect me in ways that can only be described as chaotic. It was an irrational state that would cover me, hide me away from the world, and make me unacceptable of any criticism that was aimed at me. I believed all that was said. If, in an argument I was labelled ‘pathetic’, I would accept it as who I was or if ‘disgusting’, the label would cling to me no matter what, leaving me with a feeling of inferiority towards everyone else.
Desire to be someone else
I am not me
The longing to be someone else was incredible. Even though I had built up a range of friends throughout my life, it felt as though I needed to compete with them on every level. Aspiring to have what thy had, and castigating myself as I was not ‘as good’ as they were, was all too familiar to me on a daily basis.
Nobody could sway my irrational thought process as the paranoia greeted me with a full smack in the face! The feeling must be similar for other men in this situation – everybody’s journey is different but equally valuable.
It never leaves you, but can it?
From the events at Hillsborough, I have since questioned my value to life on this planet. Many times. The thoughts I had that day were determined and true. These feelings can be suppressed but it doesn’t mean that they are not here, within you.
The trigger points that can in effect, set me off, are unknown. I would need to think really hard about past situations and document what happened to give an idea. Moreover, the feelings of worthlessness, self-doubt and inferiority could be classed as triggers. If I do something wrong and can’t understand the actions of why I did it, it can push me on a downward spiral.
As a self-confessed ‘people-pleaser’, saying no to people is still something hard and, of which I am learning, slowly, but surely. It doesn’t come easy.
There are so many areas of my life that I have questioned, and wished to be someone else, or elsewhere. And they keep coming, one after the other in a conveyor belt fashion. But at what point should you stop questioning? Is there ever a point you should? Maybe as people we question the wrong things at times, and not allow us to repair?
Acceptance of who you are and the past are two of the biggest hurdles I have faced – and I’m still not over them. So my question now is ‘how am I going to manage my journey?’
Rumination, consideration, brood, contemplate, call it what you will. Do you ever think that it will change what is happening now, or what has happened in the past? I have these moments all the time. Flashbacks, words said, actions taken, scenarios remembered but it all adds to one thing for me, and that is nothing. The good times are important as it gives a sense of value but the more difficult times were ones of learning and understanding (to a point). What as men do we hope to change by looking into our past? All events that have happened – they are important but at the same time, consigned to history. A harsh reminder that the truth cannot lie, no matter how much it hurts us.
I have never suffered the loss of a child, and I cannot imagine what that must be like. Furthermore, I couldn’t and wouldn’t offer any sort of solace as I have never experienced the dreadful situation. My only hope is that people do find comfort in some way shape or form to ease that burden.
Let’s try recovery…
My only outlet at the moment is trying to write how I feel about life in general. The problems and enjoyment it can bring. Writing in the hope that it may help others in their quest for a life, unmasked by conversation, to be able to live again.
I attended my support group yesterday and gave a talk on my experiences of life so far, and I decided to split my life in two. Being unable to alter the past, but sure as fuck that I can command my future, based on my terms.
Being able to accept that you are faulty, you are annoying or you are not everyone’s ‘cup of tea’, will go a long way to helping find the way out. AJ asked a question the other day which was this:
‘What is the happiness you seek?’
Honestly, I do not know the answer to this question but my response was that I will let you know when I get there. As the saying goes ‘happiness is a journey, not a destination’ – we need to work at it.
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