Friday, 26 June 2015
What I Want What You Want it Kills Us
This morning, awake at 5am I read two pieces on touring as a musician and it's implications on mental and emotional wellbeing. The first, written in The Guardian includes standpoints from many well known names, the second is an articulate piece by an creative and intelligent woman who experienced the touring lifestyle from the sidelines and had a full psychotic breakdown. It affected me personally.
Both pieces talk about the highs and lows of touring, the wins - travel and the exhilaration of performance and the lows - erratic schedules and a distorted sense of reality amongst them. I've never been on tour, never played an instrument competently in my life so that isn't my point here. What I can relate to it is my former career, working in PR. I wanted so badly to be part of the media, to work in the music industry, to write and create and learn. I did all of those things. I had big moments. I wrote press releases knowing my words would be replicated in the paper the next day. I supervised interviews. I stood at the side of the stage while bands I loved performed. I scheduled journalist meetings. And, although not to the extent that I craved, I travelled.
I worked in the industry always thinking the next big thing was around the corner. What had begun to take it's toll with me was the insecurity of it all - working for days or weeks on a project, planning the release, hounding the media only to open the papers the next days with a heart sinking feeling as you found nothing. Some accounts were of course more reliable than others. Some I was even really good at: setting up media partnerships, running successful campaigns. After each win I'd coming crashing down - realising that clients and journalists would always want more. In a day I could be shining from getting coverage to Tatler then crying in the toilets because I knew it was not enough - and not enough was never ending. In our tiny office I'd feel like I was coming out of my skin, restless to not be sitting at desk anymore.
When I landed a dream account working on a film festival I thought I was made. That account broke me in so many ways - shitty press calls, demanding distributors, clients who dropped bombshells like sweeties. What it made me realise more than anything was that it wasn't worth it. It felt like you could flog yourself to death and no-one would blink. Hyperbole of course. It wasn't what I wanted anymore. It wasn't what I needed.
Fast forward to now. I teach English to teenagers and I love it. I laugh so many times in a day. I come home and cook watch TV and movies. I love my friends and family and spend time with them as a much happier person. I write stories. I do yoga. I want a puppy more than anything. I'm still on my medication. I actually realised that I needed medication, that I wasn't just fighting in my own head. I was only able to do that when I became more grounded and I was only able to become more grounded when I left the industry.
When I think about my depression and how long it went undiagnosed for I used to wonder how I stuck at it PR as long as I did. It was for the highs. I'll always remember them. That's why I can understand the touring lifestyle, it makes sense to me. Just like PR people are eager to see the glamour, the privileges, the big moments. And just like PR those come at a price.
Personally I have another investment - I am completely in love with a wonderfully talented musician who is going to spend a lot of the next year on tour. Unlike my own experience of misguidedly working in an industry that wasn't right for me I know that music is right for him. Love makes me feel like I want to hug someone all the time to make sure that they are ok. I want him to have the things that work for me. I want to cook him nice food, have a nice place to live, get proper sleep and fresh air. I also want him to play music and be happy, I just worry that those two things pull each other apart.
I know one thing though - I'll be here. I hope that my own experiences can keep him grounded in reality.
I also hope that some of that at least makes sense.
Miss D xx