Saturday, 5 May 2012

I Am Trying to Break Your Hearts

When I first volunteered to do my first Bettakultcha talk back in February my main motivations for stepping up to the plate were a) so there would be at least one female speaker at the inaugaral York Bettakultcha and b) so I could attend free of charge, because I was having cash-flow, ahem, issues at the time. With very little thought on my behalf I suggested that my talk might a (relatively) light-hearted take on my experience of depression and suicidal impulses, and how worry was both threatening and saving my life. Little did I know at that point that I was about to spiral even deeper into the darkness and resurface back into the light again. A week before my talk I had been to the brink and back so it was a very different talk than the one I'd planned to do - Richard and Ivor were kind enough to let me go first and for the 5 minutes I was talking everything was a bit of a blur.

Anyhoo, enough rambling from me ... spend 5 minutes watching what I said and then take a closer look at the smiling friends and family that surround you - some of them may be silently enduring more pain than you can imagine possible. Find out who they are and then just bear witness to their pain - they don't need you to fix them, they just need you to listen and walk alongside them through the darkness until they can find their own way back home.

And here are my slides with accompanying notes.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Say something I'll remember the next day

The bright white piano from DIY
Wilful Missing's 'bright white piano'
DIY by Wilful Missing

I really pleased to announce that the third track to be officially donated to my 'Saving the Only Life I Can' project is DIY by the absurdly humble and beautifully melancholic Wilful Missing. If you aren't as pedantic about punctuation as I am then you can sing along to the lyrics here:

For me this song encapsulates the maddening ambivalence and amnesia of chronic depression - it got to the point where every morning I felt like I awoke at the cliff's edge, peering into the void and I had to spend the rest of the day inching away from the edge, desperately trying to find something, or someone, to treasure, something to celebrate, something to hold onto - any small fragment that would give me hope and help me in my daily remembering of why life itself was worth  holding onto.
"Baby say something,
say something I'll remember
the next day,
but the shadows
conceal us
from hoping."
I'm hugely grateful to Wilful Missing for writing such beautiful music - You can hear more of their tracks on their Bandcamp page. I strongly advise you to go and see them play live if you get the chance ... it's an indescribably magical experience. If you live in York then you are in luck because they're playing at The Stereo on Gillygate next Thursday.

Heading Home with Hope in my Heart

Goodness only knows how A Hawk in the Rain (the combined talents of Cassis Birgit Staudt, Tom Lingard, Simon R. Goff, George Kirkham) managed to collaboratively compose a piece of music that is both heartwrenchingly beautiful and soul-soaringly hopeful but thank goodness they did because this track has comforted and uplifted me on countless occasions since I first heard it about a year ago. It's the second track to be donated to 'Saving the Only Life I Can'.

Home 22-11-10 by SimonRalphGoff

I have always had an uneasy relationship with the word 'home' and last year I was suddenly struck by the shocking realisation that I had no feeling of being at home anywhere in the world, even in my own home. The poet David Whyte often talks about how we are often exiles within our own lives, more of that another time but one of his poems which resonates deeply with me is 'Revelation Must be Terrible' so that's worth reading if you have any 'belonging' issues:
"Being far from home is hard, but you know,
   at least we are exiled together."
On the 24th March, as I reluctantly readied myself to leave the warm embrace of The Maytree, I realised that I felt like I was going home for the first time in more than 30 years. I listened to 'Home' by A Hawk in the Rain as the train carrying me back north pulled out of Kings Cross and I had the broadest smile across my face for every second of the track. Huge thanks to all the members of A Hawk in the Rain who unanimously agreed to donate this track to my Saving the Only Life I Can project. Special thanks go to Simon Goff who I first met in his role as the bassist for Hope and Social and who kindly contacted the other band members to make the request on my behalf.