The Dark Before The Dawn

(I just wanted to give fair warning that this weeks post is going to be dealing with some heavier stuff. Mostly pertaining to depression and suicide. If this makes you uncomfortable you may want to skip this one and I will have something a little more uplifting next week.)

I am going to start off by saying that I am no expert. I don’t have a degree in psychology and hardly know the first thing about the human mind. However, I am a person who has struggled with depression and suicide.

A few months ago I started following a YouTube personality by the name of Markiplier. For thous who may not be familiar with him, he is video game commentator and sketch comedian. A couple of years ago he started an unofficial partnership with a group of other online entertainers that go by the name Cyndago which seemed very beneficial to them both. They worked closely with each other and became fast friends. Not to mention how many more people they were able to effect through this partnership.

A little over a week ago, one of the co-founders of Cyndago, Daniel Kyre, died after an attempted suicide. This seemingly came out of no where and hit everyone involved very hard. Understandably they have all needed to step back from work to grieve over the loss. The group Cyndago has recently come to the decision that it would be best to disband as a group and go their separate ways after the loss.

Suicide and self harm is something that far to many people suffer with these days, including myself.

I grew up in an abusive household. My Dad was a very controlling a manipulative man who was great at making you feeling horrible if you didn’t do what he wanted you too. Because of his disposition to this, he and my Mom fought constantly. The only way I knew how to cope with it as a kid was self harm. I didn’t understand what I was doing at the time when I hit myself, but I knew was that I wanted to redirect the pain that I felt inside to something more tangible like a bruise or a cut. When I was about thirteen I was diagnosed with depression. This wasn’t surprising considering it ran in the family. My older sister and Father were both effected by the illness. Like them I had to take daily medications for it. The medication helped but it never really went away.

Eventually my parents split and a few years later my Mom got remarried to man who was just as abusive but more direct about it. He hated me and I hated him and it was no secret. He never hit me, but he was never above pointing out my flaws and name calling. He didn’t understand me nor did he want me in his house, so one day I obliged him and walked out the door.

There was a family who was kind enough to take me in and help me through the rest of high school, but thous where some of the darkest months of my life. I felt so alone and scared during that time and I didn’t know what to do. The family that I was staying with meant well, but they weren’t home. They wanted to help but didn’t understand what I was going through. That I had lost everything I was familiar with and knew, and was scared. So I went back to the one method that I was familiar with to cope, self harm. I broke the blade off of a razor and started cutting. It provided temporary relief to manifest the pain physically that I felt inside, but in the long term it was just perpetuating the problem. Somewhere I knew this and was trying to build up the courage to a more permanent solution, suicide.

I kept telling myself that I might do it that night or the next night. Then one night I thought of just ripping of the ‘band-aid’ and doing it. Then a thought raced across my mind. What would happen to my sisters if I did this?  How would they feel about this? How would they cope? What example would I be setting for my seven year old sister? How would the family I am staying with deal with it? Or my Mother and Dad? My Grandparents? My aunts and uncles, my friends, my co-workers, my peers, my neighbors? How would they cope with someone they know and love killing them self?

Then another thought chased through my mind. What would have happened to me? I love music, if I did this I would never hear another note of a beautiful piano melody or the strum of a guitar ever again. I would never get to find out the ending of my own story, were all of this would end up. I may escape the pain, but what would I be giving up?

After this revelation I sat on my bed and just cried. I mean balled. The next day I got help. I started going to a counselor and being more open about my feeling with thous around me.

If you are out there right now, reading this, and are struggling with suicide or depression or self harm, know that I am so sorry. I am sorry for the demons that you are facing. I am so sorry that right now, every day you are finding it hard to wake up, just to deal with all of it again. It is hard and it feels like it will never end. It feels like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. That is a valid feeling. It is ok to feel that way. Life is hard and some days it feels like it will find every way to screw you over.

Know that it will pass. You will get through this. You are stronger than it. There are people who love you, friends, family, and neighbors. They want to help, but they need to know what is going on. This monster that you are battling right now is going to lie to you and tell you that no one cares. That no one will miss you. It’s full of shit. I know it’s hard, but don’t listen to it. If you really need it confirmed to you if your friend would miss you, ask them. I guarantee they would. A year after my decision to keep my life, the topic of suicide happened to get brought up with my older sister. I had mentioned the choice I faced and she started crying. I was little confused because I had thought she knew about my struggle, but I had never told her about that night. She was horrified that was something that I even faced.

You don’t know how many people who you would effect and how if you were to make that choice. You have every right to make your own choice about your own life, but know that suicide will not only effect you, but everyone around you. There are many people you effect everyday.

If I may answer one question you may be asking “What’s the point?”. The point is, your a life. You are a sentient being. Not a tree or a blade of grass but a human life. You are blessed with higher thinking, and story to tell. A story of great highs and great lows, of victories and defeats, of love and of success. Right now you may be at a low point or a defeat, but a victory will be just around the corner. A success will come. An opportunity will arise. I won’t lie to you, until then it will be hard as shit. You will have to make that daily decision to keep going, but it will be so worth it. You will arrive one day. You will make it to the top of this treacherous mountain. In the mean time take the small victories, like just getting up for another day, and look for support in thous around you because you can’t do this by yourself. You need the help of others, of loved ones, and they want to help you. They believe in you, and I believe in you.

It is ok to be afraid. Its ok to frustrated and angry with circumstance. You are human and you are ment to feel emotion, but it doesn’t need to control you. If you feel that you just need to cry then find a safe place to do so and cry it out. If you need to yell and punch things, find your sister’s favorite pillow and beat the shit out of it. The point is don’t suppress your emotion, get it out. Let your body have the time to get out all of its worry and anger. Then when it is done you can move on.

Please remember that you will get through this. This season will end. There will be something better after this. In the mean time please, please communicate your feelings to loved ones. They want to help. If you may be having thoughts of suicide right now and need to imminently talk to someone please call 1 (800) 273-8255. They will connect you to a trained counselor who is not trying to sell you anything, they just want to help. Suicide doesn’t need to be the final option anymore. You are worth so much more, and you have a story to tell that many people want to hear, including me.

Musicians are the Worst Employees

Every time I have the pleasure of speaking to another musician, artist, or entertainer, I have come across a common theme. Food service. I know that this is not true for every case, but if anything it is consistent. I have always thought that it was odd, but as I gave it some thought, it makes perfect sense.

Being a person has been far more intimate with the industry then I care to admit, so many creative people being former food service is kinda nice. If anything at least I am in good company. The reason I feel that if you ask any musician about their resume, that they will probably mention food service at some point is because, musicians are terrible employees. There are always positions in food service, partly because other musicians got fed up with thouse positions!

There are many reasons for that, but the biggest one I feel is that we don’t give a fuck!

Not giving a fuck about a cruddy food service position? Revolutionary Remy! How did you come to that conclusion?!

Look, I know that no one goes into a lower tier food service position or retail position, because they love it. You do it because you have to pay the bills. That is completely understandable, considering that is exactly what I am doing right now. The thing is though I was taught growing up to put my best towards everything I do, especially work. Which is exactly what I did and it got me to running a restaurant. Not to blow my own horn but I was a fantastic employee. I did everything I was supposed to do and then some. I never talked back to the boss, I always made sure everything was spotless, and I had some of the best ticket times in comparison to other Gymland locations.

Then, lets call it the “awakening”, happened. The “awakening” being when I was suspended from work for a ridiculous reason, and rediscovered my life’s purpose to be a musician. When I had this realization I had something new, a goal. This changed my life in many ways. One of them being when I got back to my position of power after the suspension, you better believe I didn’t give a damn about Gymalnd anymore.

Though with that you could make the argument that I was just fed up with Gymland and didn’t want to be there anymore. You’d be right! There is more to it though. Even in my new position, which is entirely different from what I was doing before. I am now a delivery driver and am hardly even in the restaurant. I still can’t say I care even the slightest.

The reason being is now I have a higher goal. Something outside of work to pursue. A dream to chase. After that there ain’t much room left for customer service ideals. Like I said earlier no one goes into the lower positions because they want to. It’s to make money, but it’s a slippery slope. You go there to make money, and then eventually you may get a pay raise, or a promotion. Then you have that much more intensive to stay. Because you put in the effort and invested your time into this position you are starting to establish yourself in that company. You have no reason to go anywhere else. Then time starts to slip by and you have been there fifteen years. You may try to get another job but all your experience is in that one area.  It is at that point you realize, they got ya.

I am not saying this is the end of the world, and some people do just want to work for a company and make a living that way. Which is fine! I couldn’t do it, but that just means its not for me.

For my fellow musicians, we have different priorities. If we could just live off playing music we would, but for most of us that is not possible. We need to pay our bills somehow, but that doesn’t mean we are going to put much energy towards a particular pleb position.

So if you are an employer out there, you have been warned. If you higher a musician or artist for a low paying job, expect them to be out the door in a couple of months.

The Grass is Always Greener

So the day has finally come! Yesterday I finished my final day at Gymland. I look forward to putting that painful chapter of my life behind me. Admittedly though, I have mixed feelings about it. Don’t get me wrong, I am over the freakin moon to be done with that particular cesspit, but it was the cesspit I knew and understood. I knew what I was getting into when I clocked in at the beginning of the day. Who to avoid eye contact with in order to avoid being given more paper work to do. What times I could sneak in a break between rushes at the restaurant. I became familiar with it and how it acts.

That is sort of what food service in general has become to me as well. I have been taking orders from customers and making food for about six years at this point. Over the course of those six years I made it my own. I have learned the terminology, the people and personas that come with them, and all the right things to say to customers. I have become the ideal employee for any restaurant in any environment. The problem is this is not where my heart is. I have met people who love the food industry and don’t mind working for a corporation. I have even seen people prosper in such environments, but I am simply not one of them.

In honesty, some days I wish I was. It would certainly be much easier for me, considering my extensive training in the area. I have even been told by a boss that if I wanted too, I could probably make it to being a General Manager of a facility in just a couple of years. If I got lucky and went back to college, I could probably make it as a district manager within five years. That’s an enticing offer that I have certainly considered. The problem with all of that is I just can’t put myself behind the job like I can being a musician.

I have always struggled with my desires to play music professionally. Such creativity was never fully encouraged in my household. ‘Playing music and writing is all well and good, as a hobby, but you better make sure you figure out an actual profession to pay the bills.’ This was the general consensus in my home regarding such passions. It was never completely discouraged, you just need to be “real” about it. To always have your “back-up” ready, a.k.a. your “real” job to pay the bills.

This is a real defeatist attitude. That the only “real” professions are ones that can be measured out and written down. The ones that you go to college for x amount of years or joining in a corporation are the only “real” professions that can be depended on. Admittedly some of that is true. You can be given an estimate on how much you will earn if you stay with a company for so many years. You could also be told how much you can earn with a certain type of degree after you graduate. The question is, where did those nice, predictable jobs come from? From other nice an’ measurable job positions? Did two ideal positions get together one night, and after nine months, make a nice little corporate house hold? No. It came from someone, or a group of people, taking a risk. That there was either a need or a dream that needed to be fulfilled, and they did it. I am not going to sit here and pretend that I understand the complexity there is behind corporations and business as a whole, but what I do know is that it all started with a dream. Even the almighty Gymland started with a handful of fat guys wanting to curl something other than a twinky.

I can say all of this now. I can say that I have got corporate and business all figured out and convince myself that I am just trying to give you all the truth behind it all. But in truth, I have no idea what I am doing. Not to mention I am scared out of my mind. With leaving my old position, means leaving all that I know behind. I am leaving it all behind for something that I keep telling myself will be better. That it will be all okay now that I am following my dreams and telling the haters to suck it. But doubt does still regularly try to creep in and consume me. Making me feel like I am making the biggest mistake of my life by putting all my effort into my passions.

There is a story in the bible that talks about how the Israelite’s were once, long ago, slaves to the Egyptians for hundreds of years. That everyday the Israelite’s were enslaved they would cry out to God to save them. Eventually he sent a guy named Moses to free them and lead them away from their bondage to a land of ‘milk and honey’, Jerusalem. He was successful in liberating them, but before they could reach Jerusalem they had to cross a massive dessert.  During that long journey, you could imagine they started having doubts that this whole things was actually going to happen. Some even started begging Moses to let them go back Egypt to be slaves. Enslavement was the only thing they knew and they wanted something that they were at least familiar with. Land of milk and honey is great wish but when it involves long days of walking in blistering heat and long sleepless nights, it turns into a risk that not all of them wanted to take. All they heard were promises but saw nothing but sand. After about forty years of grueling work, the Israelite’s finally made it to the promised land.

Whether you believe this actually happened, or if God is real, is irrelevant. This is still a great example of how that whenever we undergo a big change that is still under progress, we start to doubt. When we start letting doubt take control, we start to look at how things were and reconsider how bad it may have really been.

Was working food service really that bad? At least I had a steady paycheck. Even if felt like I was living a lie.

Was being unhealthy really that bad? At least I was comfortable. Even if the doctor said I may develop Diabetes.

Was working sixty hour weeks really that bad? At least I had my mind occupied. Even if I never got to see my family.

Was living with an abusive girlfriend really that bad? At least I wasn’t alone. Even if she hit me.

Was being a slave really that bad? At least it was predictable. Even if I had no free will.

Yes, yes it was.

I am terrified right now. There are days when I wake up in the middle of the night, in a cold sweat wondering how I am going to pull it off. I am cutting my paycheck in half and going full tilt into becoming an artist. I have no idea what I am doing. I am not even that great of a musician or a writer. All I can do is learn and hope. Learn my craft to the best of my ability, and hope that people will find this somewhere and someday join me in my fight. Until then I will keep honing my skills as a musician and writer. When I reach the other side of this journey, I will look back and see their grass wasn’t so green after all.

When in Reality…

I have had quite a few things and people influence me to become who I am today. Which, of course, is true for all of us! Humans are curious creatures that are always looking to the world around them for inspiration, and rarely are we ever are just influenced by one thing. Take for example when you are a child, your greatest influence is probably your parents. They are your gate keepers to the world of right and wrong and you are not about to question them. Not to mention that they shape and mold who you become. Example being if you are raised in a Circus, chances are you are going to be a lion juggler (you know, if it’s any circus worth their merit).

Of course as we get older and we start our journey in this world, we discover other people and media to identify with and attach too outside of our home. This is what really starts to form who you are and who you will become.

I know for me my biggest influences came from friends and music. Alot of these were positive influences, and some not so much. For example, friends in high school asking me if I want to get in on selling cigarettes on campus, probably not the best influences ever!

Just like how some negative influences can suck you dry, positive stay with you and invigorate you. Like I mentioned before, my first real exposure to music was Nirvana, and because of that they greatly influenced my taste. I will always remember the first time I heard ‘Smell’s like Teen Spirit’ on tv after Law and Order (Did I mention I was a weird kid?). The excited feeling of something new, and the desire for more like it, and the gradual rise to my decision to become a musician.

When we finally find that thing or person that inspires us, it is the greatest feeling in the world. Because you have finally found your muse. Something to aim for and to be, but because of this we have a habit of placing them on a pedestal. Often forgetting that they are human too. They sometimes feel insecure about things, feel worry, sometimes don’t sleep well at night. Most of all get burnt out because fans and the world demand so much from them.

A few years ago I discovered a band that quickly became my greatest influence. They had the charisma, the musical skill, and label to make them complete bad-asses in my eyes. As time goes on, though, drama is sure to follow. This band announced, seemingly out of no where, that they have had enough of their label and broke their contract to go independent. Which is great! More creative freedom and independence! Little did they mention probably how hard that was for them. They lost their safety net and were on their own in a world that is known for being merciless, and as time went on cracks started to show. One particular member started to feel that he just had to keep pumping out something otherwise they would disappoint the fans. Even getting to a certain point to think of quitting.

When I found this out I was heart broken. I realized that I was among thous fans who were demanding so much from them, giving nothing in return. I had forgotten they were too, human. Just like I was. That they were fighting to keep afloat in this world, just like I was.

We fans love to receive and often forget to give back. The being said, there is nothing wrong with enjoying music or media that someone has made. It is a job that they love have chosen to take up for you enjoy the fruits of their labor! It’s a seemingly win win situation, but we do forget sometimes they they are human too. Humans that need breaks and coffee just like we do. Though we like to pretend our influences are gods, the exact opposite is true. They make mistakes and are learning just as much as you and I are.

Bringing your idol back down to your level actually isn’t such a bad thing either. It’s a reminder that they have the same struggles that you and I do. Just remember, like how you and I need some loved heaped on us to get through a day, so do they.