Saturday, 5 September 2015

I don't wanna be like anyone

everybody is standing staring at me
and they presume there are common goals that bind between us
but all i wanted; a break from mindless boredom 
to be special takes a better mind than you or i – Urusei Yatsura, Kernel

Urusei Yatsura are one of the defining bands of my teenage years and early twenties. As a teenager, they were one of the bands I would listen to obsessively in my bedroom when I first got into lo-fi, obscure indie music that no one else liked. They were a Glaswegian indie rock band named after a Manga comic. That sentence may sum up a lot about the nineties. There was a sincerity and simplicity to their lyrics that I really related to and their music was both hard and gentle, like harshness could have a soft underside. That’s a notion I still cling to today. What else can we do to survive in this world? Of course their themes of outsiderdom were something I really related to, never feeling at home amongst my family or at school. I had a difficult relationship with my parents and was severely bullied for being 'different', for being myself really, something that in all my years of therapy I don't think I ever got over and as a result I have never quite been able to feel at home anywhere, so Urusei Yatsura are still important to me and I get their songs in my head at different points in my life.

Yesterday I started on testosterone. I try not to talk about it too much because I don’t like to reinforce this normative idea that to be 'properly' trans a person has to take hormones, but after much consideration and hand-wringing I decided it was something I wanted to do. Then I freaked out, wondering if I was really doing it for me or because it was what was expected of me as a trans boy of sorts, and wondering if I was just trying to be like everyone else. I got 'Kernel' in my head.

i don't wanna be like everyone
i don't wanna be like anyone

Another person I admired greatly as a teenager, and still do now, is Jarvis Cocker. He was my male role model growing up, so different from my dad or the boys who bullied me for looking too much like them, and of all the people in the world, the person my gender felt closest to. He was a man but not masculine in the conventional ways. I also saw myself in all the vaguely effeminate boyish indie types, this was before they were all Shoreditch twats, perhaps before Shoreditch was even gentrified. I didn’t see any difference between myself and those boys. I never felt the need for any substance to make myself more like them, I’d never even heard of trans, I just was me. I never worried about pronouns or labels or whether I was read as a boy or a girl, I was just me.

Getting back to my indie pop loving roots at Prima Vera this year after a really difficult time with my mental health, I remember being in the sun with my friends thinking, I feel so happy right now, I’m not sure I want to take hormones, I don’t want anything to change. I felt like myself. Admittedly my antidepressants had just kicked in and I was at a stage where I just felt really happy to be alive, so all usual anxieties subsided, that feeling hasn’t lasted forever.

So my first day on T I had my doubts, thought maybe I don’t care about any of this, maybe it doesn’t matter how anyone reads me, maybe I don’t care about being whatever fucking gender, maybe I’m just me. Why is it now I care so much about gender or anything when I didn’t used to? Am I just doing what I’m meant to?

Of course, however one feels, negotiating the world is a different matter. The me inside my head is pretty different to the one a lot of other people see and I guess my real hesitation with T is the not knowing whether it would make me more like the me in my head or less.

I don’t know what I’ll do, if I do take it I will not be making a week by week videolog and if I don’t, I probably won’t write much about that either. So don’t watch this space. If you need me I’ll be listening to Urusei Yatsura again, letting the jagged guitars wash over me and trying my best to be me, whatever that may or may not entail. 

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Messed Up Music Reviewer

Primavera Sound 2015
Parc Del Forum, Barcelona
May 2015

An empty stage on the first night of Primavera

I went to bed too early. I never saw the sunrise over the Barcelonian indie-rock skyline. I missed Underworld and Shellac, but Primavera still remains the best music festival I’ve ever experienced. For a start it’s the only one I’ve been to not in the UK, which means instead of shivering your tits off in the freezing cold and crying because you’re covered in mud and have convinced yourself you’ve developed pneumonia, it’s warm and sunny in the day and only just about not t-shirt weather at night. I know it’s so very English to talk about the weather, but for me this is a real game changer. When you enter the enormous outdoor Parc del Forum and descend down the hill, you can see the sea behind the stages and I actually felt like I was on holiday as opposed to being there to prove my devotion to various musical acts. I was there for that too of course. There were no queues for wristbands and everything was just ten million times better organised than any other festival I’ve been to. Also the atmosphere feels way less bro-ey than Leeds Festival or like a party for drunk art students than All Tomorrow’s Parties. I don’t know if this is because there are less English people (there are still a lot) or because the average festival-goer’s age is a bit older. Obviously it’s still a corporate rock festival dominated by white guitar acts sponsored by Heineken, H & M and Ray Bans (ray bans? is it 1982?) and probably paying its staff minimum wage, so let's not get carried away. But as those things go…


We arrive in time to catch The Thurston Moore Band who are disappointingly pretty good in a hypnotic My Bloody Valentine/Sonic Youth dirgey kind of way. In fact the bass player is Debbie Googe from My Bloody Valentine. I say disappointingly because it means I can’t legitimately refer to them as ‘The Thurston Snore Band’ in this review but that is what we call them privately all weekend. Still team Kim all the way.

The first of many festival highlights comes with Antony and the Johnsons. Antony is backed by a full orchestra consisting of members of the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra and Catalonia National Orchestra and his voice sounds powerful and bassy enough to send shivers right through the enormous crowds -even me, and I’m standing pretty far away- without losing any of the heart-stopping subtleties. Good job soundpeople. The sun sets as Antony plays against a backdrop of a huge gothic fairytale screen whilst singing songs mourning the destruction of the earth by human hands and evoking powerful feminine energy. Unfortunately straight people keep making out in front of me and partially obscuring my view, a theme of the festival. I have to keep dodging my head to the side to avoid their Kath n Kim-esque face-slurping obscuring the view of one of my queer/trans icons. Straights to the back! (I know, I know I’m being binary and technically some of the people I make out with at gigs might put me in the ‘straight’ camp, but I offer myself up now for the scorn and disdain of any reviewers who would like to slag me off online for doing so. Particularly if I block their view. It’s the circle of life.)

I have no idea what Sun O))) will be like, knowing only that theirs is a name bandied around by musos as if it were gold. I watch them from the hill and they are incredible, coming on to a stage flooded with smoke and lights, dressed in black robes, indecipherable disturbing incantations building as if performing an ancient ritual, their wall of sound shaking the entire Parc del Forum. It’s so intense and unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, it’s actually kind of upsetting to watch and that’s why it’s so wonderful.

After Sun O))) and Antony, Electric Wizard can only be a disappointment. Their hair metal feels uber blokey and derivative by comparison. They have a screen up showing retro S/M porn movie visuals. I have nothing against S/M porn and I find it hard to take their backdrop seriously with the B-movie aesthetic, but given it’s always a maiden getting whipped by a bunch of dudes and the fact we’re surrounded by straight white dudes fisting the air with devotion it feels kind of uncomfortable. Electric Wizards songs themselves are fun in a kind-of-like-Black-Sabbath-but-not-as-good way but once you’ve heard three you’ve heard them all, so we leave after three songs.


Kathleen Hanna on TV

I keep thinking it’s Saturday as I cannot get my head around festivals running from Thursday – Saturday instead of Friday – Sunday. So much to unlearn. We get there for five in an unsuccessful attempt to see C86 jangly indie legends The Pastels. We discover that they are in a special venue and you have to queue to get special tickets for them. We fail to do this so just go and wait for Ex Hex who are on at six. At six a band comes on who are not Ex Hex. I don’t know who they are but unfortunately they don’t stand a chance of receiving anything other than vitriol from me as they are not Mary Timony & co who eventually come on at seven. Ex Hex are super fun rock n roll, theirs being one of the few records in my collection I can appropriately put on when I need cheering up (ironically because that is probably about 90% of the time) and the fun rock n rollness is reproduced pleasingly onstage. One thing that is not so pleasing is we spot the arsehole who tried to push my friend around and call her a cunt at the London Sleater-Kinney show in the audience. He has a disturbing number of friends and is wearing about thirty wristbands from other indie festivals where he doubtless went and saw all the feminist bands and called other women cunts and tried to push them around. We hate on him from across the crowd.

Then on to Patti Smith performing ‘Horses’ (I hear a bit of The New Pornographers doing ‘Sing Me Spanish Techno’, which they surely must have ended with, as we pass the ATP stage, they sound great). I just watch up until ‘Break It Up’ because I want to get a good place for Julie Ruin but Patti is predictably on great form and ‘Kimberley’ is a highlight for me, although I kind of prefer seeing her in more intimate settings.

Julie Ruin. Kathleen’s voice is going a little (which she attributes to an almond being stuck in her throat) but then she just sings in her Bikini Kill voice. Bonus. She and the band all look a little nervous playing to the enormous Primaveran crowd (apart from Kathi Wilcox who never looks anything other than flawlessly composed) and I’m sure the throat issues can’t help, but they give their all anyway and Kathleen closes with a cartwheel for extra awesomeness.

I make the heteronormative decision to go and see Belle and Sebastian rather than Perfume Genius as I saw PG last year and haven’t seen B & S in about twelve years. Like most heteronormative decisions it is the wrong one. Belle and Sebastian are pleasant but not mind-blowing. I watch most of their set in the toilet queue which has been excellently set out so the queuers get a good view of the main stage. I squat over a toilet rejected by the three people ahead of me, but I don’t care. Sitting on the toilet is bad for your bowels, they must not have gotten the memo.

Sleater-Kinney. They are wonderful and this is one of my favourite times seeing them. There’s something special about an open-air Sleater-Kinney show with the moon high above. Plus I’m actually in a place where I get a clear view of them and don’t have to spend the entire gig fighting over-entitled dickheads as I did at the most recent London show. Some of their songs I feel as if I’m hearing for the first time, and lyrics jump out at me as they hadn’t before. It’s a good mix of old and new material (nothing off ‘Call the Doctor’ I don’t think, but you can’t play everything). I like the latest album more and more every time I hear them play tracks off it live. My back is aching throughout because I’m an old man who’s been standing up all day but they are totally worth every second of agonising pain.

Not only does my back ache, one of my friends has hurt her foot and is limping and I’m sure my other friend has some kind of injury too. Nonetheless she runs to see Pharmakon on the other side of the Parc Del Forum but is too late and we all haul our aching bones over to catch Run the Jewels on the ATP stage. They bring the party with Public Enemy-esque alternative hip hop and an attitude that at once manages to be both bravado-ey and humble to the audience. I’m a little underwhelmed by them for some reason but this might just be because I’m sprawled out watching them far away from the hillside.

On our way home on the metro a gross drunken expat in a suit slumps around the carriage before asking loudly in English, ‘Do I have to go to Berlin to find all the cute girls?’ I call him a prick as we get off and limp back to our apartment. Another day done and we round off our night by Instagram-stalking our favourite bands of the day and discovering what they’ve been doing in Barcelona. If, like me, you don’t have Instagram, here is what you missed. Sleater-Kinney’s Janet Weiss = lots of sight-seeing + hanging with Kathi Wilcox. Kim Gordon wasn’t there but she commented on their Instagram thread about how it was bringing back memories. Mary Timony went to the beach. Carrie Brownstein posed in front of a big arch which I think is probably a famous Barcelona site about which I am ignorant. Kathleen Hanna packed her suitcase.


Babes and babes and babes

Noooo. The last day. And again time to see Patti Smith. Yes, you heard right. But this time she’s not doing ‘Horses’ and we’re in a sit-down auditorium for which you have to queue an hour before her performance to get a decent seat. We do and we get a good place. I really prefer this set. Amazing as ‘Horses’ is there was something about her performing that album to such huge crowds which seemed almost contrived comparative to this one and like I said, I prefer intimacy. ‘Pissing in a River’ is incredible, every line rawly conveying brutal, murky loss. ‘Because the Night’ gets everyone standing up. The boy from the London Sleater-Kinney show is sat very near us again but Patti is so enthralling we don’t even notice until the gap between her set and Swans who play in the auditorium after her. Swans give a hypnotic performance. You could lose yourself in the million layers of percussion and the fact that they look all like extras from the set of Conan the Barbarian.

Multi-gendered Canadian hardcore band Fucked Up are next on the list. They’re joyous and eschew punk clichés, their keyboardist at one point getting out a flute. OK, so frontman Damian Abraham does stage dive at the end but not in a macho jerk way as can happen with guys in the hardcore world. He also gives big props to Babes in Toyland which can only be a good thing. The set feels like positive aggression which the world needs more of.

Next for something completely different. Tori Amos. I have never particularly been a Tori Amos fan and some of my least favourite people are big Tori Amos fans. I’m sure some people I really like are too, but they don’t talk about it. It’s great to come to a show with no expectations and it’s a happy experience. I forgot how much I liked that line ‘So you found a girl who thinks really deep thoughts/What’s so amazing about really deep thoughts?’ and I smile at it and then I feel old and then I don’t care. The best thing about Tori Amos’s set is seeing all the gay boys watching her down the front on the big screen, crying their eyes out and singing along to every single word. I’ve seen so few queers this whole festival compared with the endless parades of happy straight couples who like to stand in front of me and make out whenever a band I wanna watch is on.

German pioneer industrial experimentalists Einstürzende Neubauten play the ATP stage after darkness. During their first song one of their members plays a sheet of shiny ripped up paper and progresses throughout the set to eventually ‘play’ a makeshift skip, emptying out metal rods onto the stage whilst the drummer drums with what look like a set of drainpipes, but don’t worry, Stomp! it ain’t. It’s not even a challenge to listen to as one may expect of an experimental band who use an entire arsenal of Blue Peter props to make a noise. The sound is still cold but their show is surprisingly warm. Lead singer Blixa Bargeld has a bit of a count Dracula look to him these days but is actually very sweet. ‘You know we love playing here, don’t you?’ he says quietly and sincerely, like a father telling his child, ‘You know I love you, don’t you?’

Babes in Toyland end the festival, for me at least, I didn’t have the energy to party till dawn this year, which I kind of regret now, but what can you do? BiT are wonderful, emotionally-involving and intense. Kat Bjelland freaks out and looks upset for the first few songs due to technical/guitar issues. It’s actually a bit uncomfortable to watch her to begin with, yet BiT still manage to be captivating, the sense of urgency to the music coming out possibly more in Kat’s state of anxiety. I still can’t help but grin from ear to ear as they play a storming set. I feel bad for Kat nonetheless - she’s not having the awesome time her fans are. Drummer Lori Barbero holds things together by telling jokes between songs when it gets awkward. Then Kat’s guitar problems get fixed and she is like a child at Christmas, the whole atmosphere changing. I can see that she is still somewhat ill at ease but surely ill-at-easeness is where Babes in Toyland’s music comes from. Their riffs and Kat’s powerful vocals reverberate through my ears and into my heart where they shall remain. I miss Shellac and Underworld but no one would top Babes in Toyland for a festival closer. The rest of life was a disappointment from thereon in. Good night.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Messed up

'Stress is only dangerous over a long period of time and only if there is no chance to recover.' I sit in a free community mental health workshop designed to help participants deal with stress, all the time feeling like my insides are being ripped apart. I can't help but feel it's too late for stress, I went past stress years ago. I can't imagine anyone could possibly feel as terrible or as backed into a corner as I do right now but looking around I see everyone is backed into their own particular corner and it's probable that a few others here can't imagine anyone else feeling as bad as them either. Emotion is more powerful than rationale.

The worst thing about mental illness is it often renders the sufferer completely and utterly alone, it's not possible to convey the feeling or why things affect you the way they do. I want so badly to be able to communicate this feeling to someone else but I can't. I wish I could infect those around me with this if only for a split second so they too could experience the internal crumbling, not out of malice or bitterness, but just because language really fails me in this realm and I can't bear the fact that I'm really alone.

The workshop leader goes over the fight or flight response and what that does to the body and even though this has been explained to me countless times it still freaks me out. 'What happens,' he begins, 'when you drive your car in second gear at 65 miles per hour for a long period of time?' And then he illustrates for us on his screen a picture of a smoked-out car engine, the driver, some bougie blonde woman, standing over the bonnet in despair. Think you've got problems arsehole? You'll just pick up your insurance and get another one! Everyone I tell about this analogy seems to find it ridiculous but it actually strikes terror into my beta-blocked heart because it's so painfully accurate. I don't even drive. I didn't even know you weren't supposed to drive fast in a low gear, but it looks really bad. Things build, sometimes for years.

He asks us when was the last time we had a really good sleep and I feel exhausted.

Three months ago -before things went from gnawing anxiety to completely overwhelming- I was fortunate enough to go to Iceland. My friend and I hired a car and drove along the ring road to a lake called Jökulsárlón. Well, she drove, obviously. It snowed so heavily on that trip you couldn't tell where the sky ended and the ground began. Jökulsárlón was full of blue glaciers, an amazing sight, and I remember closing my eyes to go to sleep that night and seeing only blue. The ice and the lake had flooded my mind's vision so much it felt like if you cut my brain open all you would find there would be blue ice. When I got back to England my brain soon reverted back to feeling like it was about to explode and it's hard to believe anything else could ever have been in there.

My salvation in London is in the park. The park and the medication I took grudgingly at first but I guess is the cheap gaffa tape holding me together, gradually making me functional, temporarily at least. Before that I stayed in bed and scrolled down Twitter on my phone, obsessively checked my emails for the email that would save my life, even though my phone tells me when I get an email so the checking was pointless. Consoled myself with the fact that it's exactly the same thing everyone who isn't having a breakdown is doing, it's just they're not in bed.

When things start to improve I go outside more. Last time things got this bad, about five years ago, I was living in Peckham and I used to go to Burgess Park and watch crows obsessively, if I could engross myself sufficiently in what they were doing I could hold myself, at least for a little while. Now it's Victoria Park where I lie on my front on my hoodie in the sun, press the side of my head against the grass and watch flowers classed as weeds go on and on and on, put my head down lower so it all looks more vast. Read a dystopian Margaret Attwood novel whilst intermittently carrying on the endless Twitter/Facebook scroll, hearing update after update of the real-life dystopia unveiling in the UK and wonder how to put it all together.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Post Recording in Progress Process


PJ Harvey – Recording in Progress

Somerset House

10th February 13:00 – 13:45

A couple of years ago I met PJ Harvey. It was at the Southbank Centre after a Patti Smith show. I am not just doing this to name drop. I know several others who met PJ Harvey and managed to hold conversations with her like normal people, all I was capable of doing was blurting out at a pitch that may have been a little hysterical, ‘you made my life better!’ Or did I manage a slightly less crazy, ‘your music has made my life better’? Or was it, ‘seeing you play has made my life better’? Because much as listening to her records always has a profound effect on me, the main thing that really alters my life for the better is seeing PJ Harvey live. There are few artists I have seen perform who consistently make me feel so absorbed by the world created in their music that my consciousness goes to somewhere it isn’t normally. I don’t mean that in a terrible hippy rave euphoria way - often the places PJ Harvey goes to in her music are quite dark, but always beautifully crafted and easily relatable even if you don’t understand what she’s singing about, because she is a master of imagery, of atmosphere. Recently she compared her songs to paintings in an interview, but when experienced live they leave the dimensions of a painting and take a person somewhere else completely, as happens whenever you see a truly incredible live band.

So anyway, although I was really looking forward to seeing PJ Harvey’s new project with Artangel, ‘Recording in Progress’, I did not think it would be particularly mind-altering the way I have found her live shows to be. Or even her records. For it is neither a live show nor a complete record, but a ‘living sculpture’ in which the audience gets to watch 45 minute fragments of PJ Harvey and her band recording their new album. We watch them through glass in a recording studio set up in the basement of Somerset House, hearing what they’re saying/playing over the sound system. They can’t see or hear us.

Even from my own experiences recording in a shoddy punk band (where we’ve done it all in less than a day and don’t take things like singing ability or keeping time very seriously) I know that the process of recording can get boring and frustrating. Of course we’re not PJ Harvey, or her band, but still I wondered as I descended down to the basement to watch her work, in essentially a giant fishbowl, how interesting would the process actually be?

I read a review in The Guardian (or somewhere like that) which said that while interesting, the ‘living sculpture’ couldn’t be described as exciting. Perhaps exciting is not exactly the right word for it, although personally I did feel excited throughout. It’s not exciting in the way a live show is exciting or listening to a completed record for the first time is exciting, because you don’t get that immediacy, that quick fix thrill of chemicals fully formed music and performance send to the brain. But perhaps that’s what was special about watching the recording session. I thought to myself at the time – this is like watching something being born only better because it’s watching the process of something being deliberately created. In modern capitalism, and particularly with the event of the internet and social media becoming staples in most of our lives, there is this desperate rush for immediacy, urgency, newness, wanting to get to a point of satisfaction/completion now, which will generally evade us anyway. It would be a bit rich to propose watching PJ Harvey record an album at Somerset House for fifteen quid a ticket is a challenge to capitalism, but I think it is a refreshing move in a time where demands for a finished product immediately are so desperate and thoughtless. ‘Recording in Progress’ was a reminder of the importance of creativity as a process, not just a finished, consumable product. Watching a song slowly build and come together, the care and attention that goes into that. I found that thrilling.

I greedily ran to the make-shift studio as soon as we got down to the basement, then pressed my face to the glass like a goldfish that couldn’t cope with freedom and desperately wanted to get back in the tank. I positioned myself so the person I got the best view of was PJ Harvey. She was in the centre of the room, all other musicians in a circle around her.

The fishbowl was pretty sterile-looking. I can’t imagine going from recording in a beautiful, creepy church in the Dorset countryside (as ‘Let England Shake’ was) to recording in this white rectangle in a basement. But I found the session really moving despite the surroundings. I think it was watching the way PJ Harvey and the other musicians and producer worked together and how those interactions and that particular way of relating was different to the way I’m used to and that in itself felt like an opening to new possibilities. You can always read a person’s diary (or blog!) or watch a documentary or reality fucking TV, but I feel that is contrived in comparison to just being able to observe interactions unedited and in real time. And yeah, you can watch people in the park whenever, but you can’t usually watch your favourite musicians record an album through one way glass. I guess it was particularly effecting to me as a performer/writer who often gets stuck, seeing the concerns of other people creating something different from me –and who have been doing so a lot longer- and what they get stuck on, how completely different it is. There was something in watching that which felt very liberating.

PJ Harvey herself was so calm and in control throughout the session and only said things that were necessary, but never came across as austere or humourless. I loved the way she articulated herself when talking about how she wanted the song they were working on to change: ‘At the moment it’s too beautiful. We need some more ugliness, some more darkness underneath the beauty, driving the song’. How could you not love a person who says that?

Finally, and here is where it was a bit life-changing for me, it reminded me how important creativity is to me. How I often neglect my own because it can be scary and it’s far, far easier to consume or deconstruct than it is to create. Yet it reminded me how central it is to my life and how important it is to keep it going and that creativity and collaboration doesn’t always have to be terrifying, it can be exciting and wonderful, even the boring bits.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Melancholy Hill

I didn't anticipate I'd begin a post about depression with a Gorillaz song, until I heard this one and subsequently listened to it on repeat about 8,000 times. And yes, I am very behind as it's from five years ago, but I never heard it until Christmas day just gone. There is a pretty amazing epic animated video that goes with the song, which gives you a sense of the world created in the concept album it's on and the creatures that live within it, but it was the song alone that grabbed my attention when it came on the radio. I heard it when I was visiting my parents', lying in the bedroom of my teenage years. I thought it was a really beautiful song, perfectly capturing the sense of melancholy to which the title refers and I found it very relateable. The sound of giving up, resignation to not getting what you want but making something gorgeous out of the proverbial collapse. I imagine melancholy hill to be a place where you go to give up on things, on others, on yourself, to rest.

Giving up. I have lived with what the vast majority of medical doctors would call middling to serious mental illness my whole life. Unfortunately I find it hard to accept (for me personally, no disrespect to how anyone else view's their condition) that I 'have depression' or I 'have anxiety' or -as I've previously been diagnosed with- OCD, as though these are just illnesses and ca be separated from my psyche/personality/self as a whole. The doctor always told me when I was resistant to taking medication, 'look, if you have high blood pressure or if you break your leg or if you have an infection then then you have to take medication to get better, depression is just like that.' But being depressed isn't like having a broken leg and I can't see the black cloud that hangs over me as an illness that can be cured with medicine. 
I've written about antidepressants previously. I've been on them before but the only conditions under which I'd take them now would be if I was suicidal or I literally thought I was going to die if I didn't get more serotonin to my brain (as happened before - a feeling so unbearable it felt like it would kill me). 
Sometimes people despair that I won't go to the doctor's or take medicine but I feel as though the meds erase a part of me, not because they make me less depressed, but because I don't believe it's possible to only target the parts of the psyche that cause pain -the mind isn't chopped up into convenient bits, it's all connected- I find it hard to explain but I feel like I lose something of myself on them. 
I used to be very into seeing myself as ill but unfortunately I think it's more just a feeling of being trapped. We all have terrible things inside us, private things, difficult things, things that we can't relate to the people around us. But I am acutely aware of mine and I have been my entire life and I am troubled by them but I don't know if that makes me mentally ill for the construction of mental illness revolves around someone being sane. Who is sane? 
There's this stupid psuedo right-on internet fad going around about 'extrovert privilege' which irritates the hell out of me as someone who is an extrovert partly because I desperately want to run from this darkness within me that I feel will one day envelop me. I guess that sounds melodramatic, funny when put like that, but also it just is me. It makes me feel doomed. The other reason for my extroversion is of course my sense of self is largely dependent on what others think of me and that fucking sucks especially for a writer because invariably we are going to hated by some people, even those we admire, but I don't know if it constitutes mental illness. Probably it does in some DSM book, but screw them.
I tried everything. I've been in therapy for ten years and I think it's safe to say it's not working. This fog of sadness and these thoughts that I battle with in my head are exhausting. And yes, when I get it together to exercise or eat well or go outside or see friends without just getting shit-faced, all that does help make things better. But it all feels temporary. A good friend of mine does tarot and there's this card in her deck that's of someone trying to prevent their demons from bursting through a trapdoor but it's clear it's a losing and exhausting struggle as the wooden door buckles under the weight of so many trying to force their way through. Sometimes I feel like that's what I'm doing even when I'm functioning.

I've never wanted to kill myself, not really, but when I think of a lifetime continuing at the same harrowing pace, desperately fighting with myself, of self-sabotaging everything I write because of fear of too much rejection/exposure/that I'm not good enough, of having nightmares each night of such violence that feel so real, of the loneliness of it all, of how fucking tiring it is, I despair. I don't see necessarily myself getting better, whatever getting better even is. Maybe it's me and I'm just too scared of change, I don't fucking know. But I still don't want to do myself in, I think I'm much too Catholic in that respect - it's not that suicide is a mortal sin, it's that misery is there to be endured to the last. I think many people who grow up female or trans or queer learn that they deserve to suffer, but I don't think this is something I deserve really, I used to, but not anymore, but it's what I've got.

And you know what the pain of whatever this thing is (mental illness if you wanna call it that or perhaps just being me) leads to? It leads to desperation, to endless hourrs of googling shit, possible ways of recovery, of self-help books, of different medications, of every combination of B-vitamin and herbal thingy, of meditation, yoga, of CBT, of psychotherapy, of gestalt, Jung, Freud, Carl fucking Rogers, of desperate internet message boards at 3am in the morning, hoping something someone will help. Well, maybe nothing's gonna fucking help me. 

There are times when it feels better and times when it's worse of course but it's always present and I always know it and maybe it's just a part of my fucking personality, whose to say it's actually an illness? Anyway that's why I loved hearing the song so much, why all the violins sounded particularly alive to me, like the glitter of snow. That's why I always find beauty in landscapes that are dark and cold, or in the sea when it's stormy and rough at night, because if it's perpetually stormy in your mind, you sure as hell better find something to hold onto in that. 
What is so liberating to me is the idea of giving up the endless exhausting attempts to 'get better'  and the glorious gorgeous sense of melancholic resignation. And to do that and still feel love and compassion for others rather than just the bitterness and hatred which is a tempting response to the loneliness and frustration of being all at sea in your own mind.