Although you won't find any posts in my archives about it, I started out the year battling some pretty heavy personal demons. Tired of struggling alone, I realized that I desperately needed a place where nobody knew my name, so I started this blog. I wrote dozens of posts about what I was struggling with, but in the end I never actually published them. Just the act of confronting myself enough to exorcise those inner demons was enough to get me through those difficult months.
After I turned that corner, I started to write. I didn't care who read it, or what they thought of what I wrote. It felt good to write for the sake of writing. It was like self-inflicted therapy. I was very lonely during the first quarter of the year, and writing in this blog gave me something to work for, even if it was just for myself. Lucky for me, though, that didn't turn out to be the case. Fate led me to meet some amazing people during the spring and summer, and those people would later be the one's that would help save my life.
In August, my world as I knew it came to a screeching halt. After a visit to my neurologist in late July, I finally came to terms with what was going on with my neurological state. After living for over a year with the thought the best doctor's in my region had no idea what the source of my problems was, I was told that there is a possibility that I might have an inoperable brain tumor. All the worries, negative thoughts, and pure, cold fear that I had been pushing to the back part of my mind finally came to a head. In every sense of the word, I broke down. For months, despite the appearance of mental stability that I tried to show to others, I lived as the shattered version of who I used to be. The crushing, crippling grip of anxiety controlled my life.
The post I wrote where I first mentioned my anxiety didn't even touch the surface of what I mess I was. One moment sticks out in my mind the most. I remember sitting in the middle of my bed, with all the lights in the house on. It was hot indoors, yet I wrapped myself in as many thick blankets as I could find. I sat there, knees to my chin and my arms wrapped around my legs, checking the time on my cell phone until it was finally time when The Boss would be out of work. I spent 45 minutes that way, opening and closing my phone to check the time ever thirty seconds. With each passing second, I became more and more scared. The fear and anxiety was paralyzing, and I couldn't pull myself from it. I was scared that I would lose control and hurt myself. I was scared that I would lose resolve and give in to the thoughts of running away. My mind was in shambles, and I felt I couldn't do anything to save myself.
I sought help from my doctor, and with medication and support from my family, I slowly began to improve. It was a rough trip back up from what I called The Bottom, but the most vital part of my recovery was the support that I had from my readers on this blog. When I finally wrote about my anxiety on this blog, the outpouring of support and empathy that I received from the relative strangers that I had formed a bond with over silly stories and anecdotes was stunning. Knowing that I mattered that much to these people, who only knew me through the jumble of words that sometimes are worth a laugh, and to those to whom I am just as much of a stranger to, was enough for me to realize that there was something worth getting better for...
I'm not going to tell you that I am 100% better, as my struggles with anxiety remain just as much a part of my life now as it was then. The difference is that I know how to control it, and I know that I have the support and love from those around me. That makes enough of a difference to allow me to return to as much normalcy in my life as is possible.
The reasoning I promised for the questions I asked with Monday's post is because music was a major lifesaver for me during the worst part of my anxiety. Whenever I started to feel like I was losing control, I would put on some music and just let myself drown in it. So many different types of music was influential in my surviving this past year, so I wanted to know what music was important in your lives.
Here are my answers to the same questions I subjected you all to earlier:
1) What was your favorite song 10 years ago?
The only music I was allowed to listen to ten years ago was Christian music, but "What Have We Become?" by dc Talk still sends a powerful (non-religious) message. (If you follow the link, please pay attention to the music, not the video.)
2) What is your favorite song now?
My favorite song now is definitely "All Nightmare Long" by Metallica. Just listen to it. You'll see what I mean... Unless you don't like hard rock or metal music.
3) What song (or songs) do you feel best represents who you are?
I didn't realize how tough this question was until I tried to answer it. I'll be vain and say one of the songs that I wrote for solo piano, "Upon Summer's End". Out of all the music I have written, I consider this to be my best. Take a listen, and while you are at it, check out some of my other music:
4) What song have you heard recently that you had forgotten you really liked?
It used to be my favorite song, but this definitely has to be "Slither" by Velvet Revolver. The video for this one is kinda strange, unless you like skinny, drunk and/or chemically enhanced (I'm assuming) long-haired musicians.
5) If your life in 2008 could have a theme song, what would it be?
With as much sincerity and compassion as I can muster without getting too sentimental, I thank you all for being with me throughout this past year. I am serious when I say that I don't think I would have made it through if it wasn't for you.
Here's for a great 2009!