Medicated Artist: When Being Aware Is Weird

ae1594f0cd7211e3b9ab0002c9550094_8This past Saturday, for the first time, I went to C2E2 and took my 4-year-old and it totally BLEW HIS MIND. How many times do you get to see Spiderman, Batman, the Joker, Captain America, a 10-foot-tall real Bumblebee, and get your picture taken with Optimus Prime? ALL IN ONE PLACE. He didn’t really know where to look, until, of course, we found all the tubs of action figures to dig through (which was easily the best part of the convention). We spent about 4 hours searching through all of them.

Medicated Artist: When Being Aware Is Weird

I think, though, I sort of had the same reaction that he did. A kind of amazement, or…I’m not sure, it’s hard to explain. It was just so eye-opening to see that many people completely doing their own thing in their own time and enjoying every minute.

Made me wonder why I’m not like that. And that made me think, “Well, wait, I DO feel like that.” I haven’t always, and didn’t up until maybe 5 or 6 weeks ago. For instance, I played an opening, solo set at the Beat Kitchen on April 4th for the Dirty Generals‘ EP release show, and, looking back, it didn’t feel like any show I’d ever played before.

I was in the moment of playing the show, but not lost in the moment of playing the show like I used to be. I used to play a set and not even realize what I’d done after it was through because I was so wound up and worked up…nervous, anxious, excited, happy, depressed, scared, confident…all those emotions going on, plus worried about what everyone else was thinking. The best way to escape all that was to just get on stage and let the performance wash over me so I didn’t have to consider any of those feelings. But then I’d finish and not know what had happened and all those feelings would rush back. I couldn’t get away from them. Also, if I never knew what I was actually doing on stage, how could I ever improve on what I wasn’t doing well? Or recognize what I was doing well? I’d usually come away from a show feeling a broad, general sense of accomplishment, even confidence, in what I’d done, but it wouldn’t last because I had no memories of WHY I felt that way. Not knowing what I’d done would lead me to think I hadn’t done much of anything. See where I’m going with this?

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The Beat Kitchen show was different, though. I knew what I was doing. I went into it knowing I was going to enjoy myself because I love performing. And I was aware up on stage. It was weird, but really great. I could see what I was doing, right or wrong. I could make adjustments. I felt more comfortable interacting with the audience. Most importantly, I got down off the stage and could remember what had happened and felt good about the performance (all the highlights and mistakes) instead of worried if it had gone well or not. Or worried what other people might have thought.

Because what’s it matter anyway? If I don’t enjoy performing, if it just ruins my mood because I”m so worried about everything I can’t really control, why do it at all, right? Why does anyone dress up like a superhero at C2E2? Not because they’re worried about what other people are going to think (well, SOME people might be), but, I bet most do it because they truly ENJOY dressing up. They ENJOY seeing people react to something they’ve worked hard at because they, themselves, enjoy what they’ve done. They can find pleasure in their own accomplishments. They can then be present in that moment, with everyone else, because they aren’t worried about anything. They’re just having a good time doing what they love.

So what changed for me? Why did I all of a sudden start feeling this way? Was I just getting older and finally figuring it all out?

Nah. I switched antidepressant medication in January. This IS a Medicated Artist blog post after all. It HAD to be something to do with that, eh?

I started off on Wellbutrin back in September last year when I began writing these Medicated Artist posts. By the time I got up to full dosage on that stuff in December it was making me APESHIT CRAZY. I felt worse than before I started it. So my doctor (upon me saying “GET ME OFF THIS STUFF”) switched me over to Zoloft. Yeah, I’m one of THESE GUYS now:

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After a week or two of transition to the new meds, I started to feel normal. Or, just more like myself. It’s a weird feeling and HARD TO EXPLAIN. Because being depressed used to feel normal and “like myself.” I didn’t feel that way now, though.

It stopped being so hard to do the things I enjoyed and I was suddenly able to find pleasure in them for myself. I feel more present in the moment now instead of thinking about what I had done or what might happen in the future. More grounded in reality even. Each situation I’m in now, I’m more able to be fully invested in and fully present, instead of thinking about what I’m NOT doing.

So that feels good.

It also means that I’m writing consistently again and recording songs again and really enjoying both of those things. And it means I’m excited about performing again too. That’s why I’ve got some shows coming up and more to be added to my schedule. It’s like some self-imposed pressure has been lifted off my shoulders. That’s a little too melodramatic an image though, maybe.

Most importantly, all this means I can go to things like C2E2 with my family and really enjoy the experience. Be there with them. Notice what’s going on around me. Get out of my own head. That’s a great feeling because it extends not only to big, exciting events like playing shows or comic conventions, but even routine stuff like grocery shopping or bath time or cooking dinner. And, really, what’s more important than being able to enjoy those small moments? Those routine moments? There are so many of them. They consume every day, week, month. So it’s nice to be a part of them when they’re happening. What else is there?

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