Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Pressing Ahead

A mid-life career change can do wonders for the spirit, or so I'm told.  After 20+ years of being single-minded about earning a living from my art (and never truly being able to), I have kicked in one dream and refocused and reinvented myself based on another.  For all of those non-believers out there, perhaps I am living proof of the reality of evolution.  Well, I'd like to think so, anyway.

Music was my mistress for such a long time.  And perhaps like all mistresses, the demands became very expensive on the soul and the back pocket with little or no reward (on said soul and back pocket).  For so many years I gave myself to my art, wholly, but that bitch gave me nothing but pain and frustration in return.  I endured crises of confidence, the various spats that occur between collaborative artists, the listlessness of goals half-achieved, the despair of apathy in others.  Combine career hell with the occasional personal-life tribulation and shit goes from bad to worse real quick.

At the crux of it all, I was hit so very hard by clinical depression.  I was a hairs-breadth from the worst possible solution.  Medication, counselling, some decent support from my GP, self-examination - all helped get me through to the next phase (nothing is ever cured, or at least truly resolved).  One of the things that make life so difficult/magical/astounding/cruel/wondrous/horrible/rewarding is that it is an open-ended question, with no answers, no obvious path, no enlightenment.  Perhaps awareness of this is the real enlightenment, and for me, the real appeal of Zen.  "Awareness of nothing is the awareness of something", or, when you think you know something, you actually know nothing.  That kind of koanistic riddle.


I'm not normally this crazy-looking.  Honest.
It's a daily proposition.  Depression sucks.  Duh!  The part of me that can't be told (the biggest part of me!) wants to say, "Harden the fuck up, princess!"  But one of the other parts (hiding in the shadows of the corners, somewhere) is whispering, "Allow it."  There's a lesson in there somewhere...

A disclaimer:  I have always been a subscriber to the idea that depression is perhaps overdiagnosed, and even an illness of convenience, for some.  Honestly?  I still hold to that idea.  I can't help but think that it is an easy out for some folks.  Is that a lack of empathy and understanding on my part?  Hmmm.  Once this scourge hit me I was fully aware that something was seriously fucked up.  Something that was in fact very much outside of my normal scope of functioning.  I was in a very serious mental and emotional rut, and no amount of positive reinforcement and meditation was getting me out of it.  Exercise - normally my reliable and perfect panacea - did nothing to help.  Once I had taken the step (just over 12 months ago, now) to get to the doctor and turn into a bawling, blabbering lump of mewling manhood, and then be prescribed antidepressant medication, the change was like night and day.  Not overnight, of course, but very damned near close to it.  I can personally vouch for the effectiveness of selective serotoninreuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).  These things worked in a way that is very difficult to describe.  Medication saved my life.

And so, after going through this rebirthing experience (difficult, painful, transcendent), I'm pressing ahead.

I have my career change well underway, and so far it seems to be a near-raging success.  I am working as a personal trainer and strength and conditioning coach after studying and training in the requisite fields.  My martial arts background has been a valuable feather in the proverbial cap of life, which is sooooo ironic after the treatment I experienced at my old club.  I thank my old instructor for that one!

Life is still difficult at times (as it is for anyone, of course), but I feel slightly better equipped for the bumps and pitfalls.  I haven't been on medication for 6 weeks.  This is interesting in that I have had some very down times in this period, but I've been able to deal with shit without falling down into the chasm.  I think this bodes well.

What was that?  You need a kickass trainer?  Well why don't you check out my website?


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