It’s a Sunday evening and I’ve just finished watching Nanette, the acclaimed stand-up show from Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby. If you’ve yet to see it, the hyperbole is apt – it breaks down boundaries, it leaves an Opera House in stunned silence and it shakes you into deep realisations. One moment that touched me greatly was where Gadsby discussed how her sensitivity, which leans to the more extreme scale, is often pointed out by people in the most insensitive way possible. It makes her feel worse, inadequate and listless. It made me realise a lot about how I have been feeling lately.
Sensitivity has always been my biggest issue, but this year has been a little tough. If I was still in London right now – where I was living for the past eleven months – I’d be having the first of a few evening gins. The thing was, I was even a rubbish alcoholic. I didn’t like gin and still don’t, but there was nothing else in the house. There wasn’t even anything to distil the gin so I had to take it straight. I’m surprised that I didn’t end up sounding like a laryngitic Lemmy by 9pm.
Of course, I am stretching the truth by referring to myself as an alcoholic, but the manner in which I was imbibing this alcohol was a cause for concern. It wasn’t for my usual reasons – to convince myself I am nothing but a streamlined slice of homespun charm or to make me forget that you can see I’m not a natural blonde – it was to fill a chasm. It was to try and make the evenings alone more worthwhile and sprightly. It was trying to suffocate a void that was yawning from deep within me. That was when I needed to get out. Not just of London, but out of my own head.
Lately, I have almost felt like a toddler. However, instead of learning how to walk and talk, I’ve been learning how to process self-loathing, rage and anxiety. And just like a two-year-old, there has been a lot of clumsiness, a lot of unilateral anger and plenty of pouting. You see, I understand, empathise and actively try and reach out to people who struggle with mental illness regularly, but as someone who has been fortunate enough to slalom around such issues, once they were burdened onto me I had no clue to how to deal with them. I wasn’t exactly a sound structure beforehand, but now there was added stress put upon my fragile frame.
When my bandmates left, it dissolved into petty online squabbles and cancelled gigs. It’s blown over now in some ways but for me I struggle every day. Quinn’s latest single, All the Best, has gotten the best reviews I’ve ever received and continues to gain general acclaim, but all I feel towards it is nothing but detachment and regret. I should be allowed to enjoy this song, I should be proud of it, I should have been able to have promoted it happily and made it a lap of honour. Instead it was a funeral march.
All I remember from All the Best is band members and supposed friends calling me this and that. And yes, perhaps I wasn’t perfect, but what irks me the most is that those band members probably don’t even care. They’re perhaps sitting in a pub somewhere right now, laughing and joking, and not even giving a moment’s thought to how I’m feeling, how I’m coping and how I’m dealing with the fallout. Because that was never on their agenda – it was always a case of letting them puff out their chests and give me a heap of abuse, and then expecting me to scrape myself off the floor, dust myself down and go again. Yes, it happens. It happens to so many of us. But that’s why I’m writing this – why should we have to brush it off? Why should we have to swallow it all because “that’s just the way PERSON is”? I’ve had it with those excuses.
In London, I’d sit and feel an emotion I never feel – pure anger. I’m not a person who flies off the handle – heck, if I did fly it off I’d normally return to it and apologise profusely. Instead, I’ve sat, gin in hand, cursing myself in the mirror for all my bad decisions. Cursing myself for choosing to do this and that when I should have been more sensible. Then I’d curse my old bandmates. HOW DARE THEM. How dare they take away my one creative outlet? How dare they leave me with no band and no way to express myself? I didn’t even want them back and yet I was there full of anger. Today I blocked them from social media and it’s the first day I’ve felt genuine relief.
Only a few days ago I had to tell a drummer I’d rehearsed with that his services would not be required. We’d found someone better. But of course I put off telling him. Why? Because I was not ready to put myself in that situation again. Yeah, well it comes with the territory, I hear you say. But so? Why should saltiness be such an active part of modern day life? My old bandmates have made me dread any situation where conflict can occur. And of course this drummer gave me nothing but abuse – he has seen “the way I operate” and said I “deserved everything I got” from my old bandmates.
No. How dare you. How dare you ASSUME I deserve those things. How dare you think you know everything about me simply because I took slightly too long to write you a very apologetic message. People don’t care and people assume. People are quick to vent. People are quick to use other human beings, other people that are carrying mental scars that they have no idea about, as punching bags because of their own failings. And this needs to stop.
Other things have happened, too – relationships ending (both for myself and my close family), illnesses within my family, financial troubles, unemployment, the fact Clueless isn’t on Netflix.
The past few months I’ve been living with someone I don’t recognise – and no, that’s not a comment on London house sharing. I’ve been living with a version of myself that I didn’t even know existed. Rage, exhaustion, anxiety, acceptance, guilt and deep, deep resentment. I don’t want to be that person anymore and I’m finally equipping myself with the skills to do so. But if you’re in this situation – a newcomer to such feelings – you’re not alone. This has been a new experience for me and one I want to get out of. Other people won’t be that lucky. Let’s share this together. People have told me I’m too sensitive and that’s why I feel how I feel right now. But no. No more labels. No more excuses. Just the truth.