As much as I have written about mental health, and the necessity of its acceptance in the part of society, these writings only represent a small portion of who I am, and where I came from.
I was once a musician. Skilled in my trade, and one of professional promise.
Training towards this career began at age five, when I started violin lessons at a local Suzuki school. Of high caliber, to my benefit. I had a private, one-on-one lesson once a week, and a few classes on Saturday mornings. The latter was when I met the other students of my year. Most were Chinese and Korean, and two years younger than me. But it made no difference. I loved music, and that was all there was to it.
Mental illness started to interrupt my studies though. When I became depressed, I was too depressed to practice. When I started experiencing voices in college, so too did the instrument start speaking to me. The only way I could escape these disastrous situations, was to avoid music altogether. A tragic compromise.
Indeed, for when I have tried to play even recently, my frame would shake, my brow developed an electrical sweat and my nerves, rattled. An abstract experience to describe, but such is the irrationality of mental affliction.
But a miraculous turn has occurred. I am now able to take up the instrument suddenly. It has been twenty years, this former grief!
What happens to make this change? Perhaps my reliance on the drug Clozapine, which never eases to do wonders for me. The longer I am on it, the better it works. I also have changed my attitude about music. I first figured that I suffer from a phobia of the violin. I then read that mental health professionals tackle phobias via Exposure Therapy. Each time, one becomes gradually exposed to that which is feared, with more and more intensity, for lack of a better term.
And so… I and music. Such is now my approach. Such is now my cure.
I hope to get better on the instrument than ever before. I hope to play it with the expertise of the best of professionals.
And still, my spirit of advocacy can stretch into my music making as well. Because ever since childhood… I’ve despised pop music, and all the other genres one would hear on the radio. As a five year old, I found tunes from the radio to be akin to baby music. And while the masses may be entertained by it, it horrifies me that many simple tunes are more popular than that which requires more skill to create.
To create an analogy: I might enjoy a cardboard baby book as an infant, but I’m not going to read such books as an adult.
This is how I view popular music, in comparison to classical, as well as other forms that require earnest study. Traditional musicks from cultures around the world fall into this respectable category, as does jazz.
But I think the fight against Top 40 is a battle long dead. The war is over. Classical music is merely something kept alive by elitists and specialist musicians.
Or is it?
I honestly think that rock music is bad for you. See here: we always talk about organic food and being all natural with the crystals and the essential oils and the purified ionic water and crap… But what about organic sound? Don’t you think it’s bad for the body, mind and soul to be pledging allegiance to electronic sounds, unnaturally vibrating within your head at 120 decibels? And earbuds? You think that’s natural?
I didn’t think so. But I’m sure you’ll defend the honor of your favorite band, because they’re all rad and they said stuff no one else ever said before, blah blah.
See… This is why I’m not a professional musician. The musical world today is so broken. I am it strong enough to fix it. Nor are there enough people in the world who want to fix it in the same way I want to.
Writing about this only makes me angry. But maybe… maybe I developed mental illness because I, a very musical person, was surrounded by inorganic sounds? By the age of five, I physically cringed with discomfort whenever I heard “radio music,” and was convinced that it was utterly evil. CONVINCED.
Maybe this is another reason why people develop mental illness: inorganic sound. What do you think?