On my PTSD, a Bruce Springsteen concert, and how I have to learn to open up in order to heal.
“Here’s a little rock’n’roll lullaby,” he said before gently leading us into the most beautiful, heart- wrenching and glorious moment that I’ve ever had the pleasure to hear during my long and illustrious gig-going career.
I was hoping he’d play it. I really was. It’s my favorite song by him. Possibly my favorite song of all time. A brief play on the harmonica before singing three wonderful words:
“Screen door slams…”
Tens of thousands of people fell silent. We all knew this was special, this was a moment, this was the thing we’d all be talking about afterwards. I too, fell silent.
I also cried.
I don’t know why. Was it the enormity of seeing my idol playing my favourite song? I don’t know. Was it the emotion of the crowd, my fellow Boss fans somehow all channelling this fantastic snapshot of our lives upwards to the heavens, briefly hanging over the Grand Old Lady of Mount Florida before sweeping skywards? I imagine God sitting in heaven, being blown down by the force of this.
“Ah, Springsteen is playing again I see,” he says.
Or something like that.
Anyway, I wept. And as that single, solitary tear made its way down my sun-soaked cheek, I swore I’d never forget this. I’d never forget this whole incredible gig. I’d never forget the evening summer sun lazily disappearing behind Hampden’s sweeping stands as my hero played hit after hit for nearly three and-a-half hours. Then Karen wrapped her arms around me as I softly sang along to “Thunder Road”. That’s a keeper. And as the tear ran down and fell amongst the discarded beer cups and cigarette ends, I swore to myself that I’d never forget that. And I never will.
It’s been a funny old time for me recently. I decided to start writing about how I was feeling and what was going on in this head of mine, mainly to help myself out, but also to alert people that I know and love to my condition: my PTSD.
The reaction I have had to my writing is quite unbelievable. People seem to like what I write. Apparently they quite enjoy it. But the most important thing by a mile were the comments and interactions I’ve had. Some were good friends, some were people I know, some were people I don’t and have never met. Some had mental health problems and some were just like me.
I’ve been overwhelmed with the response. I adore each and every one of you, all of you beautiful creatures who have taken the time to get in touch, some to say “me too,” some to say “I wish I could open up,” some just to say how much they like my writing. Silly people, them.
It certainly has helped this week. I’ve started new pills, and fuck me, that was hard. Knocked sideways doesn’t even begin to describe them.
The label said: “MAY CAUSE DROWSINESS.”
Really? I take them at night but by 11a.m. the next morning my head still feels like a fish tank full of viscous liquid, sloshing slowly from side to side as I try to cope with the day-to-day tasks of working for a living. Brutal.
My mood swings have been off the scale. I try not to show all these things but I don’t know why. Am I trying to be a fucking hero or a brave wee soldier or something? I mean, I’m really ill but somehow I try not to show it to anyone. I try to carry on regardless. But I accept it to myself.
“You feel like this because you are unwell, Scott,” my head says.
“Aye, okay,” I reply.
I think I need to learn to open up more about my condition. I am not a hero. I am not brave. I am not going to man up. I need to open up.
I am off to counselling soon.
I am looking forward to it/not looking forward to it.
I know I will open up. I need to, not only for my sake but Karen’s. If I can’t be 100% with her, then I know something is deeply wrong. It’s just at the moment I’m confused about why I feel like this and why I have to feel like this. Why me, why you, why anyone though?
Well, we’re not well for a start. Not just a wee bit. Not just a tad. WE ARE FUCKING ILL. It’s mental. It’s all in the head, It’s depressing. It’s consuming. It destroys.
I don’t know about you, but this how it goes with me: I’m fine! Hurrah, I feel good! Here am I, just getting on with life being all happy and all that…WHAM! FUCK YOU! HAVE SOME OF THIS!
To me, it’s like this darkness has descended. It sits just in front of my forehead. I swear it’s heavy and that the shape of my face changes. I want to shake it away, to shirk it off, to break into tiny pieces and get rid of it. It stays. It affects my mood. I’m angry. I’m temperamental. I snap at people. I’m a bloody pain in the arse.
I don’t know why.
I’ll stay that way for a time. How long, I don’t know. The time isn’t a constant. It can be fleeting, it can be for a whole morning, afternoon, a whole day. I hope these dark days will become few and far between. I hope that something will happen, something will break and I’ll make it through. I feel like a typical Glasgow summer. I’m waitin’ on a sunny day.
Apart from my wonderful wife, something else is helping me. As I touched on before, people responding to my writing is something I’d never thought would happen. Well, I expected a comment or two but I’ve had a deluge.
It makes me feel stronger to hear that other people are suffering like me. Not in a selfish way, but it’s a nice feeling to know I’m not alone.
But there are times when I doubt myself. I get this odd sense of paranoia. I don’t believe my thoughts.
I don’t think I’m ill.
I think I’m kidding myself on and that I’m wasting everyone’s time. However, that was all blown away recently. Stranger after stranger lined up to say how in touch they felt with me. How they felt everything I was saying. How they related to my symptoms. How they heard me. How they were with me. That too, made me cry.
So if you read this and relate, get in touch. Say hello. Chat. Don’t ignore how you feel. Don’t you dare. Don’t you dare sit alone and think that nobody else feels like you do. They do. Don’t you dare allow that long ol’ black cloud to sit in front of you and do nothing about it. Don’t you dare feel so alone that you harm yourself. I’ve been there. It isn’t worth it. Believe me. Don’t you dare let yourself get dragged down so far that you feel no-one can help.
Don’t you dare let these thoughts enter your head. Yeah, you know the ones. Don’t you dare. Don’t you dare think that there isn’t a way out and you have no choice. DONT. YOU. FUCKING. DARE. There is. We can help. It may be raining now but I swear it’ll stop. It WILL stop. And then, all of us, all of us together, every single one of us mentalists, basket cases and downright loonies will step outside and enjoy the sunshine.
“It’s rainin’ but there ain’t a cloud in the sky
Must of been a tear from your eye
Everything’ll be okay
Funny, thought I felt a sweet summer breeze
Must of been you sighin’ so deep
Don’t worry we’re gonna find a way
“I’m waitin’, waitin’ on a sunny day
Gonna chase the clouds away
Waitin’ on a sunny day”
Photo credit: Flickr / lynch