I’m not depressed. I don’t have PMDD. I don’t have hypo-thyroidism. HypER-thyroidism?!! Google the symptoms. Do YOU have hypo-thyroidism?? Are you feeling tired, depressed, sensitive to cold, ConSTiPATED?!?!?!? *waits as you squeeze out a turd so tiny it doesn’t disrupt the toilet water*
Ah, you probably don’t have it.
Apparently 75% of the people going into my doctor with the above symptoms in the last couple of years (read, everybody) have self-diagnosed themselves with hypo-thyroidism, and DEMAND to be tested!! I was one of them. And maybe like 4 people ACTUALLY HAVE it. I was not one of them. I didn’t even need to go back into my doctor’s office post blood-test to find out.
What I did, was take an entire summer off of work. If you read my last post, from, COUGH 5 months or so ago, you’ll remember that being a pretty scary, nay TERRIFYING decision for me to make. Imagine, a freelance musician turning down work who was shit out of luck for the entire pandemic, living off of potato chips and white wine (by choice—actually I was one of the very lucky ones that received government aid, with increasingly persistent reminders that it would soon end and we should all consider re-training in something more USEFUL like shrimp-herding, robot-therapy, sign-twirling REALLY ANYTHING THAT ISN’T STANDING IN FRONT OF AN AUDIENCE AND PLAYING MUSIC).
I was worried that approximately 3 days after turning down all the work, or at least, the moment said-work BEGAN HAPPENING, I would regret my decision. I’d see Instagram posts of all my buddies getting their $8 break-time lattes; a group of musicians huddled together on stage who all spontaneously decided to wear maroon shirts that day and look cute AF #marooncrew #musicismaroon #musicianlife
…a text from a friend: “This is the best week ever!! Celine Dion is here and she just gave us all multi-million dollar recording contracts!!”
I had literally never done anything like this before. Sure I had dabbled in turning down a week here, a week there- but usually to give myself a fighting chance to prepare an audition—which I now refer to as “the A-word.” If I really think about it, I have been working my gd ASS off since I was 7 years old. Every summer was spent preparing Royal Conservatory of Music exams (violin, piano, music theory, music history, music harmony, counterpoint YES THEY’RE ALL DIFFERENT THINGS); reading thousands of pages of classic novels and barfing out smart-sounding reports for I.B. English; and then as a teenager and well into my 20s, doing countless summer orchestra festivals where we were paid in “experience” and got maybe 3 days off in a 6-week stretch; until I started getting full-time work.
So, I really didn’t know HOW it would feel to take an ENTIRE SUMMER OFF, you know, minus the extreme anxiety and social-isolation that came with the “time off” during the pandemic.
Calm. Silly. Stable.
FULL of ENERGY.
I spent a lot of time in the country, just lying in hammocks, looking at trees. Listening to bird calls. Going on walks and dropping into a squat when I would see a weird bug—observing it’s quirky little bug ways. Walking around town and noticing interesting people, maybe even TALKING TO THEM sometimes about GASP nothing in particular!! Just, seeing where the conversation went. Heck I even brought a chair and a stand out into the woods, and PLAYED the VIOLIN for FUN. I opened up my ipad, which is loaded up with all the solo violin music I own, and just… shredded through all my favourite parts of concertos I never got to learn as a music student, because whatever stick-up-their-ass teacher said I wasn’t ready yet. (You know what will really inspire a student to
quit practice the violin? Force them to spend a whole year on nothing but Kreutzer etudes.) Out in the woods—far away from the constraints of anything resembling a college practice room—if I played a double-stop slightly out of tune, or made…dear god… A LESS-THAN-PERFECT-SOUND… I just… kept playing.
My period would come and go, and I just… carried on as usual?!? I mean, sure, I would imagination-punch the odd person in the face who got onto the metro as slowly as humanly possible, giant backpack-in-tow making it impossible to squeeze in behind them, only fully entering the car once the bell rang and the doors began to shut, thus making everybody behind them launch their bodies into the vertical sardine can of semi-dazed hipsters, lest they be sliced in half. But, I didn’t need to FEAR days 19-28 of my cycle like I did when I was convinced I had PMDD. It turns out, I’m just… extremely sensitive to HOW I’M ACTUALLY FEELING in any given moment during the latter half of my cycle. So, if I’m in a relationship that is COMPLETELY WRONG for me, I will be a fucking mess for 10-14 days a month!!
After a while, I realized, turning down a summer’s worth of work wasn’t just about resting. Recovering from burn-out, or what have you. This was about getting back in touch with who I truly am, and never fucking letting her go again. Learning how to separate THE VOICE THAT IS YELLING WHAT I SHOULD DO, from the voice that is whispering what I love to do.
I don’t have PMDD. I don’t have clinical depression. I don’t have chronic exhaustion. There is NOTHING. FUCKING. WRONG WITH ME. I simply suffer from ELTB.
An Extremely… Low Tolerance… for Bullshit.
Every time I listen to this more gentle voice inside of me, it gets a little louder. It gets easier to hear. It is leading me down a COMPLETELY different path than the one I’ve been on for most of my adult life. I don’t know exactly where I’m headed yet, but I know it’s where I’m meant to be.