9 musicians on How They Thrive Creatively Without Drugs or Booze

From GQ

 

Creating While Clean

Steven Tyler, Julien Baker, Ben Harper, Jason Isbell, Joe Walsh, and other sober musicians on how to thrive creatively without drugs or booze.

This is a story about sober musicians—about the life that has led them here, and about the life that they live now—but there is no single story here.

Some drank, some used drugs, some did more or less everything, and they did so to very different degrees. Some found themselves at the edge of the precipice, or worse; others simply re-routed from a path or trajectory that they came to see as unwise. Some were clean before the end of their teenage years; some only surfaced into sobriety much later in their lives. Some created the work that made them first or best known before they were sober; some have done so since. Some see significant correlations here; some don’t.

In the modern pop-culture tradition, being a musician has often come with a series of default lifestyle expectations, ones of indulgence and recklessness, larger-than-life living, and a diligent pursuit of altered forms of consciousness. Some see these expectations as having played a part in what happened to them, though most ultimately see their decisions and actions as also—if not mainly—a matter of their own psychology and personality and predisposition.

Some delight in a dark humor about their earlier excesses; others talk in a way that suggests that to dwell on these too much, to give such memories too much oxygen, would be to take too lightly something they simply can’t risk taking lightly. That it would be foolhardy or perilous to risk returning, even in thought, to a place where for all kinds of reasons they’d rather not linger. A corollary is that some are reluctant in this context to offer much detail about the particular substances that they consumed, or that consumed them, or both. (Readers may be aware that at other times, in different situations or at different stages of their recovery, some of these interviewees may have detailed further specifics about how they used to alter their body chemistry, but GQ is respecting what they have chosen to share in this particular circumstance and setting.)

Some hew closely to the language of recovery programs; some don’t. (Readers may also notice that some in the former category prefer to honor rigorously the “…anonymous” code of such programs by not even specifying them.) Some have relapsed along the way; some have not—but to varying extents they all remain aware and watchful of the possibility. Some clearly think that everyone would be better in the long run to live the way they currently live; others consider where they are now a personal solution for their own individual predicament that should not necessarily be prescriptive for others.

What they have in common is that they are all, by their own account, for now, living sober. And quite evidently they all strongly believe—whatever their varying reasons and circumstances and perspectives and challenges—that sobriety has made life better.

Read more here.

Why Depression Makes People So Tired

The Daily Flower

Quite a ways back, my wife texted me a picture she had taken of a flower. It was beautiful, and it made me smile in a time when smiles were pretty hard to come by.

A few days later, another text. Another flower. And another day and another flower. Each time, it was a little piece of happiness in what had become a very dark world for me.

And it continued. My wife would go out of her way, walking instead of taking the bus, to find different pretty flowers to share with me.

We went together to a local municipal rose garden, and spent a couple of hours taking pictures of roses.

A simple gesture, really. But a daily reminder that there is beauty out there. That someone cares enough to share it with me.

And now – we have a library of flowers to share with the world.

Join here and get a different flower sent to your own inbox every couple of days. And see the beauty. Smile at the thought. Feel a little bit of happiness that we are very pleased to share.

It’s free. It’s happy. It’s here:

Michael Phelps opens up about struggles with depression and anxiety in new documentary

From The Globe & Mail

A new documentary about anxiety argues that everyone to some extent suffers from stress, nerves and social fear. And, to make their point, the filmmakers have enlisted as Exhibit A the most decorated Olympian in history.

Michael Phelps appears in “Angst” to share his story of being bullied and depressed, leading to severe anxiety. The swimmer, winner of 28 Olympic medals, would look in the mirror and not like what he saw.

“Once I opened up about that and things that I had kept inside of me for so many years, I then found that life was a lot easier. I got to the point where I understood that it’s OK to not be OK,” he says in the film.

“Angst,” an IndieFlix film designed to be screened at schools and community centres, features candid interviews with children and young adults discussing their anxiety, along with advice from mental health experts and resources and tools. Phelps is like a muscular explanation mark for what the filmmakers wanted to show — that even world champions can feel low.

“I’m grateful because my mission with this film is to help make the world a better place and I believe he is so additive on that level,” said Scilla Andreen, CEO and co-founder of IndieFlix.

“If we can introduce prevention, self-care and well-being to our children — even in the pre-K and kindergarten years — they can have a completely different life.”

Andreen hopes the film will reach more than 3 million people around the world from 25,000 community and school screenings. “Angst” was filmed in the U.S. and United Kingdom and is appropriate for children starting at age 10.

Read the full article here.

When You’re ‘Too Functional’ to Have Your Mental Illness Taken Seriously

From The Mighty

I’ve read countless articles, many on The Mighty, about the struggle of having an invisible illness and the way other people judge the “validity” of people’s conditions. I’ve also read about people who aren’t taken seriously when they express their most intimate, dark thoughts to family, professionals and friends.

I’m a psychologist. Not too long ago I was reunited with many other mental health workers (psychologists, psychiatrists, researchers and professors were in attendance.) The event was a presentation of a type of therapy and when the speaker began talking, he asked us how mental illness affects a person. Someone answered a person with a mental illness has difficulties and struggles with certain areas of his life. Another person answered that the mentally ill suffer greatly. And then a third person said mentally ill people don’t function in society. I was waiting for someone to refute this, but instead everyone nodded and the speaker actually agreed and said “very good.”

My heart was beating really fast. It was partly because I didn’t know these people very well and I was struggling a bit with social anxiety. I hadn’t contemplated speaking up. But my heart was also beating fast because I was angry. That statement and the fact it wasn’t even questioned is exactly the reason why “high-functioning” people with mental illnesses are sometimes not taken seriously.

I can be dying inside while going through the motions of the day.7 It’s not difficult for me to know how others expect me to act. Acting fine is a cognitive process. You can probably mention right now how an emotionally stable or “mentally sane” person is supposed to act. It really is simple. A generally accepted lifestyle is one where a person wakes up every day, looks presentable, takes care of stuff that needs to be taken care of, eats and goes to sleep. This can sometimes be done regardless of how you feel inside. To say it’s difficult is an understatement, but it’s not impossible.

These “high-functioning” people don’t do it because they want to fool others, they do it because they want to produce and be a part of society. They try so hard to beat their illnesses or disorders. They don’t want to rely on others to take care of them.

 So when a “high-functioning” person asks for help or admits to himself and to someone else his struggles, it takes a lot of bravery. These people have worked every single day to build a “normal” world for themselves are terrified of admitting mental illness, and when they finally do and are met with rejection, little understanding and no empathy from a mental health worker, it is devastating.

My compromise with my career is very clear to me, but I have to admit I have been blessed (and cursed) to see this because I, myself, struggle with my own disorders.

If you struggle with not being taken seriously, my advice to you is to trust you know yourself so much more than anybody else. Nobody has the right to undermine your difficulties.7 If they do, it’s their issue. Keep looking for the person who listens to you and takes your feelings into account. Don’t feel demoralized or flawed. I know it’s a tough pill to swallow when you ask for help from a mental health worker who should be able to understand you but doesn’t. Again, this is a flaw in their own understanding of the human mind.

By the way, yes I did speak up. With a bit of a red face I refuted what they all agreed to and told them it’s a terrible mistake to discard the presence of a mental disorder in relation to the functionality of a person. I added functionality is sometimes a symptom, depending on the illness and the person.

The speaker didn’t know what to answer, so he agreed and moved on.