I find comfort in comparing my human self to nature. Thinking of emotions like weather, ever changing and unpredictable. The ocean is a good example. Some days things are calm, clear sailing. Other days there is a bit of sway. Occasionally a storm hits and everything turns to chaos, but when the storm is over, all is calm once again.
When it comes to my mental health, and my (overly) emotional self, I have found it very helpful to remember that things are ever changing. Much like the weather, emotions come and go and are constantly changing. Storms hit, but they pass. Beautiful blissful sunny days come, but they to pass.
It’s not possible to maintain one stable emotion all the time, just as it isn’t possible for the weather to stay the same. However, a summer drought can make us appreciate the rain when it comes, and the bright blue sky seems extra awe inspiring after an extended period of dreary grey skies. I have come to accept that we need to experience both ends of the spectrum, to truly appreciate one or the other.
I have had several conversations with people who experience intense emotions, and we relate on the fact that our dark moments have taught us to really appreciate and see the good moments.
Without the dark, would we know the light? With out struggle, distress, chaos, would we understand the greatness of joy, bliss, and order? Maybe. But I do know that if you really feel the bad experiences deeply, then you also get to really feel the good experiences deeply.
Sometimes I hate it, and I curse the world for it. I think, “I wish I could just be more neutral. I wish I didn’t feel everything so much”. But, this is who I am. I feel a lot. When its good its really good, and when its bad, its really bad.
Anyway, the point of me writing this is to bring attention to the idea that emotions come and go. It is so important to remind yourself of this when you are experiencing the bad. It is also exceptionally hard to remind yourself of this when you are in a bad state.
Last night an emotional storm hit me. The day was really good, but out of no where, a storm came. Things got really bad. Chaos, confusion, overwhelm, hopelessness. I didn’t know what to do, or where to turn, or who to reach out to. I sat with it. I didnt give in to my urges to harm myself. Eventually I went to bed, and by morning the storm had passed.
It’s scary when these storms hit, because it is in these moments when you are most vulnerable to impulsive and destructive behaviours. For me, these emotional waves have been hitting since I was in my early teens. I am pretty used to them, though I am just now being able to recognize them for what they are. I still get completely absorbed by them and feel out of control. It’s only been as of very recently that I can grasp on to enough clarity amongst the chaos, to tell myself that it will pass.
I don’t have any one thing that helps me get through the storms. Different things work at different times. The main thing I have to do is keep reminding myself that it will pass. Even though I don’t believe it, just keep telling myself it. Eventually it does pass, and then my reason says, “see I told you it would pass”. pffffft. :p
So, I just want to remind anyone who struggles with emotional storms, that THE STORMS PASS! Do what you can during these times of chaos. Seek shelter from the storm. Keep busy until the storm passes. Find support. Just hold on until its over.
Got any ideas for riding emotional waves?? please share them!
You know those nights when you’re trying to go to sleep but your brains all, “hey, sleeping is cool but I want to fret, and ruminate, and hypothesize, and make to do lists, and imagine new projects, and think of everything ever”? Yeah. Those nights are annoying.
When you struggle with anxiety, those nights can occur pretty regularly. It can be really hard to shut the voice inside your head up, and relax.
There are lots of really nice tips online on how to get ready for bed, and slow your mind down so you can fall asleep.
Things like, drinking camomile tea, turning off the computer an hour before you try to sleep, turning down the lights, not eating late at night, reading etc.
Sometimes these things can help, sometimes they don’t, but it’s always nice to have some resources and options to turn to.
I thought it would be interesting to open up the discussion on this topic.
What are your preferred ways of winding down at night?
Okay, okay, okay, it’s that time of year again. If you live in the north, this post is especially for you. For those of you in the south, um, I guess what I am about to discuss is never ever a problem for you? pffffft.
Hey remember that big old ball of fire that used to shine down on you when you were walking around in shorts or sitting in the sand at the beach or whatever you liked doing in the Summer? Yes I am talking about the Sun. Remember it?
(Actually this year it has been quite sunny for Fall going into Winter. I’ve been presently surprised.)
Aside the point!
The point is, it is now Winter, and the Sun is slowly becoming more and more stand offish as the days go on. Also, the days are way to short, and some are reallllyyyyyy dark.
I have always drawn some connection between the darkness of Winter, and the darkness that I end up experiencing internally during the Winter. I then discovered that there really was a connection, and that there is this thing called Seasonal Affective Disorder. I also learned that many people, even those who do not suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, do get negatively affected by the lack of sun during the Winter months.
It took me several years of getting horribly depressed in the Winter to realize, ohh it’s not just me, it is the lack of sun. So simple right?
Well actually it is kind of simple, and there are some simple things you can try out to help yourself get through the Winter.
Funny story: My Grandma slips liquid Vitamin D drops into my Grandpas food in the Winter. lol. He wont try anything like that on his own, and in fact refuses that he even needs to in the first place. Grandma feels differently, and thus solves the problem by drugging Grandpa.
Anyway! Here are some ideas:
Might as well start with Vitamin D!!!!
1. Vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin) – take a vitamin D supplement in the Winter, or better yet, get that liquid stuff my Grandma uses.
2. Sunlamps – invest in a sunlamp! sit by the sunlamp. Magic.
3. Tanning beds – k I know it sounds weird, but my friend turned me on to this idea. Using a tanning bed in really small doses, like 2 – 5 mins, has a similar affect as the sunlamp. You aren’t in there long enough to turn orange or get cancer, but you do get a little burst of fake sun and heat, and it feels really nice. Plus, its a really odd experience going to the tanning salon, so that is sort of a fun activity for the day.
4. Savour the sun – The sun doesn’t visit much anymore, so when it does come around, be sure to get out and enjoy it. Quick, get off facebook, stop watching youtube, quit your job, whatever! Stand outside in the sun for a couple minutes, or if you can go for walk. Feel the sunshine on your skin.
5. Let’s see, is there a 5th one? Go on a Vacation? If you can I guess that could be an option. No, okay so there is no solid 5th option, but, overall, just remember that you aren’t going crazy. If you feel blue, try to remind yourself that it could be the season affecting you…
Hope this was helpful!
Also, I still can’t tell if anyone reads this blog, but if there is some reading these words, I would like to encourage you to share your thoughts and ideas in the comments. Any tips for Winter Blues??
Happy Winter to you!
The therapeutic properties of music are specific to an individuals personal preferences. One of my favorite types of “therapeutic music”, is music that has room in it. Music that is meditative and lulling. Music that provides room for you as a listener to breath, think, or go within in. I find much of the music released by Constellation Tatsu, to contain these mediative or therapeutic elements. I wanted to know if there was intent behind this, and get to know CT a bit a more, so I asked head dude Steven Ramsey to partake in a little discussion with me. Here we go.
SS: You describe the label as “adventurous with spiritual artistic sensibilities”, can you explain that further? Is there an overall theme you are working with?
CT: Our motto is brief, yet it captures the kind of music we think is important right now. We tend to put out releases on the more experimental side of things, but I like to imagine each cassette as a journey for the listener. One that brings the listener outside their comfort zone, brings them back to familiarity (a space to breathe) and in the end leaves one with a deep sense of exploratory-satisfaction. Also, having different genre’s in each batch helps expose people “stuck” in a certain type of music to step outside themselves and find something a little more intriguing, imaginative and genreless.. well at least beyond the realm of the normal listenings.
SS: I really like the idea of the CT batch releases, it definitely does encourage people to explore music that maybe they aren’t initially attracted or drawn to. I think that can be a very beneficial and mind opening experience for people. I definitely think it’s an important part of the human experience to be pushed out of your comfort zone. I am curious to know why you think it is important? Or, if you felt like speaking a bit about exploration in general.
CT: When I use the term exploring and adventurous, I think I’m referring to a certain feeling that can only be found while listening, watching, or experiencing something new for the first time. Albums that you sort of tune out periodically while the music transitions, moves, breathes, and at that moment everything you’ve been listening to all along becomes crystal clear and the present moment becomes everything. I think that a lot of people end up listening to the same things over and over again trying to recapture these moments or trying to find something beyond what’s there, but the mind seems to process music differently from most other human experiences. Once a piece of music is processed (listened to), even passively, the mind has already captured every moment, every space, every note and it only takes a small opening in the music to have all these moments come rushing back. I’d like to think that our C.Tatsu batches encourage people to continue on their musical journey. It can be therapeutic to just put a new tape in your cassette player, press play and let your mind travel to distant lands without all the hype or suggestive promotion. The parts I remember best are never the most obvious, but the few seconds it takes to breathe, purse your lips and smile.
SS: I love that moment when a new piece of music grabs you and locks you into the present moment. When I get bored with my life routine, I need something new to experience to refresh my mind. Sometimes it can be as simple as finding a new music to listen to. It doesn’t have to mean moving across the country and starting a new life. I like the idea that being exposed to new music can allow you to feel a sense of exploration and adventure without leaving the room.
One of the first things I noticed about CT, was that it seemed like there was a lot of care and genuineness about the whole project. Why did you decide to start the label? How did it all come together?
CT: The label came together while I was a DJ at the college radio station KCPR in San Luis Obispo. After learning that KDVS (UC Davis) started their own label and KZSU (Stanford) was reviewing cassettes, I thought it was totally feasible to start our own label and we could start supporting musicians and contributing to the DIY music community. I mean, the station parses through hundreds of releases a week to pick out music to play on air and it seemed like a good place to start and also speaking into a microphone in an air-tight chamber can be isolating at times and I somehow wanted to recapture the love of exploring the unknown and capturing certain moments. I held a meeting with a couple DJ’s, we came up with the name “Tatsu’s Basement Recordings”, argued about local bands, vinyl vs. cassette, and disbanded. Nothing really happened with it for about a year until I started doing a lot of combination collages and mix tapes for friends and fell back in love w/ the idea of curating musical experiences for people. Put out the Blood Bright Star / Obsidian Towers (both local musicians) split cassette and it’s been going strong ever since. :-)
SS: Awesome!! That seems like a pretty natural progression. As I mentioned in the introduction, the therapeutic qualities of the CT releases resonate with me. I suppose that is because you tend to put out more experimental and ambient music, which is a type of music I find particularly meditative and therapeutic. What are your thoughts on music as therapy? Or the healing impact that music has on people both indirectly or directly?
CT: I think music has a proven positive effect on people along with many psychological and physiological benefits although I wouldn’t term it as a treatment. It’s more of a way to cope with the different emotions a person goes through each day and with every moment of joy comes a bit of “healing” in a sense, so “using” music to lift mood, is kinda like using a drug. Music can be therapeutic but might be self defeating if given too high of expectations. I’m also not entirely certain there is a certain type of music that is conducive to therapy.. I mean I love some New Age-y stuff, especially from the blogs Crystal Vibrations and Theospohical Society, but I find them a bit tongue in cheek, but with incredible musicianship and imagination. Maybe the escapism of certain music in therapeutic to me? At one point I lived in a house full of psychologists and music was a central part of our lives. According to my music loving friend Kevin, “it checks out!”.
SS: I agree with what you are saying. I mean aside from actual ‘Music Therapy’, I don’t see the use of music as a legitimate treatment per se. I should probably state that for the record as well, music is not to be used in place of medical help. haha. It is however powerful in the ways that it affects our moods, and can alter our states. I have always been interested in the notion of music being like a drug. It can be a great escape.
So, what is upcoming for CT?
CT: We have a few upcoming tapes in mind and a new batch in its formation. We also want to delve into vinyl again and have a release planned w/ Jonas Reinhardt in December.
SS: Looking forward to it! I’d like to wrap things up with a few Sanity Soap specific questions. Feel free to be as vague or specific as you feel comfortable with. What does mental health mean to you? In what ways do you “take time to clean your mind”? i.e. your self care strategies.
CT: I spend a lot of my time thinking about my mental health. It’s so hard to know ourselves and do what is right when at times we feel waves of sickness and confusion. Sometimes I drink water, sometimes I go for a run, or go for a bike ride in the hillsides.. I try to go wherever my mind can take me at a moments notice. Once I find myself someplace back in reality, everything makes a bit more sense and I can, for the time, live in an ever expanding present. It can also be a good idea to spoil yourself once (well twice) every day, but not in any consistent form or manner. It’s best to just let these things happen.
SS: Wonderfully put! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with Sanity Soap
Check out Constellation Tatsu at the following links:
~~ Collages by Steven Ramsey ~~
“My music is designed to create and enhance deep meditative or altered states.” ~ JD Emmanuel
Thank you JD, for your medicinal music and it’s magic healing abilities.