Thursday, February 16, 2017

Depression vs Emaline - round three

In 2008 I was diagnosed with Bipolar II and was given several types of medication. It was explained to me that I could never lead a normal life and that I must avoid stressful situations at all costs. I was also told that sadly the reason I never reached my full potential was likely because of my bouts of depression but that I had done extremely well considering that there is Bipolar and Schizophrenia on both sides of my family as well as the fact that I had suffered from quite severe mental and physical abuse in my childhood which has definitely shaped the way I see the world and how I behave. I've had two breakdowns in my life, both triggered by being in abusive relationships though luckily for me, only mentally abusive. As I say this it sounds strange to say luckily...but it could have been worse. A year after being put on medication I decided to go off the meds because I had put on a lot of weight and found myself living in a fog of exhaustion, sleeping around 15 hours per day and losing my creativity, the only thing I felt I had at the time and could count on. The last straw came when so intoxicated by the medication I fell down the stairs and that was my wake up call. It was then I decided (along with the feeling of not being there and even having suicidal tendencies in response to these meds) that I would take myself off the medication and learn as much as I could about how the brain works and replace the meds with vitamins, healthy food, better living and learning how to be mindful and manage my anxiety through dabbling in buddhist teachings/podcasts and yoga. That and trying not to allow negative, damaging people into my life. (That took a few tries :P)
It's been an uphill battle but somehow I have managed to get myself through a couple of mentally abusive relationships without having a breakdown and finding the self esteem to eventually walk away as well as the difficult path of deciding to become a musician in 2010 and pursuing that path full time ever since. Last year I had a really difficult year. I didn't know how I would make it through but I am so lucky to have found an amazing person who has been there for me no matter what. I feel like in my life I never had that before so it's been sort of strange and at times I wondered what was in it for him and questioned if he had an ulterior motive. But it seems no, he doesn't. Not all people are damaged and in turn damage you. That was a revelation for me to learn. Seems like such a simple notion now and to him I am so grateful.
So I have made it this far but over the last 6 months as 2017 turned into a repeat of 2016 with money problems, car problems, housing problems and more I have been finding I am coping less and the strategies I had for making it through don't seem to be working anymore. It's become a lot harder to make a living from music because of a lot of changes in the industry (people not willing to pay for live music / venues not willing to pay / GEMA / styles / other factors) and I'm only just starting to get my head around that and working on ways to adapt so I can continue doing this thing that has saved me so many times I have lost count.
But I am struggling with life. Lately my depression feels like it's surrounding me and my anger and anxiety have become daily features of my personality which is something that makes me so sad to see after all the work I have done on myself. I've not given up, I just feel I need to express myself. It's easy to wonder what's wrong with you when on social media you constantly see posts from people who seem to be living the most wonderful lives full of happiness, success and fulfillment. It's easy to wonder, am I the only one who feels either nothing or a mild dread most mornings when I wake up? What is wrong with me? Why can't I be normal and happy and just get on with things like everyone else? That's a question I've been asking myself for most of my adult life but it stopped for a few years when I was more on top of things. Now the darn question has returned. I don't know what I am trying to achieve with this post. I just want to get it out. I also know logically I can't be the only one who feels like this or who has to live with this kind of illness that can't be cured. They told me I had bipolar. I still don't really agree because my symptoms were also partly due to being in that abusive relationship but I do know that I have some kind of mental illness, a deep well of depression that I could fall into at any moment if I am not careful. So I will keep on fighting, keep on struggling, trying to find new ways to mend myself so I can get back up again and enjoy life. I really want to enjoy life. I am different than I was in 2010. I understand that my brain doesn't always work properly and I am aware of this. I am trying as hard as I can to remember that when I start to feel the darkness climbing under my skin. I am grateful that I even have this awareness. Again it could always be worse. I am trying to focus on the positive things. There are a lot of positive things, if I could only see them sometimes…GRRR :)
If you feel the same, I hope this post brings you some comfort and maybe we can share tips and tricks. If you don't understand what it's like to live with depression then I hope my words can give you some insight as to what your friends or family may be going through and maybe you can be an anchor for them when they need some stability and someone to keep them safe until they get through the storm. Hugs to anyone who needs one. x
Oh and I should also thank my cat. Over these past 8 years he has kept me going. The touch of his paw on my skin or his little head against mine when things were really bad has given me great comfort.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Day Two in the Faroe Islands: The Village of Nólsoy

Day Two in the Faroe Islands: Today I caught a ferry to the village of Nólsoy which is about 4km east of Tórshavn. It has around 200 inhabitants and some stunning views. Tonight I am staying here overnight and am very tired from the intense walk I took down a steep hill and then up another through sheep paddocks to get these photos. It was so rainy and windy for most of the walk that it kept nearly knocking me over making it extremely hard to take photos but here a couple of the good ones that I hope you like. As I sit here writing this, the wind continues to thrash about outside. Feels like I am in a ship.

Which reminds me, my favourite part of the walk today was when I was at the foot of the magnificent rock and somehow a few times I walked into a patch of stillness not affected by the wind. When this happened I took the time to stop and catch my breath and marvel at how very far away I felt from the rest of the world.

#nólsoy #wild #winter #sheep #singersongwriter

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Day One in the Faroe Islands: Recording at Studio Bloch

Day One in the Faroe Islands: Today I had the pleasure of going to Studio Bloch in the Faroe Islands where the wonderful Eivør has done some recording. It's a beautiful space and from the moment I played the piano I knew it was the best choice to come here and record my song 'Turmoil of Winter' which is about my own experience with depression. It's been raining and very windy since I arrived yesterday so the setting seemed perfect and I am pretty happy with the songs we got down today.

After the recording, Theodor the engineer and I were invited over for dinner by the owner of Studio Bloch and I had a very nice time learning about the Faroes, drinking rum and tea and jamming with the local talent. Now after a big couple of weeks and a long day of recording I am falling into my bed very tired.

#faroeislands #recording #singersongwriter

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Saddest Polar Bear In The World

Animals don't belong in Zoos, Circuses or Aquariums.
They don't deserve to be caged in pens where they cannot turn around and never get to see sunshine or breathe fresh air. They do not deserve to be kept as slaves for our amusement nor abused, raped and killed so we can indulge ourselves.

There is nothing we can say or do to justify the way that animals are treated in our modern society. Absolutely nothing and it sickens me. My fellow human beings sicken me. I feel such despair every day when I see articles like this or pigs in a truck on the highway with such sadness in their eyes that sometimes it's so overwhelming I begin to panic. I feel absolutely helpless. I have no hope.

Nearly every day I ask myself: How can people close their eyes and heart just so that they can continue being part of a selfish cycle that's not only causing so much pain to fellow sentient beings, but also destroying the earth and lining the pockets of big corporations, giving them even more power over us and society?

How can anyone justify being part of THIS and be OK with themselves?

#animalabuse #animalwelfare #animalcruelty

Friday, July 15, 2016

A dose of nature for Mental Well Being?

Been feeling quite down lately as well as dealing with weird reoccurring illness shit. Trying to figure out what helps to lift the mood including some diet changes, upping vitamins, some exercise, walks etc but realized something. When I am in my little garden tending to the veggies and fruit some kind of peace comes over me. Today I just sat for 5 minutes while a plump bee did his rounds inspecting each yellow cucumber flower for some treats and buzzed as he moved to the next one. For 5 min I just peaceful and forgot the fog that often clouds my brain and the weight that's so heavy it makes me exhausted.

  I was diagnosed with Bipolar II in 2008 and even though I don't think I have this as my symptoms don't fit, I obviously have a life long mental illness that can pop it's head up at any moment to bite me in the ass. It affects my daily life, it affects my creativity and the ability to get as much done as I would like to. Each day is a challenge to keep moving and not let the cloud engulf me. Obviously nature is some kind of key to me coping better so I think I have to push myself out into the woods more often and see what happens. For those of you out there also fighting your own battle with mental illness. You're not alone x.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

May travels to Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Liechstenstein

We have been gallivanting all around Europe during May playing shows in Germany, Austria and Switzerland with a few days off in Liechtenstein: my favourite of the smaller countries.

Thanks to everyone who came out to one of the shows at the Stuttgart Vegan Street Day Festival, Widnau Switzerland, Emsiana Kulturfest in Hohenems Austria, Wasserburg Germany, Bregenz and Schwaz Austria. Also thanks go to people who put us up and fed us in Switzerland, Austria as well as in Liechtenstein. We are grateful for your hospitality.


* Getting a cable car to the top of the mountain in AT and realizing we couldn't see a thing
* The lack of decent vegan food at times which meant I was often hungry
* The rude guy at the Wasserburg show
* Never having enough time to spend with everyone we liked
* The awful pain in our legs after a wet 3 hour hike down a mountain the next day
* Not so great sound on stage at a couple of locations
* Hotel breakfasts....ugh. Never any vegan options. And that reconstituted orange juice.
* Saying goodbye to the mountains....and all the cats :P


* The weather held out for most of the tour so we got to take some hikes and walks
* Staying with a vegan couple in Stuttgart who had rescued Chinchillas from a fur farm
* Container/dumpster diving in Switzerland with my Liechenstein friends
* Making lunch with all the rescued food the next day
* All the cool people in Hohenems Austria. You're all bonkers, in a good way. :)
* Bike riding to the Rhein in Liechstenstein
* All the cats we met along the way
* The mountains
* The care package of local beer, chocolate and marmalade from Das Ladenlokal in Widnau
* Playing a Bösendorfer piano in Schwaz
* Vegan strudel @ Strudelhof in Magdeburg
* Leaving a note about a mouldy lemon in a shop window in St Gallen Switzerland

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

How it all Began

5 Years ago exactly to this day I began a great journey, hitchhiking from Toronto to Vancouver with only $20 in my pocket eventually teaching myself enough guitar that I could live from shows. Right now I would have been sleeping in Desbarats Ontario and by morning I would witness the birth of a cow and then head out onto the country road to get my next ride.

Within a few days I would be picked up by Jann Arden's brother, share meals with truck drivers, stay with an elderly Christian couple who grew 80% of their own food under Saskatchewan skies in rural fields and give advice to a crying American woman whose son had just come out and she didn't know what to do. In Vancouver I would continue down south sharing shows with my Swedish friend all the way from Portland down to Arizona, Texas, New Orleans and then all the way up to New York and Vermont via greyhound bus for about 6 weeks. This intense relationship would nearly kill me but I would find peace again alone on the road for another 6 weeks bussing West from New York to Portland, seeing old friends and making some new, watching the Autumn colours slip into winter, living off donations and food from gigs in cafes, staying with couch surfers, fighting a two week cold in Cleveland and dragging myself onto the bus again, making it to Portland $200 richer after my host in Boise Idaho pushed an envelope into my hand at the bus station saying, 'we have more than enough, use this to follow your dream'.

From November in Portland I stayed in a house with some art students for a few weeks and fell in love like a dumb teenager. We watched The Walking Dead, drank too much and they liked my burritos. I pretended I was brave when we said goodbye but the truth is, music was all that kept me going for a while. And I wonder, did he ever put those words into song?

So weird to look back on all of this again, like an alarm just went off in me for some kind of anniversary. Or a reminder to have more adventures. Or both.