Ben Ryan, HMT Staff Journalist
You know what people love? Security, routine and a sense of identity. We won’t admit it, we like to think we are creatures of adaptability, but change the layout in a supermarket and we lose our fucking minds. And you know that’s a rough thing because the one consistent in life is change.
We are actually okay with change as long as it’s a gradual thing, but accelerated change really throws us. It doesn’t have to be bad either. The process of adapting to a promotion can be just as traumatic as losing a job. When change happens, it shifts us from a secure and confident state to a yearning for what we had. It makes us critical, defensive and often in a state of denial. It makes us resistant to any further change (which is very counterproductive) and for some of us it makes us want to numb the sensation.
Sitting with the experience, accepting change and being curious are an amazing way to get to the other side. Learn new things, especially about yourself. Be humble in how you approach things and fearlessly connect with people like your life depended on it (it may well do).
If you are living with a mental health difficulties it changes you in ways that are hard to describe to those who haven’t. You go through a process of healing from the initial symptoms but there is the fallout to deal with. I have lost multiple jobs and relationships due to how I and others have managed my episodes. That’s entire identities, pieces of me, gone. Following these social changes is the big churn of where you stand in life. How you and loved ones deal with it is just as essential as the treatment for the actual symptoms.
The good news is if you have been in that position you know that life goes on and there are always good times coming. Some changes have been useful and I would make a strong argument for mental health symptoms being a clumsy attempt for your mind to make things better. My PTSD and depression forced me leave jobs that not only did I hate, they were killing me through stress. I have tried things and had experiences I never would have had before. If this happens to you often you know that sometimes it’s best to just go with it. The more you lose identities the better at it you get at making new ones. Some of us chronic sufferers who are always starting over would probably make great secret agents.
This is why people who have been through mental health problems often make great mental health workers. We have seen the other side of it, it gets better if you can hold on a little longer. We get you man.
So where the fuck does metal lie in this?
I have said this before but I haven’t had many constants in my life. Friends and even family have walked on and off the stage and like many people there is no job for life, no house for life and no guarantees. Every so often it feels like I restart my life. I have some amazing family. I have wonderful friends, mostly beautiful batshit metalheads (big love you magnificent bastards) but we are two points of the compass away from each other and I rarely physically see them, especially post Covid.
Metal and our culture are constant. It’s a reverberating throbbing riff through my, and my friends’ lives. Any city I moved to I have instantly sought connection with the local metal culture and never been left without company. It’s like a religion I can find a congregation of in most towns and feel supported by brutally honest, loud and caring people.
At the time of writing there is a global pandemic. We are all going through changes and there is a phenomenal amount of uncertainty. I find I’m trying to hold on to constants and metal is very much one. Gigs, bars/clubs and festivals are off. I have started a nightly ritual I have with my daughter where that we listen to metal together while we eat. We even have a dance and a mini circle pit in the confines of my single bedroom flat and you know what… it’s fucking awesome.
It’s a long way from the hard press of bodies, the loudness and the thrill of seeing bands live. A million miles away from laughing with mates in a rock bar. It is, however, tying me over and a reminder that even as things change I have some constants.
Look after yourselves and the guy/gal next to you. We will get through this.
**Change (in the house of flies) obviously belongs to the fab Deftones, we own nor claim any rights to it