I often have referred to May 14, 2011, as the day my world imploded. That is the day that I slipped beneath the waves of anxiety and depression that had been lapping at the shores of my mind and my heart for the better part of the year. What I don’t often talk about is the year that led up to this implosion. Until now.
I cannot recall precisely what set the anxiety and depression in motion, but I know when it began to accelerate. My slow descent picked up speed after attending my college reunion in June 2010. Considering I still refer to those three days spent in the company of friends who mean the world to me as some of the best days of my life, it may not make sense how such a joyous event could be associated with one of the worst periods of my life, but it is.
When I was with my friends in a place that is like a second home to me, I felt safe, secure, and unbelievably happy. For the first time in quite a while, I was not defined by being someone’s wife, mother, or employee; I was simply Kristi Jo. In addition to reuniting with my college friends, I felt like I had reunited with myself in some ways.
As I made the 2 1/2 hour drive back home at the end of the weekend, I could not stop crying. I loathe good-byes and tend to cry when I bid farewell to people I love, so, some of the tears were expected. The other tears were quite unexpected.
While I was happy to return home to my family and friends and begin a new job, an overwhelming feeling of sadness lingered. For some time prior to the reunion, I had felt the depression lurking in the shadows, only this time it was accompanied by anxiety. So, the joy I felt while at the reunion was a welcome relief, but a stark contrast to how I felt when at home.
I tried all of my tricks to keep the depression and anxiety at bay, but everything I tried failed miserably. During the year between the reunion and the implosion, one of the things that did not fail me was music. And this is where Rush’s Snakes & Arrows enters the picture.
Rush was a fixture on the radio when I was growing up. Fly By Night, Closer to the Heart, Subdivisions, and Tom Sawyer were among my favorite songs, and I became a casual fan. Although I liked Rush, I did not really keep up with their music over their years, until my college friend, Adrian, changed all of that. He is a true long-time fan, and he helped bring me up to speed with their more recent music. He also introduced me to Neil Peart as an author, in addition to being the best drummer in the world, and I devoured his books.
At some point prior to the implosion, Adrian sent me something that proved to be a sort of lifesaver, unbeknownst to him. He burned a CD of Snakes & Arrows for me, and it became an instant personal favorite. At this point, I will pause to clarify for some of the younger readers what it means to burn a CD. Despite our college having a reputation for setting couches on fire, burning a CD does not involve setting a CD afire. It simply refers to copying material, in this case music, to a blank CD. If you are unfamiliar with the reference to a CD, research it (aka Google it, Junior). History class is dismissed, and we now will return to Snakes & Arrows.
As I listened to Snakes & Arrows, I was hooked from, well, the first hook. Far Cry and Armor and Sword came out swinging and reflected my own growing disillusionment with the world around me. Workin’ Them Angels became both a prayer and apology to my guardian angels, the ones here on earth and the ones in unseen realms. They all were working overtime to save me from myself, and I was giving them a run for their money, as I kept inching closer and closer to the edge.
There were two songs that I clung to more than any others off of this album. They provided me with solace and comfort before and after the implosion. One has lyrics that are so beautiful and powerful that they touch my heart in a profound way, and the other song is an instrumental that is simply gorgeous.
The former song, Faithless, touches on the recurrent theme of religion, and it speaks to me regarding my own spirituality. At times, I have felt completely abandoned by what I perceive to be God, and other times, I have felt that presence strongly. Through it all, though, I have held on to hope and love. The end of the song sums it up rather well:
Like a flower in the desert
That only blooms at night
I will quietly resist
I don’t have faith in faith
I don’t believe in belief
You can call me faithless
You can call me faithless
But I still cling to hope
And I believe in love
And that’s faith enough for me
The latter song, Hope, is an acoustic guitar arrangement written and performed by Alex Lifeson. If hope had a sound, it would surely be this sweet song. When I felt hopeless, I still had Hope. Several years ago, I heard it when I was trail running, and as I listened to it and took in the beautiful scenery around me, I began to cry. It was just so beautiful, and even though I was scared that I would never find may way back out of the darkness, this song lived up to its name. It gave me hope.
I get by with a little, and sometimes, a lot of, help from friends like Adrian and from amazing albums like Snakes & Arrows. I am extraordinarily grateful for both. I still cling to hope and believe in love, and that’s faith enough for me.
That’s another story . . .
Categories: That's Another Story