As I write this, it's late on July 15th, 2017; about one month and 4 days till my 29th birthday. Which in turn, means I'll be a year away from entering my 30s. It's a scary thought to me as it still feels like I never got out of my high school years let alone being 28 years old. Even scarier than that, I never thought I would live this long.
To anyone that doesn't know me personally, I am a sufferer of a few different medical ailments. Type II diabetes is one of them (though I do have that pretty regulated right now) currently dealing with Frozen Shoulder in both shoulders that could last up to 5 years. But the thing that has hindered my life in the worst way is...myself. I'm suffering clinically from Major Depression and High Anxiety. I didn't get this diagnosed until 2016, but I know I've been suffering from this since August 18th, 2000 when my life changed forever.
THE BEGINNING OF THE DEMISE
I'm not going to go into details about them here, but a severe family incident happened that tragically made my family fall apart at the seams. This was one day before my 12th birthday and it easily ended up being the worst birthdays of my life and I really haven't recovered from this incident (amongst others). The most I'll get into (legality reasoning) is that a family member mentally snapped and took over a decade to change into a better person. As a huge part of this person's life I tried to help the best I could as soon as I realized something was wrong, but the problem was, I was 12. This breakdown cause everyone in my family to dissolve. Some family members stopped talking to others while took their aggression out on others. As I didn't take sides on the issue, trying to be a peacemaker, I was shunned by both sides.
When your 12 years old, you need family and friends in your life to make sense of the world. Puberty is beginning, your mental psyche and physical self changes in the worst ways. Your preteen-teenage years are the most important years of your life as far as your human development. Mine, unfortunately were filled with isolation, fear, loneliness, and despair. With family not being on good terms, I didn't have anyone in my family I could trust and/or talk to about how I was feeling. I'll never forget one family member telling me "If you have problems in your life, keep them to yourself because nobody cares about you." (I cleaned up the phrase a bit to make this whole thing PG). Due to things like that, amongst many others, I became a very quiet guy. A speak when spoken to type mentality,k so when that happened I became a loner in school. My grades started slipping from the incident; going from straight As and "one of the most intelligent students in my grade" to A-Ds. Life started losing a lot of meaning to me at this time. Not just from being a loner, but from the small town environment of small town Wisconsin, not fitting in with anyone around me, the opposite sex being repulsed by me and many more things I'm sure I can add.
SOLACE IN MUSIC
Around this time is when i discovered listening to metal as an escape from reality. While being smart enough to realize that music is art, there is a lot of relateable messages in the music. Some bands who write very depressing things hit the nail on the head when it comes to the dark things in life. While many would think that's a terrible thing to listen to and should rather listen to optimistic and happy music at all times; no one is ever happy 24/7. Life has a lot of terrible moments and it's a great feeling to know that others around the world know similar struggles as you.
MAKING DRUMMING MY LIFE
From the age of 16 on, I was quite fortunate to be able to find various people who enjoyed similar music to me; be it original music or covers, and I was able to play music and actually get paid for 6 years. The sad reality with that came that my ideals with a lot of the musicians I worked with did not come to be the same as theirs and ended up having to go separate ways. While this is quite a normal thing, when a majority of that time is living in small town Wisconsin, there's not a lot of options for those that enjoy what you do, so you must take compromises to hopefully achieve what you want to be able to accomplish.
When I was 22, that was the last time I profited from making music. I had a few bands from that point on, but as with previous bands, it ended up having the same story. Starting with the best of intentions, becoming friends, writing what you think is great music, musical shifts, idealism shifts and fallout.
As of the time of writing this, it's been almost 20 months since I've been able to sit behind my kit and play and that has torn my soul apart. Thankfully last year, I was able to get an electronic kit, but it's just not the same as the real thing. I don't know if I'll ever be able to find a band to call my own again. On one hand, it's a great, great thing. On the other, there is hell that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.
The saddest part of this is that I do not have any official recordings to call my own. 20 years of playing drums in total and I never got the opportunity to have an album that I can claim "to have played on." It breaks my heart knowing that as every single original band that I've been a part of fell through the cracks at the point of being "ready to record." Any band that can withstand each other long enough to be able to have a collection of original recorded music to call their own has miracles on their sides. It's a part of my life I dearly miss. Playing live was the greatest feeling in the world to me, but with the issues that came up in all these bands, plus ones I'll be mentioning later, my love for playing drums and music in general is all but fleeted.
BREATHING NEW LIFE
Thankfully, in my down times of musical hardship, I was able to gain a new passion in life, broadcasting. By complete fluke, in 2011, I was asked to do an hour long radio show on a now defunct internet radio station. With this, I was able to pick out some of my favorite songs by my favorite bands. With that in mind, I didn't want to play the music you could easily hear on the radio, I wanted to show off the stuff that doesn't get the coverage it deserves. Of course if you know anything about me, that forte is Rock and Metal in all genres. I started gaining a good set of people digging what I did, but the station was not was interested taking this route, especially during the end of my tenure with the station. With that, we went our separate ways. A few months went by and I was graciously offered a 2 hour radio show that I could do in syndication on a weekly basis, which I still have to this date. For more of what I've accomplished in that time, just check out everything I've done since 2012; the body of work speaks for itself; all by sticking to my guns.
DEMONS OF MY PAST
But back to the focal point of this whole write up. With something like a successful radio career, you'd think that depression and anxiety would be the furthest thing from my mind. DEAD WRONG! While I have been able, in recent times, come to the realization that I am good at what I do and people dig it as well; I still hate myself.
Between the ages of 16 and 27, I attempted suicide 5 times. 4 times I was stopped, the I was by myself, put a gun in my mouth, pulled the trigger and learned there was no bullets in the gun. This all stems back from the family trauma that started in 2000, going on a complete roller coaster of hell from 2000 through 2008, slightly getting better, falling apart again with the other biggest family dissolution in 2009, losing my childhood home in 2012, my first real instance of self confidence from 2012-2014, the life altering stomach issues that plagued me the day after my 25th birthday; and my last resort day in may 2016. From most of those years given, you can tell when I did try to kill myself. I admit I'm being elusive on many of those things and those that don't know me will be completely lost on this whole paragraph. I'll just say, wait for my autobiography for when I get into detail about all of this.
All of those struggles of isolation, despair, helplessness, lovelessness, and every other sad adjective you can add to describe me stemming from around the time of my start of becoming an adult really made me into a man with no self confidence, fearing every choice I make, and oddly enough, continuing to stick to my guns when it comes to what I hope to accomplish in life. Feels ironic, right? When it comes to that last part, I don't wanna lose what makes me happy in life; and as good or as that sounds, my last passion in life is showing off the music I care about. I don't have much to give life outside of that.
In 2016, I finally gave in after my last suicide attempt and went to my doctor about this. I have been taking medication since that time. I also started seeing a therapist for the first time in my life and made some tremendous strides in my life. I no longer hold on to the problems that I had growing up that plagued my first nearly 30 years of life.
While that does sound fantastic, I still have one major flaw that I don't know if I'll be able to recover from; which in turn, may lead to my demise. That is of course, self confidence. I of course am not talking about career wise, I mean every other aspect of my life. I absolutely question, doubt, and hate myself for every single choice I make. While there are people reading this or those that are somewhat familiar with what I do enjoy what I do, see my worth, and think I am a good person; I look at myself in the mirror every single day and hate the man I see looking back at me.
It was so well drilled into my head from family, kids I went to school with, and others that I "am a waste of life" "need to die" "will amount to nothing in life" and of course "am a burden to everyone that knows me." It was so well drilled into my psyche that I am the only one left in my circle of people that I keep in my life that feels this way. What you learn in your preteen-through your teenage years will make you the person you'll become in the rest of your life (bearing any life changing incidents in adulthood). It is so important to try to make the best of yourself during these times. If you are past this point in your life; if you know anyone going through this stage (family, friend's family, etc) do what you can to help push them in the right direction.
I was very fortunate in my early 20s, while after my 3rd suicide attempt; I moved to a new area for the first time in my life and was able to start over. Not everyone in life gets that opportunity. Some get 1, maybe 2 changes to realistically be able to have everything available to start over. I know I am currently on my 2nd opportunity to change my life after suffering health issues that nearly killed me (again, if you don't already know about this, wait for the autobiography). When I finally was able to take care of myself again, I vowed to not take anything in my life for granted again and completely focused on myself and what I thought was right. That's not to say that there wasn't a great deal of hardships that came with this; and I couldn't be farther from a perfect person; but I will say that even in this dark time in which I'm writing this up, I am in such a better place than I was 5, 10, or 15 years ago.
I'm now at the end of this messed up stream of consciousness I have written down. I am writing this mostly for me but I am also writing this for others who are either struggling with depression, anxiety, any mental disorders or if you simply need proof that I am human. I get that some of it will not make sense, for some of you, you'll completely understand where my state of mind is right now, and for others, you are very intrigued by this write up and wanna know more about my past. As mentioned above, a lot of the incidents that I don't mention, I am saving for a possible autobiography I wanna write for the first 30 years of my life, going into detail about the first great 11 years of my life and the hell that came afterwards. If you can't comprehend the stream of consciousness that this write up is (honestly, I don't blame you if you can't); just keep these final words in mind...
You are in control of your own destiny, yet so is the rest of the world. It's not nature vs nurture; it's nature AND nurture. Your childhood affects who you become, it's what you do as you become an adult that shows you what you've learned. While you can't blame all of your problems on your past, as long as you are mentally and physically capable of it; you change your present and future for the better. I'm still struggling myself and I'm writing this at a very dark time in this current wave of depression I'm facing. Yet, through all of this darkness, I can see that I'm still here and I am still able to attempt to better myself. If you can see that about me; the same can still be said for you.
Take Care & Brush Your Hair!
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)