I never thought I would get to be able to say this, but I am officially 30 years old as of today (August 19th).
The last 30 years has been filled with tremendous highs and some devastating lows. Sadly, due to mental struggles in my life including Major Depression, High Anxiety, Mental Trauma, etc, I am not really able to appreciate the highs as much as I should have, but looking back, I have a lot to be grateful for, especially career wise:
I have done 528 interviews (but at least a couple dozen that won't get to see the light of day) in the last 7 years. The radio show is currently at 294 episodes (including the one that comes out later today/tonight), I have made countless friends and acquaintances over the years, some still around, some that sadly left, some that just parted ways for various reasons.
30 is a strange, strange number for me. In all transparency, 30 was a year I was choosing to to make it to. Especially over the last few years I had made a goal to myself not to start the next decade of my life letting my mental issues get the better of me and had I not been successful I was going to make another shot at my life. I have spent 18 years of my life now in mental hell all stemming from problems that started the day before my 12th birthday and spanning till now. But as you can guess by reading this, I'm still here. SO did I cure my mental problems? Not by a long shot!
I am still a mental wreck for most of day and night. I find complete solace in the work I do with interviews, reviews, radio show, etc; but the rest of my life I still try to figure out what to do to find true, long lasting happiness. There's many ways to go about this: doing what you love, seeking solace in others, seeking professional help, medications, give in to life altering vices, suicide, etc. As you can tell not all answers are good ones, and sans the vices, I have attempted all of those, with varying results.
I actually have attempted suicide 6 times. 5 times I was stopped, the other time was new years eve 2013 into 2014 and I grabbed my roommate's gun at the time, pulled the trigger and realized there was no bullet in the gun. I'm not proud of any of those moments, but I am proud that none of them altered my life in a botched fashion, nor actually got the job done.
While I still struggle every single day of my life, I can't get better if I stop living. There is no clear cut answer for anyone. The human mind is such an intangible thing despite being one of the biggest reasons we are around. And with that every mind reacts differently. For example, as I'm writing this up, I'm in a sad state, but a thankful state. When I am hitting a real hard wave of depression, I can't comprehend anything; there is no light at the end of the depression tunnel, there's no ropr to climb out of the whole, there is just darkness, sadness, isolation, etc. FOr me, I just keep trying to move forward by looking for things to keep me going. One area is that there is always new music to promote and bands to care about. So I always look for new music and try to promote the bands I care about as much as possible.
If you look back at my very first interview on here with Morgan Lander of Kittie then you look at my latest interview with Mike Portnoy; you see a DRAMATIC difference. Not just in sound quality and production, but the confidence in myself. I went from a kid who was beyond scared to talk to anyone, let alone an active and famous musician; to being able to have amazing conversations with my biggest heroes as if they have been my friends for years. How did that happen? It literally came from a sheer passion for what I do and the perseverance to get better every time. Growing up, I didn't start having conversations till I was 4. It was never because I couldn't talk and unlike what I was tested for a lot at the time, I am not autistic. I was actually scared to talk. As I learned as I got older, I was not in the best environment for a healthy mind. I grew up in a cracking family that shattered in 2000 and never recovered. I was consistently told that my opinions do not matter, keep my problems to myself, and being told I was of no use to anyone. When you are taught that from a very young age, it's hard to break that mold and you start to believe it yourself until your mind reaches a point that you can't comprehend any other kind of thinking....unless you try to better yourself.
I was a really good student in school until Fall 2000, then my grades started slipping. I was actually in a program that my school had called Gifted and Talented, where I was able to do extra projects, get my work shown off to visitors, and get my name recommended to outside activities for the intended purposes of getting scholarships to college and other extra curricular activities. then Fall 2000 came around and my mind was completely and utterly lost. I was getting sad all the time and my family did not care, I didn't have friends anymore, I just kept to myself as much as I could as I felt I was the only person left I didn't disappoint.
This of course, as eluded to earlier, lead to 6 suicide attempts from 12 years old to 28 years old (if you gathered, it's been about 2 years since my last attempt). The saddest part of a good chunk of my suicide attempts; when I was stopped, it was never for the typical reasons not to do it. It was for reasons such as "We will look like terrible parents if you kill yourself." "What about going to hell?" and "You better finish the job if you try that again because you won't want me to find you after..." As you can tell, not good reasons to stay alive.
Actually in recent times, my brother has called me quite a few times to try to get me to kill myself. Calling through various numbers, making fake accounts online, faking who he is, and all other sorts of issues that just seems so vile. After all this time, I still have no idea why he continues to do this. He's recently done this as of this year, but that time did not lead me to try number 7, THANKFULLY!
To a lot of people reading this you could think I could reach out to other people for help. When I was a kid I was told from everyone I knew not to and when I did try to make new friends, it ended disastrously. If you ever talk to me or have talked to me outside of an interview, I am an absolute wreck when trying to talk to people. Granted I am better than where I used to be, but I still have the hardest time being the first person to reach out. No matter the reassurance, I get scared to the point of breaking down if I have to start a conversation (outside of interviews). It's a constant fear of feeling like I am bothering people and ruining their days by trying to talk to them. Rational or Irrational, it's still something that hits me every single day.
But despite all of these mental, psychological, sociological and just plain absurd issues; I still keep trying as much as I can. As you may have gathered, music is my calling in life. Even if it's not playing, I get to talk music almost every single day with amazing people and to me, that's just as rewarding.
For anyone struggling that's reading this, you gotta find that for yourself as well. What's the thing(s) that keep you going? Do you have passions in your life? What are they? How often to you get to follow those passions? Is it a hobby, an interest, or a full on career? Does your life hinder on your passions? There's so many things that go into it. For me it's music and gaming that brings so much joy to my life. As of recent times I got back into enjoying pro wrestling as that was something I loved as a kid until my mental issues started entering my life and I forgot about it. While they are not substitutes for the struggles in my life, they are things that keep me around and keep that drive of life going for me. Even if it's just one thing in life for you, even if you can't do it every day, find that passion for you, find a way to get to live it somehow, some way, don't lose out on why you love the things you do and remember the joy they bring you when you get feeling as low as I do.
As for other aspects of my life, I am still keeping strong with That Drummer Guy, I have no intentions of stopping as long as I still have a voice and/or a way to get my views out there. Whether I become the biggest names in heavy music media or I don't progress any further than I am right now, I love the road I'm on and there's no exit ramp I am ever going to look for.
As for playing music, I do have my band, Systemic Collapse. Back in the beginning of the year we recorded some instrumental demos. Maybe they'll see the light of day, maybe not. Anyone whose seen my track record knows that even with playing for 21 years now, I still have yet to have a record to call my own. If this one ends up happening, awesome, if not, I still have That Drummer Guy which has become one of, if not my biggest passion in life. I never thought I'd say that as someone who would play my drums every single day, constantly trying to find a band that could last and show off what we could do. Maybe one day? Maybe not? Let's find out!
But getting back to why I'm writing this up. I still can't believe I'm here at 30. WIth full intentions of not being here at 30, I am here, I still have the drive of wanting to be alive (though I will admit, there is a lot of twists, turns, roundabouts, reroutes, etc) and I am writing this out for all of you to see.
Whether you suffer from mental issues life myself, whether you just enjoy what I do, whether we've been friends for years or hours, whether you stumbled across me by accident, noticed it's my birthday and say I wrote up a saga of an essay; regardless of it all, I'm here I plan to stay here, I hope you plan to stay here as long as you can as well.
Just remember that you life can never get better if you cut it short!
But as for now, thanks for reading. It's my birthday, time to get some sleep, wake up, see what the day has in store for me, get disappointed by 2018 Summerslam and begin my first week of work in my 30s as That Drummer Guy! In any capacity, I hope you stick around for the ride!
- Josh Rundquist