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I decided to make a blog just for my band photography.

Originally I wanted to write all my thoughts down about the last gig as a form of therapy about the residual emotions that usually like to hang around after I shoot a gig. Now, I kind of just like talking about my photography and the Australian music scene.

Either click on the photo above or check out The Ultimate Lost Through the Lens

The Trials and Tribulations of an Autistic Band Photographer: Part 1: Meeting the Band

Firstly, don’t give me any of that person-first language garbage. If I want to say I’m autistic I’ll say I’m autistic. I actually have autism and you don’t – so leave it.

Now that’s all over with I can continue. I’m not going to describe every autistic symptom that affects me as a band photographer; instead I’ll just focus on my lack of social skills.

It seems like such a small issue but people with autism can become very depressed about not knowing how to speak to people. Some focus a lot of not being able to get a date but for the moment I don’t even want to try that, because I struggle to get along with people at all. I’m not sure if I like anyone that way. I’m so blinded by my own rage at people and myself about getting into arguments or feeling like everyone is trying to manipulate me, that there’s not a whole left to find out I can feel that way for people at all.

One of my major problems is being able to meet and talk to the bands I love the most. I was even told it was such a small nuance and it is but I have to work really hard just to achieve something other fans can just go up and do without even thinking about it. They want to do it so much that they bound up to the band. Then there’s me. Sometimes I’ll ignore the fact that I want to go up and say hi but something is holding me back. Other times I’ll be torn apart by it, usually much later on in the night and after I left the venue.

Ever since I was 18 or 19 and I still hadn’t made any friends of my own there were a few people from bands who I considered my friends. I met the singer from Funeral For a Friend that way. It took years to have a conversation with him but I never gave up and now I know him, and I do not take such a friendship for granted. Then I started to become friends with their fans and didn’t care so much about meeting other bands. Recently I’ve started to feel alone again and have tried to meet bands again. Sometimes it works and sometimes it just feels like the most impossible goal to reach.

I do know some band members and have great times with them but it’s getting so much harder now to meet new people. I’m no longer in a music scene I feel comfortable with. The emo/punk scene was just so familiar that you knew that even if you didn’t know somebody you soon will or that you would probably get along because we all listened to the same bands, and we all dressed like each other. It was the whole all ages thing too. I could rock up to an all ages gig alone and end up talking to about 10 people while waiting in line.

Now I go to a gig alone and I stay alone, unless I know someone from the band. Last time though I did have some middle aged fans taking pity on me but I felt too uncomfortable about the age gap. Sometimes I don’t realise how young I still am and look.

Although I can get really down about this and just feel like it’s an impossible task to accomplish and that maybe the band members don’t even like me enough to want to say hi, I still want to try, to work on it so that one day I can meet them and talk to them. I don’t think anyone without autism or social anxiety can ever understand how lonely and depressing it gets for us who literally don’t know what to say to people, unless we’re impulsive and thus say something embarrassing which we will regret or talk about a special interest which people may find odd or immature, or give us the ‘nerd’ label. The depressive episodes that focus on these facts can be horrendous. I used to want to step into a busy street and quickly end the pain. Now I just play suicidal scenarios over in my head. At least I know now that my thoughts are false and my depression won’t last forever. Then I become manic and act like I already know the people I wish I knew and that I’m always going to be capable of talking to them.

The only time I’ve been able to go up to a band member and talk with ease was when I was taking Ritalin. But the last time I was on Ritalin I felt I was talking too loudly and speedily and was so very intense. I don’t think taking speed should be the answer to my problem, though sometimes I think it’s the only answer. And by ‘speed’ I’m talking about actual speed, not Ritalin.

I could always go on a longer acting dose of Ritalin which means it won’t all go into my bloodstream at once but take its time. I would really love to have my symptoms more under control but with a under medicated mood disorder it just might make me even more depressed.

I am depressed right now. I went from depressed to angry to more euphoric to highly anxious and again to depressed. So I will just have to recover again.

I’m just getting sick of missing opportunities of meeting or talking to band members when I go through so much just to get to a gig. I’m always anxious weeks before I go to a gig. I don’t drink until that night too and drinking can sometimes trigger a depressive episode in me. But when people talk to me I kind of snap out of it. When depressed I end up drinking a lot even though it just makes me worse and something must happen when I start hearing music and taking photos of the bands because I begin to feel better, sometimes even becoming hypomanic. But because of the shifting around of moods and the stress I go through from them when it comes to going up to a band member and having a little chat I can’t do it, and I like to blame it on my moods. I tell myself it’s ok if you don’t because of what you just went through. It’s understandable.

These days my social skills are a lot better than they were before. I can talk to strangers with ease so can talk to other fans if they come up to me. But when I watch them easily go up to the band and talk with them with their hopeful faces about getting something signed I feel jealous. I suddenly remember who I am and what I have. I’m always going to struggle to do that one thing they decide to do on a whim. “Hey, let’s buy some merch and see if we can get it signed!” “Okay, great idea!” I could always go get something signed myself but I don’t tend to do that anymore. I don’t see the point apart from an excuse to meet a band member. Anyway, once those moods hit they will take anyway any confidence I have about going up to the band. Last time I was just under prepared and highly anxious.

I don’t want people to pity me, I just want to be able to talk to the bands without having to worry about it, like most people can. It takes years and years of effort with several photo galleries under my belt just to have an average conversation with them, in the stuttery and impulsive way I have conversations with people, drunk while on stimulant medication. Or maybe just drunk now.

Such a tiny thing sparks such depressive feelings, even suicidal ones. If I didn’t care about it I wouldn’t try and would be fine, but the fact is that I do care about it and will keep trying until I succeed. I’m well known for my intuitive problem solving skills and the many ways I’ve thought up about just achieving a simple two minute chat with certain band members would make you laugh.

My On/Off Career as a Band Photographer

Lately, my confidence in myself as a band photographer has been diminishing more and more with each passing day. Four months is a long time for me to be out of the game and the last gig I was at was kind of depressing. It was heart breaking to be watching AFI when just a few years ago I was had taken photos of them. I even thought to myself if things don’t pick up I’ll give it up for good. I think it has a lot to do with my friends being very successful photographers who often get to photograph the kinds of bands I can only dream about photographing and posting those photos to my Facebook news feed. On one hand I’m happy that they get that opportunity, on the other, I’m a bit jealous.

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Ho, Davey! From AFI. Taken at The Big Top, Luna Park, Sydney 2010

In my ten years as a band photographer I’ve probably never stuck with it completely for a whole year minus the years 2006 and 2007 when I was really active. I’m sort of active for a few weeks or months and then go and do something else. I think at one point I was more interested in astrophysics than band photography and when I got interviewed by the South Coast Register (my local paper at the time) I just wanted to talk about autism. This time however, I’ve gone a full four months from no choice of my own without photographing a single band. Many times I have thought maybe I’ll just give it up because I’m not going anywhere with it but I at least had the opportunity to take photos of bands.

Things have started to pick up for me though. I’ve got four gigs lined up where I may be able to take photos of the bands. I’ve been invited to go to shows with the hope I will take photos of the bands but the thing is I’m really not interested in taking photos of bands I’ve never heard of and may not like. I can be very elite about the few bands I like and anything outside of it may be instantly rejected by me based on the fact that it’s unknown to me. Taking photos of those bands might be alright but I just feel like I will never get to shoot the bands that I actually listen to the most and I not long ago often got to shoot. Bands like Anberlin, Funeral For a Friend, Brand New, Thursday, AFI, Anti-Flag etc. It just feels like it will never happen again.

So, to put it basically, I can take photos of bands people recommend but I’ll be depressed and longing to take photos of the bands I would actually call myself a hardcore fan of and have missed out time and time again to photograph. I would not be happy.

I can go from shooting alongside Tony Mott in Enmore Theatre or photographing City and Colour in the huge State Theatre, then I can go back to having to struggle to take photos of AFI at The Factory Theatre, which is a much smaller venue. It depends on how quickly I apply to a gig when my editor asks for it, if they choose me to cover that gig for them or if they hear back from the promoter at all.

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Dallas Green doing what he does best with his band City and Colour at Sydney’s State Theatre, 2013.

I’m still excited about the next four gigs coming up. First up is Waits who are made up of the former members of After the Fall. They’re opening up a mostly punk rock bill on The Factory Floor, tomorrow night actually. I’m hoping I can get a photo pass to that gig. I know guitarist Mark from when I took photos of After the Fall in All Phones Arena, which at the time was called Sydney Superdome/ Acer Arena. That was a long time ago. I was still crawling all over the stage when taking photos. Now, I’m more aware of my restrictions and it feels pretty awkward for me to be on the stage. But deep down I really do miss it.

Then it’s Tim Rogers in Bulli. I’ve seen a lot of Tim and You Am I so it’s not as exciting for me. I’m always happy to see Tim but last time I got kind of drunk (among other things) at an after party and I think I may have made him feel uncomfortable. I spent most of the time talking to Simon Carter (The Cops/ Saint Tropez All Day) which restored my faith in being a massive nerd. Still, I’m looking forward to the gig. I might get a chance to test out my new and expensive 16-35mm lens which I haven’t got much confidence in because of not yet having a chance to test it out on a live band. It’s not always a good thing to blow $1600 on something you end up finding pretty useless.

Next it’s Tex Perkin’s band The Ape and I’m probably most excited to see them. I have not seen them since last October and have been really anticipating the day where one Sydney show gets announced. The good news is they are playing at Oxford Art factory, a venue where I’m pretty sure you can take a camera in so I don’t need to harass the band for a photo pass. Their choice of stage lighting is any band photographer’s nightmare so it’s a real challenge just to get some decent shots without one side of a band member hidden in shadow and the other side striped with white light. Flash will fix that problem though. I don’t really get a chance to experiment too much. Plus, I kind of want to get a rock move photo of the bassist Pat because I haven’t taken a great shot like that of him since 2007, and he seemed to like it at least.

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This is the photo. Dallas Crane at Annandale Hotel, Dec 29, 2007

Problem is my friends who are hardcore You Am I fans aren’t as into Tex Perkins related projects as I am and I end up going to the shows alone, which I can do but it still gets lonely. I just wouldn’t mind having the same company I have at You Am I gigs. I don’t even know the bad that well – and given my rapid decline of social skills since going off stimulant medication I don’t think I ever will – which can be a plus when I go to these gigs solo.

At least I sort of know Darren Middleton who I’ll see next. The issue here is that it’s at The Rock Lily in Star City and I’ve never been there before, but I think my love for his music will make me push through the anxiety I usually get when I go to these venues. The last gig of his I went to was at The Vanguard and I thought it was located where The Sandringham Hotel used to be, and I ended up walking around lost for half an hour anxious and growing in depression with constant thoughts of walking into the middle of King St. When I eventually decided to take a taxi home I found the venue. I was shaking and tearful and had a ‘let’s just get this over and done with’ attitude but I ended up really enjoying myself. And now one of the photos I took at that gig of Darren is occupying the homepage of his website.

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Here’s the photo. Darren Middleton at The Vanguard, Sydney 2013

I still get a lot of generalised anxiety when preparing to go to gigs and social anxiety when at gigs, which I often counter with a few beers. But I really want to cut my drinking down. It changes my mood cycles around too much not to mention increases the risk of seizures. I also don’t like the drinking culture in this country. I will have a few on a special occasion (which to me is basically when I get a chance to be social) but I won’t do it every weekend.

There are a lot of barriers that get in the way of me doing my live band photography and mental illness and autistic issues (I have a profound fear of change) aside it all ends up depending on rules and restrictions and if I’m given photos access at all. So, when you look at it that way hopefully you can all understand where the lack of confidence comes from.

After the Middleton gig I don’t know what’s next. I’m hoping for some Dallas Crane before July, or after, because I won’t be very happy if they play in Sydney when I’m overseas. I want to see Davey Lane again and try one last time to see The Drones and The Gin Club. Every time they come to town I’m either busy photographing other gigs, or can’t get to the venue because of my anxiety over change. There’s going to eventually be another Anberlin and Brand New tour and I’ll be tearing my hair out trying to get photo access to those gigs, especially seeing how this is Anberlin’s last Australian tour ever and Brand New is just, well, I’ve been listening to them for two days straight. Does that give you a better picture of how much I like them?

If someone was to ask me ‘why do you take photos of bands?’ I really don’t give it much thought. I know I can take photos of band just as good as any professional band photographer so it’s good to exercise that skill. I do it for the opportunity to capture a really memorable moment; a guitarist rock move, jump or an emotional singer. I do it for the opportunity that I discover a new band to listen to and the chance that I can make a new friend. I do it so I get to spend time with my friends, both the fans and the ones in bands whom I have a very narrow window of opportunity to get a chance to talk to. And I do it because I’m a part of the live music culture in Australia and it’s my contribution to that culture. I love the music and the band members look great on stage and I love to look over my photos and relive the memory of the night.

So I guess Lost Through the Lens ain’t dead yet. I could be many things but they take a lot of motivation, focus and discipline. Band photography might take up one day of preparation, one night of taking the photos and half of the next day editing and uploading photos. For someone with moderate ADHD symptoms who is currently not taking any medication it’s a short term goal I can see through til the end, and then it keeps repeating but not so often it begins to get boring. It’s always throwing new challenges at me especially about getting to unknown venues and working with difficult stage lighting.

I suppose it’s something I’m always going to do. I know some people who won’t allow me to give it up and will be at a loss to understand why I would, even after reading this blog post.

You want one last photo? Here’s Geoff Ricky, my God in the early adult years and singer of the now disbanded Thursday, at Soundwave festival in 2008. A print of this photo resides in my kitchen, as a reminder that with persistence I will eventually get my breakthrough. And also because my sister Khara thinks it’s awesome.  

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Asperger’s syndrome = Loneliness (Long Post)

I usually read a lot of articles and blog posts about the positive traits of Asperger’s syndrome and autism, but the fact is that it’s not always that way. It’s called a disorder for a reason and if it wasn’t then the label would not exist and people who would have been diagnosed with it and have their own autistic pride groups would just be outcast members of society and have no idea why.

So, I’m going to go against popular opinion and start to discuss some of the more negative traits of autism.

Enter the Australian music scene. For many years I’ve felt alone and socially awkward when I go to see a live band on my own and often have hidden behind my camera just to be able to get some relief from the anxiety I feel. Some scenes aren’t as bad as others. I used to blend in well with the emo/punk crowd but as I got older I spent some time away from the scene to listen to a variety of different music and when I returned it was very hard to feel comfortable again. We are talking about a demographic of people where it’s hard to tell if they are 18 or 25 and so the whole dance floor feels more like a school playground and yet again I am the lone wanderer who gets looks from small groups of people all hunched in together, but instead of a canteen selling flavoured milk with a cartoon picture of a dinosaur on it they are selling us alcohol.

Let me just talk about my experience at the last two gigs I went to. My emotions from social awkwardness was actually 10 times worse because I was under quite a lot of stress, some related to the gigs and some wasn’t.

It was my first time going to a gig in 3 months and that includes not taking any photos of bands so I was feeling down about that. I was still looking forward to going out with a friend to see some bands I wasn’t a mad fan of but they seemed to me iconic names from the emo scene I used to be a part of. Now it’s simply called pop punk/punk. I had been listening to their full album catalogue all week and getting more and more excited.

Sometimes when you have bipolar you can get too excited especially when manic and it’s never a good thing to have very high expectations when manic because sooner or later you’ll hit disappointment and that can trigger a very agonising depression. You can never control it though. So everything is going super great awesome fun times (manic translation for ‘great’) until someone drops a bombshell and it completely flips you into another mood. For me it was my friend telling me she wanted to get to the gig early to get a place down front and maybe meet one of the bands. To any rational thinking person this makes sense, especially as the doors were to open at 7:30pm. But to me I was still in a state of mental preparedness like I am when I’m about to go to pub gigs or just 18+ local gigs: I rock up at 8pm, have a few drinks inside then go and watch/ photograph the band. There are hardly any lines or security checks or anything like that. So, I wasn’t really prepared to go to an all ages gig where three extremely popular international artists would play. I remember looking at how long the line got and thinking ‘surely all these people couldn’t fit into the Hi-Fi.’

All of my confusion above seems to be caused by my autism or ADHD or something else that makes me unable to see things any differently than what I usually experience.

My reaction to my friend’s words was immediate anxiety, but I held it together and said I would take the bus on my own, which I didn’t think I was capable of so I was feeling anxious about that too. At this moment I was getting angry that my friend couldn’t see that things like this cause me a lot of anxiety and I wasn’t thinking clearly enough to really grasp what was going through their own mind.

I was upset about us both being at the same gig yet not together and for some reason thought she would be meeting up with more of her friends. I was very angry and depressed but not at all anxious when I took the bus to the venue which was a much simpler journey to take than I thought, even if it took five of those buses coming to the bus stop that would take me to my destination before I decided to jump on one.

When I made it to the venue there was a small line but I really wanted to have another drink. Earlier I had nicked one of my housemate’s beers at home when I ate dinner. It seemed to make me more motivated to go to the gig as my depression was making me feel heavy and tired but still angry.

I was still fuming when I made it to the venue that I crossed the street quickly and walked passed all the people lining up, didn’t look at them, didn’t even text my friend that I was there and stormed through the doors of the nearest pub. At this moment I was starting to realize I was doing things without thinking. Earlier that day I had been running back and forth from my house to the grocery store, ATM, and post office without having much control of my body and feeling very anxious at the same time about it. I would feel anxious if I wasn’t doing it and anxious about doing it. This continued throughout the night and by the time I lined up outside the venue at the end of a very long line I was beginning to regret my decision to ignore my friend and drink at the bar alone. But I couldn’t really turn back time and I wasn’t ready to go looking for my friend and through escalating angry texts we were both digging ourselves deeper. She has bipolar disorder and I suspect I have it. In my mind I thought that just because she is on medication, has more friends than me, isn’t autistic and has a job that she should be doing better than me. I was angry that she didn’t seem to give a thought at all about my anxiety. And it took me a very long time to start to empathise more with her.

I was able to just ignore the situation helped by my frequent trips to the bar and I just enjoyed the bands. I enjoyed hearing Alkaline Trio play the songs I had been listening to all week and some days later think I became more of a fan. My thoughts really had become manic when Panic! At the Disco took the stage. I don’t think I’m ready to divulge the content of such thoughts yet. Then Jimmy Eat World were on and I only really enjoyed the songs I could recognize. I had listened to the most recent releases and wasn’t really into them but I think with time I could grow to like them more.

I wasn’t the biggest fan of the bands but was glad to be able to see people like Matt Skiba, Brendan Urie and Jim Adkins perform live – people I had heard a lot about in my early adult years, which in autistic speak is like being a teenager. To me at least. I felt pretty damn immature back then.

Unfortunately my friend wasn’t able to ignore her anger at me and didn’t have a good time. She took to Facebook and blamed me and a security guard at the venue for ruining her night. I really wish she could not let people get to her so much. I know how hard it is to put people that have hurt you out of your mind but sometimes it’s the only option I have. So now she is not talking to me even after I apologised when I started to see things much clearer and began to empathise with her more.

Some of the things she said hurt me deeply but when you know people with bipolar disorder it’s very hard to know what to take seriously and what to take as just being related to a manic or depressive or combined mood. You have to learn to not take everything they say so personally and tell the difference between manic and being generally angry. You also must forgive them as you must forgive yourself when you notice you have said and done the same things. And it is not always easy to forgive yourself.

I felt bad for ruining her night but there was nothing I could do and I had a hangover to recover from so I could go to another gig the following night. The second gig did not go well for me and this is where the loneliness I feel at a gig was made 100 times worse.

The band was AFI and the main support act was Crosses and the singer, Chino Moreno, was my hero from when I was 14 years when he fronted a band called Deftones. This time I felt immense anxiety about having to take the bus to Marrickville. The venue was The Factory Theatre and I’ve been there a few times before but I just don’t feel safe there especially given a few crimes I’ve heard happen there on the news. My PTSD had got to such a severe point that night that I left the main room of the venue and went into the toilets to calm down, but there were lines of people everywhere so it was hard to relax.

Before that though I had to line up outside. I was better prepared for it after realising I had to do it yesterday evening. Still, I started to feel socially awkward and that awkwardness turned to anxiety and that anxiety a type of indignation of the people around me. At one time they would have been my friends but now they were strangers, and were really starting to get on my nerves.

I continued the tradition from last night of drinking beer to feel better, but it never happened. It just triggered depression and made me feel worse. I was trying hard to control my thoughts but struggled. I began thinking about my friend and about dangers that could happen to me. When Crosses started to play I relaxed a bit, even laughed at some of the mannerisms Chino made. At one point it looked like he was walking backwards on a conveyor belt. He was the same Chino I admired in my youth and even dressed like, though back then his pants were so baggy they would be falling down to his thighs and he would have a utility belt on and be so skinny that one part of the belt would hang down low. And his hair, God, was it ever brilliant. Crosses played different music than Deftones but they still sounded great and Chino now had a beautiful singing voice, and could still scream like when he was 26. I really wanted to take his photo. It wasn’t fair that I had to miss out because my editor chose someone else. If I had responded to the e-mail asking for photographers to cover the gig I would have doubled my chances at being chosen. They have sent me to City and Colour and gigs like that so I know they trust me enough to put my name down for these types of shows.

I have taken photos of AFI before so at the time I was ok to not take photos of them. Davey Havok wasn’t wearing that white jacket like he did in 2010. I was still taking the occasional trip to the bar but really having a lot of space between each drink I had so I didn’t end up with another awful hangover the next day, but I left my spot close to the stage and so during AFI was much further back. I could still see the whole band and it was good to just stand back and watch them and note how they moved so I was better prepared to photograph them next time. Their set list was brilliant. This band has so many albums that all sound very different but they managed to include some very old material in between the most recent releases. It was so very well done.

But there were times where I looked around at small groups of friends chatting to each other, some being extremely loud and animated  which might have had something to do with how much they drunk, that I started to feel so lonely. This wasn’t just the regular loneliness I felt. As I overheard someone talk about bands like Brand New I thought that these people could be my friends. They are talking about the bands I love yet never get a chance to talk about. Even now I feel the tugs at my heartstrings over it. Here we all were massive fans of the same band yet we were strangers and I think I felt that more strongly than most people. People even commented on my facial expression which in bipolar depression just sags low. You’ve got this flat effect and can’t much feel much of anything, though at times I felt immense sadness and then anger.

The next day when other photographers were posting photos they took from both gigs I attended I felt these deep stabbing jabs of jealously. I knew it was just my depression because later on I looked at those photos and were happy my friends got to take them. I really wanted to have taken the photos myself but this time I missed out. I always knew I could go to both gigs if I took photos at just one of them. It exhausts me so much and my very precise editing takes a whole day’s worth of effort. I would never had made it to the second gig.

After I got through that very deep and long depression I thought back to when I went to gigs and knew most of the people there: for one I was taking photos of those bands and we all went to similar gigs so we knew each other. Then, there were bands I loved so much I joined their online community forums and met people through them. Most of my friends are You Am I fans and we do meet up at YAI gigs or bands with a similar sound. So, given my poor ability to make friends or even approach people I think I would need to put in extra effort to meet new people. I even think I should go to a comic convention and talk to more people online. I don’t need to feel so alone.

I did have one friend at the AFI gig but my depression was so intense and she was busy taking photos that night that I didn’t go and look for her, and given the situation with my current close friend I didn’t have a whole lot of confidence in myself to keep talking to people and build on an already existing friendship.

I’ve now decided to be less desperate about going to more gigs and take photos of the bands. I probably won’t see bands like Jimmy Eat World or AFI unless I have some friends going with me that don’t appear to hate my guts or I’m just there to take photos officially. There’s probably four local bands that I’ll always go see as soon as they tell me they are coming to town. OK, they are Davey Lane and his magical band of mystery (or just the Davey Lane Band), The Ape, Dallas Crane and Darren Middleton. Possibly You Am I but I have seen them an awful lot so they’re kinda getting a bit repetitive. And now all my friends are gonna throw something at me. Hmm, funny how my writing style changes as soon as I mentioned You Am I. There are still international bands that I will always go to see, namely, Bayside, Anberlin, Funeral For a Friend and Brand New but I’d really love to photograph them. That isn’t always a possibility and I’ll still go see them even if I can’t take photos.

I’m not sure what will happen between me and my friend. When things like this happen I’m at a complete loss about what to do. My social skills are really bad when it comes to working out issues like this. It will be a real damn shame to lose such a great friend that I’ve had so many awesome memories with but I’ve had to give up on friends before, and it hurts but I move on. I’d like to think that people come into your life for a reason. They help shape you into a better person and then they sort of fade away and you take what you learned into the next relationship. It’ll still be a damn shame to see this one go so quickly though. My anxiety and other symptoms have given an abrupt end to a lot of relationships and they just claimed another victim.

I’ve been through quite a lot in just two weeks and it’s hard to not get down about it and still keeping going, but it’s what I must do. I think I’m lucky that I have a tremendous load of willpower even for someone with issues with impulsivity and depression. Even when I’m manic I have more control than other people who are manic. I’ surprised by myself sometimes. I suppress more emotion than I let out too and though it feels crippling there’s not much fallout left in the wake of it.

Next week I’m hoping I can see my GP and get a referral for a psychiatrist and psychologist. I plan to medicate the anxiety and depression first, and if it doesn’t throw me into mania then I’ll work on getting my ADHD better managed with medication. But if it does throw me into mania then I’ll need mood stabilisers as well which should control my mild seizures. I call them mild because I don’t lose consciousness. They can get as severe as a secondary generalized seizure, which is basically grand mal. I’m hoping I can get a thorough assessment down and I don’t care if it’s bipolar, borderline, PMDD or anything else. I just need to be treated. I’ll take all the recommendations my psychologist will throw at me: mindfulness meditation, CBT, DBT, EMT, etc. I’ll even eat a little bit healthier but I’m not going to completely give up on the food I love. I really hope I can find someone that knows about Pathological Demand Avoidance syndrome and will take my anti-social thoughts seriously, just not seriously enough to lock me up.

For now I’m getting back into my interests. I’ve been reading my Marvel Fact Files again and might decide to read another comic book. I’ve got my sci-fi to watch and other shows, or I can always read a few books. I’m thinking about getting into physics again, or learn about air force planes. And of course I’ll take some time to work on my screenplay. I think I should keep practicing my band photography so I’ll take my sister up on her offer of photographing her friend’s bands playing live. She should get that bass fixed so I can keep practicing on it too. Apparently I have the attitude of a bass player which might mean moody, depressed, embarrassed, socially anxious, avoidant and completely hiding the fact that I am, because that was my emotional state when I got that compliment.

I guess what I mentioned above is the more positive side to autism; getting absorbed into your interests so you can forget about your traumatic social experience and realise you can quickly pick up knowledge and experience in the arts and have a damn good memory for facts. Because I’m smart and curious and a really good artist – so why should I try to fit in with people who take my time away from doing that?

A Small But Lonely Age Gap

I’ve never written a post while depressed which is pretty dangerous. It makes me dwell on these thoughts which might make the depression last longer and make me start to believe a feeling that is completely false. But sometimes depression makes true feelings that are often so mild they exist only in the subconscious into something that when it enters the conscious mind it completely takes over you and your emotions. Your whole world shatters around this one thought that was there all along but it’s just too painful to deal with so you hide it at the back of your mind. Allowing the thought to come to the surface and exploring what it might mean can trigger a full depressive episode lasting days.

For some time now I’ve felt a deep and painful loneliness when I go to see some of my favourite bands. It’s just the people I’m surrounded by – either musicians or fans – are considerably older than me and my younger age and inexperience and lack of knowledge about their favourite bands makes me feel left out. To be honest some of them aren’t even that much older than me. I’m in my late twenties and most of them are mid to late thirties. Now if I had a lack of interest in them I’d be fine but I have this longing to belong, to just chat about the types of things they chat about and have the same musical tastes. There might be some people there around my age maybe even younger but their whole musical background is significantly different.

I just feel left out. Even my good friends have more in common with these bands because they’re closer in age and it’s just not similarities in music taste but almost everything. It’s like how most people around my age all grew up either playing SEGA, Nintendo 64 or Playstation One or watching the same children’s shows or even the lame kid’s movies we used to watch. Or basically listened to Triple J in the late 90s. How could I ever compete with that when I wasn’t even aware of much of my surroundings at the same time my older friends we’re pretty much growing up with the same experiences?

At most of these gigs I go to I just sit alone and slowly sip my beer as I wait for the opening act to start so I can start taking photos and be distracted from my insecure thoughts.

I can just see myself sitting at the bar at one such gig, turning to gaze longingly at a crowd of people I desperately want to know but have no idea how to even go up to and say hi or what I’ll say after, so I look away, turn back to my glass of beer and as I stare into it trance-like I continue to dream about the life that I so long after, happening just a few feet away from me.

I have made many attempts to meet the members of my favourite bands and sometimes they’ve been friendly, sometimes they’ve been overly friendly and sometimes they just downright reject me. I’ve had to face rejection from my peers many times over the years and by now you’d think I’d just be used to it but it really does leave a deep painful scar when a musician you’ve looked up to since you were very young shows no interest in even talking to you. If the pain doesn’t recede or comes back with a sharp sting every time I think over the situation, sometimes the only way to move on is to give up on that person and liking their music.

I hardly know anyone around my age in every friendship circle I have. I really don’t have much to say to them except for the chance I happen to be taking photos of a band they might know. I’ve found out the hard way that having high intelligence at gigs especially it hardly matters. All my knowledge in physics, film, science fiction and even naming types of aircraft isn’t sought after and people rather I didn’t talk about it at all.

I do have a friend who is older than me but has been listening to the same music as me for years. The emo/punk/hardcore scene was the only music scene I actually felt I belonged in but the scene as I knew it is over and I can never go back. At least, what is around now is somehow different or doesn’t feel the same, or maybe I no longer need to feel a part of it because when I did feel anything for it was at a time when I was making that transition from a twelve year old (a lil bit of  a jab to my emotional immaturity and youthful look) to adulthood, and it helped get me there. Within this scene I was finally able to make friends on my own. No being dragged around by my siblings and their friends and no forced play dates.

My somewhat oppositional tendencies make me an involuntary enemy of the anything that becomes too common and I seek out anything different to the point of never being able to accept that I like something at the same time as the majority. I constantly argue, constantly contradict myself and reject those things I would usually love just to remain the lone wolf.

So maybe I deserve to feel this isolation, or maybe the isolation is a result for seeking out people completely different from me whom I can never fit in with. Either way I probably deserve it.

But like I said I have just one friend to share my similar music tastes with; wolves run in packs, small ones. We share many other interests too despite there being a rather large age gap between us. But she can’t be at every gig with me and distract me from my insecure thoughts. I wish like her not knowing much about the music our favourite bands are influenced by didn’t faze me, but it does.

I spend a lot of time isolating myself from the world, not on purpose though. Lately I’ve been underwhelmed by local music news and I hardly have any interest in the tours being announced. Things are picking up but for about three months I’ve been finding new things to occupy myself with while I wait. I’m working on a screenplay and writing a whole bunch of blog posts as the ideas come to me almost daily, sometimes three separate posts come at once. I have to stay at home and write or else I’ll go insane with so many thoughts and the feelings attached to these thoughts going around my head.

As much as I know that I’ll never fit in with these certain types of bands and the people who listen to them I’ll still find myself going to shows, taking photos and hoping to get some feedback from the fans and bands.

I don’t know why I have to torture myself by dwelling on these thoughts and why I still continue to see the same bands. Yes, I love the music and yes I am a photographer but I can’t give more than that. I just end up watching other fans going up to bands and talking to them as though they barely thought about it, at least as not as much as me. I know I shouldn’t dwell so much on it or even have those thoughts at all. Even if I’ll never fit in I’ve got strengths in other areas. My writing and ability to soak up every fact from the Marvel Universe is a place to start, or even my passion for science. I’m not a bad photographer or artist too. I could be wrong about them as well. Maybe they don’t hate me as I suspect but are waiting for me to go up and talk to them. It’ll never happen unless I push myself and that never seems to work out for me.

That’s really one of the main reasons I don’t want to go out to a gig at the end of the week; I don’t belong there at all. I like the music and I think I could take some good photos, but my usual anxieties about going to an unknown venue away from the city and the fact I’ll just have that longing to belong all night long, is making me think I shouldn’t go at all.

However next week the next gigs for me are Jimmy Eat World/Panic at the Disco/Alkaline Trio and AFI/Crosses and I have applied to take photos of AFI. And even though I no longer feel a part of the emo scene I can at least relive the memory of my few short years of living in it by watching the same bands as I would have all those years ago. It doesn’t even matter if I don’t end up taking photos of AFI – although I would be pissed off at first – just seeing them alive with a new group of black clad kids with similar haircuts will be enough. I even get a chance to see Chino Moreno in Crosses. He was my hero when I was a fourteen year old Deftones fan. I even started to dress like him.

I won’t often write something so personal and emotional but it was on my mind and I just wanted to see if I could write something while going through a severe depressive episode. After I’m done writing this and posting it the episode should be over.

Hopefully, I can work on my ‘Kids on Speed?’ review and update you all on my screenwriting progress.