Sup y’all? =) President Hoodie here with, uh… no interview this month.
That’s right. I’m taking the month off from my Hoodie Highlights interview column post-MAGFest for my own mental health. haha
That said, there’s probably some of of you that have been reading my interviews over the last few months wondering why in the world I’m doing a mental health focused series in the first place. Figure here at the start of 2017 is as good a time as any to share a brief version of my story. Read on if you’re curious.
It all started around a public Facebook thread I posted in January 2016. Essentially, my life was super swell; newly married to my soulmate of a good few years, a lot of cool things happening with MAGFest & ChipWIN, and a generally fantastic home life with my new wife & pets. Didn’t stop me from being overly anxious and depressed all the time, however, with more than occasional panic attacks punctuating even some of my best times. I finally got sick and tired of my mental health issues after dealing with them for 30+ years of life and decided to get help.
It began with a terrified trip to my general physician the December of 2015 (I expected a, “Ah, you’re fine. Man up. You’ll be alright,” reaction in all honesty), which resulted in a simple, but honest chat and a couple of prescriptions (20mg of Paxil daily + .5mg of Xanax as needed for panic attacks). That helped. Even made a difference on site at MAGFest not too long after it (MAG 2016 in February). It was rather encouraging to see some progress so quickly.
After a few months of adjusting to the meds, I followed up by making an appointment with a psychologist in my area via PsychologyToday.com. That was terrifying. Not the appointments themselves, but simply the act of making them; way out of my comfort zone and knowledge base. I think it was also around then that I was introduced to Headspace.com, which is a “modernized” (read as: mystical language removed) meditation and mindfulness app. That combo has done more than its fair share for my mental well-being; enough that I’m still seeing the therapist every 2-3 weeks and using the Headspace app daily with my wife.
I’ve stayed public with my struggle the entire time as well. Not in some ill-fated desire for sympathy or attention, but to simply encourage folk to get help if/when they need it vs waiting 30+ years to do it (the longer you wait, the more there is to repair). That and to simply start shaking the stigma that our culture has attached to mental health. Talking about it is one of the ways that any of us can help do that.
The mental health interview series began when folk in and around our collective of collectives reached out to me directly with support, encouragement, and confession about issues they were dealing with. That was a bit shocking, yet encouraging. ‘Hoodie Highlights’ was already a thing, so it made sense to connect the two; interview folk in and around chiptune with a focus on mental health. They’ve gone pretty well thus far I think, and been rather well received as well. Again, I had no idea how many folk this was relevant to when I began. Turns out we either all struggle with some form of mental health issues or know someone that is; “we’re never alone” as the saying goes.
And it’s that sentiment exactly that lead to the creation of the ‘It’s Still You‘ Facebook group, a mental health support & awareness group for our collectives (chiptune, VGM, nerdcore, djs, MAGFest, etc). There wasn’t a place that I knew of specifically for our collectives to utilize for this purpose, so we made one. It’s only been open a few months now and is invite only (to keep the group “safe”, with everyone there brought in on a one-to-one basis), but the outreach and support there has been incredible. Again, a solid reminder that we’re not alone in this struggle. Really necessary to have sometimes.
Moving forward, I simply want to keep progressing in my own mental health treatment & keep encouraging others to do the same, seeing that they’re really not alone in their struggles. It’s day by day, step by step, but with the tools I’ve developed already the progress is notable. And it can be for anyone else as well.
Thanks for reading. Catch you on the intertoobs! ♥