Sup y’all? =) Keeping the mental health awareness train rolling here on the blog, I’m back with another guest to talk about the tricky topic on Hoodie Highlights!
As is the custom, today’s guest is another ‘doer’ in and around the chiprealm. If you’ve been tuned in at all these past few years, there’s a good chance you’ve either heard his music (including a couple of ChipWIN subs!) or something he’s had a hand in publishing. Kuma even talked to him here on The CWB back in 2013! (…where in the world has the time gone?). He’s also a member of our newly created mental health support & awareness Facebook group, “It’s Still You”, which you can find more about here.
Everyone welcome to the blog Jesse Martin aka FLOOR BABA of DESKPOP!
Hoodie: Hey Jesse! Welcome to the blog!
Hoodie: Before we dive in, could you give us a quick intro regarding who you are and what you’re about?
Jesse: I’m a music producer and 3D artist by the name FLOOR BABA, as well as the founder and co-director of the netlabel, online venue, and internet art collective DESKPOP. I originally got my start in online art with chiptune and the SNES soundfont building community, under the name sleepytimejesse. : )
Hoodie: That’s how I first encountered ya! =D
Jesse: Same! I’ve been a lurker in ChipWIN for many years. haha
Hoodie: Alright. As much as we’d both enjoy a fun chat about #backintheday, that’s not why we’re here today (at least not completely haha).
Last couple months I’ve started interviewing folk in and around our collective of collectives with the primary talking point being mental health. The fascinating thing about this particular interview in the series is that you reached out to me to ask about taking part.
Again, thanks for that, man. I really do appreciate it.
Jesse: Absolutely! I firmly believe one thing artists can do to truly shape the world is to alleviate the stigma attached with mental health. Many artists are celebrated and respected while also working through their own development and I think that’s something we can really open up about in this field.
Hoodie: Annnnnnnd just like that, you hit the nail on the head. At least regarding why I’m doing this as well.
It’s honestly been one of the most pleasantly surprising things I’ve encountered during this “year of mental health” for myself: not only support from other mental health advocates and sufferers, but a willingness TO discuss this powerfully stigmatized topic. And it is, where our general culture is concerned anyways.
Jesse: Absolutely. There’s this sort of inherent shame or even blame people shift onto those working on their mental health and that’s why as I’ve been having to work harder on my own the last few months I decided to really be transparent about it. Almost all my colleagues and friends (and, fans?) know that I am working on my health and I often joke about it.
Hoodie: Yeah, that normalizes it a bit, especially with a little humor. And that’s awesome.
Do you mind sharing a bit of your own personal mental health story? Maybe some background and what lead you to start taking care of your own. Essentially, the floor’s yours.
Jesse: Yeah! So from an early time in my life, which I think I’ll avoid going into with respect for my family’s privacy, I’ve had a pretty clear window into mental health problems and what impact that can have. And so as I got older, I was constantly reading up on it and trying to learn about it to understand my own family, and also to keep self aware. Knowing that I have a family history and I am an artist, there’s essentially a very high likelihood I myself will come to face mental health issues in my lifetime. It was just probably going to happen.
I think that I am lucky to have found art and music as a way to explore my inner workings because it is really a great barometer of your inner health. I started to realize a few months ago that as the stresses of my job and the responsibilities of a new job and traveling for gigs and all of these real life problems and responsibilities stacked up, I was just plain not enjoying listening, writing, or performing music anymore. And so as I was realizing this, I had a conversation with you personally and we touched upon your personal story, and it really inspired me to see a doctor and take time to work through this for real. I have a fiancée, a house, a job, a dog, an actual music career, my life is awesome. If I am not enjoying it, it’s really got to be chemical. And it’s robbing me of enjoying things I’ve worked my whole life to achieve.
So I saw a doctor, had what I would describe as a laughably impersonal appointment, received a script for antidepressants, and I’ve been using them about 5 weeks and definitely am noticing a difference. I can focus again, and I have spare energy at the end of the day to pursue the many projects I always have my hands in. Which I absolutely know you can relate with. Haha
Hoodie: x1,000,000 haha
And I definitely remember that chat. And your reasons are essentially the same ones that lead me to seek out help as well. In general, my life is also pretty awesome and filled with awesome people. Why in the world then am I so unhappy? Queue one crazy, but awesome year of working on that. haha
Jesse: Exaaaactly. Like to put in all that hard work, and then have something rob you of enjoying it? Nah son
Hoodie: Personally, I got REALLY pissed about it.
“Really? I’m doing all of this amazing stuff and you’re gonna be a dick about it, brain? REALLY???”
Although in the end, it was more just my brainmeats trying to say, “Dude, I ain’t out to get you, I swear. Trying to help. Don’t you see how hard I’m waving these red flags? lol”
Jesse: Yeeeep. Like hey, this is more than simple burn out, pump the brakes. Haha
Hoodie: Misunderstanding or not (my brain and I have a long history of not getting along after all…), it was enough to make me “do something” all the same.
Although that’s a problem in of itself for most of us: legit looking at “doing something” can be completely terrifying.
Jesse: Definitely. I work IRL in the medical industry right now and my day in and day out is insurance and benefits, and it’s all so complicated that I still don’t fully understand it outside of my exact O2 and sleep therapy perspective. But the funny thing is when I stopped building it up in my head, I just called, made an appointment, had a very fast and impersonal Dr visit where I basically described that I was no longer enjoying my hobbies and wasn’t focused or productive and like that it was on the move. I’m over a month in and noticing benefits already, though they were slow to roll out.
Now I’ve got energy left after my workday. I just wrapped up mastering an album releasing on DESKPOP this week, for instance.
I used to churn out 4 of those gigs a month. Working back up to it haha
Hoodie: THAT’S awesome. Happy to hear that, man.
Jesse: For real! Like once you put a name on it and get a plan it’s just another project in my mind. One more piece of the puzzle for the big picture you want.
Hoodie: My initial visit was with a family doc so to speak, so there was familiarity not only with me but with some of my family. Actually made it extra worrisome to me. lol Turns out it was completely unfounded, as he was really understanding and straightforward about it. Gave me some meds, said to call in if any issues arose and that we’d go from there.
Like you experienced, it took me some time to adjust to it (and for me, to find the right dosage to work for me), but once that settled there was definitely a noticeable improvement.
That was also part of my fear to be honest. “Man, what if the meds don’t work? Then I get to be a guinea pig endlessly swapping meds. ~Worry worry WORRY WORRY~”
-points to self- Chronic anxiety here. It likes to second guess ALL the things.
Jesse: Haha yeeeah I was worried too but my very best friend was already knowledgeable about these subjects and was able to hang out and frankly discuss how things work early on, basically said “if you were gonna experience negative side effects you would have by now” hahaha
So then I was like oh dang these might help then. Writing still hasn’t quite returned but I am definitely noticing increased focus and productivity again. That itch to write is back, the ideas will be on their way soon I’m sure.
Hoodie: Yeah, I had some similar comforting discussions throughout the previous year leading up to making an appointment. And my wife supporting the hell out of me. While it was I who chose to seek help (a distinction that I purposefully remind myself for my own good), Erin’s support has been nothing less than miraculous. The advantage I have there is tremendous.
That said, again, there was far more support from friends and even some family waiting on me than I ever expected.
To a point, this is a shared experience. As in, there’s PLENTY other folk out there suffering from mental health issues. We’re not alone. That’s hard to remember sometimes when your mind tries to make you fixate on your own issues, but damn, can it be helpful to be mindful of!
Jesse: Def! It’s something we can’t see and so we hypocritically dismiss it as a culture. But at the same time, we will hold brilliant individuals and ideas on pedestals. We don’t always acknowledge the inner struggles that go into things we ultimately respect.
Beethoven was probably bipolar and that perspective mad him very in tune with the human condition and made works that stand the test of time. Imagine if someone had told him what he was feeling wasn’t real, he was just a weak person. The world would perhaps have missed out. Just silly to me that we all love the works of unique people but there’s a stigma attached to the things that might be part of that brilliance in some way.
I’ll bet anything that studies into mental health eventually unlock how to help each individual reach their fullest cognitive potential, BUT that’s the futurist in me speaking. Haha
Hoodie: It already IS tbh. At least from what I’ve been reading!
Jesse: Ooooh I’ll have to go on another reading binge it’s been a while haha
Hoodie: Believe I talked about it some with Grant last time, but there is actual scientific research coming out proving various benefits of prioritizing our own mental health.
That knowledge shouldn’t be surprising, but eh, people sometimes, ay? ahaha
And there has always been a fairly predictable relationship between mental health issues and artistry even dating back through recorded history. Not relegated only to the “creative mind” so to speak, but even more common there I think.
I think partially in how our culture treats it (and/or exacerbates or even causes it…) and part just the way the mind works.
tl;dr – brains are weird
Jesse: Yeah I’ve read up a lot which basically comes down to that creative minds can make more relationships between seemingly unlike things and and have a more vivid inner world. And that these abilities are on the spectrum of things we would, with more intensity and with life interrupting effects, call illness.
Hoodie: Makes a certain amount of sense.
Jesse: At least on the spectrum of reality shifting disorders like schizophrenia etc.
Hoodie: Especially in that case I think.
Jesse: I know that for me personally I enjoy having that sort of out-there perspective for my art. Really my approach to health has been to nurture and cultivate those aspects of myself without diving into depression or anything which will hinder that. I’m weird and I know and like that. Don’t like anything bringing me down though.
Hoodie: That sort of awareness is a wonderful thing.
I think awareness and mindfulness in general are WAY undervalued traits or skills (bit of both maybe?) in today’s society. Our culture in general is maybe a bit too #SryNotSry. Says the guy who uses that as a catchphrase for his podcast. hahaha
Jesse: Yessss. Like so many people out there seem to lack self-awareness. And clearly they’ve gotten along fine without it but in my opinion it’s something that only improves someone’s lifestyle.
Hoodie: It definitely has mine this year. Initially in getting me to the point that I would seek help, and from there trying to keep things in perspective while making progress. Again, not easy, but worth it for the results.
Anything else you’d like to discuss before we wrap this up? And if not, any parting words or advice to our readers before you go?
Jesse: Nope I’m good! Make cool stuff happen, do the hard work to see your visions come true, and be cool y’all.
Hoodie: Thanks again for talking to me, Jesse. Keep being awesome.
Jesse: Same to you man, always respect your grind.