The Power of Singing as in: Feeling your Body Resonate

Wow. I was not prepared for this….

Context: I’ve “always” played musical instruments for as long as I can think back. I was playing in several bands during my High School years, had a brief stint as professional musician in my early twens, released a couple of tracks I had written, recorded and produced on my own in more recent years. And in those bands I had appeared with, I had also always been a lead singer and background vocalist while playing my instruments on stage. So let’s just say: My body knows music. In case your attention starts to wander away because you might feel you’re not a musical person at all: Bear with me – and yourself – for a little while longer. We’ll get to it in a minute.

Regular visitors to this blog will know that I have traversed the dark night of the soul various times in recent years and since having started this blog. I have experienced loooooong bouts of utter depression, hopelessness, despair, red rage – the whole gamut of negative emotions, you might say. These negative emotions ran at an intensity that they sometimes even managed to cancel out the musical vibe in me altogether. There were days I laid my hands on the guitar and started playing a song I had always enjoyed and it felt like a mechanical exercise. Now, singing? I couldn’t even begin to think about pulling the strength to take a breath deep enough that it would move the respiratory tract hard enough to have my vocal chords resonate strongly enough to carry a tone, let alone a tune. In fact, when you’re deeply depressed, your vocal volume is reduced, there is sluggish articulation and other parameters indicating a profound change in mood. So singing was pretty much out of the picture. For good, I thought.

However, I sometimes muster this flurry of desperate activity when being despondent enough. It’s almost like tricking myself away from killing myself. One such bout of activity had me attend a “meet the board/school” day with the local musical school training professional music educators. Their targeted age group is between 18 and maybe some 25 years of age. People my age showing up there were – the parent(s)! But when you’re desperate enough, you’ll try to make anything work, right? Right. So I’m outing myself right in the first session boldly going “How about this program as a later in life second kinda career decision? (And in front of a room of about 100 people) Immediate silence from all the ADD-prone 15-somethings around me with their Moms and Dads sitting somewhere at the back of the room, so the former would get to put their cool on – and wear it, too! Another male looking my age blurting out after me “Yeah, what about it?!” Good thing to learn that the school’s principal seemed to be a seasoned orator as he didn’t fall flat on his back right away. Anyway, I’m digressing – as usual.

Singing – what about it? Long story short, after having spent an afternoon between eager teens and very proud parents along with my new friend who apparently finds himself in a similar situation as I, I felt inclined to audition for them. And that’s where we tie back into the singing thingy: I auditioned for the guitar coach first on a separate day. As the vocal coach offered me to see him on that same day, I agreed on having a preparatory talk with him. Turns out he auditioned me anyways, unprepared, unpracticed, unwilling and all. And that’s where things got interesting: After years of being down on myself, years of ending the day wishing and praying not to wake up the next day, years of humiliation, years of facing homelessness more than once, years of writing my own version of the Book of Jobe, after all this – I started to feel something again! In fact, I felt no more than a simple physical sensation, which is that of the air column standing between your vocal chords, travelling past your laryngeal, tipping its hat to the chest area and the respiratory tract, then reaching all the way down into your stomach – while your upper cavities in the head, near the nose and at the back of your throat help mold the sound that’s coming out of your mouth – wow! And then some! Right there – I transformed into a better version of me, a more confident, self-assured one, the one I remember having been in younger years, regardless of childhood trauma and C-PTSD outcomes I have been living with forever. Right there – I was nothing but a resonating physical vessel, being put on earth for no other reason than – singing a few notes at the prompt of the vocal coach.

My point being: Singing will transform you! You don’t think you’re musical? Who cares? Sing anyway!!! You can’t carry a tune? Nobody gives a shit! Sing anyway! Intonation, dynamics, remembering lyrics – you’re all poor on those three? Fuck it. Sing anyways! Why? It is going to save.your.life! And I mean it. It is likely to save mine. And yours, too – I hope?

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Counterproof for Life “After” Death?

Have you found one? If so, please kindly share. In the past 10 years there is exactly one single reason for not having taken my own life: That I can’t prove that I’ll find myself in a different and worse place after the fact/act. I can’t rule it out as there hasn’t been proof nor counterproof. But I am so utterly done. Done. Done. Done. I’m ready to go. I have been ready forever. There are people for exactly one reason: To hurt and maime you, to keep hurting and torturing you any fucking way they can. What a fucking mess this life is!

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How Come That…

…people always – and at an impeccable, perfect 100% rate – hurt you the most with that which they think nothing of…? And then we have to go and forgive their sorry ass, completely unevolved meat-pack they take for brains? What’s with that shit?

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Self Compassion Redefined

I have this eerie recollection of a – telepathic? – conversation: (Me) “I don’t want to do this.” (i.e.: This life on earth). (Some unseen entities) “You don’t have to. You can come back and not do it. But if you do, you won’t ever have to go back. (i.e. reincarnate). This will be the last time you were in the flesh. And you’re going to come back here and won’t ever have to leave again.” (Me) “Alright then. Let’s get it over and done with as quickly as possible, shall we?”.

My mother told me when I was old enough to understand that I “couldn’t wait to get delivered”. Between her going into labor and undersized, underweighed me poppin’ out were only a few hours. When I did, the midwife greeted me with the words “Dear Lord, he’s got a neuropath’s hair.” (that was a reference to what little hair I had stand up on ends on my tiny head). The usual procedure was performed then: Slap on the back to get you screamin’ and fill your lungs with air, cut the umbillical chord, rinse off all the childbirthing gore, dry, clothe and – take away to a different room filled with newborns.

Fast forward by two weeks: I seem to be too weak to “milk that tit”, they give me formula, I keep throwing up and – lose weight. At the meager weight I was born with – some 4.5 pounds -, losing weight means impending death from malnutrition. (if I had to give a time frame for above eerie conversation, I’d place it somewhere there: Anywhere between day 1 and 10.) The pediatrician’s words: “He’s got to go to hospital or he’ll die in your arms.” Full score for medical analysis, zero score for “charms”. So they take me there the coming week. I’ve been living for two weeks by that day. Now I’m going to a totally foreign environment – alone. No “rooming in” at the time, no extended visiting hours upon delivering me there. I’m two weeks old and I’m on my own. (A feeling that has proven to be the underpinning first feeling above any other to this day, after having lived half a century in survival mode).

I don’t have “conscious” memory of that time, whatever the first means. But my body remembers. It remembers the giant needles that went into my spine for reasons of performing a spinal tap – twice on two different days. The academic consensus of the time was that babies this young haven’t developed the neurological “infrastructure” yet to notice pain. Ah! Those genies! It must be for that reason that they also decided shoving a hose down my nose into my stomach to artificially feed – warning! Very graphic content! – me was the appropriate measure to take back in those days. Not once, not twice, not three times. No. For weeks on end. And my body remembers it all. I can’t sleep right, I don’t eat right. The only time I feel safe is when I’m by myself. Out there. In the wilderness, where chances to run into someone are small, next to zero. At all other times – I feel as if I was charged at, attacked, hurt, mutilated. That’s been my feel to life – to this day.

Let’s just say we know better today than to put children somewhere they shouldn’t be this early into their young lives… I still got to keep the questionable reward of having known better for all of my life for reasons of needing to live with the outcomes of this weird “school of thought” back in those days. What was I talking about? I’m talking about complex post-traumatic stress disorder having found ideal “breeding grounds” right there in my early history. (and for other experiences following suit, I take the liberty of regarding myself a “textbook case” of C-PTSD).

And why the hell was I bringing this same old lame story up like a broken record? I keep bringing it up, so that others, who may not be so sure as to what exactly it is they were suffering from, might get a clue. I keep bringing it up for the average of 20+ vets who commit suidice every day for reasons of not getting to settle back into their lives they led prior to their assignments (and for many of those “cases” PTSD being the reason for the first! And yes, I’m aware: There is debate over whether or not this figure is accurate; for the record, let’s just say that number crunching isn’t exactly what we need here, o.k.? Any one fucking suicide based on being deprived of the help these brave men and women need is one fucking too goddamn many! Can we agree on this?!)

That’s the context. On a more personal note: I’ve been living with this thing. For 50+ goddamn years. And yes: “Living” is quite the exaggeration here! I have survived. Some days more comfortably, others not so comfortably. Speaking of which: I don’t know what exactly a “comfort zone” feels like. I’ve had some experiences that were less bad than the ones I describe at the onset of this article. For the most part, I’ve felt like a hunted down animal evading gun fire from all four directions.

But now… there is hope for many of us. Better than hope: MDMA assisted therapy can actually amount to a 100% cure of this debilitating condition. I contacted MAPS a couple of years ago and upon finding that I’m exempt from any specific help here in my country of birth (and after having paid my health insurance premium for all my life and having paid taxes since the age of 14). They put me on a wait list for their Boulder, CO phase III study. However, it seems to be reserved for veterans of war. Hm. I wonder, if I get to convince them that I’ve been living the equivalent of that for 50+ years, thus having survived about half a million soldiers. You think, I might have a shot? Wish me luck.

(Oh, and P.S. and as to “Self Compassion Redefined”: I will find me a “cocktail” to give myself the ultimate break, if all else fails. I really owe this to my child self.)

Update: I’m going to talk to the study’s co-investigator some time tomorrow or on the weekend. This is exciting! Wish me luck!

 

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Rebecca Brachman: Could a drug prevent depression and PTSD? | TED Talk | TED.com

This… is HUGE!!!

(On a sidenote: I now know beyond a shred of doubt that I suffered derealization in the context of a throat surgery at age 4, which I remember as something like a near death experience [when it was actually just a case of derealization per this.] I have no idea and no way of finding out, whether Ketamine was actually used as anesthesia back in those days, but give the fact that the FDA only approved it as a legal substance in the 1970ies, I can safely derive that Ketamine was not at play at the time of my surgery at age 4 [which translates into 1969]. However, the experience of derealization in the context of this article is something I clearly remember. I think this may bear some significance when starting outpatient trauma treatment for the first time on Monday)

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Mantra, Prayer – whatever you wanted to call it

I’m telling my almost 52-year-old, disabled, impoverished/bankrupt and halfway-into-jail self this: “You will have a good life (again?). There are people who appreciate you for who you are. God’s light shines on you, too – for the simple fact that He wanted you here. Opportunities will come. The major abuse from a country that will be known in all of human history til’ Kingdom Come for having killed six million Jews – people like you and me and for no other crime than being who they were – that abuse will wear off like a bad rash and it’s all going to be forgotten as if it had never happened (the abuse, not the genocide). And my child self replies: “I know. I’m worthy of love. I have value. Other people see and appreciate that value in me. They will love me back. No need to be afraid. It’s going to happen.”

A mantra en lieu of New Year’s resolutions. No?

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Therapist’s Session Opening Formula should say…

“Thank you for requesting my services, I’m honored you should trust in me. Before we get into it, let me just say that I think you’ve done incredibly well. You’re still here, well and not incarcerated. It took a mountain of an effort to pull that off. I am going to take stock of what you did.”

No?

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Degenerated

Aren’t we all in some way? Us from the so-called “cilivized” world? How about feeling things for a change? Like, e.g. your own body? Like e.g. this: Walk out on the frozen grass in the morning on bare feet, noticing the tickle of iced blades of grass on your soles and walking around just long enough until the pain from the icy ground is travelling up your lower thighs to the point where you want to scream? And then… maybe even do it? That is: Release that scream? Primordial Scream Therapy? Huh. Never saw that comin’. No copyright infringement inteded at all… 3:)

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Substance present in ayahuasca brew stimulates generation of human neural cells: Harmine increases the number of neural progenitors, cells that give rise to neurons, study suggests — ScienceDaily

I’ll just put this out there:

 

Human neural progenitors exposed to harmine, an alkaloid presented at the psychotropic plant decoction ayahuasca, led to a 70 percent increase in proliferation of these cells. The effect of generating new human neural cells involves the inhibition of DYRK1A, a gene that is over activated in patients with Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s Disease. Thus harmine could have a potential neurogenesis role and possibly a therapeutic one over cognitive deficits.

Source: Substance present in ayahuasca brew stimulates generation of human neural cells: Harmine increases the number of neural progenitors, cells that give rise to neurons, study suggests — ScienceDaily

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