Knowing Is Half the Battle

Sometimes you just have to know when to give up. Not every fight is worth fighting. As someone who has struggled with unreasonably high demands on myself pretty much since first grade, this is something I have a regretfully large experience with.

Unfortunately, most of that experience is in the form of giving in to these demands, pushing myself beyond the limits of what is healthy or reasonable in order to satisfy real or imagined performance standards (usually the latter). This is not to say that, over the years, I have not learned to recognize the warning signs. I have simply chosen to ignore them, to the point where I have occasionally lost the ability to identify these warnings.

In this case, however, I am simultaneously proud and anxious to announce that I have actually not only paid attention to, but also reacted on signs that I was out of balance with myself. ”Mönster”, my upcoming electroacoustic work that I was looking forward to showing off in this week’s blog post, has been postponed indefinitely – for health reasons.

One week ago today, I decided as I was driving home from rehearsals with the cathedral choir I am a member of, that something had to change. For over a week up until that point I had felt increasingly recurring fits of depression, basically. It was as if my mental reserves were being used up all the time with no buffers to protect me.

Going home that night, talking to my partner on the phone, literally nothing felt exciting or pleasant or worthwhile. I didn’t look forward to coming home to my partner or our dog, to getting a good night’s sleep (which I incidentally had not been able to, either, in a while), to playing a video game or reading a book – or composing music.

I felt seriously depressed. The colors had all been washed out of my world.

There and then, behind the wheel and with my partner on the phone, I decided from an entirely intellectual perspective (my heart wasn’t in it, or anything else for that matter, at that point) to put ”Mönster” on hold. As soon as I got home, I wrote candidly to everyone involved about my decision and what had led up to it. A couple of years ago, I would most likely have forged blindly ahead for fear of presenting myself in a negative light to others – and to myself.

It is in part for that reason that I want to be this honest and open on my blog as well. It is part facing and facing up to these irrational ideas in my head, part thinking that perhaps I can be one small part of inspiring other people – you, perhaps – who live through similar incidents to also change the way they live their lives for the better.

Being aware of these signs is a necessary first step. The next step is acknowledging them for what they are and accepting that they are not normal, in the sense that they are a part of a healthy or sustainable life. They are not.

The final step is reacting on these signs that you are now aware of and able to identify. Knowing is, after all, only half the battle. Depending on who you are it might be the harder half or the easier half. And after you have taken that final step, you should congratulate yourself.

And then, keep walking.