“What I’m grateful for that I didn’t expect to be grateful for”… interesting prompt for someone like me who tries to practice gratitude regularly, and who has experienced a lot of sadness and frustration over the past few months. I have still found gratitude, of course, but through similar happenings in which I’ve always found it. So that’s not unexpected. And music might not be the most unexpected happening for someone who has looooved music since age 5, but….
On Oct. 5, 2018, Twenty Øne Piløts released their fourth album Trench. About 3 years ago, I listened to TØP non-stop – Blurryface, Vessel, their self-titled album, and all the beauty you can find on YouTube. I identify as a member of the Skeletøn Clique – their ever-faithful fan base – I’ve posted below a description from the Clique’s Facebook group to let you know why it exists. Within a year of being introduced to TØP’s music, I got a tattoo in reference to one of their songs and saw them in concert twice. Their music has given me hope in some of my most depressed and suicidal seasons, hope that introduced me to being myself, to pursuing authenticity for the first time.
Oct. 5, ‘18 also marks the day I visited my brother at The Carolina Center of Behavioral Health. Coincidence? Five days prior, he had suffered from an episode of psychosis. This was a first-time experience for him. I got a call from my mom about half-an-hour after getting home from a church service. With what I knew of our family history and my brother’s present-day circumstances, I felt deep urgency to be with my family and see him asap. I grieved and worried and hoped. I cried through phone calls and traveling the next few days. I listened to TØP. At this point, the band had released four songs from their coming album. The lyrics of the music uncannily lined up with my feelings and experiences. Here are some lyrics and my personal interpretations:
“Jumpsuit” – “I can’t believe how much I hate, pressures of a new place roll my way. Jumpsuit, jumpsuit cover me. I crumble underneath the weight, pressures of a new place roll my way. Jumpsuit, jumpsuit cover me….
I’ll be right there, but you’ll have to grab my throat and lift me in the air, if you need anyone. I’ll stop my plans, but you’ll have to tie me down and then break both my hands, if you need anyone.”
~to describe feelings of hiding and defensiveness while facing the disorientation of a new place; and to describe the feeling of commitment to a new opportunity, which would only be challenged by a situation so demanding that I’d have to change my course of action, which is the extremity I felt when I heard about my brother~
“Levitate” – “Oh, I know how to levitate up off my feet, and ever since the seventh grade I learned to fire-breathe; and though I feed on things that fell, you can learn to levitate with just a little help. You can levitate with just a little help.”
~to describe the coping mechanism of disconnecting/dissociating to feel as if I have transcended a difficult situation, until another one presents itself~
“My Blood” – “When everyone you thought you knew deserts your fight, I’ll go with you. You’re facin’ down a dark hall; I’ll grab my light and go with you. I’ll go with you…
Stay with me, no, you don’t need to run. Stay with me, my blood, you don’t need to run…
If you find yourself in a lion’s den, I’ll jump right in and pull my pin, and go with you. I’ll go with you. You don’t need to run. My blood, I’ll go with you.”
~my personal favorite~to describe the feelings of lost and darkness one feels when facing their [psychological] struggles alone and stigmatized; and the singer’s desire to not see the person feeling alone, no matter what the circumstances look like~to describe that it’s my literal bloodline feeling this pain, and they don’t need to hide or run because I love them and will be there for them~
Twenty Øne Piløts lyrics are inclusive to people who feel alone, different, weird, all the fun words used to stigmatize people who don’t quite fit in; and inclusive to all those who fight battles in their brains, those who don’t have the ability to suppress and “live normally”. This spirit has kept me and so many others alive, giving us a community of love, even in suffocating darkness. In the three-year gap between Blurryface and Trench, I stopped listening as avidly as I used to, though I will never forget the band. Their new album is now on the rise, and the relevance of the music to my life has taken me very much by surprise. I feel grateful every day for the band’s work, and just like I shouted to them at their concerts, I continue to say “thank you”.
This blog’s title is a lyric from the last song on the album, “Leave the City”, and the lyric that precedes it says, “Though I’m far from home”.
Skeletøn Clique: “Basically, we are responsible for the preservation of our personal joy, but happiness is different. Joy is not circumstantial; happiness is. You can be depressed and still have joy. We all stop thinking and we all stop sharing and we all stop creating – because by doing any of these things, we quickly find out just how unhappy we are. But that’s okay! That’s normal. Don’t let the fear of unhappiness cripple your pursuit of finding what it is you believe. Since joy is found in belief, we all have to push through unhappiness to find joy. We are the Skeletøn Clique, and so are you ||-//”
|-/ and ||-// generally denote “stay alive”, recognizing how difficult that pursuit is for those who live outside the norm of mental health.