This is part of a recurring series of essays on social anxiety in punk. For more, click here.

September 24, 2014
by Kyle Opheim

Reading Bryne’s post about anxiety, much like those who reposted and commented, I totally relate. I’m a physically disabled dude; it is one major reason why I hardly go out, do things I really want to do (things I’m totally capable of doing—when others aren’t around to judge), see myself in any kind of positive light, and chase most passions I have. It’s also a major reason why I call the punk scene my home.

Sometimes I’ll work myself up into not giving a shit about what other people think or say, but that lasts all of a couple hours and I’m back to this socially/emotionally breakable state of mind. I have pages upon pages of writings and lyrics and poetry that I want to share with others–that I want to use to connect with other people and let them know that even though life’s a fucking struggle, they’re not struggling alone (just like most other people in the scene). I know I have something to offer, but I can’t help but shut myself down.

I went to a La Dispute/Touché Amoré show in London a few days ago, and because I’m disabled I was granted access to the backstage bathrooms. Making a bathroom run, I ran into Jeremy Bolm (of TA) and, having seen him twice before in the States, he recognized me. We shook hands, said how awesome it was to see each other, and then went our separate ways. As insignificant as this event sounds, it was a huge deal to me that I even made eye contact with someone, nevermind stopped to shake their hand and exchange pleasantries. Afterwards, of course, I beat myself up. When other people would have been quietly reveling about meeting someone they admire, I was focusing on how awkward I must have seemed, going over lines I could’ve given him besides the simple and basic “Yeah, you, too!” Even at 26 years old, these emotions are still very real and prevalent. Tangible at times. I imagine you can relate on some level, too.

Anyway…

I made my way back to my semi-stage-side spot, still reeling from the admittedly non-problematic problem playing over in my head that, deep down, I knew I shouldn’t be worrying about at all. After I managed to fight my focus from my mind to the stage, the idea of what this scene is about—something I knew already—struck me hard: The reason why the people we admire are yelling onstage is because they have issues, too. Issues that so many other fucking people deal with. And, we, the recipients, receive power and self-confidence we need to get through life and deal.

There are more people out there than we can ever fucking imagine that are ready to see past our anxiety and depression and just live life with us. Because they’re often feeling the same way, too.

My main point: You’re not alone. And the scene you claim is proof of it. I’m one of millions that are with you and deal with similar things. One of millions that are ready and willing to pick you up when you fall; when you’ve been knocked down by anxiety or depression.

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