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La Brea Dinosaur Dena or How I Fell Into the Tar Pit!!!

July 13, 2015

 

Well, I sure didn't see THIS coming!! Depression!! HOLY CRAP .. really? Right now? Apparently so!! And at the worst possible time, of course ..

 

Like so many people .. I live with depression! And, like so many people, I try to hide it – disguise it – ignore it – blow it off – scare it away with anger .. so many ways to try and live with it or, at least, distract myself from it.  And always trying to protect myself from the judgment many people are so quick to exercise and share in their commentary. If you are a “judge,” you are already judging. If you are me then you are already nodding and hearing every one of the expressed judgments you’ve ever heard. Of course, you’re also believing them. It’s all bullshit, of course, those life commentaries by people who don’t have a clue and never will but the fact that they usually come when you in the dark makes them seem true!

 

There’s always an undercurrent of depression in me… has been since I sustained a traumatic brain injury back in 1988. It ebbs and flows in its own fashion and is certainly influenced by what is happening in my life. No mere case of the “poor mes” or the “whaa whaa whaas,” my depression has pushed me over the edge and into the hospital a couple times. Since the foundation of my depression is rooted in my physical brain (as opposed to the emotional or chemically imbalanced one), it’s a depression that isn’t effectively treatable by medication. And, frankly, I’ve found talk therapy to be equally ineffective. The only thing I ever learned in therapy was that my use of the F-bomb is equal to the amount of stress I’m under. One of the few therapists I really liked pointed that out .. he’d actually count the number of times it showed up in the first 5 minutes of every session and used that as the measuring stick for how “interesting” the session was going to be. I now use that same technique when taking my emotional pulse!!

 

I’m a human and have every single foible that a human can possess and one of them is feeling that I’m a failure because .. well .. pick one!   Hell, even my last encounter with an ill-chosen publicist who blamed me for her inability to do her job because I wasn’t talented enough, because my music was obsolete, because a “last ditch effort” (her words, not mine) to get my music out there was too late, because – because – because .. had me ready to crawl under the couch and never sing another note then … that ol’ tumor came along.

 

Actually, the tumor had been around for awhile. Like my breast cancer, it’d been around for awhile .. just there .. not doing anything. Not getting bigger, not getting smaller .. just being. Unfortunately, unlike my DCIS that’s just sitting there existing in my body AND gently knocking on at the back door of my mind, this tumor started growing and, because of its location, was causing problems in, of all places, my kidneys. Finally, I could ignore it no longer and that meant surgery. Oh, you know I jumped on the computer and started doing research .. seek and ye shall find!!! Insert multiple F-bombs here!!!!

 

So … having surgery is a great distraction from depression! You’ve got so much other stuff filling your brain and it just overrides it. Maybe that’s why so many depressed people stay in motion .. IF you can get yourself out of the tar pit .. you just try to dance ahead of falling back into it BUT what do I know? I can only talk from my perspective and experience! I tend to wallow in the tar, hiding from the world, studying the lint in my belly button, asking myself if I’d be missed if I was gone (the answer is usually no because when you’re in the dark, you only see all that you don’t do, don’t offer, don’t give .. all the things you aren’t.

 

Once the surgery was over and the anesthesia and all those other drugs worked their way out of my system, I stood staring in the mirror at a wrinkly old lady’s turkey neck now marred by a really UGLY raw wound and I tested a voice only a week out of surgery and found it as ugly as the neck I’ve become obsessed with. Uh .. just when did I get so old? Yes .. they told me not to do that because vocal cords, muscles, tissue, “stuff” need to heal, reconnect, regrow and regenerate but I’m a stubborn old lady chick singer.

 

I recorded nine tracks before the surgery. As I remember … they are really good but right this moment, I’m having trouble getting enthusiastic about them. There is still a lot of work to be done and I should be excited about getting back into the studio to get the final keyboard tracks layed down and then to start mixing. I should be BUT I’m not.

 

I’m stuck in the tar pit right now. I’m telling myself: “I need to,” “I should,” “Why aren’t you?, “ “Why can’t you?,” “What the hell’s wrong with you?”  That’s what I’m asking but my responses are all shaped by this damn depression, “Why bother?,” “Who’s going to hear it?,” “Who’s going to care?,” “It’s too late!,” “You’re too old,” “You suck!”  Those questions are asked to myself because it's not a desire for outside confirmation or affirmation .. odds are I wouldn't hear or believe those external answers. They are honest questions asked of myself because I am trying to find the answers within me!!

 

That’s the nature of depression .. we don’t really need other people to beat us up when we’re trapped in it because we are experts at that. Fortunately, I have a tendency to be self-righting .. I eventually find my way out of the darkness. I rise from the couch, I open the drapes, turn on the lights, answer the phone, step outside into the sun .. it might take me a while but .. eventually .. it happens and I am grateful for that. I know so many who can’t; not because they don’t want to but because they can’t.

 

Depression sucks .. not just because it does but because it REALLY does suck the life out of not just the person living in it but for those who live with it.  I have 3 dogs .. and they aren’t immune from the effects of depression. They come sit at my feet and, with the exception of Spencer, my obnoxious Pomeranian, silently shout, “Get the hell off the couch and do SOMETHING .. ANYTHING!! Take us out in the front yard atleast! And  stop with the looks .. those long deep sad looks that scream that you’ve given up and giving in!! We need you to clap your hands and say, “Who’s for a walk?” or, even better, “Who’s wants to go bye-bye?” SNAP OUT OF IT!!”  Lucky for me .. they are forgiving and non-judgmental and easily distracted by a trip to the fridge or the lobbing of a worn-out old stuffie toy. Would that things like that could distract people from their judgment including myself!!!!

 

Depression is insidious .. doesn’t have to be a big event ..  doesn’t have to be life-threatening or altering. Actually, I think it’s the small things that can be so deadly, figuratively and literally. It starts out with a sigh and grows from there!

 

On the day I have recorded that final vocal track for a current project, I alway want to cry when I turn off the sound booth’s light and step back into the studio .. it turns off something in me and I feel lost and empty and I stand at the door looking back. I want to go back in and switch it back on so I’m not so lonely, so unpurposed.

 

 

It would appear that the easiest part of having that tumor removed was laying unconscious on the operating table, leaving the hospital, walking through my front door and impatiently letting nature meld skin and tissue back together .. yep .. the easy part is done.

 

The hard work apparently is still before me and I’m trying .. heaven knows .. I’m trying. I do NOT intend to be one of the La Brea dinosaurs!!

 

 

 

 

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Dena Taylor

IMC's 2014 Best Female Jazz Artist

"It's not enough for music to BE good, it also has to DO good!"