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Home page: http://www.heathallyn.com/
Posts by Heath
I know that “impostor syndrome” is something that most people feel, no matter how successful, loved, etc. I definitely feel it, but interestingly I realized today that I feel it much more acutely as a musician than as an actor. I’m generally pretty comfortable and confident when doing acting or voiceover work (not that I don’t have my moments of insecurity), but with music, it’s different. Especially when dealing with other musicians I respect or admire. I get super nervous and in my head. I wondered what the difference was and I have a theory. I think it’s because acting is far less “quantifiable.” It’s far more amorphous and subjective and hard to measure.
Though music has those qualities as well to some degree, there is a technical aspect to it that can be measured and quantified. How well you play technically and how much knowledge you have. Can you play any scale known to man at inhuman speeds? Not that this is by any means the end all, be all, but just one example of something quantifiable. Did they hear you mess up that note in that solo? I know that it’s ridiculous. I’ve been a musician for over 30 years. It’s one of the ways I actually make a living. The quantity and breadth of my experience is dense and deep. And yet I so often feel like some kind of “amateur” when dealing with other people. Or more accurately, I believe that is what they will think of me. It lines up with one of my core insecurities which is that I don’t have low self esteem at all. I am quite proud and confident of who I am and the gifts I possess, and yet for some reason I always think that no one but me recognizes that. I never assume my own self image will extend to others’ image of me.
We humans are strange. I’m not sure of the point of this post other to let all you fake impostors out there know that you are not alone. Even Paul McCartney admitted to feeling this way until fairly recently. Many of the people you idolize have the exact same feeling, though to us that would seem ridiculous. Just know that the only impostor is the lying voice that tells you you are going to be found out as an impostor.
I feel something tickle my foot while I’m at my computer desk. I look down and it’s one of those giant “water bugs” that most people call “Cockroaches.” It runs further under my desk up against the wall.
I rush into the kitchen to find something to spray it with. All I can find is 409 All surface cleaner, but I figure that should do the trick. I come back and of course it’s no longer where it was. Crap. It could be anywhere. As luck would have it I quickly spot it near my desk. I start spraying it with 409. It runs under my desk again. I spray it all the way. It’s back against the wall and now amongst my tangle of carious cables back there. I grab a Whataburger drink lid to try and get it out to dispose of it. I swipe at it once…it gets jarred a bit but is still amongst the wires. I swipe at it again and it gets knocked…where? I don’t see it! Anywhere. I get a head lamp and my phone and start taking pictures and videos to try and locate it. It must have gone up under the portion of my desk where my computer sits which is only open from the back.
Shining the light I take a few photos and then several videos. It’s nowhere to be found. I search the wires. All around and under the desk. Nothing. Several times I give up because I’ve looked everywhere. But then I think “It can’t just disappear!” and search again. Nothing. Under the desk is totally clear. It’s like it just disappeared into thin air. I repeat this disbelief and thorough search several more times. Utterly baffled. There’s nowhere it could be. I put the 409 back in the kitchen. Sit down at my desk.
There’s a tickle on the other foot. The motherfucker is still alive and back from the intradimensional portal whence it vanished. Thinking quickly, I grab the empty Whataburger cup and place it in front of him. He seems at least slightly sluggish due to the 409 dousing earlier or possibly from traveling between dimensions or using whatever spells, powers or magical items that allowed it invisibility or planar travel.
It crawls in. I put the lid on. I take it to the bathroom where I flush this double-foot-violating fiend down the toilet. I am the ultimate victor. Were this another time and place, bards would write odes about me.
For the rest of the night, I imagine phantom paranoid tickles on my feet.
The subject says it all. This post will contain real, raw, vulnerable talk about depression and suicide. You have been warned.
In the wake of Chris Cornell’s death being ruled a suicide, there has been a lot of talk about the subject. This great article talks about “When Suicide Doesn’t Make Sense” and really got me thinking. I realized that the Chris Cornell situation resonates with me more than usual. Because I too have felt that darkness and I believe that I too fall into that category of people where others would be horrifically surprised if I ever committed suicide. I don’t think anyone would say or think “Well, it’s sad, but not surprising. He was someone who seemed to have a lot of demons to battle,” or anything.
Now just to head off any alarm bells or concerns, I am fine and I honestly don’t think I could or would ever kill myself. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about it. That doesn’t mean I haven’t laid in bed at night and just wished for a quiet death in my sleep and to not wake up to another day. I have felt that darkness. The darkness that is a lie but seems so real. I have called a suicide prevention line. I have composed suicide notes in my head and once even wrote one out, not because I actually had intentions, but just to see if actually writing it helped as an exercise, or an emotional purge like many say journaling can be. I have contemplated the ways in which I would do it if I ever did. The most painless. Ways in which I would just disappear and never be found and no one would know what ever happened to me. I have fantasized about running away and starting a new life under a new identity and “Heath Allyn” just becoming a mysterious unsolved disappearance (though when followed through, this idea is laughable to me as I could never do that either).
When Owen Wilson attempted suicide, many had the same reaction as to Chris Cornell. Wonder and disbelief. “But he’s rich and famous and has a great life!” At that time, I was lucky enough to also not understand. I didn’t condemn him or judge him at all, I just didn’t understand what could have possibly driven him to that. Then I distinctly remember a day not too terribly long ago when I came to the realization that I now understood. I didn’t want to. I longed for that time when it was a completely alien concept to me, but now the understanding was there.
I think a key point that people don’t seem to understand is that when people are driven to suicide, it is usually because the person legitimately feels like everyone and the world in general would be better off without them. It is a delusion but it is not out of selfishness or weakness or whatever other stigmas exacerbate mental illness and its ramifications. In fact, this is one of the key details that tells me I am not in danger of becoming another victim of mental illness. The fact that even in my darkest hours, I could never kill myself because I know how much it would devastate those who love me. There’s been times I felt trapped by that, in fact. I didn’t want to be here any more but I “couldn’t do that to other people.”
I am generally a truly, genuinely positive person who strives to be a shining light in the world. I constantly work on myself and have come a long way. It’s not a front or a happy face I put forward to the world, it is truth. Few see, experience, know or hear about the darkness I’ve experienced and that’s why I think my suicide would fall into that category of shocking and unexpected. I don’t write this for sympathy, pity or because I need help or anything. I write this for everyone out there fighting their own demons and battles to let you know you are not alone. Every single person you see is probably fighting some degree of unknown, unseen darkness. People that you would never expect have anything in common with you. It’s a tragedy that help is so hard to get in this country and usually the hardest for those who need it most. I love therapy, but I can’t afford it. That’s probably a pretty common situation. But keep fighting. Keep searching. There are many avenues. Talk to friends. Call a hotline. Try yoga. Read Eckhart Tolle. See a psychic. Read a book. Listen to music (that battles the demons, not that feeds them). Watch movies (again, seek out material that helps support you, not that helps you spiral).
One thing I find so interesting about the human psyche and depression specifically, is that it is self reinforcing. It makes you avoid all the things that would help (out of protection for itself, I suppose) and seek out that which feeds it and strengthens it. I don’t care who you are, the world is not better without you. It needs you. If we can each bring even a tiny, dim light, together we can be a supernova. We can defeat the darkness, though it will try its hardest to convince you otherwise.
I first heard of Chris Cornell somewhere around 1990 when Ben Kent, the drummer for N The Rutz, the band I was in, was a HUGE Soundgarden fan. I have since and always will associate Soundgarden with Ben, who is still one of the best drummers I’ve ever played with. I understand the darkness and how life can just seem too hard to continue at times. I’m sorry the darkness won this battle with Chris.
Here’s my tribute to Chris Cornell. This was my favorite song of his, “Can’t Change Me.” I hope he will excuse the sloppiness as I just learned it today and this was the 2nd time I ever played and sang it but it’s about the tribute and not perfectionism (which is hard for me to let go of, even though I know that way lies madness).
I dreamt that my friend, Mical, got me an invite to a special VIP house party. Turns out Madonna was playing the party and everyone was super excited except for me since I’m not really a huge Madonna fan. She started the show outside and seemed disappointed at the small crowd but then she got inside the packed two story house and was visibly surprised by the huge crowd there. I was at an upstairs railing looking down into the living room where she was performing.
Later, after the concert was over, they were playing music over the sound system and I heard a little bit of my song “Infinitesimal” begin to play. This wasn’t super surprising since I knew I had submitted all my music to possibly be part of the mix, but then somehow it wasn’t my actual song, but some random radio promo I’d recorded using that song and so everyone was very puzzled by this weird promo, like me doing a DJ break on a radio station talking about upcoming events and such. I was also puzzled as to how this mix up had occurred and how the hell this random recording got in there.