Please note that this post could trigger off strong emotional reactions. Please take care of yourself and either don’t proceed or if after reading you feel crappy please contact your local services or jump online for online support.
If in Australia, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14
For the context of this open letter, please read this article. http://www.stereogum.com/1507742/fiona-apple-blake-mills-newmark-theatre-portland-1032013/concert/
Dear Fiona Apple,
I just read an article of what happened at your show in Portland and I just wanted to let you know that I am thinking of you. I have battled with OCD/PTSD/MDD since childhood and can only kind of imagine what you must have felt. I’m sure I don’t have to translate thee acronyms for you, but as this is an open letter, so for those whom aren’t familiar; OCD: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; PTSD: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; MDD: Major Depressive Disorder. I am often tormented by them. Sometimes by all three, sometimes just one. Depending on what is going on will depend how they gang up on me. What boggles my brain more is some of the gifts my presentation of these disorders gives me. Although I can be petrified of people, I do have a certain strength when it comes to understanding the psychology and behaviour of them. Which is why I am afraid of some of them. I’m am hyper honest (because I have been accused of lying by people when it wasn’t true) which can lead to “great confessions”. The greatest gift is my ability to analyse those behaviours and the context in which they appear and make some sense of them. My unholy love for psychology (in nearly all its forms) and behavioural sciences is what drives me forward. My dreams will bring me neither riches nor glory but it will give hope and freedom to others. I believe in what I am doing so passionately and ardently, that even if I don’t get a place in a master’s program, I will work on my theory anyway. I will get a job to fund my research. I imagine this is what music is for you. A drive that is so fundamental to who you are that you cannot ignore it. My doctor’s call it obsession and compulsion. I prefer the term life orienting. You can’t “sit with it” because if you don’t do something with it, it comes out in dysfunctional negative behaviours. I could parrot off many theories, but I wont bore you as your music describes the paradoxical experience of high functioning mental illness in a far superior way than my science.
When I listen to ‘Every Single Night‘ there are times where I am forcing back tears. I know exactly what you mean but would have never known how to say it. Another song that affects me in the opposite way is “Extraordinary Machine“. The first time I read the lyrics I was like “WTF…Get out of my head woman!” Then I found out you and I are more akin than just a whole lot of songs. After learning of your own story, when I listen to your music, a comforting sense of being understood comes over me. I don’t believe your as fragile as some profess. I think you have so much strength. Looks can be deceiving, after all. I’m only 5’3 and am only just wearing proper grown up clothes at the tender age of 36. How I look seems to give people the right to give friendly advice on my small size. It’s so insulting. These people have no idea just how harmful some of the things they say to me can be. OCD is a blessing and a curse. The chronic self-doubt coupled with an incredible insight into the experiences of others, can leave you going around and around until you question what you already know is true . On and on we go trying to prove to ourselves that we deserve to be seen and heard as equal. I personally (try) reject that I am a broken human who needs fixing. I have been broken but something better came out of the pieces than stood there before. A better version of me, perhaps? 😛 <I apologise for the terrible joke>.
I can imagine your desire to retreat and avoid is strong. I can’t say I blame you. My heart stopped when I read the comment. I have had similar experiences. The shock and abandonment paired with a silent emptiness grabs you by the throat. Closely followed by the roaring thunder of anger and despair. I applaud you for continuing. I’m not sure I could have made the same choice. I applaud you for asking the offender* to leave. In that moment you stood up for all of us who have battled mental illness and have had to live with the myths, stereotypes, and discrimination. I applaud you for the honesty in your music. I thank you for your ability to reach inside my head and give a voice to my conflict. You and your music remind me to “just keep going”. Your music teaches me to name my emotions and frustrations accurately. This is something I have struggled with for most of my life. You give me a voice that I don’t have. You are so brilliant at your craft, I would beg you to not deny us your art, the experience of seeing you do what you do best, which is playing live and sharing your music on that intimate level**.
I wish I had your gift for words so then I could take what is in my heart and mind and write them here. Then I could do for, what you do for me when I listen to your music; be a comfort and maybe you wouldn’t as feel alone or misunderstood or whatever it is you want/need to feel.
For what it is worth, I think your amazing. You have such profound insight coupled with the gift of articulating those insights into music, I can only encourage you through open letters written with honest sentiment. I can’t help being a sentimentalist, one must find something safe to their hopes on.
Thanks for your time
Links: see in text links and below
*I use the term ‘offender’ not in the legal sense but as a “moral and social” offender, in other words it’s the polite way of saying the prick in the audience.
** This comment is based on the assumption that you chose retreat and avoid. I acknowledge its a big assumption. I hope the sentiment is clear.