I worked in the music industry for over a decade as a writer and editor in San Francisco and Seattle, covering mostly punk and garage bands. In the clubs and windowless afterparties where we formed our midnight families, I saw the ways so many of us in the music world tried to stuff down the ruling anxieties we were feeling. I became an expert stuffer myself. I had zero awareness about what I was doing at the time, of course.
I had friends who booked clubs and suffered from such crippling social anxiety that they had to drink just to leave the house. I pulled a severely depressed musician friend back from the brink of suicide after he spent weeks on a coke bender. And I spent my twenties plagued by crippling panic attacks that forced me to abort bike rides, leave shows, and curl up on my bed feeling frightened of myself. I constantly felt like I was fracturing into clashing personalities. But hey, hit a party with all of us and you’d never know what was lurking beneath the surface. We had that good times front dialed.
Substance abuse was one common thread between myself and many of the music lovers I knew, but another big one was having to tame emotions or personality traits we had no idea how to control. We couldn’t just live with who we were. We needed to create these large personas that masked the tired or anxious or burned out people inside.
In my thirties I took a break from covering music full-time and got into meditation on the recommendation of a couple musicians I really admired. They used the practice to tap into a different plane of creativity, a concept that fascinated me. Led by my creative idols, I fell down the meditation rabbit hole myself. I did the whole circuit — the silent retreats and weekly sanghas — and I downloaded the dharma podcasts. I found that a lot of the issues plaguing my friends and I were being openly discussed in these new circles. Meditation gave me tools I could use to help me sit with sadness or anxiety or feelings obsessiveness or loss of control. It’s not a perfect fix—nothing is. But I could acknowledge someone’s anger without having to be reactive. I discovered my inner fire was stoked by humor instead of rage. The more I went toward this new world of meditation, the more my (imperfect) life felt like my own instead of something that I was hustling to shape to perfection.
That’s my personal attraction to being part of Anxy Magazine and the reason I signed on to help Indhi with her inspiring project as her editor-in-chief. Professionally, I’m driven to the ways in which storytelling (written, visual, experimental, all of it), humor, and creative non-fiction generally are portals through which publications reach people on deep emotional levels.
For decades, the dominant media paradigm has been the power of the few to tell the stories of the masses. With Anxy (and with the project Indhi and I worked on before, The Bold Italic), we bring in the “masses” to tell their stories too. We can remove some of the barriers of who gets to tell the stories of what it means to be, say, depressed or anxious or have PTSD or feel ashamed and bring in voices from so many different perspectives, from different racial and ethnic communities, from various cultural perspectives (religious or otherwise), from people along on the gender and sexuality spectrums, from people in places outside the U.S. We can create a safe and encouraging environment for these lively conversations to happen. And because we’re editors who’ve been through some of this stuff ourselves, we can also curate what we’re offering to make sure we maintain a strong voice and visual feel as well as a diversity of perspectives. We can host discussions that, on the whole, we hope will break stigmas around who you’re supposed to be and what you’re supposed to feel. So in the end — hopefully — we can move a little further past creating the people we think we should be and get back to just being creative.