Last night, my wife and I went to a little music bar in Chicago to hear a friend of ours who was opening up the live music that night. She was amazing, as she always is. The bar was a charming little place with red walls, black trimming, mini-metal gargoyles guarding the sound board, and a heavily tattooed bartender who seemed like she would learn your name and drink order by heart if you happened to be a regular. It had a definite macabre style to it, and I loved that. My love of the interior design style aside though, the bar was hosting seven different musicians over the course of the night. All of them had friends and family who piled into the bar to support local music. In short, it was loud, dark, and very crowded. It was the exact kind of thing that would normally peak my social anxiety and force me to look for an exit or at the very least a corner to hide in.
And yet, I was okay. Don’t get me wrong, there was still some anxiety, but it was greatly diminished. I was a little out of my element for sure, but not freaking out. I wasn’t overwhelmed. It wasn’t the jarring experience that jangles my nerves and causes me to clench my jaw, clench my fists, and look like the most miserable person at the party, which I probably am. I actually found myself having fun. I realized why people went out to dark crowded bars to listen to live music. All because my medication turned down the volume on my anxiety. Which was pretty much the only thing with its volume turned down, as I realized also why the kind of people who frequent music bars like this one will likely be deaf in a few years. In short, thanks to my medication I was winning, but possibly losing my hearing.
Don’t get me wrong, even before this experience I’ve noticed it taking the edge off my anxiety and reducing the severity of my depression days some, but this by far was the most notable experience. And the fatigue caused by the fact it seems to be messing up my sleep schedule (even more than the depression and anxiety do), and the unsettling it does to my stomach, seem like small prices to pay for the full enjoyment of seeing my friend rocking out on stage. And hopefully the side effects of the medication will fall away at some point as my body continues to adjust to the medication.
Until then I can enjoy turning the volume up on the sound of my life and turning the sound down on the voices of my anxiety and depression.