For many years, I was a singer. A good one, and if I’m honest? Maybe even great. I had range, impeccable pitch and an ability to pick out harmonies with relative ease. I spent hours honing my craft and struggling to learn an instrument so I could write music and perhaps, someday, even accompany myself.
And then one day it was gone.
Oh, not the talent – I could and still can sing.
But the passion was gone. The desire? Completely vanished.
I lost my song.
My song, my talent – was my identity. I was known as a singer.
Until I wasn’t.
Throughout my 20’s, whenever I faced adversity or disappointment, I would withdraw. Darkness became my reality. Immense sadness took over. I now know depression runs rampant through my blood line, but at the time I thought I was broken. I believed I should be able to handle life like my peers. They had the same struggles as I did, but could bounce back and move forward.
I, on the other hand, took each setback so hard.
And then it wasn’t just circumstantial blues: a deep melancholy took over. I went to work. I went home. I buried myself in books or television. Anything to escape reality. On the outside things seemed so good. I owned my own home. I had a great job. Savings in the bank.
But I was entrenched in sorrow so deep. I wanted the pain gone. Several times I contemplated ending it all, but the grace of God kept me from following through.
Shortly before my 30th birthday my mother gave me an ultimatum: either seek professional help for what was going on or she would do it for me.
The story of my mental illness is a long one and much more complicated than “just” depression, but for the sake of brevity, (for now, anyway) I sought help and I received a definitive diagnosis. And with the diagnosis came treatment.
In March of 2000, I began to take SSRI’s (commonly known as “anti-depressants”). Within a few weeks, I noticed a change. The world became brighter. My ability to deal with conflict became easier. I took delight in little things again. As I came up to six weeks on the meds, I began to ask myself, “Is this how other people get to live?” I was astounded by my transformation. Simply speaking: I had JOY!
But with any medication there are side effects. In my case I lost my song.
Up until that time, my identity was found in music, but in a few short weeks I abandoned it and moved on. My creativity didn’t go away – rather it shifted. I began to write more. I embraced a new passion for the visual arts. As I became accustomed to my new reality, it seemed I didn’t need the song anymore.
In the years since I have changed antidepressants several times, but I have never regained my passion for music. I love to listen to it, but being a part of it isn’t essential to me anymore.
I sometimes wonder if my passion for music was a gift from God for only a season. He knew my circumstances and my condition. Music was the part of me which helped with family issues, uncomfortable situations, disappointment and fear. It was the thing I knew I could do well, perhaps better than most, in a time where I felt I had nothing to offer.
It’s been 17 years since I lost the passion. From time to time, someone who knows me from before will ask, “Why don’t you sing anymore?” And I’ll answer with some glib comment about having had my turn and letting the younger generation take over. The truth is I left my identity in it a long time ago.
Lately I’ve been experiencing some renewal of musical passion. This time it’s not about my identity, rather my personal act of worship. I can write and paint and pray and meditate, but for me personally there is something missing from my expression of praise to God. He created me to be a worshipper – in all sorts of artistic ways, but I believe I may be being called back to my home in song.
This time it looks different. I have no interest in the limelight – I desire to put God in the center of it all. I don’t need attention, I desire to offer the sacrifice of praise. I long to put into words and melody my deep love for Him. My passionate desire for His will. Fears creep in such as, I’m too old, or I’m not talented enough. Yet the desire remains.
It’ll be interesting to see where this goes.