After the first one I felt so tired I almost cried of exhaustion. By the sixth I cried from a nervous breakdown, the 10th I danced and 11th I was DONE!
The sixth one was special and not at my regular venue. This special one-off gig was at a hotel I had never been to before. From the moment I got the job, my anxiety increased by the day. If you don’t already know, the feeling of excitement and anxiety are closely related. A racing heart, that lump in your stomach that makes you wanna hurl and the shakes are common symptoms of these extreme feelings. Except for my anxiety also makes me feel terrified and paralyzed. It’s the fight or flight response of our brain and mine says “RUN”.
You’d think that after so many years of being an engineer that I’d be cool as a cucumber. But this was the most stressful job I have ever done in my life! Questions from the touring engineer were fired at me: “Do you have a rug for the drums? Why aren’t the monitors working? Have you got more stands?” I felt useless and clueless since I didn’t know the answers! I was not in control and all of my human needs took the back seat. I hadn’t eaten since breakfast that morning and I was so dehydrated no saliva was left in my mouth. Yet, I am a problem solver and ran at 190% so the event was still a success. Yes, it ran a little late, maybe 10 min, and the touring engineer that came with the band, a nine-piece by the way, smiled for the first time. It’s terribly difficult to be the “in-house” engineer when you’ve never worked there before!
The DJs were on, the band played and I finally found some water. After we’ve packed up the PA and all of the gear and put it back into storage, I said my goodbyes and took the train home. About half an hour later, when the adrenaline left my body, I started to uncontrollably cry. I was exhausted and all of the pent-up anxiety, stress, and all of that cortisol that had kept me going, now let me feel what I really felt like. My finacé took my puppy Elvis and met me on the short walk from the station and I sobbed the whole way. Away from people and with someone I trust, I allowed myself to have a delayed anxiety attack. Because finally, I was with him and didn’t need to hide my mental health disorder. I can’t help to think I wouldn’t get hired or treated the same way if I told my clients and employers about my mental health…
Our way forward to a humane and fair understanding of our mental health is tricky, but I am hopeful. For now, I talk to my therapist, cuddle my fluffy pup, and cry in my fiancé’s arms. At home, I can be true to who I am and rest, because that’s exactly what I need now.
Remember to not neglect yourself when working.