Back again…

Hello all!

It’s been more than a year since I posted here (apart from the last post which has been waiting in my drafts for several months). You might have guessed why by now. Yes, it did turn out I was pregnant, and now I’m on maternity leave looking after little Chloe Archer.

I’d like to start posting in here again now because I need something to keep my mind occupied while caring for the little one.

There’s a lot that’s happened since I gave birth. I’m not sure how I feel about talking about it here in detail, but I will explain a little. About a week after the baby was born I started with something called postpartum psychosis. I had to be hospitalised in a psychiatric ward for ten days while I acted out whatever confusion my mind was in. After this I was moved to a mother and baby unit and Chloe joined me there. A few weeks later I was discharged and lived at home again.

I still have some residual depression which is very typical after an episode like I had. I’d say I feel quite normal in general these days. Now I’m just very keen to get back to work and be back to normal.

I go back to work two months today, but for me it can’t come soon enough. I know I’m supposed to enjoy this time with the baby since she isn’t going to be small for long, but she’s such a clever and a alert little thing that spending every day with her is massively draining. She’s also at a stage where she moans and grizzles pretty much constantly. It’s probably a good indication that she’s developing well, but it’s incredibly wearing.

Thankfully she does this thing called napping two to three times a day which gives me just a little bit of ‘me time’. She’s made me realise what a solitary person I am and what solitary hobbies I have. I really miss my time being my own. I suppose that’s all part of the experience of raising a child. I’m not just me any more, I’m also mum. But, oh, how I long to just be me for a little while.

Dave’s mom and dad have been stellar these past few months. They looked after Chloe while I was away in hospital. Every fortnight since then they looked after her over the weekend. It’s been a massive help to me. Unfortunately I still have to wait for the best part of two weeks before Chloe goes to visit them again. Eventually the time will pass. It’s tough now, but it’s not forever.

That’s the way I have to look at things; it’s not forever. Two months isn’t a long time. But it feels that way when the day stretches out so far. I just have to keep plodding on…

Plod, plod, plod.

A Few Weeks of Internot

Hi all… It’s been quite a while since I blogged. I’ve been trying to reevaluate the role of my internet presence and how it affects every day life in the ‘real world.’

A couple of weeks ago a took a two week break from all internet activity except what was required for my job. Before this I was spending far too much time online, mostly not even doing anything fun or of value. It was like I wanted to absorb all the possible bad news going on in the world so I could somehow learn to become immune to it.

But no. I am a Caryl. I do nothing but feel for the whole world and all the birds and leaves and raindrops. There is no amount of incoming media that could fully desensitise me. All it did was make me feel stressed and helpless, rendering me incapable of simple household tasks.

So I took a break.

I did an awful lot of sewing. Specifically, I continued with my hobby of patchwork quilt making. It gave me chance to regain some sort of autonomy.

It’s easy to feel like you have to agree with everything you read online, if it sounds reasonable, even if it’s against what you think. I felt like I had to change everything I think so I could fall in line with whatever ‘right’ is this week. Of course, this isn’t at all conducive to being a woman of faith. It does nothing but make me feel divided and ineffective.

However, that small break helped me get some confidence back about how much I can trust my own mind. Turns out, I can trust it a bit!

Here’s what else has happened since my last entry:

MAY:
Moved house, meaning my little studio is now lying in bits/piles all over the spare bedroom 😦 Unfortunately this is delaying my recording tasks by a considerable amount of time.

JUNE:
Husband lost his job and most of his company, meaning I am also now looking for work!

JULY:
Went to see Perfume in London and got to meet them with Matt (yes, yes! I’ll upload footage soon!)

AUGUST:
Husband got new job that includes some training in something he’s wanted to do for years. Swings and roundabouts, eh?

I think that will do for now in terms of an update…

I have to focus on finding work now, so this week will see me reworking my CV once again and scoping out possible employment avenues.

My Little Studio Tour & Inspiration Board 2013

Hello all! I’ve left it a long time again, haven’t I?

Today I’ve been busy changing various bits on my official website, CarylArcher.com, namely my once disparate Discography that now has some semblance of order.

My Little Studio

Did I tell you? I’ve finished decorating my home studio, so now I have places for my many projects and supplies as well as space to record vocals and instruments. It’s a cosy little place and I enjoy spending time there. So much so, I might be inviting a certain friend of mine to help me with a song I have planned…

Take a gander!

Inspiration Board 2013: Reminder of the Endless Possibilities

I’m aware that is it now April and I still haven’t made an entry about my 2013 Inspiration Board. I’ve had it hanging there since early March, but have neglected to say much about it.

This year’s Board is much simpler in composition than my last, and more conceptual. It’s not about telling myself to do or do not. Rather, this board is designed to remind me of all the exciting possibilities art and music have to offer and all the exciting options I could explore if I would only START down a path.

Inspiration Board 2013

Reminder of the Endless Possibilities

It’s nice to finally have some confidence back about my work. I have enough now to actually function. This is down, in no small part, to the fact I’m finally doing something about my mental health. I’ve been on medication for moderate to severe depression for a few months now and things are getting better every week. I have the occasional bout of heavy fatigue, but far fewer thoughts of self-loathing or the longing to ‘disappear’, or worse…

While I read my old blog entries I’m struck by how obvious a diagnosis it would have been to say I had depression. I tried all sorts to jolt myself out of it, but at the end of the day, I simply didn’t have the power to make myself better. My brain and my body were at odds. No amount of will power or gritted teeth would solve the problem.

I’m much more relaxed these days. I can feel confidence and creativity creeping back into my system. There is light at the end of my eight year tunnel. No coincidence, is it? – that I should suffer from depression for eight years, and all the while have terrible trouble releasing music I was proud of, or indeed releasing music at all.

That time is coming to a close now. 2013 is a year of newness in many aspects of my life, not least my music.

I’ll be making my comeback very soon. Watch this space!

Inspiration Board Detail

Time to START

A Rude Awakening

Oh dear, I have been challenged once more.

I’m not being true to myself, it seems. I got so far with it all last year, and then just stopped again.

A few things in a row have reminded me that I need to get the heck off this plateau and start growing before I start dying.

It should come as no surprise that the source of the first Thing was my (feels-like-)long-suffering collab-mate, Matt Slade. We were discussing the direction of a new GPP track we’re working on and I went off on one of my adjective fests to express tentative excitement. He sent this:

Poetic

Most of the time, Caryl.

I then read back my reply and thought, hang on… is that actually true?

The fact was I had been making a conscious effort to keep any lyrical outbursts to an absolute minimum when talking through the practical elements of the Project because I felt like it disrupted our flow. However, when I think harder I recall restricting my verbosity in most other social situations as well.

I thought I’d grown out of that. I used to avoid using long words at school even though I took such pleasure in knowing the right word for the right occasion. I found the confidence to speak in my own way after being at sixth form college for a while, but now as a proper grown-up (ha!) I seem to have lost it again in almost every context.

The one place I still verbalise with reckless abandon is here on this blog. I’ve always marketed it as the place where I tell you how I feel about things, at great length, unedited. So I suppose writing in my true voice here is a good start for learning to grow again.

Thing Number 2 came that evening in the form of a blog entry by my favourite independent artist, Andrew Huang. He had the following to say about his approach to music:

Getting Music Out There

Reminder number 2.

Read that second point again. 2. Music I made because some otherworldly passion and determination effectively took control of my body and if I didn’t make it felt like I would die.

Oh, man. Was there ever a more fitting moment for the expression, “I know that feel, bro.“?

Sometimes I’m so desperate to write or to sing it feels like I’m going to die unless I do something. I feel a sickly fire in the pit of my stomach.  I wasn’t just making it up after all. It really is something musicians feel sometimes. I hadn’t been allowing myself to use my in-built emotional vocabulary. Why? Because I had convinced myself if I did I would be nurturing some kind of mental health problem. All I needed to do was to snap out of it and be ‘normal’. Then I could be happy with the status quo just like everyone else. Eh-errr.

Later that night I came across this article describing the top 5 regrets of the dying. Number 1 on that list was the regret of not living a life true to oneself. I scoffed a bit because right now I’m doing my dream jobs, but that’s far from the full definition of living ‘true’. I’m working on what I love, but how much freedom have I been allowing myself?

The next day I was due to visit an adult day care centre where I would help with a short service as led by our vicar. I went there with my little guitar in tow and sang the clients a few hymns. Afterwards I went around shaking hands with them and trying my best to strike up a bit of conversation. Apart from my usual awkwardness, I also had a feeling of powerlessness. What was I doing here? Isn’t this just a smack in the face to these people? I have no idea what it’s like to be  old or disabled, and there I was just ‘tralala’-ing like all was well with the world.

One of the residents, a middle-aged gentleman, began talking to me. He explained how he had lost his hearing and the thing he missed most was music. I couldn’t catch everything he was saying because he had a bit of trouble forming his words, but what I think he said is that he had begun to lose his hearing and ability to balance due to a brain tumor. I wanted to be able to say something of encouragement, but what can you say? He seemed satisfied with being able to talk to me for a minute or two. I hoped that was enough. It was all I could give in that moment.

I felt incredibly drained that evening. The gravity of it all got to me. I have so much in the way of resources and ability and yet I treat it all as if it were nothing. I met someone that day who would love to have my ‘nothing’ even for just a few hours.

How can I get to seeing myself as I am? How do I hold up a mirror to myself without mentally distorting my reflection? I want someone to tell me who I am, and yet I know that is impossible when so much of my energy goes into hiding me. Not that I should be relying on what others think… but sometimes it helps to have someone that understands, you know?

I think what I’m trying to say is this: I want to start being myself in front of you guys. I’ll be doing it anyway, but if any of you are willing to accept me, I would be very grateful.

You’re awesome.

An Invisible Set of Walls and a Few Bedding Plants

Sometimes I wonder just how open or personal I should be on this blog. Then I remember why I started writing to begin with. I have kept a diary or blog of some kind for over a decade now and I’ve been writing this particular set of blogs for about five years. This project was about me coming to terms with myself and finding out what I wanted from life. I started it on Blogger and called it Caryl’s Music Blog. Clearly I knew deep down that I wanted to be a musician, but you’ll find many a post questioning that, and indeed questioning myself.

Today’s blog is about confidence, or my lack thereof. Woo~

<rant>

I often come across people who are baffled and sometimes almost offended by my lack of confidence (in particular to do with my music). This makes me somewhat disgruntled.

What, are you’re telling me you have the answer and I should follow your example? You think I haven’t tried everything you’re about to suggest to me? Every single person that tries to advise me on this subject is a person that uses the same unhealthy coping strategies to maintain an aura of self-worth. Scratch even a little deeper and they’re just as messed up as I am. So what, I just need to learn to hide it better so you don’t have to witness the ugliness?

Don’t become frustrated with me until you’ve had a quick look under your own bonnet, that’s all I’m saying.

</rant>

<body>

I want to address a few things for my own benefit. (more…)