|Gatsby and the green light inspired. Welcome to the Roaring 2020's.|
Roaring 2020s Blog Post:
It’s the end of the decade, it’s time to get nostalgic. Not that this feeling is out of the ordinary for me, I have found that most of my time is taken up by thinking of anything but the present. A lot has happened over the past 10 years. I finished high school, earned a diploma for photo imaging, got a contract photography job, moved on to bartending for a job, moved to Melbourne, moved back, started philosophy at UQ, dropped out, was sick for a long time, my illness came to a head, got better…kind of, got a new job, started another job as a disability support worker (where I currently am), then started nursing at QUT, had my first placement, passed my first year of nursing with flying colours now I’m better. Now you’re all caught up, end of the blog post!
I’d like to take this moment to reflect on this decade and what music has influenced me over the decade and why. Music has been a large part of my life, always. The songs that I will list has a memory which is now frozen in time, and every time I listen to it, I am suddenly back in that very moment. This blog post focuses more on the hard times that have shaped me so that I am lucky enough to celebrate the good now. I started off the decade wanting to die, and I am entering a new decade grateful to have survived.
In high school and just out
When I was first starting with photographing models, I used to do shoots with one or a few songs running during the shoot. A few memorable ones were Taylah Kereama with The Power of Love by Gabrielle Aplin playing in the background in our waterfall location. Another was my shoot with Mallory Lazuli with Clean by Taylor Swift playing on repeat.
Honourable mentions from high school are the entire album by Panic! At The Disco, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, I used to listen to this on my mp3 on repeat when I was on the bus run to school; I would take the earlier bus that is a longer route so I could listen to my music.
I have a list of songs that remind me of my high school relationships, some of these songs I have handwritten notes with the lyrics, others I have sung and others are just to reminisce James Dean and Audrey Hepburn & Stomach Tied In Knots by Sleeping With Sirens, Decode by Paramore, The Great Escape by Boys Like Girls, Numb by Linkin Park, Face Down by Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Fall For You by Secondhand Serenade, Here Without You by 3 Doors Down, With Me by Sum 41 and Kissing In Cars by Pierce The Veil. The song Wonderless by Pierce The Veil holds a very special place in my heart, it isn’t something I listen to often but the lyrics have affected me. I was in a relationship at the end of high school and beginning of my adult life with an aspiring actor, the way I ended it was not ideal and I’d like to think that they find themselves to be successful in their endeavours in the future. Sorry by Halsey reminds me of this time.
I gained a bartending job through photographic one venue for several months, I needed a more stable income at this point. This job ended up taking me to Melbourne to work in a heritage-listed hotel in the heart of the CBD. Ready To Go & Hurricane by Panic! At The Disco featured at this time. My mental state had not been stable for quite some time, but this was one of the two main turning points that my health had taken…for the worst. When I was in Melbourne, I was seeing things, hearing things, I wasn’t eating or sleeping properly. I was travelling to and from home in Brisbane and the doctors that I saw in this period in Brisbane and Melbourne shrugged me off. I was cycling between manic and depressive episodes very quickly, I would drive hours out from my apartment on St Kilda Rd to the coast just to smoke cigarettes I didn’t need and music I’ve overplayed. Songs that heavily featured during this time were: Is There Somewhere by Halsey, Wildest Dreams by Taylor Swift, Colours & Ghost by Halsey, Robbers by The 1975, Kiss Me by Ed Sheeran, Red by Taylor Swift, Car Radio & Holding Onto You by Twenty One Pilots, Jet Pack Blues & Fourth of July & Favourite Record & w.a.m.s by Fall Out Boy, Running Up That Hill by Placebo, Painting Flowers by All Time Low, Strange by Tokio Hotel, Young and Beautiful by Lana Del Rey.
One day in Melbourne city, I felt my whole body drop and I lost control of my legs. My partner at the time had to hold me up and get me home. I knew I needed to go back to Brisbane, but I didn’t want to give up on my dream of living in Melbourne. I had only done a few shoots while I was there and I was working myself to death at the bar. We thought it was just fatigue and seasonal depression. I was later ‘diagnosed’ with bipolar disorder, but if you have read previous posts from me you know this was incorrect but convenient as a diagnosis for doctors. Gasoline by Halsey, reminds me of my emotions in this time.
When I got back to Brisbane, I got put on medication (Lithium) and my symptoms quietened for quite some time. I also brought home my baby chihuahua Raven at the start of 2016, she is an absolute lifesaver in my eyes. I started experimenting with drugs, I began a relationship with a new partner. Everything was exciting and bright with this new partner. “Red” as Taylor Swift would put it. I Knew You Were Trouble by Taylor Swift was relevant to this partner, along with the above songs from my long night drives. During this time, my mental health was declining. The people I loved around me would tell me that my partner wasn’t treating me properly, in all honesty, I was blind in love. Now I’m no psychiatrist but if I had to choose a poster child for a narcissistic sociopath? I’d know who to choose. Lack of empathy and emotional response? I thought that it was normal for my partner to leave me to cry in the bathroom by myself, I thought that it was okay if I woke up in bruises after a night of drinking because maybe it was my fault. 100 Letters by Halsey is a song which I sang to him while I was in a mental health institution when my health had dipped to an all-time low. I didn’t know how important that moment was to me until later on, and he likely never registered its stark relevance and honesty. “Now I’m constantly reminded of the time I was 19” “I have spent too many nights on dirty bathroom floors” “I find myself alone at night unless I’m having sex” “How can king Midas put his hands on me again?” – Halsey.
More songs that I was listening to at this point in my life: Sweater Weather & Afraid by The Neighbourhood, Somebody Else by The 1975, 102 by The 1975. Numb, Heavy & One More Light by Linkin Park, Drive by Halsey. (I was still listening to all of the aforementioned songs in my solo emo getaway drives).
While I was in the mental hospital my partner was distancing himself from me day by day, I think he visited me a handful of times for the entire month I was in both hospitals. My experience in the mental hospital started fine and then got stranger and stranger. I know I was seeing and hearing things, but the psychiatrists and nurses were also being very deceptive. I remember one psychiatrist/doctor coming into my room, he sat me down and he asked me some questions. One, in particular, was regarding a certain person I believe was in my room and had been moving my belongings around. This doctor proceeded to tell me that this person does NOT exist, and never has. Once I was out of hospital completely this person that didn’t exist was messaging me on social media and making multiple phone numbers to try contacting me. I ended up deleting some of my social media and changing ALL of my passwords, which due to my memory loss which I’ll get into soon… I lost MOST of my accounts due to forgetting my passwords. This made me feel very isolated. Control by Halsey. On top of this, these doctors/psychiatrists had put me on a LOT of antipsychotics and mood stabiliser medications with the diagnosis (by 3 psychiatrists) that I had Borderline Personality Disorder. I needed to get out of there.
My parents came to pick me up, we packed up my room with lightning speed, didn’t say goodbyes and I was out. I remember looking at my phone on the floor at home and my body just felt…heavy. My limbs stopped working and it was like I had been sitting in one spot too long and everything started going numb. I dropped my phone multiple times before hitting the right spots on my phone to send a call through to my then-partner. He said that he was coming to get me straight away, I went back to his house against my parent’s better judgement. I ended up having my first seizure that night around midnight. I went on to have 12 seizures within 24 hours. The most embarrassing thing I’ve ever experienced to date has got to be trying to get out of bed to go to the toilet but ending up having a seizure and hitting my head, then being consciously awake WHILE pissing the bed in front of my father and male partner. On top of that my face was drooping and I hardly seemed human. The emergency room nurses were visually peeved that I was in their care because no 21-year-old wants to wear a diaper in front of the most important men in their life and I straight up refused. I had 22 piercings at the time, and they made me take out every single one for an MRI which was the start of multiple tests over 2 weeks to find out that I had Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis, “Brain On Fire.” I drew a clock on one side of the paper, and I had a positive test via lumbar puncture. They gave me rituximab and a plasma transfusion. From the plasma transfusion, I had one positive testing for hepatitis B. The doctors immediately turned to blame my piercings and tattoos and put me on expensive medication for the foreseeable future. A year and a half later I saw a hepatologist and they said that I was a negative reading before the plasma transfusion, then a positive straight after the infusion and then a negative a day later – meaning that I never had Hep B and did not need to be on that medication, to begin with. My partner treated me like I had the plague when I told him that I tested positive, he immediately assumed that I had been cheating on him. We broke up in late November after I arrived back from the hospital. He said I had changed, I still remember when we broke up I couldn’t control my facial expressions, and I was blank. He was crying and expressed that he was angry that I wasn’t also crying… To this day I wonder if he was only crying to try to gain a reaction from me. Interestingly enough he now has an anniversary date that pre-dates our breakup with his new partner, disappointed but not surprised. Die For Me by Halsey and Post Malone, Graveyard & Without Me by Halsey. The reaction to this break-up was quite delayed, I did not have the proper brain function to deal with it when it happened. “It’s funny how the warning signs can feel like they’re butterflies.”
Fast forward a little to 2018, I started dating and met someone early in the year. 2018 was a year for recovery and healing, I was just lucky that I found someone to do that with. I wasn’t able to drive for a year post-seizure, Hayden would drive me to wherever I wanted to go, he was supportive, and he got me a job at his work. 3 Nights by Dominic Fike features in my playlists. He makes me smile and laugh constantly, he is always there for me in my creative and professional endeavours. He is not threatened by me exploring my creativity, sexuality or body. Hayden and I got engaged in August of 2018 at the Byron Bay Lighthouse, our wedding is now 6 months away in June 2020. Daylight by Taylor Swift “I used to believe love would be burning red, but it’s golden.” In 2019 I started a job as a disability support worker and I started university at QUT studying a Bachelor of Nursing, I have just finished my first year with flying colours. The entire Euphoria soundtrack features at the end of 2019, notably Still Don’t Know My Name by Labrinth. I am now on very limited medication, my neurologist is happy with my progress, I am taking part in a research project for my illness with the PA Hospital. I am now at a healthy weight, I haven’t self-harmed since 2017, I have a healthier outlook on relationships with people (romantic and platonic).
My younger years were tough, 2017 was breaking point, 2018 was about healing, 2019 was about progressing and organising my future. I’m ending this decade and starting the next one on Roaring ’20s by Panic! At The Disco, I felt like this song was somehow made for me… “Hallucinations only mean, that your brain is on fire.”
I had to come close to death to appreciate being alive and I had to make the wrong choices to be wise enough to make the right ones. Here’s to my future husband, my family and the people who have been there throughout this decade and may you all be there for the next.
-Jessica Kirby Ball
|My incredible fiancé, Hayden.|