I don’t know what happened. I mean, I know what happened. I just don’t know how it happened.
I was feeling alright the night before. I was out drinking with friends and I got to release whatever negative vibes I had in me. Some of them, at least. I was excited for it.
Hours before, I heard one of the voices telling me not to go. That I’d just end up feeling like shit again. That I’d be safer if I’d go somewhere else, or if stay at home. I didn’t listen. I said, “I can do this. I’ve been to gigs alone. I can manage. I’ll survive.” I figured that even though I was surrounded by various groups of strangers, that switch that activates my anxiety attacks won’t turn on because I’d be shooting music. I’d be fine because I’d get lost in the music. I’d be fine as long as I manage to calm myself down by breathing in and breathing out and thinking that I belong here, that I want to be here.
The night started alright. As I mentioned, I’ve gone to gigs alone and have survived. As the minutes went by and people started trickling in, I could feel the walls closing in. With every person entering Saguijo, the walls inch around me.
I did fight it. I did fight. I was to shoot three bands for my Those Who Dared photo project. Autotelic, Fools & Foes, and Oh, Flamingo. Got to talk a bit to the Fools & Foes band members while shooting them. I’ve already met them before so I wasn’t as nervous. I approached Howard Luistro of Oh, Flamingo and introduced myself and gave him a print of a photo I took of them that the band liked. I also asked if I could shoot portraits of them for my project and he was willing. He introduced me to Billie and Pappu, Oh, Flamingo’s bassist and guitarist respectively, and they were friendly so small talk were made before I shot them. I could’ve said more, but I was already pretty anxious so I didn’t. I got to shoot the two bands. The third, Autotelic, I didn’t get to.
I was supposed to. I already approached Josh Villena, Autotelic’s vocalist, if I can do the portraits that night. I had already asked them the week before and they were cool with it. Anyway, I asked if the band was already complete so we could start. The drummer was still en route, he said. I could’ve asked if we could start already with those who were there and I’ll shoot the drummer when he arrives, but I didn’t. They were talking to themselves and I was just standing there waiting for myself to say or do something, anything. Nothing.
The drummer arrived and…nothing again. I thought to myself, “they look busy, I can shoot them later.” I never got to. I had several chances, I suppose, but I couldn’t seem to approach any of them as they were busy mingling and I didn’t want to be a bother. Even after they played, I couldn’t approach them for the shoot.
I stood alone that night looking at those around me. Some of them I knew. Some of them I chat online with. I felt more alone than ever. The music couldn’t help me. Even when it was my two of my favorite bands – Autotelic, and later Fools & Foes – playing, nothing. I felt like a fraud dancing and banging my head and singing the words when I couldn’t feel it. It’s not that I didn’t want to feel it. I needed it. I needed the music to wash away whatever I was feeling. But it wasn’t working. Whatever I was feeling was too strong, too overpowering, for my usual anti-depressants.
Shooting was a letdown, as well. I managed to get some shots of the first bands who played, but I wasn’t really feeling it. It was also too crowded so that was contributory to me being unable to shoot.
Beer also failed me. It’s usually my confidence booster or whatever. Helps me be sociable. Helps me relax a bit. Didn’t work.
I was psyched for the night. All month, I was very much looking forward to the night. Aside from seeing some of my favorite bands, I also wanted to be there for Revolver Productions since it was Cris Ramos’ sendoff gig. When I was active in the gigging scene some years back, Revolver Production gigs were among those that I enjoyed the most. I knew that it was gonna be jampacked. I knew that it was gonna be crowded. I knew that my anxiety would kick in. Just didn’t think it would go into overdrive like that. I thought I could fight it. I couldn’t.
Sometime after Fools & Foes played their last song, “Withering,” I ironically did something that the voices tell me when I get those attacks: Leave. So I left.
Fools & Foes’ vocalist Isabelle’s lilting voice singing “I don’t want to leave this place…” seemed like a dare to me. My bones were crushed from the weight of the walls. My head was spinning, my skin jumping from every sight I see, and I left. I’ve never done that in a gig even though the anxiety attacks had its hands on my throat. I always survived. I always managed to stay all through the rest of the night. Not that night. Not in that night that was so important for me as a music fan and a photographer.
The drive home was…ugh. Snapped at myself, slapped myself hard and yelled “STOP IT!” It was one of those deep growls that comes out of nowhere when I get angry. And I almost never get angry. Snapped at my ex for something she said last week about me compartmentalizing my emotions. Caloi called and I was crying. In my car on the parking lot of McDonald’s, of all places.
I know what happened. I just don’t know how it happened.
Eh. Who am I kidding? Of course I know how it happened. I’ve been feeling lost lately, just aimlessly wandering around in unintended solitude. I’ve been feeling that I don’t belong anywhere.
Feels like I don’t even belong in my own skin.
One of my greatest fears in life is drowning. That’s what it all feels like.
“I’m withering in this wind
That glides me to a dense sea
I had settled underwater
But now I’m gasping for air”
– “Withering” by Fools & Foes