Drummer Talk 262 – Depression and The Artistic Temperament

Dave and Troy discuss the realities of depression and its impact on musicians. Includes special guest, Mrs. What Is Up.

Drummer Talk Mailbag

From Dov:
Great episodes on bearing edges! One note, that might be helpful for someone who’s never operated a router before, is to make sure you’re feeding in the correct direction. I love these how-to episodes, as someone who’s into woodworking but hasn’t ever taken apart a drum. It’s great knowing the future options available to me! (Again, my first name is pronounced like “he dove straight into the bearing project before learning what he was doing”)

From Kevin:
Hey guys, love your podcast. Was wondering if you sell t-shirts?

Answer: You can get one by becoming a Drummer Talk Patron!


Topic Notes

From Debbie:

In podcast #261 you brought up the story of Travis Barker. I appreciated what you had to say about depression being real and not easy to deal with.

I’m a 44 year old woman and I have loved the drums since I was three years old. My older cousin was in a band and I used to sneak down and play around on his kit when he was in school. I joined 5th grade band but was disappointed to learn only kids who’d taken piano lessons were allowed to sign up for the drums. I ended up playing the trumpet for a semester and that was the end of my music career.

I wanted to play drums but there always seemed to be some barrier and at some point in my life I decided it was too late to try.

I went through a lot of trauma when I was younger and struggled for years with depression and an inability to concentrate. Well meaning people around me told me to look at the bright side, or that others had it worse than me so I should cheer up, or that I just needed to work harder or be more organized. For 43 years I did the best I could but a year ago (October 25, 2014 to be exact) I found myself standing in my brother’s house with his pistol in my hand. Thank God a couple of my friends tracked me down and helped me get to a hospital even though I resisted them for quite a few hours. I didn’t have insurance, I didn’t think it would help, and I was scared.

It turned out to be the best thing I could have done. I got help.  I spent ten days in the hospital and was then discharged to an outpatient program.

My treatment plan was the following:

  • Go through specialized post-trauma therapy
  • Take a couple different medications
  • Learn to play the drums

Yep. Drums were part of my therapy, right there on my discharge sheet.

Learning a new skill can counteract depression and music has all kinds of therapeutic elements. The drums are a physical instrument that requires my whole body to work in harmony. It was also helpful to tackle an activity I had convinced myself I didn’t deserve. I had thought that I wasn’t the right kind of person to be a drummer. By learning drums I was saying to myself and anyone else “I’m going to own my life. I’m going to do what I want to do.”

Walking into the drum shop for my first lesson was really hard. A seven year old boy walked out the door and hopped into his mom’s mini van with his sticks and music folder. I felt really out of place but I gutted it out and entered the store. A young, skinny, “musician type” guy behind the counter looked up. I cringed. When I mumbled something about being there for a lesson he was super encouraging. He told me all about my teacher, how much fun I was going to have, how drums take a lot of work and practice but that it’s worth it, etc. I relaxed. I was accepted even though I had felt like an intruder. I give a lot of credit to Donn Bennett Drums in Bellevue, WA for being so wonderfully encouraging to this unlikely drummer.

A year ago nothing was fun. Nothing held my interest. I wanted to die. Today all I want is a Tama Starclassic Birch/Bubinga kit (in Molten Brown Burst!) My drum teacher has one and there’s two in the shop. Troy knows what I’m talking about. Man those toms sound good.

So here I am still playing drums and getting ready to audition for the worship team at church. The routine, the physical nature of playing drums, the joy of mastering a groove or fill, or heck even just getting my feet and hands to play nicely with each other, all have boosted my confidence, given me something to be proud of and have been an integral part of my recovery. I’m doing well now although I still have a road ahead of me. I found Drummer Talk right away and have been listening as long as I’ve been drumming. I learn something from every podcast and really appreciate the upbeat and positive vibe of the show. Drummer Talk has played a significant role in my recovery.

Finally if you know anyone who is struggling with depression encourage them to get help. It’s usually really hard for the depressed person to ask for help themselves so help them get help. And you can tell them I said it’s totally worth it.


Music from this week’s Show:

In closing…

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Next Week:  Off next week, then PASIC 2015 Recap on Nov 12

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