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Mental Health Matters: My Work with Therapy

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(photo credit: Danny DeRusso)

I was born in love with my life. I was born in love with myself and I felt like that self-respect was connected to how much potential I had to squeeze every ounce of joy and success out of living that I could.

I started self-harming when I was 11.
I developed an eating disorder when I was 13.
By 25, I was drinking to black out daily and had torpedoed most of my personal relationships. I assumed I had depression because I couldn’t shake this sense that a blackness was looming in and around me at all times.

I kept wrestling with the juxtaposition between my inherent sense of joy and my self-destructive behavior.

I think I can say joining a band was the first step in reinstating my balanced mental health. I had aways wanted to, but my self-esteem was too low to ever take a shot. I made a snap decision when I met my bandmates, Jesse and Jon, partly due to their encouragement and support. Within weeks of early practice, I had moved in with them and we dove fully into making our band a success. It made me feel a confidence and bravery I hadn’t ever allowed myself before. However, this made my drinking and bouts of depression seem increasingly intense by contrast. I was in a constant fight with myself. I always won and I always lost.

I got the number of a therapist from a friend on a Monday. I made several attempts to call her over the next few days, but I was completely in the dark on how to make an appointment (I totally choked, by the way). I think working up the nerve to call was the hardest part. A week later I ended up leaving a very awkward voicemail that was promptly returned by the brilliant, caring and deeply empathic woman who would become my therapist.

The primary focus of our sessions dealt with previous sexual abuse and how the language of trauma ran like a tape reel in my mind, constantly reinforcing my status as a powerless victim.

The backdrop for our work together was a rough, Upstate NY winter. The bleak weather paired with the exploration of my psyche was so draining that sometimes I’d wonder if therapy could kill me, or if any of it meant anything, or if I was just paying someone to make me feel important. It wasn’t an easy road and I’ll spare any more gore, but I’m mentioning it to illustrate that if you’re willing to try you will get better, despite the times you want to give up.

Fast forward a few months and I have experienced one major therapeutic breakthrough that has changed me at my core; I now profoundly understand that what happened to me is NOT. MY. FAULT. Hearing it is one thing. Knowing it is another.

I write this with an understanding that traumas are tricky and might come back to try and tell me who I am, but for now, my “victim mutterings” are silent. I recognize that my mental health is something that I will always need to prioritize. I used to think being tough meant dealing with my own sh*t. I realize now that my self-resilience and my love of living transformed my toughness into the vulnerability required for me to reach out and ask for help.

Formed in the summer of 2014, grunge-influenced Candy Ambulance of upstate NY are Caitlin Barker, Jesse Bolduc & Jon Cantiello. Lifelong friends and musical mates, Bolduc & Cantiello rescued Barker from a wealthy engagement prospect and whisked her away to the land of DIY punk. Poppy melodies, dynamic vocal changes and half naked live shows have solidified this rock trio as always entertaining, unabashed fun.

Boasting a healthy and frequent tour schedule the band has played with notable acts such as Screaming Females, Speedy Ortiz, Daddy Issues, and Dorothy.

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Angela Mastrogiacomo

Founder of Infectious Magazine & Muddy Paw Public Relations. Lover of passion, ice cream, and books.

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