Hi. My name is Mat and three weeks ago, I sat down to write a piece about trying to make positive changes in my life. I had just started seeing a counselor. My recent stretch of unemployment seemed to be ending with an promising job offer. And I was excited to be covering back to back nights of Tiger Army shows which were also coming up. It seemed like an ideal time for reflection. Then, things started happening so quickly in the span of a few days, what I had written became irrelevant. Despite what I thought about being a good fit at this new place of employment, I was very quickly proven wrong. But like something out of a movie, a much better offer awaited me in my inbox. I followed up with this one and was given a callback within an hour of my interview.
All of a sudden, I was back to waking up before the sun and standing on my feet working with dogs for seven hours a day; I was pretty psyched. So much so, that while I was busy reminding my body that all of this exhaustion and lack of sleep was a good idea, I had very little time to focus on the bizarre last minute cancellation from my counselor’s office five minutes before our scheduled appointment. I’ve had fairly mixed results with therapy over the years and for once it seemed like I had a good thing going… until this point. Given the complete and total lack of information regarding the situation, it was pretty easy for my mind to wander into the realm of the outlandish when trying to find a reason to fill the void. Thankfully, between learning the names of 100 new dogs and keeping up with my human relationships, over the next few weeks I had exactly zero time to entertain the possibility that maybe this was a test of some sort or that I was being “dumped”, for lack of a better term.
In the end, it worked out wonderfully. I love this new job and my therapist and I are getting our sessions back on track. These kinds of circumstances haven’t always worked out so well for me. My default reaction to sudden change used to involve a combination of alcohol and head injuries. I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job not going down that road these last few years, but golly is it easy to take a detour. I was concerned. Coming up was great big nostalgia fueled weekend that I had no intention of missing featuring Give ’em the Boot II’s most promising newcomer: Tiger Army. There were a lot of 6 AM shifts that week, including the morning of both shows, but I was determined. Exhausted, but still determined to never die. At least until Sunday.
Tiger Army’s expectations of how serious they deserve to be taken in 2017 varies greatly among their key demographic and it turns out we don’t always see eye to eye on the subject. Regardless, I had so much fun on the second night that I threw up $50 worth of Tecate, Tequila, and Taco Bell the next day. Also my favorite flavor of Gatorade: blue. I’ve had some pretty rough hangovers that usually accompany some fairly questionable decisions and gnarly, mysterious bruises. But I feel like the worst one I made that night was drunkenly harassing Brendan Kelly while he played a DJ set at Gman. When you compare that to the amount of times I’ve been too drunk to find my way home and how much I was pushing that threshold, I was feeling pretty good about how the whole ordeal turned out.
I was basically immobile most of the following morning from a combination of said hangover and remorse from dropping my camera last night. Ordinarily, this wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world because it was my back up and it was giving me worse issues than it ever had to this point. However, Kendra’s prize lens happened to be attached at the time and took the brunt of the fall. My heart sank when I saw it hit the floor. It turns out now is a great time for me to be getting a job. Still, I managed to find a way to make the time on the sofa not a total waste of time. For some reason, I got the the idea in my head to attempt one last hurrah to come around to the newest AFI album (more on that to come). It turned out to be a great motivator because around the 40 minute mark, all I could think about was how literally anything would be better than lying here wondering how many more songs are left on this record. Fun fact: it was two.
I have been wanting to write this for a while now because the situation I had experienced at my previous job was so upsetting that if I could bounce back from this, others could benefit from my experience. I was so baffled by the display of mental gymnastics by management in order to avoid making any meaningful change alongside just how fucking stupid I kept feeling as a result of working there that I had no idea what was happening to me. I never lose weight, so it was weird as shit when my shorts suddenly didn’t fit anymore. After sitting down and talking with my manager regarding how I felt about my current situation and leaving the meeting confirming every feeling of exactly how much I was worth to the company, the decision to leave became to obvious to pass up.
It took a lot of work to come to this point and one of the most important reasons I was able to achieve any of this was a strong support network. My wife and friends are always being immensely supportive and that makes all the difference. So many of the nights I’ve gone over the top have been around situations I feel I can’t cope with and as a result I drink… a lot. When a night involves a barrage of relentless puns between friends and a newfound appreciation for alcoholic seltzer, it turns out to be really easy to get the appropriate amount of shitty. (Think: “Nick 13 announced his campaign for sheriff because Tiger Army’s Tough on Crime,” or “The band announced plans to begin selling loaves of bread at their shows featuring Tiger Army Marbled Rye”). It’s even better when the current drummer of the subject of much of said word play was bellied up to the bar right behind you. I would certainly hate to think I couldn’t remember how annoyed he looked by how loud I certainly must have been talking.
It feels good for me to be able to reflect back over such a short time and see such measurable positive change; not everyone is so lucky. I would encourage anyone who feels trapped by their circumstances to reach out. It’s not easy to break well ingrained habits, but it is possible. Do what you can while you can. Even if you feel like no one is listening, the crisis hotline is always open at: 775.784.8090. The best thing you can do is take care of yourself and any decision towards a better mental state is the right one. It may seem hard, but you can do it. You’re worth it.
Our staff opens up about their struggles with mental health.