Web-only article from "Campuses" issue of Visions Journal, 2008, 4 (3)
I started doing music when I was about fourteen, and it got serious actually when I transferred into DePaul and I found myself, you know, with like, not enough time to do both. At some point, you know, I was doing thirty to forty hours of college and then trying to do shows and do shows on weekends on top of that. And at some point, had to drop out and pursue the music.
I was happier when I was doing music but I at the same time did feel some…I think I always had this kind of underlying depression that happened in high school and then happened again in college and in these periods where I wasn’t sure what I was doing. In high school and in college I would kind of express it as…these, sometimes I would have these moments of clarity where for no reason and I can remember specific moments, I would walk in under these train tracks in Chicago, where for no reason whatsoever, I would just feel like everything was gonna be ok. And I would, you know kinda feel this like, you know, breath in my chest and I felt ok and these moments of unhappiness where kinda the exact opposite of it, where I was sure that nothing was gonna turn out ok. And then, as we moved into the band and you know, we put out this indie record and then were moving to a major…that was the point where I, the depression became…I would kinda only navigate between being so anxious, with like this generalized anxiety where I couldn’t get on airplanes and I didn’t even wanna leave the house, and this depression where I felt like…nothing I did mattered. And felt…It felt paralyzing I think at that time. Like it was to the point where I felt like, immobilized by it.
The darkest moment was, we’d just finished recording our major label record and two days later we were gonna go to Europe and I felt completely lost and out of control and at that point I had seen some doctors and they kinda like, like were Hollywood doctors. So they kind of…They gave me, you know, like a cocktail, but I kinda was like the drugstore cowboy and kind of took the cocktail the way I wanted to take it, so I got in my car and I went…I remember I was listening to Jeff Buckley doing Leonard Cohen’s Home Hallelujah and sat there and took a bunch of Ativan in a Best Buy parking lot and I called up my manager, ‘cause I, you know, at that point I was completely out of my head with Ativan and I was talking to him and I was slurring my words and so he called my mom and my mom called me and she came and got me and went to the hospital and then I came home and…and we realized that we needed to more than just kinda keep your head above water. Like it’s not really just about keeping your head above water, it’s about you know, feeling alright and feeling safe in your own skin. It’s not just about like, keep your head above water and barely keep going, you know.
I think I had a hard time discussing it with people. I had a hard time discussing it with my parents because, in the way that, I’d feel like, they would kinda always like ‘oh, be like, oh you are just having a bad day.’ Or you know like, they didn’t really wanna admit that their son had a problem, you know? And my parents at one point got separated but got back together and when they did that I went and I saw a therapist. The problem with going to a therapist I think is that if you are not gonna be open or honest with them and your gonna kinda tell them your own stories and your lies it doesn’t really matter, so it didn’t help, talk therapy didn’t help for me at that time at all. My band I just didn’t wanna let down, so I didn’t ever really talk to them. And the problem with the love life was like, that was always such an extreme, it was so up and down that, it would only add to whichever side I was at. Whether I was feeling down or whether I was feeling up, so I felt like I didn’t actually have anybody to talk to at that point. I guess, I mean, one of the biggest things for me was, was being honest with everybody about it and being honest with both my band and the fans of our band and everyone and let them know like, you know, they are gonna be times when we’re gonna have to slow down, so I can just make sure that like, you know, everything is intact, kinda, and that was like the first step. And then the second step was finding somebody that I could talk to, but that I was gonna be honest with. And that, not necessarily that they had all the answers for me but like that I could get it all out to them and then like together we could kind of help piece things together, you know? And I think that was like one of the biggest things, was actually being honest with a therapist. And so I found like that talk therapy with this guy has been the best thing that I’ve had, outside of the outlet of actually writing. Like I love writing and being able to write….yeah…write and then have people actually react to it. You know like, when someone comes up to me and says like your band saved my life and like I’m thinking in my head, like in a weird way, like my band saved my life too, you know? So its, it is very therapeutic and it feels really good and it’s cool that it’s like lucrative and that we get to make cool videos and do all this cool stuff, but like really the greatest thing about is that it’s therapeutic, and for that like hour on stage, it’s so cathartic because you can emote the same feelings to those words every single time.
I mean, like, I know everybody’s first advice is like, you know, go to your campus crisis counselor or you know, let someone know, or...but when you are in that state, you don’t want to do any of those things. My best piece of advice, more than anything, is that, there is other people out there, that feel that or are feeling that right at that time, and you know, maybe, your favorite actor in whatever movie or a guy in a band or whoever, there are people who feel that exact same thing, and have made it through that. And I would say more than anything, you’re not alone in it. You know, that’s one of the biggest things. Its like, I feel like, when I was going through it I was like I am all alone in this just because I couldn’t talk to my four friends about it, but you aren’t alone in it. And I think that your outlet is gonna be different for you, whether it could be drawing, or writing or whether its, is talking to somebody, it’s gonna be different. But like, the biggest thing to know first, is that, you know, its like the thing that you just said, that, at night, everyone, we are all crazy and its like, there is other people who are feeling the exact same feelings you know, or are feeling similar feelings, you know, and I mean at the same time there is nothing I hated worse than like you know, like my mom going, like, ‘I know exactly how you feel.’ Because like, you don’t know exactly how I feel right at this moment because I am an individual person, but it’s just more in the way that your not alone and that, you can find…there’s ways to get through that, and there’s solutions to it and your solution may be vastly different than someone else. Like I don’t know. It think everyone’s is kinda different but I think at the end of the day you just need to be able to feel safe in your own skin you know, and if, you know, your friends aren’t adding to that, then you need to find new friends. And you drinking, you know, a handle of vodka a night, that’s probably not adding to it either, you know. I think you people need to find their own kinda balances, and find their own peace.
About the author
Pete is a member of the rock band Fall Out Boy
*Interview transcript courtesy of the Jed Foundation and mtvU in connection with halfofus.com. Reprinted with permission.