I'm fortunate. Since finding my birth parents, I have an exceptional number of moms, dads, and siblings. My fam is massive! Right after learning the truth, I jumped on a plane to my hometown. Not to confront my adoptive parents but to reassure them. When I tracked down my birth parents, it was because I want to know them, not just an explanation. Things were going great. I was happy. Everyone was happy. Everything was going to be fine.
Except, my subconscious wasn't cool with any of this… at all. In fact, it was very pissed off. Inwardly, my mind was waging war on itself. I had nightmares, lots of them. I didn't sleep a full night for a year. Without realizing it, I became distrustful, suspicious of nearly everyone. Common, everyday situations became dubious. Suspect. I became depressed and I got angry, often. No matter how cool I was with it, my subconscious was telling me everything was definitely not going to be fine. I was losing my shit, and I didn’t even realize it. Yet. The music became dark and sinister.
Before I go any further, I want to describe some of my experiences in a little more detail. Imagine everything you know about yourself is based on a lie. You go your whole life thinking your name is, well, your name, only to learn there's another birth certificate hidden away with a different name on it. In my case that name is Gregory Griswald Tiernan. Imagine talking to your birth parents for the first time while on your honeymoon. Imagine half your grandparents never even knew you existed. It's like a movie, except it's real and you can't turn off the TV after a couple hours of entertainment. It's there, with you all hours of the day and it's never going to go away. You think about it nonstop. You think about all the moments you felt different, like a black sheep throughout your life. All the family medical history you've been giving incorrectly your entire life. All the times the lie could have been exposed, but wasn't.
You begin to question reality itself.
We completely take for granted the most basic elements of our lives like who we are. I did, until, like an amnesia victim in a soap opera I woke up one morning and didn't know who the hell I was. You go down a deep, dark hole inside your head and wonder if you'll ever emerge the same and the answer is, no. No you won't. You question all the decisions you've ever made, big and small ones alike. Did I do that because of my genetics or because of my upbringing? Suddenly, those nature vs. nurture studies you read in college don't seem abstract anymore. They feel viscerally relevant, but by this point you've spiraled into depression and don't have the wherewithal to deal with it. You go into fight or flight. Do you fight to stay who you are or do you flee to stay who you are?
I respect Juan Maclean, Benga, Ben Pearce, Rustie, Motor City Drum Ensemble, and other DJs who've talked openly about their struggles with mental illness. A recent BBC article puts the particular challenges DJs and producers face in context.
I walked into a psychiatrist's office and told my story. After 10 minutes, she said "Excuse me, but this is the most incredible thing any patient has ever told me. This story is remarkable. I can't believe this happened to you!" The person I reached out to for help had to take a moment to process what I was telling her. That's the moment I realized I was truly in deep shit.
When you involuntarily dissociate from reality it’s like floating above yourself, untethered. You start to wonder if you even know who you are. Whether you’ve ever known. Watching your old self float away you wonder who you’ll become when you wake up.
Artwork: Flash Frequency
Mixed and mastered by Nick Garcia
Written and produced by Will Eastman