My senior year of college was strange. I started having physical pain and used my allowed absences in my courses for things like colonoscopy preps and going home for fibromyalgia doctor visits. I got my first migraine around that time and was diagnosed with anxiety. The prescription benzos and muscle relaxers were new to my body and brain; I slept through classes or stared through my professors, trying to present as a human not about to fall apart.
I went to therapy and meditation group but my coping skills were lacking. Getting through a day was harder but I managed to catch up and stay afloat. I shared an apartment overrun with ladybugs with the one person I connected with on campus also dealing with mental and physical health issues. In 1998, it wasn’t commonplace to discuss these things.
I stayed up late chatting with people all over the world who bonded through rave culture. I joined because I knew someone on there and was up at odd hours. Although I never went to a rave I enjoyed learning about the music and finding other types of electronic music that interested me.
My boyfriend did his best to take care of me and my anomalies. He had video games and I’d lay on the floor of his place in a buzz of medication side effects playing Wipeout 2097 (aka Wipeout XL); a particularly futuristic racing game with a killer soundtrack. Prodigy, FSOL, Chemical Brothers… just some of the badass noise permeating the game’s landscape as my flying machine launched through space and time, avoiding obstacles. This was my escape from ache. I was in motion. The battle wasn’t personal. At new turns/levels, the music shifted beats and tech sounds. Here my future wasn’t so filled with bloodwork and dropping classes as it was avoiding fictional mines, missiles.
The whole soundtrack takes me to a place of comfort and distraction at a time when I was first navigating chronic illness. Over 20 years later, I am still climbing hurdles of physical and mental hurt but music continues to be a big part of my treatment.
(Song recommendation by K Weber)