78. Col Patterson Vinylheads
At home, they used to call me “The Onion”. So many layers, but never allowing anybody into the core. “If people see it, I’m done for, destroyed .... If they see what I’m really like inside...”. I used to think it so cruel that I’d have to run out of my favourite geography class in school, heart exploding, body trembling, feeling like I’m about to die over and over again.
I remember it following me to church and having all those guilt battles with God: “I’m sorry God, I know I probably deserve this, whatever this is. But I can’t go in there, it’s too damn scary. I’ll stand at the door on my own and sure that’s shame enough. People know my folks well and word will get back and all that.”
I remember Maynooth University with mixed feelings. “Hello Mr Indoor Panic – meet my little friend, Mr Outdoor Panic! I know I deserve this, it must be for missing mass or having feelings for some young wan.” I remember two heroes of flatmates dragging me into the exam for Greek and Roman Civilization… I passed it somehow.
The shame of telling my hard-working dad that I couldn’t face college anymore, except when I soaked myself in drink – I could talk and be silly with drink. I left Maynooth, then did night jobs. Then I tried college again, and left again. And on it went.
I met the beautiful man Dr Odhran McCarthy at the Mater in 1999. I found myself nodding my head to all the questions he asked. Panic… Social Anxiety .... You won’t die... You’re a good guy... friendly
Col. I met some like-minded people... Stepping stones. I got into the public service. People were warm, kind. Hunkydory.
I was unlucky to be a victim of a random one-punch attack a few years later. Wrong place, wrong time. I was back to square one. I had outdoor panic now with added paranoia for free. I had to let my secure job go eventually as the depression kicked in – the world of meds .... The shame of moving back to the folks’ house... Curtains closed. I can’t go on! Thanks for finding me in time that day sis.
There was no escaping the mental prison. My only constant throughout it all was my piano – it let me express some of what I was feeling. There was some talk therapy. My cousins (The Vinylheads) encouraged me to jam at home with them and then record. God bless them all. Bless the radio DJs and the critics who were beyond kind and helpful, and my loving family and friends.
I don’t feel able to play live yet, but I think I’ll always write tunes now while working through it all. Baby steps. New love. New attitude... It’s okay to have mental struggles and to talk about them. And stay in this mixed up game of life as things can and will change! And as a wonderful DJ once told me, “Fuck shame!”