First Person: Singing About Mental Illness
First Beach first person features features -- stories told in their own stories. Veronica May is striking out on her own. She released Ace title titled awaken it is mixture with folk and electric lose. Show her songs are heavily inspired by her experience with mental illness and an episode she had nearly a decade ago. I was headed to work I thought, I am going to quit today and there was no reason for it but I thought I will quit. I quit at the meeting. Unexpectedly to myself. Everything started on foiling really fast. I thought, I had to tell the new stations. That night, I went to a party and I remember saying goodbye to everybody because I thought I had to go home and poke holes in my body because I had to get God out. I was in complete delusion. Things went from bad to worse. I started having hallucinations. Ended up in an alley. I did not have keys or wallet or shoes. An ambulance picked me up. [ music ] My name is Veronica May. I am a musician and I have bipolar disorder. When the ambulance came to pick me up in the alley, I thought it was the ride to heaven which would be cool to not have to fly there but to just right there. I thought it was that. The entire time, I do this every time I have an episode. I think I have to keep my eyes closed or people can's deal my soul through my eyes. That is part of my delusions. I had my eyes closed. You can only imagine what that feels like, you are going to have an and it is a great feeling. Halfway there, I realized I was going to hell. This was dysphoric mania. It happens all the time. I was in a mixed state going back and forth between high and low. I was violent and tried to get out of my situation. Because I thought I was going to hell, when I woke up, I was strapped down and I had a mask on my face. I did not know what was going on. [ music ] In terms of bipolar, there are beautiful and terrifying things that exist. For me, I have talked to other -- others. We have the same idea, we realize heaven is on earth and we can see behind the curtain for second. Part of me wants to believe I do see something and part of me thinks I do have mental illness. I do not know what is real but it feels very real to me. Like the flip of a switch, it turns on me. I think people are coming to kill me. I think people are poisoning meet. It goes back and forth real fast. [ music ] I grew up in a town called Myers, Colorado. There are under 1000 people there. I grew up on an actual farm. It is still doing its thing. I started playing music when I was three years old. My mother is a piano instructor and she works the church. She still plays at the church. She has done it since she was 12 years old. My father and her ran ABN in the 70s. I've had music my entire life. In college, I was doing music. Is the only thing I know. I was diagnosed with bipolar and 2008. I had no idea. It was nothing that I thought. I talk to my friends, she said, in college come I thought you just have energy but I could go off on nothing. And talk fast, which I still do sometimes and moving and constantly having to go. It never broke until 2008. I think in terms of my music, my bipolar -- it pretty much created this entire album. I write about it all the time because it is part of my life all the time. My songs -- I realize most of my life -- I dress masculine but I am a woman. I am big but very small. Is reflected in my music. Half the album is electric and loud and hot -- half sought. Everything is affected. When I approach a song, do not approach it thinking, do I want a loud or soft song. It comes out the way it comes out because what I am experiencing at the time. The fact that this is split down the center is coincidental but that is because I just evenly. [ music ] The reason I started do this log, I saw the need for it. I remember the first time that I opened up, I had people after the show come up and say, my son has bipolar. My grandfather committed suicide or whatever was. After every show, people would come up to me. I realized that music is the fire but part of the mission is to educate on mental illness. It is amazing how many people have it. I ask people to raise their hands at groups and show. Almost everyone raises their hand. They may have somebody that has it or on one of my recent shows, a woman came to the show because she read my blog at her son committed suicide. The more outlets that I can have, the more help I can give.
Musician Veronica May has been in several San Diego bands, but her latest album, Awakened, is her first solo record. Her newest songs are more intimate than her past work, focusing on her experiences with bipolar disorder.
May was diagnosed in 2008 and has had three manic episodes. But it took time before she wrote about her mania and depression in her songs. She found an outlet online, with her Bipolar Biweekly Blog.
"After each episode, I wouldn’t think about it," May said. "So I started to write about. I just wanted to share my stories."
As part of our ongoing First Person series, May shares how her illness inspires her music.