All Time Favorite: La Dispute ‘Wildlife’

For the next two months, Open Our Eyes will be featuring each of our music bloggers’ all time favorite albums and why they are special to them. 

Words by Amber Bettis

“So now tell me how your story goes. Have you ever suffered?”

La Dispute is not my favorite band, as anyone with ears to hear and eyes to read my personal blog can tell you. Nay, that spot belongs to Long Island’s darlings, Brand New. I have loved Brand New for going on twelve years now, since before my brain got rewired by unfounded terror and I found it hard to leave my room, let alone my house. Sadly, there are just some things Brand New doesn’t help with, and severe anxiety is one of them. In fact, Brand New made it worse, with their lyrics about religion and the certainty of hell.

Enter La Dispute.

I can’t quite remember how I found them, but it was probably through a tip in Alternative Press. The first song I heard was “Damaged Goods”, and from that second on, I was hooked. Here was a band that got it, that understood being afraid of trivial things. I wasn’t as sick as I was going to get a couple of years later, but I was still feeling nervous, and definitely on the lookout for bands that were singing songs I could relate to in that respect.

I used to feel like everything was perfectly in order, a normal life… I guess then came a departure”.

I’m going to fast forward, to March 2012. Without warning, without provocation, without reason, something descended on me and grabbed me. Something large, black and gray, and with sharp claws. They dug into my skin and refused to let me go for weeks. I was dying, literally. I was unintentionally starving myself to death. I would hardly eat, because eating required leaving my room and there were things out there. Horrible and deadly things. Why my brain made me think these things, I have no idea. I wasn’t always like that. I wouldn’t sleep until sunrise, and then I forced myself to sleep until sunset– a solid twelve hours, maybe a little more. I would then creep out of my room and snack on whatever I could quickly grab and run back with to my room.

I was sick. I was very sick. I told my friends my phone was broken so I wouldn’t have to text them or call. I was shutting myself off from everyone.

At that point, La Dispute’s ‘Wildlife’ had been on my iPod for months– but I was beyond listening to music, I was too afraid. In those weeks in March, there was a lyric that kept popping up in my head: “Say you think of everything in fear. I bet you’re not the only one does.”

I’m not saying I turned on the album and immediately got better. That only happens in the movies. It took a minute, or literally– several thousand minutes. I took it slow, only listening to that song at first, then starting at “A Departure” and working my way to “You and I In Unison”. That entire album, every line, every tortured scream Dreyer lets out, it was like hearing my deepest fears. It really did help, just to know that people feel afraid all the time. It gave me hope, something that fought off that huge clawed thing, and helped me get the help I needed.

“All the secrets I keep, why are they secrets?”

Why did I not just tell someone how afraid I was? Why did I hide all the things I was scared of? Why did I insist on suffering in silence? I still don’t know. I know that no one else should do that. It’s dangerous and very unhealthy. I could’ve died. The doctor told me that I had severe Generalized Anxiety Disorder and at the time, it had morphed into paranoia, which led to depression. I still get freaked out over stuff sometimes, but I’m on a medication now that helps weed out the real threats from the imagined ones. It’s manageable most days. I still have bad days, but never as bad as they were in March 2012. I’m always going to have GAD, but I’m always going to have La Dispute, too, and they help make the bad days bearable. If I ever meet La Dispute, I would thank them. Even if the songs weren’t autobiographical, I just want to thank them for handing me an hour of hope, for giving me courage to get help.

I could end this by telling you to get help if you need it, but hell, I saw a million things telling me to get help when I needed it. It was a decision I had to make. It can be horrifying, telling people with the power to put you into an institution what goes on your head. It’s scary, I know. I’m begging you to try. Find something that makes you feel even slightly human and cling to it. You deserve a better life. You deserve a life, period.

“In all those giving up. In all those giving in. Until I die I will sing our names in unison.”

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