Gimmie Shelter

By January 6, 2014Blog

“Yeah, a storm is threatening
My very life today
If I don’t get some shelter
Lord, I’m gonna fade away” Rolling Stones

When I was a teenager, I discovered blues music, and then The Rolling Stones.  Over the years I have purchased many Rolling Stones albums, 8 tracks, cassettes and then CD’s.

In time, the opportunities to actually see the Stones in concert arose. Their No Security Tour was announced in the winter of 1999. Due to the slow dial up internet back then, by the time I got through, the only cities with tickets still available were Cleveland and Pittsburg.  I randomly chose Cleveland and purchased two tickets to the April 1st, 1999, concert. I had a girlfriend and we had discussed our going to see the Stones.  She knew how important it was to me to see them in concert, a lifelong dream.

About a month before the concert, she called my black brick sized cell phone as I drove to the office.  After that call, I was going solo to the concert. Not impressed! Here I was with two tickets! I thought, who could I now find to invite? My accountant’s new receptionist and I had flirted a bit, so I made a visit. I took her aside and asked her if she wanted to join me. She quickly agreed and off we went. The concert – pure happiness!

“It’s only rock and roll, but I like it.”

In the spring of 2002, the Stones announced their Licks Tourin celebration of their 40th anniversary as a band. The closest concert – Boston on September 3, 2002.

I had a new girlfriend at that time but I secretly purchased two tickets to the concert.  Unbeknownst to me, my life was hurdling towards a brick wall. I was miserable; not sleeping; not enjoying one single thing.   My self confidence and self esteem were on a slippery slope.  I felt that I did not deserve to be with my girlfriend. But perhaps the most troubling factor was that I did not know that I had depression.  I did not understand that I was ill.  I did not know what mental illness was then.

The concert weekend – I took a flight to Boston alone. I disappeared, no one knew where I had gone.  Boston is one of my favorite cities to visit.  I know it very well from the waterfront to Fenway Park to visiting the bookshops around Cambridge.  But this time was different.  I was very emotional and found myself sitting on many park benches with tears of emptiness. I had no clue what was happening.

The day before the concert, I noticed a small crowd in front of the Four Seasons Hotel. The Rolling Stones were exiting the hotel to travel to rehearsal.  So there I was about 10 feet from Mick, Keith, Charlie, and Ron.  I should have been ecstatic. Instead, I stood there numb – completely void of emotions and feelings.

Things were about to get worse. I walked to the Fleet Center for the concert, two tickets in my wallet. I took my seat. A sold out venue, but an empty seat beside me. I was beginning to recognize that my life was in a really dark place. I still have visions of that seat, that sense of total loneliness.

“No colours anymore, I want them to turn black.”

Six months later, the brick wall.  On March 7, 2003, I was diagnosed with depression and five days later had a mental breakdown.  I would attend therapy once a week for two years and rarely left the house for several years. So, when the Stones announced A Bigger Bang Tour in the spring of 2005, I was confronted with the opportunity of seeing them again.

The first concert was scheduled for Boston on August 31, 2005, at Fenway Park.  Was I healthy enough not only to attend a Stones concert but to return to Boston? My family and I discussed at length whether I should go. But with their encouragement and my slowly returning self confidence, I decided to make the attempt. It was certainly a challenge to fly to Boston with 2 days ahead of me to try to enjoy the city. I think I was in contact with my family almost every other hour simply confirming that I was doing well.  We were all concerned. But no need.

I felt so good that I was able to attend a performance of the Blue Man Group, and truly laughed.  The night of the concert I walked from my hotel to Fenway Park along with thousands of other Rolling Stones fans. I was in the second row from the stage! It was amazing to hear, see, and almost touch the music. I was on my way to enjoying life again.

“But it’s all right now, in fact it’s a gas.”

A few weeks later the Stones performed in Moncton, New Brunswick, just a 6 hour drive from where I live. Off I went! Another amazing concert for me and the other 80,000 people there.  Two concerts in 3 weeks!  I was starting to feel a sense of happiness which had been missing for years.

“Hey, hey, there ain’t no stopping me now. Hey, hey, you got me rockin’ now”

The Stones announced their 50 and Counting Tour for the summer of 2013, celebrating their 50th anniversary. There was no question that I would be attending a concert somewhere. I am as healthy as I was in my 20’s but with an additional 25 years of life experience. I saw the Stones perform in Toronto on June 6.   The concerts just get better!

“If you start me up I’ll never stop”

Then I saw them in Hyde Park, London, on July 6. London is a special place for me and then to be able to see the Rolling Stones….a few tears of joy at this, the BEST concert.

“I’m the man who walks the hillside in the sweet summer sun.”

But wait…the Stones continue, 14-On Fire Tour. I am far from done! I can even happily buy 2 tickets now. Life is good, even wonderful at times!

“ I’m free to do what I want any old time. So love me, hold me, love me, hold me. I’m free any old time to get what I want.”

 

Keith Anderson is a lawyer and mental health advocate. He has been a Bring Change 2 Mind volunteer since December, 2009.  He has had articles on his journey through depression appear in the National Post newspaper and  publications of the Canadian Bar Association and the American Bar Association. Keith has presented at national conferences and at local events in his native Canada. He sees stigma that is too often inflicted on so many people with mental illness as a form of discrimination, a human rights issue. Keith continues to return to a life worth living by still experiencing new things, such as recently eating sushi for the first time and enjoying it!

One Comment

  • katie needham says:

    Hi Keith,

    I’m a Stones lover too. Wondering is it’s ok to ask what medicine they gave you? I am 60 and was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder at 50 and still haven’t found “my med.”

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