On July 15, 2003, I made what felt like the longest drive of my life to Marysville, CA, to meet John Mayer before his show. I had received an email a few days prior informing me that I had been selected to attend a meet and greet and had been anxious and excited ever since. Sleep was largely replaced with anticipation and nerves.
For the first time in my life, I had won something — and I had experienced a win at a time when I felt my life was crumbling. I was experiencing the worst anxiety and panic attacks of my entire life and a deep depression had settled in, enveloping my whole being. I couldn’t “snap out of it” like people kept suggesting and nothing seemed to make me feel better. I couldn’t see a future and was on the verge of giving up.
But, amidst the depression and anxiety I had found solace in music. Music spoke to the feelings that I was unable to articulate. Music brought me out of my head and allowed me to be present. Music was my reason for getting out of the bed in the morning at all.
My favorite artist at the time was John Mayer. Room for Squares was still on constant rotation and gave me a sense of peace I struggled to find elsewhere. Some people self-medicate with substances, I used music — John Mayer being my drug of choice at the time.
As you may imagine, the opportunity to meet the man who created the music that quieted down my anxious mind was thrilling. Being the anxious mess I was (and continue to be, although, in different ways now), however, meant that I obsessed over every possible thing that might possibly go wrong.
What if the plans changed once we got there and I wouldn’t get to meet him? What if he turned out to be an awful person? What if I had one of my “things”?
My “things” at this time were panic attacks, of which I was in constant fear of experiencing. I didn’t know they were panic attacks at the time and was afraid they were mini heart attacks, working hard to kill me in slow waves. Interestingly, I hadn’t told anyone about these constant “things” yet (that would come later).
I was feeling nervous but decided I would figure things out as I had to — a rare acceptance during this period of time, in which I worked feverishly to figure everything out right that minute. My first concern was what I might want to say. My mother was little help in this area.
“What are you going to say?” she asked.
“I don’t know. I think I’m going to go with ‘Hello, would you mind signing this?’” I responded.
“Why don’t you ask him a question? You could ask him if he has a dog!”
“Mom, I’m not going to ask John Mayer if he has a dog!”
Fortunately, the day of the concert, everything went smoothly once we arrived at the arena. I was nervous and excited but the panic I was expecting never set in. I waited in the haphazard, semicircle of a line until it was my turn. When he stood in front of me, I said my “Hello” and he signed my CD and ticket. My mother made awkward small talk with him — embarrassing me as she explained that I spent my babysitting money on the album — and I stood there awkwardly (as I do). We took a picture, I said “thanks,” and then we left to find our seats for the show.
Nothing monumental happened on July 15, 2003. As I tell the story I realize that it may seem like a simple tale of a fan having a simple meeting with the artist they admire, but this meeting changed the outcome of my life.
I had been experiencing such a deep level of depression, anxiety, and hopelessness that I had begun struggling to accomplish anything. I no longer enjoyed the things I used to love and had started spending most of my time alone. I was suicidal without having the words to describe it at the time. I didn’t see much of a future for myself and worried that things were only going to get worse — and then my mother made a small comment that provided the perspective I desperately needed:
“See, Catherine, you always say nothing happens but 6 months ago you wouldn’t have thought you’d be meeting John Mayer! Good things happen!”
…and as she said this, something clicked in my brain. I couldn’t see the good things that were coming because I could only see the depression and anxiety. Good things were happening, even though I was struggling to enjoy them and participate in life the way I would have preferred. This small comment, brought on by meeting John Mayer, changed my life by giving me the hope I didn’t have.
I had hope that maybe things could get better in the next 6 months. For the first time in months, I felt hopeful about the future. I felt hopeful that there would even be a future.
And now…almost 11 years later, I have a life I never could’ve imagined when I was 15. Within 6 months after I met John Mayer, everything changed. I met with a therapist, started antidepressants, and began returning to my life.
It was a long journey from there to here — with lots of detours — but John Mayer was the catalyst for a small comment from my mother that created a chain of events that changed my life completely.
Thanks John Mayer.
Oh, and by the way — since I never asked and my mom was so right that day — do you have a dog?