• Devin Gackle

Songblog: Sciamachy

“Sciamachy” written by Devin Gackle, Spring/Summer 2020


I started working on this song early this year, before things shut down and stay-at-home mandates began, and finished it at some point this summer. I wasn’t entirely sure what it was about when I started jotting down words, but the more I dug into what I was feeling, the more it became about recognizing what I was feeling.


To put it simply, I was feeling a mix of things, but they were rooted in my mental illness (depression) and roller-coaster loop-de-loops of anxiety. When I started, I was thinking about how I sometimes felt, but being stuck at home so often with the world in a state of turmoil accelerated those feelings. Though, on the other side of that coin, quarantine has also given me the space I need to sort through those feelings.


I know I’ve talked about depression and anxiety before; mental health has so many facets that there’s a lot to talk about. But really, I talk about it—in my music, anyway—because that’s one of the ways I deal with it. I turn to music; I write about it if I can.


In this song I do a lot of thinking about how logically I know much of the emotional pain I’m feeling is in my head, but accepting that and knowing so doesn’t always make a difference. In fact, I tend to get sucked into my head and stuck there. It’s a war with myself, in a way; I’m constantly fighting the scenarios my imagination plays out, the sad lies my mind tells me.


Some time ago I found a unique word for this: Sciamachy.


Pronounced ‘sahy-am-uh-kee,’ it’s defined as fighting an imaginary or unseen enemy, or a shadow. And that it is what it feels like sometimes, warring with my own negative thoughts, battling something that isn’t always tangible.


Maybe it wasn’t the intended definition of sciamachy to relate to mental illness, but that’s how it struck me, and I’m running with it. I like having a word for this, made all the more interesting by it’s somewhat obscure nature. So it seemed like the right word to encompass all aspects of this song.


So how does sciamachy feel?


There are good days and not so good days; days when I feel calm and like all is right, and days when when I feel aimless and like nothing is right. Sometimes, even on good days, I feel like it’s only a matter time before I lose or forget the good feelings, and the negative feelings overwhelm me again.


When the song begins, I express how familiar depressive thoughts and feelings are to me. I’ve spent so much time with them they sometimes seem more familiar than happy or positive feelings; as much as I wish I could make them go away, they’re so much a part of me I’m unsure who I would be without them.


I never know when a depressive episode will hit. Living with that weight on my shoulders is a bit like watching the sky for dark clouds, even when the forecast calls for sunshine. In my world, there’s always at least a 1% chance of rain.


On top of that, I feel guilty for wasting so much time stuck in my head. I spend so much time worried about time that I lose time. Ugh!


It’s not always quite so bad as I make it sound. Most days are fine, some are just “meh.” It’s the not-so-good days that come with less warning. And I could talk about all these feelings for a while, but that’s not why I’m writing this post.


This song is me being honest with myself about my feelings. It’s also for anyone who’s ever struggled with mental illness or similar feelings expressed in the song. The emotional process of writing this song will have been worth it, I think, if this song touches even one person.


On a random note, I haven’t played my electric guitar in a while, and in my head, this song, like most of my other songs, are rock songs. So, here’s some electric guitar accompaniment for you.



Lyrics:


Pain is a familiar friend,

it’s always been there for me,

I’ve nurtured it so carefully

How do I let it go

Will I even know myself

without the shadows I have felt

Just when I think I’m free doubt trickles in


How long before I forget myself

and thoughts start to attack

I could admit that it’s all in my mind

but it just keeps coming back


Fear lingers at my door,

anxiety is trailing me,

anger’s lurking in the street

Time is a fickle entity,

I’m so caught up in measuring it

I forget to be in the moment

Just when I think I’ve escaped I’m trapped again


How long before I forget myself

and thoughts start to attack

I could admit that it’s all in my mind

but it just keeps coming back


I don’t want to be afraid

I want to learn how to be brave

and know I am enough

I’ve had to be a fighter

I’ve learned to walk through fire

I can’t be what I was


How long before thoughts creep up on me

and I’m stuck in the past

I could admit that it’s all in my mind

How long before I forget myself

and thoughts start to attack

I could admit that it’s all in my mind

but it just keeps coming back


Wounds open up again

but I think I’ll bleed them dry,

let them fully heal this time