Ken Leighton 3:30 p.m., Feb. 15
Veronica May Has Good News For Others With Bipolar Disorder
“I had a manic episode this past July,” says Veronica May, who with her girlfriend and Lovebirds bandmate Lindsay White has been very open about her battles with bipolar disorder. “[I’m] about a week off of Zyprexa and I can't sleep. I feel as though I have drank a tub of coffee. But less meds equals more me.”
“The process of recovery has begun,” she says. “This is what it feels like.”
“I walk into the delusion as if I am walking from my hallway into my living room. One minute I'm here. The next minute I am in a different universe altogether. Colors are warmer, my heart beats at exactly 120 beats per minute, eyes widen, energy attracts to me like a button to it's adjacent slot on my light cardigan that I slowly shrink out of. The weight falls from me like a bomb drops from a plane. Destroying its personalized ecosystem.”
“After the destruction comes the clean up crew. Thank God for the clean up crew. 90 days pass and I'm back on my feet. Until the next bomb goes off. The ticking is always lurking somewhere deep in my beaten hippocampus.”
”It takes over. My car. I'm the driver. My car. I'm the passenger. My car. Running over my brain. Running over my will for anything at all. It washes over me like a Baptist baptism. Completely christened in the name of delusions, demons and the holy spirit.”
”It hooks me like a crane. Like a scrappy, unfair fight. Coming from behind without warning. Lifting me above the tallest skyscrapers. The tallest mountain. The highest cloud. Past the pearly gates and into white space. Then it drops me. It drops me from the sky, through the clouds, past the dirt where loved ones are buried, lower than the lowest crust of earth into the other side of the hemisphere. Out into the bottom of the universe, past hell into black space.”
She describes her time this past summer in a mental health ward as “Tackled to the ground and pumped with sedation. Taken to the pits of the ward. So confused. Staying up all night paranoid that they were all coming to kill her. Hearing footsteps down the hall. Staff opening the door every hour on the hour, flashing a flashlight in my eyes to make sure I was still alive. To make sure we were all still alive.”
The message May wants to spread is one of hope and recovery, a promise she is living by example, not only for her friends and fans, but also for anyone whose life may be affected by bipolar disorder.
“I have to make sure and stay alive. To experience what it's like to summit and stumble. For I have seen the spectrum. Like God holding hands with the devil. The very left hand of God touching euphoria and the very right hand of Satan clenching his fist around my lungs.”
May has been playing piano for over 20 years, percussion for over a decade, and guitar for several years. She grew up in a small town with big love. Her mom and dad played in a 1970s band called the Flatlanders.
In San Diego, she particularly loves Ocean Beach, a place she likes to take out-of-town visitors. “I would have them all blindfolded on the way. I would walk them to the edge of the shore and announce regally ‘Unveil yourselves!’ When they took off the blindfolds, made of organic materials, they would see the ocean. I would have a tape cassette cued up with Enya’s ‘Only Time’ playing. There would be tears...”
May won Best Acoustic at the 2008 San Diego Music Awards. In 2011, she became the new Glee Club Director at Clairemont High School. She and girlfriend Lindsay White also perform as the Lovebirds.
“Pretty little harmonies with a pretty little lady,” is how May describes the duo’s music. They also play together in the Forget Me Nots, a 1940s-inspired ensemble.
“The Forget Me Nots sound is throwback Americana jazz, blues, and even some country, with rich four-part vocals,” says White, who got her start playing open mics at venues like Lestat’s Coffee House. “We make the new, original songs sound like antiques. My solo music is very soft and folksy but with potent lyrics. The Lovebirds is sort of a mix of all that."
May concurs. "I’ve always loved Lindsay’s singing...she has a nostalgic voice that renders kindness and understanding. And I love that.”
May, who once collected Mad Magazines (“This explains a lot about me”), also fronts a self-named solo band. In addition to music, she earned a degree in Music Therapy at Colorado State University (class of 2005), and is a Board Certified Music Therapist.
“Working with children with autism, we use music to achieve non-musical goals. Ask me, if you are interested. No, we don't throw glitter and sing songs and call it music therapy!”
All in all, May seems poised to enjoy her current recovery and artistic rebirth.
“It is a good thing life isn't really like a box of chocolates, because I would most certainly have no more life to live. I love chocolates!”
Here's May performing last year at Anthology: