Original article no longer available
The Calgary Herald
By The Calgary Herald
September 25, 2007
Prior to recording the album, the opinionated art provocateur suffered through the worst year of his life: Good’s lifelong struggle with mental illness climaxed after his marriage fell apart; he became crippled by an addiction to the anti-anxiety medication Ativan; he suffered from extreme episodes that would often leave him unconscious or vomiting for hours.
It all came to a head one night when he swallowed 40 pills, overdosed and ended up begging the paramedics rushing him to hospital to let him die.
The singer-songwriter then willingly checked himself into the psychiatric ward, where he finally dealt with the demon that had been tormenting him his entire life: he was diagnosed with Type 2 bipolar disorder, a mood disturbance characterized by rapid cycling between debilitating depression and unbridled mania.
Good had sought treatment prior to the breakdown, but he had never been properly diagnosed, resulting in him taking antidepressants that actually increased [caused – SSRI Ed] his mania, and anti-anxiety drugs on which he grew dependent.
“Bipolarity does come with a significant suicide rate, but what people misconstrue about it is that you’re not really looking at taking your own life to make a point. You know, some people kill themselves to make a point. In my case, you get divorced, so you try to kill yourself to make a point,” Good candidly explains of his attempted suicide.
“That’s not really the case with people who suffer from this illness. We just want it to stop. It has nothing to do with anyone else. We just want it all to stop. Sometimes, at the end of the line, the only way for it to stop, is for you to stop.”
After overdosing, Good purged his feelings while in the psychiatric ward by writing and drawing, two things he has relied on since he was a child to cope — and from those scrawlings, much of the material on Hospital Music was born.
On the record, he speaks of his drug dependence, such as on 99% of Us is Failure, in which he writes about a kind of bad that “they can’t operate on,” and “bag drugs that never work enough.”
Elsewhere, he reveals even more intimate details, such as on first single Born Losers, which speaks to his marriage’s destruction, the daughter his wife never had, “cocaine cons” and “trailer trash pedigree.” It’s shockingly honest, tragic and somehow inspiring in its frank confessions.
Good also posted a lengthy blog about his time in hospital, including extremely personal drawings he did at the time in which he depicts himself as a man with a crack in his head, filling up with little pink pills.
The singer-songwriter says it wasn’t a conscious decision for him to open up to the world this way — making art was simply what he had to do to survive.
“It’s not a choice. It’s not a choice like you get up one day and go, ‘Oooh, you know what? I’m going to do this writing,'” Good explains.
“It’s more like, ‘I’ve got to find a way to deal with getting this s– out of my head.’ I need to find a way so I can find calm. And if I can find calm for a certain amount of time while the well is filling back up, then I’ve found at least a little bit of a rest.”
Now, Good has taken Hospital Music on the road. His Calgary show is tonight.
Matthew Good plays the Jack Singer Concert Hall tonight
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