Facing her fears to keep playing music

Chrissy Tashijan of the band Thin Lips had paralyzing agoraphobia. Music prevented her world from getting smaller and smaller.

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(Courtesy of HoJun Yu)

(Courtesy of HoJun Yu)

Chrissy Tashijan has had agoraphobia for most of her life.

“It started when I was like, three or four. When my parents would drive on the highway I was really afraid of big hills and I remember feeling like I was like being crushed,” she says.

As she got older, her fears got worse.

“Right before I went to college I couldn’t go outside, and when I did I had all these rules about how it had to be. Just to go anywhere I would have to have tons of water on me and snacks. My friend called it my ‘Mojave pack’ because it was like I was crossing the Mojave desert.”

But Tashijan loved playing music. She had started playing in a band called Dangerous Ponies, and if she wanted to keep playing, she had to face her fears.

“Our first tour, we did seven days to Austin and back. That was terrifying. I took Klonopin the whole time and laid on the floor in the back of the van. But, I kind of started to learn that it’s ok to be afraid of things, and how to expose myself to those things.”

Music has helped her overcome many of her fears. She’s even taken a plane to Europe to tour with her new band, Thin Lips — something she never thought she would be able to do.

“I really learned that it’s ok to be afraid of things. But if I avoid doing those things then I kind of end up shutting myself out of the world. I make music because I have to. Music is like my therapy.”

Thin Lips recently recorded a new song at Miner Street Studios in Philadelphia. They will be featured in the video documentary series “Shaking Through”  which is produced by Weathervane Music. Weathervane is a Philadelphia non-profit that connects people through the practice of supporting, engaging with, and creating music.

Gabe Greenberg from Weathervane Music produced this piece. This collaboration between The Pulse and Weathervane Music was made possible by a grant from the Thomas Scattergood Foundation for Behavioral Health. 

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