Aurateque vocalist Lauren Coleman has written an exclusive op-ed for Kill Your Stereo about how music rescued her.
I still remember the first song I ever had the guts to write. It wasn’t very good, but it was real, raw, and a defining moment in my life. It was the moment I started to dig into my pain rather than burying it with substance abuse.
At that time, I was living in a share house that never slept, and I would’ve been four days into a bender by that point. I couldn’t tell you the last time I ate or slept, and this was more or less the case for me every week and sometimes for weeks on end. I only cared about destroying myself; I was addicted to self-harm. I couldn’t handle the constant pain that I was in, and I did everything in my power to make sure I was always numb.
I left home at 15, and up until that point, my entire childhood was spent with adults who had no control over their emotions. My father was physically abusive and extremely aggressive towards me, my mother, and my sister. His family were all abusive, too. They were deeply stuck in this cycle. My mother suffered from BPD and emotionally manipulated my sister and me, and her family severely suffered from mental health disorders.
We were always told they gave up their lives for us, and we were always the problem - we were never given the opportunity to ever have any self-worth. For that, we both ended up in the same cycles of drug abuse and fleeting, empty relationships.
Despite all of this, I looked up to my dad. He could really be a remarkable person. Becoming a master of Kung Fu, an incredible airbrush artist, and the best drummer I have ever known, and he had a deep interest in Philosophy, art and music - a beautiful human who suffered deeply due to influences that were out of his control.
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My mother is caring, emotional and an incredibly giving person. I watched her my entire life as she was abused and degraded by the people around her. She would always be the first person to lend a hand, even if that meant destroying herself in the process. She truly has a heart of gold, and I can see it so clearly. I think that’s why it was so hard for her to control the abuse towards my sister and me. She took that pain out on the closest and most vulnerable - her children.
What always hurts the most is that I have always seen these two sides to them; I’ve always seen these very real, very beautiful and special human beings. They’re just so broken.
I saw it more clearly with each song that I wrote - I also saw those same distinct sides within myself more and more.
So, there I was, sitting on my piano as the sun was rising for the third time, writing about this pain for the first time. I decided to get help the very next day.
I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and had a drug-induced psychosis. When I wasn’t high, I would hallucinate and have major panic attacks and desperately needed medication. This journey of healing was long, and I spent many, many years dragging myself out of the black hole I found myself lost in.
I kept writing songs and kept discovering a spark inside of me - something that gave me that high without hurting myself. I felt it saving me. Soon, I decided to live alone and focus on writing music. Slowly, I stopped wanting to hurt myself and started craving healing; while I was writing non-stop and playing heaps of solo acoustic gigs, I decided I needed more.
It turns out I was living down the road from someone who would ultimately change the course of my life forever.
I met the current guitarist of Aurateque, Matt [Bortolin], for the first time through Bandmix, of all places. I made him vegan pizza (unbeknownst to him), and we jammed Deftones’ Change In The House Of Flies together. There was an immediate connection between us, and that’s when I joined his band Scaburrow at the time.
This was about five years ago, and I now consider him family at this point. Matt has helped me heal more than anyone I’ve ever known both through friendship and music.
About a month into being in the band, I quit smoking cigarettes after smoking for over a decade, stopped partying, started sleeping and eating and signed up for three marathons that year.
I completed all three marathons, found myself as an artist, and, most importantly, found who I was as a person. I left all toxic relationships; I started working in hospitality to be around people and focused on being present with people rather than making money for some loser in a suit. I craved genuine, wholesome moments and started living genuinely and truthfully. I’d fallen in love with life for the first time.
The best part is that music helped heal the relationship between my sister and me, and she had a beautiful son who has changed our lives forever.
Letting these songs and my words validate my experience and having the only person who really knows what it was like, my sister, there to help me through this pain and the pain of writing to heal has helped immensely.
All of this has left me with a deep gratitude for life. I don’t like to think about where I could have ended up, but where I have ended up is an incredible privilege.
Aurateque’s debut EP, The Dragonfly Pursuit, is out now. You can listen to it below.
This article may bring up your own or someone you know struggling with drug use, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts or other mental-related illness. In that case, we implore you to get in contact with Beyondblue or Lifeline:
Beyondblue: 1300 224 636
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Suicide Call-Back Service: 1300 659 467
Beyondblue and Lifeline both also offer confidential online chat/counselling services. Check their respective websites for operational hours and details.