Music and Anxiety:
The Storm and the Calm.
THIS month has been particularly horrendous and…
upsetting. Sparing gory (and inane) details; suffice to say things are not working out how they should- backward steps are being taken. At the crux of things is where I love: let’s call it X; I am not happy here- in fact, at the lowest I have ever been. The geography and landscape is fine- there is history and tranquility to be discovered- but it comes down to (a certain number of the) people. I would not tar an entire county- or in this case, an entire area- with an all-sweeping condemnation: a minority of the people falls under my scorn umbrella. In addition to ‘the area(s)’ being very boring (and not equip for the young, ambitious and hungry) there are fundamental issues- attitudes and drawbacks; deep flaws and narrow demography. I guess a lot of areas (have their own issues) yet ‘here’ they are more rampant and upsetting. I know where I want to live (east London); I know where I want to work (in music promotion and charity) - I have everything mapped out. It seems- for the next few months (minimum) - I will need to work and live around here: the only way to be able to get to London; having to do ‘make ends meet’ jobs. Being where I am feels pretty lonely and detached- few I know understand the importance and wonder of London; even my own dog doesn’t like me much- it is about as hopeless as I have felt. That burning desire to escape and get to where I need (causes its marks) and the day it happens, it will be a fantastic moment- until then, what is to be done?
The whole point of the opening paragraph- rather than a scorched earth/battered-warrior statement- was to highlight a common malady: anxiety. Based on situation/destination alone, anxiety levels would be high (in me): having generalised anxiety disorder- a misnomer if ever I heard one- makes things a lot worse. The point of moving to London- in time I want to relocate aboard- was to find remedy and calm. I know London has its issues- among them tonnes of people and a lack of communication- yet there are opportunities and life; young people (and, in the centre of town, fewer families)- chances for writers and creatives to not only work, but to flourish. There’s no point living for the sake of getting by; no use staying somewhere you detest (and makes you very unhappy) - it is something a lot of people face. Anxiety can be caused by a lot of things, yet pressures of life- expectations and being ‘where you should be’- are near the top. Being a music writer, music itself has a double-edged sword approach: musicians themselves (can be among the most) anxious; music itself elevates and cures a lot of anxiety. Knowing a lot of musicians- and seeing so many of my peeps go through stress and sadness- it got me thinking about things: is there a common cause/link? In some cases- where musicians have felt hopeless where they are- they are/have relocated; gone somewhere better and more opportune. Among my London-project planning; the suburban mixology and capital-dreaming, I have been concerned for these people- the musicians that go through much heartache and self-doubt.
Being musically-inclined; a music writer, I was wondering: does being musical make you more anxious; or do anxious people go to make music? It is a chicken-and-the-egg question, but interesting one- music certainly helps. Of all the bands and acts I know-across Twitter and Facebook- a large percentage suffers anxiety and doubts. Born that way, music is their outlet and way to cope: it distracts them from their situation and limitations; away from the stresses of their life- and gives them something to work on. Mainly focused on solo artists, the issue of anxiety is a pressing one: music helps to elevate it (to an extent) but the stresses of the music industry exacerbates things- and adds to that sense of expectation and stress. If you have a particular personality- that can be quite tense and nervous- then music is an ideal occupation: there is a chance to connect with audiences; join with fellow musicians; turn your angst into something creative- and be freed from the boredom of a workaday life/job. I guess there is a certain creative brain: one that is always busy yet is drowned out by its own insecurities; fearful of the future; always getting worked up. Being in similar position- and run-down by the stresses of life- I find music and writing helps channel those negativities; turn depression into something productive- and feel worthwhile.
From guerrilla beats to maternal entrance; sweet-leaf jams to anthems for the modern youth: music seems to be able to cater for everyone. Perhaps those that are anxious/feel that way create the most innovative music: from my experience, they tend to be among the most productive and ambitious. Whatever the reason why- a lot of anxious people go into music-making- I am not sure; music itself can help a lot of people- even those that do not make music. Whatever your tastes and preferences, there is something that caters to your whims: the joys and wonders of the art can help a myriad of psychological issues. Curative and redemptive, the attraction (of the music industry) is completely understandable. Maybe the demands of the modern music scene (cause increased anxiety in young artists); I’d like to think music makes their lives better- assists them in channeling their frustrations and fears; put their concerns onto paper. As much as anything, the music industry has community: listeners and fans can relate and connect (with the musicians); in a way it is a sort of therapy. My heart goes out to my musician contacts- those who suffer anxieties and stress- and I hope music-making makes a difference. For me, writing and reviewing helps distract my mind- and gives me the most reward in life- to focus on something genuinely productive. Whether my words make a difference (I am not sure), but I’d like to think they do- the musicians I review help my woes and anxieties; they help a huge host of people.
It would be good to get people’s opinions: whether they suffer from anxiety; how much helps them- if there is a link between anxiety and the creative arts? As I try to figure my way out of a hole- knowing there’s chance it may never happen- I know music is a saving grace; something that softens the blow- and allows me a chance to put my energy on the page. I know anxiety will not be cured by music alone, yet it is a good start: just an hour or so a day (of music listening) can go a long way; help take the edge off of things- and comfort the senses. The musicians I know are working hard and setting the bar high- which can cause a lot of stress and doubts- but they are doing a wonderful job; touching a lot of people in the world- and making a big difference. To them, I would say this:
KEEP doing what you do.