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World Mental Health Day: Remaining Focused and Resolute
TODAY is a very important and busy day…
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that has got a lot of folks on social media sharing their stories and joining together. It is World Mental Health Day and, as you many have seen online; a lot of people are coming out and sharing their mental-health experiences. I am seeing a lot of people revealing their experiences with depression/psychological distress. Mental-health is a complex thing so being aware of its spectrum and how many people are going through tough times is important. Forbes have written a piece that states why we need to get involved with this special day and take messages away:
“If you’ve ever heard the term ‘mental health’ and thought this isn’t for me, you may just want to keep reading.
While the language around mental health and mental illness has existed for decades, the conversation itself has become far more open and relevant to all (and rightly so). Mind, the UK’s leading mental health charity summarises it concisely by saying “mental health can affect anyone any day of the year”.
While there is a World ‘Day’ for almost everything, today – World Mental Health Day – feels particularly significant and worthy of attention.
· Mental health problems are one of the main causes of disease burden worldwide.
· In the UK approximately one in four people will experience a mental health problem each year.
· And one in six report experiencing one of the most common problems, such as anxiety and depression, in any given week.
Days like today at the very least, bring global attention to an important conversation and provide an opportunity for people to share and speak up more publicly about their own experiences”.
This is the one day where you do not really mind hearing strangers/’friends’ talk about things. If they are recognising World Mental Health Day and being more open then it feels like, in a way, they are taking a big step and, if only for a day, social media is being used as a tool to connect and communicate effectively. In music, I am hearing a lot of tales of people taking leaps or relocating. It can be scary upping sticks and going somewhere new and, for me, that is especially true. I moved to London a few weeks back and, in order to be closer to the heart of the music industry, I feel like it is something I HAD to do. I was too far away from the action where I was and I had been meaning to make the move for years. You might assume happiness and contentment overcame me when I was settled in and had everything unpacked. Maybe that is the feeling for some but, for me, it is more like a business move. I don’t do ‘happy’ in any sense and, having suffered from pretty bad depression since I was in school; I am unable to get properly excited and overwhelmed by positive emotion. I have not been able to find work yet, which is a pain, but my money situation is not too bad. I am keeping a close eye on things but am itching to have something happen and find some employment. I have plenty of time to write but feel a bit isolated and tired at the moment.
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When finances become a bit scant and it does get scary, I hope something will come along and, even though the city is packed and busy, it is really hard finding a well-paid job and getting your footing. I am tired all of the time and even a simple commute is exhausting and can involve a lot of being prodded and pushed about. I have met a few new people up this way but it is hard to escape the feeling of being alone and isolated. Even when you are in crowds of people and on a busy street; there is no point where I feel safe, together and part of a community. I guess that is the nature of the city and, through all of it, I have to keep reminding myself I am doing this – moving and staying here – to get ahead in music and make a life for myself. There are things about home and my old life I miss. I do miss family and my dog and I miss my car. Being able to get anywhere and have that freedom is a big loss. I miss being able to drive down to Brighton on a sunny day like this and my local area; having a job and being a bit more secure.
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There are bad days and things are pretty stressed but there are good moments and times when I can find solace and perspective. Just today, when traveling on Piccadilly underground; there was a busker playing a version of, I think, Radiohead’s No Surprises. It may seem appropriate/inappropriate on World Mental Health but he was playing the song on a ukulele. It was a quite meandering version but it made me smirk none the less. I did not spend too much time outside the station but, when I came back through fifteen minutes later, he was playing the same song! That made me smile and it is little things like that which get you through. I know the city existence will be a hard one and it might be a while yet before I find work but I am afforded time at the moment to write and not have to face the daily commute. Others on social media, I see, are experiencing doubts and finding adapting difficult. I am not sure whether it is the dreaming minds of musicians that are most prone but so many are dreaming of big things are tackling them head-on. Whether that is a move to London or recording an album; having this concept or an ideal for where their music will head. The creative mind is often prone to these big ideas and romantic notions and that is great.
Musicians are among the most ambitious and hardest working out there and I know few in the business who cut loose. There are many like me who have taken leaps or made changes in life and it is a bit of a struggle. It is natural, I guess, and the one thing we have to remember is things will improve and things will fall into place. Few of us aware of the extent of mental illness and how one’s mental-health is affected on a daily basis. I can share my story and see other people’s tales me it is hard to understand exactly what is happening and how they are feeling. Life gets busier and harder as we become more modern and immersed in technology. We have adverts that set this ‘ideal – whether it is beauty products, technology or something else. We are always bombarded with adverts and emails; our lives are more and more conducted online and it can be hard to find time to unwind. Even if we can get out; how much does a night out cost and do we have the energy?! I am not surprised our mental-health problems are making the news. Everyone sees successful and good-looking people online and someone else’s good news and achievements can make us feel inadequate and a failure.
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That is especially true in music. There is a split between the established and popular artists with their gig demands and big audiences and those who have to slog and make their way with very little support. The thing is; even if you think a band or famous musician looks content and happy, often, they are struggling and go through the same things as us. I guess we all need to stop measuring ourselves against others and spend less time online. Today; I have seen some big artists speak about their mental-health problems and what they have to endure. A lot of articles are online that advise us how to look after ourselves and we all see messages/posts with platitudes and pieces of encouragement. Some of it can help, I guess, but it is a lot more complex helping someone cope with mental-health issues because we are all complex and have different minds. I think, on World Mental Health Day, we all need to take in as much advice as we can and spend some time away from the Internet. Whatever works for you; you need to do it and be aware that there are many people out there going through similar problems. Poor mental-health is a real concern for everyone and I am seeing more and more musicians express their anxiety and troubles. I think it is the demands of the profession and how much time they have to spend online. I am on the laptop most of the day and it can be very isolating and tiring.
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Rather than abandon that practice and way of working; all of us need to make small changes and be more conscious of how we are feeling. I hope the messages and awareness being raised today endures and everyone who feels sad/bad about themselves realises they are strong. It can be hard to feel like you are coping and mean something. I am in that boat and my sense of self-worth seems to wane and wax – I am not sure whether I am making the right choices and if things are going to work out for the best. Keeping that faith strong and focusing is a challenge but we need to keep resilient. Being unafraid to connect with someone in the same boat is a big step and getting out and socialising as much as possible is a positive move. A lot of articles released today and promoting exercise and fresh air; others are suggesting mindfulness and spending a couple of hours a day to relax and put away all the distractions. I am not sure how much these guides and articles help but it is important, however you are coping and making sense of your mental-health; ensure you follow as many steps as possible and do not measure yourself against others. Music is an industry where impressions of self-worth and ‘success’ are being measured against unrealistic standards. I suppose it is unavoidable but there is a link between this mindset and the rise in mental-health issues. Finding ways to get by and realise you are doing well is paramount. That might involve listening to music more or exercising; making big changes or altering the way you see yourself – today is a chance to start afresh or be reminded why you are around and what you have to offer. Things will get better, regardless of how bad they are now, and the future holds a lot of great things. World Mental Health Awareness Day is not meant to be a once-a-year occasion for discussion: we need to keep the spirit burning and understand how important good mental health is. If you are someone who is struggling or reaching a very low point; have a look at the great mental-health charities out there and reach out if needs be. Regardless of how impossible improvement is and how low you are; take stock, take a breath and understand…
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YOU are needed and are strong.