1 in 4 of us will develop a mental health disorder of some sort in out lifetimes, this is a staggering number and new treatments and therapies are developing all the time. Sometimes at the start of our individual journeys it can feel all consuming, but I want to discuss and share with you how music has impacted my life and saved me countless times.
I am no stranger to mental illness. I was diagnosed with depression and GAD (Generalised Anxiety Disorder) at 17 and then following a really tough time at university I was diagnosed with EUPD (Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder) at 21. For those who don’t know, EUPD is a serious diagnosis which affects how a person processes feelings and forms healthy relationships, you can ﬁnd out more here: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/ borderline-personality-disorder-bpd/about-bpd/ For a long time my only real form of relief was found through music, I found it tough making friends and ﬁnding meaningful relationships through school and was bullied a lot, so having music as an escape made life bare-able. I knew that no matter how awful people could be, they would never take music away from me. I could stand up in-front of a hall of people who had tried to make my life miserable, sing, and feel as if I had won a battle and proven that I could stand up to them in my own way. I am now a professional singer and singing teacher and owe much of my successes to the way music has shaped my life.
Music has had a huge impact on my conﬁdence and self belief. All forms of mental illness can affect how we see ourselves and impact our conﬁdence in negative ways, having music to counteract these negative ﬁlters has given me a way to learn how to love parts of myself I wouldn’t have loved otherwise. Being able to stand infront of people and share my talent was at ﬁrst, pretty terrifying as the fear of rejection was impossible to ignore, but after I had forced myself to overcome those feelings of anxiety I realised that actually it’s really fun to perform and entertain people! I was also surprised that outside of my own experiences, people are actually quite supportive. Because I fought those initial worries, I was able to go to open mic nights, socialise with people who I wouldn’t have met before and start to believe in myself and my ability to function within social groups. Facing rejection is something I deal with all the time now as a professional musician, the ability to not take things as personally has come with learning that i’m not always going to be what someone is looking for, and thats ok!
Music can be an incredible outlet. As a songwriter I have always used music as a way to express my feelings, I never kept a diary as a teenager but I have books full of lyrics and chords instead (many of which will never see the light of day)! I have heard from many a counsellor that writing down how you’re feeling can be helpful when healing from trauma or negative emotions, this has been extremely true in my case of songwriting as not only can you write down the feelings you can create expressive tunes to accompany them and encompass the whole emotion in a way that can’t be captured otherwise. Singing or playing an instrument can also be extremely cathartic, choosing your favourite Adele song, throwing it up to full volume and crying in the car can be as helpful as a therapy sessions sometimes. Hearing how, in other’s lyrics, they may have experienced the same or similar emotions can make you feel less alone and then in singing or playing along you physically can release some of the tension and emotion you’ve been feeling. This can work in a way of distracting and distancing yourself from negative emotional periods too as it is proven that upbeat, fun music can make us feel better, couple this with the physical exercise of dancing and socialising with friends and you’re on to a winner! I don’t think I know anyone who can resist that piano riff in “bohemian rhapsody” and I know I love a dance!