The Upsides of Being Locked Down #3: Being Impulsive

I’ve been finding positives in the COVID-19 lockdown, being more impulsive. If you’re on furlough, try to appreciate being able shape the day however you feel.

Article by Sarah Williams.

Paradoxically, not being able to do anything has given me time to do whatever I want. 

The absence of work and social commitments has left a yawning chasm of free time in my day. Zero plans to adhere to mean I can be impulsive in a way that my anxiety-addled brain rarely allows.

I believe that the pace of modern life is out of sync with most people’s natural rhythms. Anecdotally, I know some people work best before 11am, whereas people like me are most concentrated and creative in the late afternoons and early evenings. Some people need nine hours of sleep a night, others survive on five. Many people who’ve been on furlough for months will have been able to get up and go to bed at whatever time they want.

In my furlough freedom, I’d wake up at nine-ish every morning. I make a black coffee and retreat to my bed with a book in the company of my cat. Once I’ve absorbed a chapter or so, I ask myself what I feel like doing with my day. 

Continue reading “The Upsides of Being Locked Down #3: Being Impulsive”

The Upsides of Being Locked Down #2: Connecting

I’ve been finding positives in the COVID-19 lockdown, including connecting with people I’d lost touch with, checking in with my family more often, and enjoying the new online social events on offer.

Article by Sarah Williams.

Ask anyone in my family or friends: I’m a terrible replier. Whether it’s a text, a missed phone call, an email or a flaming dog turd squashed through my letter box, getting a response from me is virtually impossible. 

Contacting me is like shouting into the void, unless you’re one of the (approximately) three special people that I maintain regular daily contact with, who probably hear from me too often. I have no doubt that anyone who’s contacted Shout Louder asking for a review will be familiar with this phenomenon, if the number of bold, unread emails in my inbox is anything to go by (NB: I don’t write reviews, please don’t expect one). 

In the UK’s quasi-lockdown, we’re unable to interact with our friends in person, which has left me rather hamstrung by my self-imposed failure to reply to all communications. I’ve been forced not only to start replying to people, but also to actively reach out and contact my mates. 

Continue reading “The Upsides of Being Locked Down #2: Connecting”

The Upsides of Being Locked Down #1: Reading

I’ve been finding positives in the COVID-19 lockdown, including taking a new, more active approach to reading than I had before.

Article by Sarah Williams.

I consider myself an avid reader, but the reality is that I’ve not read consistently since I was in high school. As an only child, both reading and writing fiction was my primary pastime. As I’ve grown up, reading’s been shoehorned into train rides, bus commutes and bedtimes when I’ve been trying to stifle the restless din of an insomniac brain. I go to the library twice a week, trawl charity shops for second hand classics and naively promise to read gifted books that are often guiltily remanded to a shelf. 

Lockdown’s given my reading a new lease of life. Unable to seek dog-eared novels from my usual sources, I’ve been devouring the stand-by books that have dusted-up my shelves, unread for years. Those Christmas gifts and obligatory charity shop purchases from years past have finally come to good use. Books I’ve been ‘meaning’ to read have finally been cracked open.

Continue reading “The Upsides of Being Locked Down #1: Reading”

Instant Reply Culture… And Why I Haven’t Replied To Your Messages

Expecting an instant response is part of the way we work in 2020, but is it asking too much? Sarah explores why she’s left you on read.

Written by Sarah Williams.

I walk around every day carrying a dizzyingly-advanced dystopian-sci-fi computer in my pocket. Every day, I clock up multiple hours of screen time and I send countless messages. I am constantly connected… and yet I frequently fail to connect.

I am notoriously bad at replying to messages… and emails, phone calls, comments and voice notes especially. Honestly, I fear listening to voice notes in case it’s someone yelling at me, because the written word wouldn’t suffice to convey their anger. This is an entirely irrational thought, but it’s there nonetheless.

Continue reading “Instant Reply Culture… And Why I Haven’t Replied To Your Messages”

Punk Rock and Mindful Hope

Mark McConville reflects on the importance of punk rock in uncertain times, and its power to mentally uplift us.

Written by Mark McConville. Cover photo by Cold Front Photography.

Punk rock can save us from the mundanity of life. It can aid us in silencing the demons at large who thrust their voices in our heads.

They say punk is a lifestyle, one which only some can endure. That’s not true, as punk is a universal genre of music and culture, instilled in the framework of this breaking planet. To be truthful, punk is needed more than ever in these unprecedented times where animosity is overthrowing human affection. People are changing, they’re frightened, which is understandable, but love has been undermined by stupidity and panic.

Punk rock isn’t a cure, nor is it a foundation to lay problems upon. What it does is create collaborations amongst musicians and writers, even in virtual terms. It also has the charm to build friendships and conversations.  

Continue reading “Punk Rock and Mindful Hope”

Advice for Surviving Lockdown from Someone Who’s Overcome Severe Depression

#MentallySound: tips for managing coronavirus panic and isolation, from someone’s who’s survived their own mental hell

Written by Sarah Williams. Gratuitous cat photos by Cold Front Photography

As stricter rules have been imposed by government in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, my anxious friends and I have joked that ‘normies’ will suddenly know what it’s like to feel mad all the time.

Anxiety: sweats, shakes, racing thoughts, imagining impending catastrophe. Depression: solitude, sadness and worthlessness. We’re being told that if we don’t wash out hands well enough, it might kill our Nan. We’re scared to leave the house. There’s an omnipresent, invisible threat, lurking around waiting to take us out. Coronavirus panic has an awful lot in common with good ol’ run-of-the-mill depression. Continue reading “Advice for Surviving Lockdown from Someone Who’s Overcome Severe Depression”

Bisexuality in Punk Rock: How an open community encourages bi visibility

Joshua Molloy of Animal Byproducts discusses how the punk community has enabled him to be more open and accepting of his bisexuality.

Guest article written by Joshua Molloy of Animal Byproducts, in honour of Bi Visibility Day 2019.
As a bisexual man, I have the power of invisibility. I tried using it for evil, like stealing things, or bringing down society… but it’s not the fun kind of invisibility, more the kind of invisibility that makes you very uncomfortable in a load of different situations. You’re hardly ever mentioned, and people just seem to forget you exist.
When I was younger I didn’t even realise there was a word for it until my sister came out. I knew that “gay” was a thing, and I knew that “straight” was a thing, but I was very aware that I wasn’t either, and I didn’t know what to do with that. When society implicitly teaches you (or explicitly, Section 28 was a real and incredibly harmful thing) that there’s only one way of being, it hurts everyone who sits outside that.
So when I figured it out about myself, I had no real model for how to be, and it was difficult to come to terms with. I told a few people who I trusted and felt safe with, and I didn’t get too many bad reactions. But I still didn’t feel like I was safe letting the whole world know.

Continue reading “Bisexuality in Punk Rock: How an open community encourages bi visibility”

“Thank You, I’m Sorry”: Impostor Syndrome In Music

“Great set, man!” The internal cacophony of anxiety and self-doubt is all too familiar to Lucias from Call Me Malcolm, as he describes in this amusing piece about impostor syndrome.

Written by Lucias Malcolm, of Call Me Malcolm fame. This is part of our #MentallySound series, exploring mental health in music. 

The following is a work of fiction that happened last week. Any similarity to person or persons is entirely likely.

The gig is over. Nothing broke, up to and including equipment and/or bones. The crowd seemed happy, or at least, no one threw anything. But who can really tell? The band rush to pack leads, instruments and sweaty t-shirts into whichever bag is closest. I crouch at the front of the stage fighting a particularly impudent stretch of gaffer tape as a figure approaches.

“Great set man!” he smiles.

Shit. I think to myself. Not now. But it’s too late. I can hear the gavel banging already…

~

Anxiety: “ORDER! ORDER! I call to order the Council of the Inner Monologue.

[Indecipherable murmurs from the countless other voices in Luke’s head]

Anxiety: “I have called this urgent meeting to discuss the most recent and egregious compliment from a stranger, to wit, ‘Great set man’…”

Depression: “Point of order! We are yet to discuss the matter of Something Stupid the Host Body Said When He Was 13.”

[More murmurs and disagreement]

Anxiety: “On the contrary, we went over this in great detail every week for the past 23 years.”

OCD: “Point of order! We can’t start the meeting until we’ve established absentees. Confidence isn’t here.”

Self Hate: “He never is.”  

[More murmurs]

Anxiety: “ORDER! ORDER! Absentee noted. Now, all in favour of replying to the stranger with an inaudible mumble, say ‘Aye’.”

~

I mumble something inaudible in response, offering a smile so lacking in conviction it’s hard to tell if I’m even conscious.

“Yeah man, I really love how much fun you guys have on stage.” He offers with a warm smile.

~

Self Hate: “Point of order! Raising the issue of the errant ‘really’ in the strangers follow up compliment.”  

Anxiety: “Noted and seconded. Too much stress on the word to seem genuine. All in favour of raising the threat level to ‘Suspicious’, say ‘Aye’”

[Cries of ‘Aye’]

Anxiety: “Motion carried. Trigger the Self-Deprecation Clause and instruct the host body to pour scorn on the compliment in principle.”

~

“We’re normally a bit tighter than that.” I stutter. Crisis averted. For a second there, he might’ve gotten away with thinking we were good.

“No seriously, you were so tight. The breakdown in that last song was insane!”

~

Anxiety: “Emergency point of order! Suspicion duly confirmed. Host body was erratic in execution of musical instrument during last song.”

Depression: “Motion to abort Council of the Inner Monologue, quit the band and move to Dieppe to make shoes.”

Anxiety: “I see no other sensible option.”

Self Hate: “Initiate the Cobbler Protocol!”

Anxiety: “Noted and seconded. All in favour say–”

OCD: “Emergency! Emergency! Host body placed the wires ABOVE the foot pedal in the bag. Unacceptable. Motion to–“

~

“I also wanted to say,” the man continues, unaware of the eight-way conversation the voices are currently conducting in my head, “Thank you for talking about mental health. I suffer myself and it means a lot that you bring it up.”

~

Anxiety: “I… well… this is most unexpected.”  

[Door opens]

Empathy: “Sorry I’m late. What did I miss?”

Depression: “We’re moving to France.”

Anxiety: “The host body was presented with an unexpected compliment. We’re trying to establish the root cause of such a breakdown in social protocol.”

Empathy: “Maybe it was genuine? It probably took everything the guy had to come out to the show tonight. Maybe, it took even more for them to walk up to a stranger and start a conversation.”

Self Hate: “He’s right. Motion to discuss this awkward moment in detail at 3am every morning for the next week.”

OCD: “I’ve already made a note.”

Anxiety: “Agreed. Now, I suggest we enshrine in law the Imposter Syndrome Initiative. To wit, from now on, all compliments are met with a genuine ‘thank you’. All in favour?”   

~

Before I can respond, he leaves. I mull over whether I’ll ever feel comfortable in conversations with strangers, moreover ones offering compliments. Either way, I know it’s already on the agenda for a lengthy 3am brooding.

Moments later, I’m packed up and standing by the merch table, offering my best ‘come hither and part with your money’ eyes to people glancing at t-shirts. It works, because a figure approaches.

“I thought you guys were great today,” she offers.

~

Anxiety: “This is it folks, this is everything we’ve trained for. Triggering the Imposter Syndrome Initiative…”

~

“Thank you!” I insist.

~

Anxiety: ““ORDER! ORDER! I call to order the Council of the Inner Monologue. Host body accepted compliment with entirely too much enthusiasm. May be taken as sarcastic. Abort! Abort!”

~

“I’m sorry.” Shit. Baby steps, Luke. Baby steps.

Written by Lucias Malcolm of Call Me Malcolm.  They’re excellent, they’re great live, they talk a lot about mental health, and you should definitely go compliment them after their set. 

If you enjoyed this, read Lucias’ other articles about music and anxiety: There Is A Bear On Stage and Everything Is Probably Fine.

 

 

 

Perfect Women Are Imperfect

…and every woman you perceive to be perfect hates themselves anyway. Millie Manders explores the impossible beauty standards we face, and how that affects her as an artist.

Guest article written by the marvellous Millie Manders, of Millie Manders & The Shut Up Fame. This is part of our #MentallySound series, exploring mental health in music. Trigger warning: eating disorders, body dysmorphia.

Perfect women are imperfect and every woman you perceive to be perfect hates themselves anyway

It’s true.

I hate myself. I’m not perfect. I am very, very imperfect and I hate myself. And seeing as I have been given the honour of this platform to share about mental health, I want to get right to the bones of something people are petrified of truly admitting is a problem.

I believe, as a musician who gets to do some of the coolest things ever, I should be helping people to see through the lies we are sold and to love themselves better. And I really do try to do that.

I teach young impressionable students at a music college, a huge proportion of whom have body image issues and other anxieties that I talk to them about. I share good practise and self-love resources with them and signpost them to other sites/forums/centres wherever I can, to help them be more positive and kind towards themselves.

67646476_2616099575090701_2034781687518330880_n.jpg

The problem is that I feel guilty for it. I feel like a fraud. I have bought into those same lies for as long as I can remember and I punish myself every day. Continue reading “Perfect Women Are Imperfect”

Everything Is Probably Fine

Pre-Gig Anxiety: made worse by day jobs, traffic, hunger, other people or flaming Volkswagens. Lucias Malcolm gives us an amusing account of a problem every band will be all too familiar with.

Article by Lucias Malcolm, vocalist/guitarist in Call Me Malcolm. This is part of our #MentallySound series, exploring mental health in music. 

It’s 12:17 and a car is on fire.

Chris, our drummer, and I are on route to pick up our bassist Travs from the deepest, darkest wilds of west London. We are currently at a standstill on the A-something-or-other and the (thankfully) empty car next to us is on fire. Firefighters look on with the helplessly professional nonchalance of people that are sure, “Yes, that is definitely a fire.”

We’re due on stage in Stafford at 7:30, with a requested arrival time of an hour before. When a promoter asks you to arrive at 6:30, you can extrapolate from that the options available to you:

  1. You need to arrive at 6:30
  2. 6:00 if you want to be in any danger of being invited back.
  3. 7:29 if you think you should actually be higher up the bill.

I am haunted by a teeny, tiny, soul crushing anxiety every waking minute, so I’ve plotted our arrival for 5pm. And even then, my anxiety thinks we’re cutting it fine. An atypical 3-way argument ensues whereby Chris insists everything will be fine, my anxiety scoffs, and I sit in the middle trying not to annoy either of them.

But it’s 12:17 and a car is on fire. Continue reading “Everything Is Probably Fine”