One Story Of Recovering From Mental Illness

Sarah shares her story of a year of recovering from depression, exploring the challenges and the stigma attached to it.

Written by Sarah Williams for World Mental Health Day 2019. Trigger warning: suicide.

On Mental Health Awareness Day last year, I somewhat ironically published an article about the horrors of depression, and the relief of overcoming it. I say ironic, because a few days after publishing it, I tried to kill myself.

I fucked it up, and then tried again about a month later. And then again, a third time, in December. 

At the time I remember being frustrated and embarrassed that I couldn’t even do that properly. Suicide is really fucking difficult. Also, the chairs they have in A&E treatment rooms are so uncomfortable it’s really not worth the hassle. 

That was a year ago. Three suicide attempts between October and December 2018. Looking back, my sole focus for the last 12 months has been on trying to get better. And you know what? I am better. Continue reading “One Story Of Recovering From Mental Illness”

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”

There Is A Bear On Stage

Lucias from Call Me Malcolm discusses the constant pressure of anxiety and panic that haunts him on stage.

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

We have a gig in less than an hour and there is a bear on stage.

I’ve been a musician for just shy of twenty years and an outwardly functioning human being for almost double that; functioning in the sense that in that time I’ve somewhat miraculously kept myself fed, watered and free from major scarring. I even tie my own shoe laces (though I do wonder if there’s a statute of limitation on this – I’ve been wearing the same Etnies for as long as I can remember and I’ve not re-tied the laces since day one). The point is, outwardly, as far as society is concerned, I function.

Inwardly it’s a different story. At current count there are thirty seven different warning lights flashing, smoke is billowing from several important looking dials and the rabbit that usually steers the ship lost the manual in 1996. The point is, I get anxious.

As I said, there is a very real, to me at least, bear on stage. Continue reading “There Is A Bear On Stage”

Unsent Text Messages & Neglected Friendships

Notes from a downward spiral: Alan shares a relatable tale of the numb listlessness and anhedonia that comes with a bout of depression.

This article written by Alan Corcoran is part of our #MentallySound series, discussing mental health in music. Trigger warning: depression.

Mostly I just feel paralysed. If my head was in a better place I’d probably think that sounded melodramatic, but for now the only feeling is a lack of feeling. Options stack up in front of me. Impossible options. I cannot make any decisions today.

I know there’s work to be done. Life admin. Basic stuff. Exercise would be good. Shaving and a shower are definitely on both a mental and physical list. Relationships of every kind are going untended. Texts. Gigs. Invites to celebrations. Sorry, sorry, sorry.

A gnawing in my stomach reminds me that I’m at least still capable of some feeling. Anxiety, like a snake in a particularly on-the-nose fable, sidles up to wrap itself around in an embrace. Breathing exercises can get fucked, I can’t breathe. A headache fog fills my brain. Continue reading “Unsent Text Messages & Neglected Friendships”

Why I’m Not Coming To Your Gig Tonight

Social anxiety in live music can be a challenge. Support your scene, but not at the expense of your own mental health.

This article written by Sarah Williams is part of our #MentallySound series, discussing mental health in music. Trigger warning: anxiety.

Today, my anxiety has anxiety. I am experiencing my own personal apocalypse.

I am entirely aware that the visions of catastrophe in my head are irrational, imagined and impossible (or at least implausible), but they’re there nonetheless. A cacophony of intrusive thoughts, false assumptions and self-criticism rattle round my hollow skull, a jarring, overwhelming rush.

Counting to ten isn’t helping. Telling myself I’m being illogical isn’t helping. Distracting myself isn’t helping. Self-care sounds like a waste of time, when I’ve got so much work to do. I need to just sit, ride this wave out and hope it doesn’t ruin my evening.

I’m going to a gig. I love gigs. I love live music more than anything else.

I desperately do not want to go.

I’m lying facedown on my bed, trying to muster the courage to put a jacket on and locate my house keys. Everything is impossible.

Continue reading “Why I’m Not Coming To Your Gig Tonight”

Booze, Music & Saving Your Sanity

Sober punk Jon Turner shares the story of Petrol Bastard, and why you don’t need to be drunk to be punk.

Guest article by Jonathan Turner, chief of the excellent SoberPunks blog. This is part of our #MentallySound series, discussing mental health in music.

Somewhere back in August 2015 there was a standard weekend happening for me. Standard in that it had become the norm ever since the birth of Petrol Bastard in a Huddersfield pub in 2012; a crazy techno-punk band borne of a manifesto drunkenly written up between me and my bandmate Ben:

  • Fast music only
  • Live recordings only
  • Repetitive lyrics so they’re easy to learn
  • Tons of swearing
  • Never write or record sober
  • Never gig sober
  • Never do anything sober

We both enjoyed some pretty hardcore drinking already, but this new set of rules made boozing the absolute centre of everything we did as a band. This was gunna be a crazy ride; a band BY the drinkers, FOR the drinkers. Songs about being drunk, written whilst drunk, and performed whilst drunk. WE ARE PROFESSIONAL ARTISTS AND WE REQUIRE BOOZE TO OPERATE. Continue reading “Booze, Music & Saving Your Sanity”

A Dead Pancreas & A Broken Heart

Diabetes, heartbreak and depression have changed the life of Marie from Punk Rock Avenue in 2018, but she’s brave enough to share the tale.

Guest post written by Marie-Line Cyr, who runs the fabulous French-Canadian blog Punk Rock Avenue. This is part of our #MentallySound series, discussing mental health in music. 

Last year, when I was thinking about my 35th birthday, I pictured myself on Vancouver Island. My plan was to drive across Canada all by myself and celebrate my birthday by the Pacific Ocean. Actually, I celebrated my 35th birthday last September alone and crying on the couch, with a dead pancreas and a broken heart. Here’s the story of my downward slide to the bottom.

2018 has been the worse year of my life. I started having health problems on January 4th. Something wrong in my right eye directly linked to an immune system disorder. Which disorder? Nobody had a clue. I was so scared of what they would find. Finally, they found nothing but prediabetes. So I stopped eating sugar and crap and took care of my health. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to stop the disease. I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in June. That’s when I started being super sick and had to stop working. I was so weak and tired and I was literally melting while doing nothing at home. There was something wrong. My blood sugar became so high that I spent a couple of nights on the verge of a diabetic coma. I was going to bed at night so scared of not waking up the morning after. It became obvious that I needed insulin and that I was in fact a type 1 diabetic.

I started insulin on July 18th and I will always remember that day. I was in my bathroom, staring at the needle while being too scared to put it in my belly. But I knew I had to do it to stay alive. Just like I knew I would have to do it for the rest of my life. My pancreas was dead and I had no choice but to do its job to survive. So I played Survive from Main Line 10 on Spotify, my diabetes anthem as I call this song, and put the freaking needle in my belly. My diabetic life had just started. Continue reading “A Dead Pancreas & A Broken Heart”