26 April 2019

Breaking the Cycle-My Personal Journey

I have been considering for several months now about writing a blog on the pages of Midlands Metalheads and have been exploring different topics and anecdotes, trying to think of something I’d really like to talk about.
Yesterday I attended the Download Festival “press day” event and one of the keynote speakers was a guy, who some of you may know, Melvin Benn, Managing Director of Festival Republic, who oversees Download, amongst many other projects.

Melvin has recently introduced into his office a mindfulness programme where his staff are invited to attend regular sessions of counselling and guided meditation in order to give them the “life tools” to cope with the daily pressures within and outside the workplace, investing greatly in the field of Mental Health.

He has now taken on board the challenged, and his team to take this one step further and bringing this to this years Festival under the banner of “Mind the Dog” with a series of sessions offered, for free, including guided meditation and exercise.

Click on the below link to find out more.

As a long-term sufferer and diagnosed some time ago with Anxiety and Depression disorder, I found this a moving pledge in the assistance of Mental Health issues and great strides are now being made to publicly acknowledge the ever-growing issue that we are faced with in today’s society.

Don’t get me wrong, depression has always been there, ever since the conscious mind has been faced with myriad of choices and decisions we have always been “troubled” in the best way to turn for advice and counselling.

I believe there’s a real correlation between our use of social media to connect with the world and we can almost instantly see the impact subjects like depression have on society, especially those involved in the creative industries, from Artists to Press, to support services like PR and even to the humble roadie, depression affects us all, whether that be direct or indirectly, it all touches our lives in some way.

Personally speaking, in the past few months I have faced enormous challenges with my mental health, often with day’s that I have felt lost, confused, unable to focus creatively and even thoughts of suicide on several occasions.

As I hope you can tell, from reading this, I’m pleased to say I have not taken that ultimate step and instead, decided to take the route of therapy through CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and one to one counselling.

If someone, anyone, were to ask me what to do when facing the same or similar feelings my advice would simply be this…. Talk.

I feel that talking is the first step on anyone’s journey of recovery, whether that be your partner, family, friends or a colleague, that very first hurdle is essential in dealing with often confusing feelings.
For me, personally, it was admitting that I no longer wanted to be here, no longer wanted to ride that train, I was exhausted and wanted to get off at the earliest station possible, I needed to break that cycle and get the help that I needed.

At first, I must admit it took a great deal of trust in myself and others to enable me to make that appointment at the Doctors and talk about my suicidal feelings, I won’t lie, it takes courage and a certain level of dedication to do that.

My greatest fear at that point was that once I’d admitted that to a medical professional I would be admitted to a psychiatric facility, locked away and experimented on, this of course was far from the truth and found my Doctor was a sympathetic listener, positively acknowledging my brave step to talk about how I was feeling. Once I was over that major hurdle and realised that I wasn’t heading for the Mental Health Unit I found it easier to talk.

My doctor was great and really cared about my situation and for once I felt that I was being taken seriously and the thoughts I was having were real, I took the step to better understand the feelings I was and, even now, experiencing in my daily life.

I feel it’s important to highlight and demonstrate the impact it was having on my daily life in music. I was no longer able to write and produce my radio show, I had huge social anxieties, actively avoiding meeting people, going places like gigs and crowded places and interviewing artists which previously I had great enjoyment in doing.

The preparation work that goes into broadcasting is time consuming and a good job is a job worth doing, this added more pressure on my fragile state of mind and luckily for me the bosses at my main projects of work, in music were there to support me and giving me the time and space to recover and come back stronger and better than ever.

Today I still fee that fragility but little by little and with the support of family, friends and colleagues within the Creative Industry I feel the ability to return, albeit slowly, to the craft I love the most. Music. Try and remember the reason why you began your hobby, job and pleasurable pursuit and turn your depressive thoughts around and use the energy as a force for good and change.

So, if it’s music, sport, painting, sculpting, designing or anything you do that is positive in your life, use it. Take that thing you love the most and immerse yourself in the things that bring you joy and take any assistance you can from the Medical Profession, that above all is key to successful living.

Be brave, be strong and realise the rewards are limitless, you do have that choice.