Musicians are among the most creative and yet troubled people on this earth. Let’s face it, we all have to be a little crazy to stand in front of people and crave that attention.
But what if it gets on top of you? Who will listen, or even understand? Wiltshire based counsellor Amy Walters may have some answers:
Since I have the distinct pleasure of being both a mental health professional and a musician, I thought it was high time I addressed the complex world of musicians’ mental health.
As we head into a new year we might be thinking about how we can make 2017 a great one musically, we might be making plans about how to reach more people, how to write more authentically, how to be successful or even what counts as success. What about your mental health?
Let’s be honest, being a musician creating art can be really tough on our mental health. We have a tendency to embrace the darkness of our past and present hurts so that it can inform our writing, we’re constantly making ourselves vulnerable, holding out our art for the world to judge, hoping for connection, not to mention carrying the weight of the expectations of family and friends. That can take a toll.
‘The Stage’ magazine recently published an article reporting that more than 70% of musicians suffer with anxiety and panic attacks and 65% suffered with depression. It’s no wonder there is a desire to turn to outside sources to feel something or nothing. Drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, food anything that helps right?
So how can you stay sane as a musician?
1.Connect with other art. Since the dawn of time philosophers, scientists, playwrights and artists have tried to figure out this meaning of life stuff. Have a look at the ‘The Guest House’ by Rumi. Other artists have gone before us, paving the way with their neuroses and pain. We are not alone.
2. Make time to refill. When you are constantly giving out to your music, your other jobs, your family, your friends, it can feel like there is very little left for yourself. Find something that is separate to your own art that can top up the internal vessel, you can’t give out what you don’t have.
3. Put it into your music. It can be really cathartic to make music that reflects the chaos of our minds.
4. Share your mind. Whether it’s a friend, and therapist, a family member, share the things that are taking up your head space. You really are not alone.
Happy New Year.
Amy Walters runs a counselling service in Calne, Wiltshire as well as regularly performing her own music.
For more info visit: amywalterscounselling.co.uk