The arts have meant several things to me throughout my life.
As a child and a teenager, playing a musical instrument was a source of strength. It got me 'in the zone'. It was something I could do, and do well, when I felt I was rubbish at everything else. It gave me confidence and it was something no-one, absolutely no-one, could take away from me.
At university, anxiety and depression hit. A friend encouraged me to try writing poetry, which is something I am eternally grateful to her for. I’m probably the worst, over-dramatic poet, but it helped me to express my anger, make some sense of my anxiety, and sometimes even glimpse some peace.
I played in bands, which allowed me to combine the poetry and music into a creative activity that helped me to pick myself up, and also carried me through to my adult life. The buzz from writing music always bucks me up, because there’s always a moment where, to me, my piece or song is the greatest thing in my world, and it’s my music - no-one else’s. Sure, it’s not actually the greatest music in the world, but it’s my baby. And we all have pride in our children.
2 and a half years ago my anxiety increased again. I put more effort into my music and poetry - it got me through before. It could do it again. I’ve been writing songs, arranging others, been playing and jamming at an open mic night. I’ve even been doing some singing (albeit badly).
But my psychologist struck a note of caution. “Don’t make music your saviour,” he said. “It can be so much more than that.”
That got me thinking. My creativity has been bound up in my anxiety. Most of it refers back to my condition in some way.
I’ve been writing about what I know about, and writing in familiar dark moods and where it helped in coping with and understanding my condition it’s preventing me from moving on and developing. For example, I find it incredibly difficult to write in a major key - it always sounds clichéd and unconvincing to me.
If I am to be truly free of my anxiety, I now have to distract myself from it - find other things to write about, explore new moods. Face my fear of unknown, unfamiliar areas, and look at new concepts.
The phrase about art imitating life is a well-known one, but here it seems to have a very strong resonance. My music seems to be a metaphor for my life, and it is my choice now as to how far I let anxiety impact on both.Back to stories