Music and Mental Health: World Mental Health Day

Today is World Mental Health Day and I wanted to take a moment to join together three thoughts around the music I have made and my mental health. I want to take a moment to do what today calls for: to talk about it.

For me, music and my mental health over the past few years have been inextricably linked.

In June 2014, I released the song 'Collide'. This song was written about the darkness I experienced when I was ill with Ulcerative Colitis. Only looking back afterwards could I see what a huge effect that illness had on me far beyond the physical symptoms. The fatigue that came along with my inescapable and intrusive symptoms demolished my confidence and made me withdraw from the world around me. Whilst my recovery, both physically and mentally is well progressed now, I still carry with me what that time felt like and the effects of it I still feel around me, even with the passing of time.

At the time, I wrote a blog post about the meaning behind the song. I never shared it. It still sits in my drafts folder. I was too afraid, too shy, to talk about it. Even now, listening to this song still makes me cry. Every time.

Perhaps I am being too hard on myself. Because, just like it has taken me over 2 years to finally open up and talk about the meaning behind this song, at the time, it had already taken months to build up the courage to write and record a song that held such a deep meaning for me. Each step has taken time, but has also been cathartic. 

In September of this month, I released an EP under the moniker Invaleurs. At the time I wrote:

I have a confession.

For too long, the anxieties I experience around sharing my music online have kept me from creating things I love. But when I set out writing these songs, I made them just for me.

With that freedom, I could explore more freely, able to push beyond the boundaries of my own comfort zone, to create songs I am proud of. And so, I am sharing them with you.

If you enjoy them, if you share them too, then I feel honoured to know that these songs have found new connections beyond the ones I hold with them. If you don't, that's fine too. I've already done what I set out to do.

Being so honest felt scary. But following the release, I had many people share with me how my experiences resonated with theirs. The response I got back is what has given me the confidence to share this blog post now.

This brings me to the third and final thing I wanted to share. 

Immediately after releasing the Invaleurs EP, on the spur of the moment, I took my camera and, as I blogged at the time, escaped to Lepe to find some time and space to clear my head. That trip kick started a process that has led to finding myself writing this blog, starting a new Instagram and creating short films and soundtracks that have become one of the most liberating and enjoyable creative processes I have ever been part of.

This process has been quite the opposite experience of releasing songs, EPs and albums. As I blogged just this weekend:

There is something mindful about heading out in to an unknown space and creating my own space within in: through the camera lens and through channeling my focus from the world around me in to the music I compose.

Music and mental health will always be inextricably linked for me. Finding a way to make and release music that is good for my mental health has given me a huge creative boost.

Talking about mental health is scary.

Talking about mental health is important.

Talking about mental health is liberating.