Musicians Matter – Mental Health Personal Stories

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Catherine playing gold Les Paul electric guitar in warehouse with guitars hanging up in the background

Since announcing the years focus ‘Musicians Matter Mental Health Personal stories’, I have gone through major inner turmoil around the theme and what to share, how much to share. Thankfully, there is a collective focus on Musicians Matter Mental Health by Support Act and Makeshift offering online workshops will counselling, advocacy and educational opportunities to help creatives and a growing recognition of creative therapies. This blog will share my experience and focus on the needs of artists as a unique collective and services that can assist us.

Artists well-being

Artists well being has become part of my niche, something I’m  passionate about, as many artists and musicians suffer needlessly due to lack of tools, resources, and networks et cetera. To properly address them we need to look at the true nature of these struggles, so physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and critically socially.

Our global social sphere has become Chaos with Covid and has affected every soul on earth. The creative industries have been hit hard very hard some artists have thrived others like me have suffered immensely due to all our regular health support networks being inaccessible. Gyms pools physical therapies, counsellors and psychologists so busy one has to wait for a cancellation.

My experience during Covid has been tormenting like so many others, work has affected my income. The trickle down to very little work and not being able to access my training, (which helps me keep an even keel) has been a challenge and also a big lesson in surrender for the things we cannot change. I’ve had to wait weeks in some instances to get a session with my long time counsellor who is my rock. I took up old coping mechanisms I am still battling to get on top of it. My most recent episode of the black dog and our latest lockdown did birth a new composition! It is my way of transmuting the pain into promise for a new tomorrow. The alchemy of creativity that makes sense of, giving new meaning to life, transmuting it, it is  what we do. My partner Sean says ‘turning his Demons into diamonds”. We are often told we are the problem being subject of much projection, but our social sphere, the nurture element of environment and societal structures are not to be underestimated, for they bare down on us like the executioners blade.

The nature of P.T.S.D

‘This brings me to just what to reveal? Due to many unfortunate life events, I have been a long-time sufferer of P.T.S.D, depression and anxiety. It can be so crippling, struggling to function with even simple things, as it affects the ability to work and have a normal life along with the effects of chronic pain/medical issues. This is as much as I am willing to reveal at this time. It has been my reality for  most of my adult life.

A song from 1998 ‘All I ever wanted’ about life love loss, 2011 circa unreleased.

Post traumatic stress is quite insidious, it is residual and recurrent trauma where the integrity of body mind spirit is compromised and impaired. P.T.S.D can be experienced as a state of hyper vigilance or a state of hypo arousal (being under stimulated). Central nervous system tuning is what determines our homeostasis, our normal operating state. Triggers can be many and varied and when in the traumatic moment, whether there is a real threat or it is a past perception ie. memory, it is experienced again in the now on a very visceral level. This is because trauma gets locked into cellular memory; until that is released and the nervous system is re- programmed one is prone to loosing all clear thinking ability when trauma takes hold. It just has to be ridden out, like a wave in the sea of life that it is.

Creative brains are differently wired

Creative brains are wired differently, we access more right brain intuition and feel than left brain logic. Creatives are known to dwell in the more relaxed alpha and theta states when engaged in creative work, we can also operate from unity states and complete brain synchronisation. There is not enough education of people that focuses on empowering them and understanding the science behind trauma and its neurological and biological effects, so they can put themselves back together again and thrive. It is certainly not all in the head. P.T.S.D, depression and anxiety change brain routing (if you like) and the subsequent stress response influences the brains’ ability to function properly and regulate various bodily functions. These patterns get reinforced and embedded and can be complicated further in the realm of addiction where various psychoactive agents affect one’s state of arousal or what is considered normal modus operandi. Being so up that you can’t come down or being so down you can’t come up. By their very nature  certain substances will stimulate or sedate us. Where we get into conflict with society is because the every day waking state is a beta state of alertness and people do not know there are simple things they can do themselves to change state, they don’t necessarily have to result to medications and chemical means. We will explore this in day retreats.

What does it mean to be human?

This connects us to deeper conceptions of what it means to be a human being. From a top down view, we are incarnate souls having a spiritual experience in a temple of flesh. The free flow state is a relaxed state, if we are depressed we are physically under aroused, energy moves slowly, we are lethargic, forgetful and just struggle with simple things. If we are anxious our adrenal glands are in overdrive as we experience ongoing stimulation, including from the realm of the ghosts, (our inner thoughts and internalisations), these affect our feelings and the cycle gets reinforced the more we experience it, becoming dysfunctional. So the key is to change ones state and take control. Using ones higher wisdom to guide when stuck in the mud. By understanding both the physiological and the psychological  realms accessing whatever supports we can.

The arts for wellbeing

Music and the arts and physical therapies have always been my go-to coping mechanisms, I would not be alive if I didn’t write songs, poetry, paint, sculpt, assemble, write and so on. There is a growing awareness even within the mental health field of the benefits of creative and body based therapies, largely in part due to ongoing research and advocacy by leaders in the field. I’m lucky I have the tools I do, many don’t. I don’t do medication or D.S.M (diagnostic and statistical manual) I prefer to regard human struggles as a soul affliction, soul distress. Mental illness is a loaded gun, it condemns, wounds, by it’s collective definition and inception. So with this blog I hope to share a little about my story and what I have done to make it through the valleys. A lot of my more complex and raw songs are yet to meet the public eye, but they will, some were meant for a band not a solo artist, they detail my life experience and alchemical practice with lyrics and music. Here lyrics  from the song ‘Suffering” CM2008 such as

‘Haunted by, the memories of the past

Lingering on, its echoes ever will last

Time ticks on, faithful servant cruel master

Pain takes hold and age cripples with its laughter’.


music for wellbeing

Taking the guitar to the park for much needed sanity

People are complex, life is complex, we are multidimensional whole beings. To break us into physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, disease bearers is a product of the Darwinian age. With our knowledge, medicine systems, understanding and science of the 21st-century, we are way beyond all that and yet our social arena is not, our education, our training, our creation of programs and paradigms to address our collective social deficiencies is sorely lacking. Everything is held up by the needs of evidence-based research and red tape preventing progress (whilst also slowly educating and setting industry standards( peak bodies)). They say it takes fifteen years for the latest research to become more common knowledge.

A holistic worldview is essential

A holistic worldview is essential, a worldview, that looks at the flaws in our social structures that perpetuate suffering and promote the silence of vulnerable souls, that paralyze people because they don’t qualify, don’t live in the right region, don’t have the money et cetera et cetera. So, they don’t get help and the cycle continues. Imagine funding structures and facilities that assist everyone, regardless of social standing, because that is the right thing to do. Healing centres fully equipped for the creative arts for well-being, that cater to our needs on the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social levels;  a foundation for creativity the arts and healing.

We are relational beings we do not exist in isolation we are all co-dependents in a complex web of interrelated factors. At this time, I do not want to go into the nature of my trauma, just that it’s many different instances have been significant and still affect me, but I personally do the best I can with what I’ve got and I seek to assist and empower others to do the same, from an ethical inclusive heart-centred space. We all deserve dignity; the system will strip you of that. We all deserve privacy and confidentiality; the system does not respect that. Collectives with hierarchies deny the needs of individuals of a lesser rank.

Message for my peers

I want my peers to know that whatever it is that’s going on in your life, there is a way through it for you, you just have to find what works for you.

For some it is medication and psychotherapy, for others dynamic physical exercise like dance and martial arts, for others it is nature time. The rest of this blog series will focus on sharing possibilities and therapies that can help, things to do at home and where we can go get help or develop your inner resources, because ‘musicians matter’.Peer personal stories will also feature.

Let’s not have more brilliant souls join the 29 club or commit suicide. As artists our sensitivities are enhanced, it is part and parcel of our core identity, but we do not need to suffer needlessly or for any length of time in life, or for our art and legacy.

Book a session with me today

  • Join me in conversation with services offered to develop your inner resources.
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  • The world desperately needs its artists, creatives and cultural curators, musicians and allied industry workers are always at the forefront of social change making, music the arts and healing are the conscience of society,

Love in action and empathy, Catherine

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