- 08 Oct 19
We invited a chorus of artists, writers, musicians, broadcasters, sports stars, and more to contribute to Now We’re Talking, a mental health campaign, run in partnership with Lyons Tea and Pieta House.
Most of us unintentionally do our bit to keep the stigma around mental health alive, even if we've had our own brushes with it. Maybe you don't pull someone up when they make a derogatory comment about someone who's not coping. Maybe you miss an opportunity to change someone's mind when they pass ill-informed judgements. Or maybe you bump into someone you know on your way to a therapy appointment, and when they ask where you're off to you say "Oh, y'know, meeting a friend." And you kick yourself for reinforcing the idea that you and everyone like you has anything to be ashamed of.
I released an EP this year and found the process incredibly draining. As musicians, we put our mental wellbeing on the line. I got sucked into comparing my progress with others, honing in on the negatives when in reality they were far outweighed by positives. Luckily, with some space to breathe post-release, I realised my anxiety was coming not only from a severe lack of confidence, but the belief that I didn't have the right to feel confident. And if you feel like that within yourself, how can you deal with being rejected, criticised and ignored? But I needed space to figure that out. You need space.
We'll always have to deal with criticism. You'll spend years crafting something, for someone to listen to 30 seconds and say "It's not fresh". You'll tell yourself you don't care, when what you need is to acknowledge that you do care and try to understand why. They'll tell you to develop a thicker skin but please, never beat yourself up for not having "thick skin". How can you be expected to dive beneath it, and scavenge for the things that come out in your songs, if it's thick and hardened? How can you be expected to emerge with anything worth sharing if you're not willing to be vulnerable? How can you be expected to expose yourself to your sensitive spots and then just bury them again when they're no longer acceptable? People used to tell me I was too sensitive and I'd feel ashamed; I was conditioned to link that trait with weakness. But now I say: yes, I'm sensitive – I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing otherwise.
A few years ago, I got disillusioned with the music industry and my life gradually shifted to revolve around community projects and music in healthcare work. I'd never been more fulfilled. Kind of. One day a colleague gently enquired about plans for my own music and I began explaining how I didn't want to engage with that fickle world anymore; how my work now was filled with a sense of meaning that world could never give me. "But Sadhbh," she responded, "this work is great because music is important. We need people to write songs." Lightbulb moment. I'd gotten so lost in the smoke and mirrors that I forgot why I wanted to share songs in the first place.
Of course there is always learning in hard times, regardless of whether you write songs about them. But when someone reaches out and says "Thank you for writing that" or "I feel like that song gets me!", you thank the universe for the struggle that brought it into being. It helped you connect with someone, helped someone else feel a little less alien for a while. And isn't that what it's all about?
Now We're Talking 2019
A partnership between Lyons Tea, Pieta House & Hot Press.
Let’s break the stigma and take the dialogue about mental health issues
onto a new level
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