Being diagnosed with clinical PTSD, depression and anxiety in 2017, I reached out to Help Musicians UK on the phone. It was at a time I was struggling with day-to-day existence, my situation looked disastrous. Too sick to work in music or any other field with all sorts of fear, with financial pressure exaggerating the situation. With the weekly telephone calls to Help Musicians UK, they became one of the too few caring supporters I had.
Emotionally, the benefits to those few phone calls basically kept me alive with having hope for the future and getting to a better place. It was through this that I was pointed to therapy, financial support, and kindness that was for me life giving. Sinead visited me in Devon and it was quite literally heart warming.
Me and my HMUK Visitor, Sinead.
The support that Help Musicians UK gave me enabled me to attend a Djembe drumming course run by the Devon Recovery Learning Community. This simple musical course is so effective for mental health as it engages the mind and body. Not only is it a healthy distraction, it is improving your ear to hand co-ordination, there’s also something very therapeutic of the feeling that goes with the hands on a drum, as there is with the sound of collective drumming. The Djembe drums originate from the west of Africa, the drums are traditionally made with goat skin, the goblet shaped wood base is carved from a single piece of wood from the Lenge tree. The bigger the drum the deeper the note, when in a group with different drums the sounds are harmonious. Our drum sessions were in an incredible Exeter venue known for heavenly acoustics.
My mental health everyday function was out of balance, if depression was high, then activity, and enjoyment was low. Drumming activity helped me get some more balance, as I was being physical, finding enjoyment whilst decreasing my negative thinking. Admittedly some weeks when depression was very high I missed the session completely, they were all understanding and offered grace and no fuss. Even during the start of some drum sessions I found myself over processing negative thoughts at first, as I persisted in drumming I got to a much better place. There is also something satisfying about improving in your own ability that brings a new level of confidence, something much needed with anxiety and depression. With my background in Music, Television and IT, it was no surprise to make a video for the course, to demonstrate what others would be introduced to learning.
The pinnacle of the course is a mini concert in which all the course drummers will do a public piece which I am looking forward to, as this will be my first musical performance since my recovery began and marks another turning point. For me this is evidence of how important healthy and enjoyable activity is in your weekly timetable for a successful recovery plan.Back