My mental health isn’t great and I constantly have to work on it. I have always been an extremely anxious person, I don’t honestly remember a time in my life where I’ve not been really worried about something. I hate it and I am ashamed of myself for feeling this way. I have an annoying tendency to compare myself to absolutely anyone and everyone, and not in a positive way. Whether it be my mates or Madonna or Claire Balding or Peter Crouch, I’ll find a way to compare myself to them and convince myself I will never ever be as successful or as happy as any of them.
I am fully aware its nuts and that obviously I don’t really want to host Crufts or play for Liverpool, but my brain will make it seem relevant and will connect it all up for me. Nice One.
Obviously at the moment there is a global pandemic and the coronavirus is all most people are thinking about. And rightly so, how can we avoid it? Right now I am supposed to be happily worrying about my second album and what on earth I’m going to wear on stage with Madness this summer, I wish it was still the case.
Now we’re worrying about bigger things… how healthy everyone around you is, toilet paper, self employed friends and family, how rationing might come back, and annoyingly how my mental health is going to be during all of this. How everyone else is coping and I’m not. Or how everyone else is using their time efficiently and I’m not.
In a crisis there are two types of people. The people who spring in to action and the people who can’t handle it and lose the plot. I am a lose the plot type of person. I was teaching a class of children a singing lesson a few years ago and one girl fainted. I jumped up, ran outside and completely freaked out screaming for help! All the remaining kids in the class started panicking too and we had to stop the lesson and all calm down a bit... Whoops.
For me, my anxiety festors when I stay inside and don't see anyone. If you’re hiding in your room no one is going to see you, so its easier to wallow in your anxieties and compare yourself to more random people and feel inadequate. If you go outside people will see you and remember that you’re not as successful as Gwyneth Paltrow or Dame Judy Dench for an example, and you don’t want to let your whole family down, so you stay inside and overthink.
When I am feeling super anxious I take the dog out, switch everything off and go outside for a bit, thats the best way for me to nip it in the bud quickly. Being outside and having some fresh air really helps me. But right now with the country being told to stay indoors, going outside to cool off isn't really plausible.
I worry that I will worry. I worry that the things I do to help me stop worrying won’t work anymore and that I’ll go back to worrying. I worry that someone will tell me that listening Deep Purple and taking acid will save me from worrying and the worrying part of my brain will do it and then I worry I’ll be the new Jim Morrison. It’s exhausting. And it’s also pointless.
So as anxieties are higher than usual at the moment and going outside and cooling off isn't an option right now I've been trying to train my brain to do other things and if they help me, perhaps they can help you too, if like me you've been feeling anxious.
Pick up an instrument. I've been attempting to teach myself how to play Beastie Boys songs on the Banjo. I've never seen anyone else try and do that before so I can't compare myself to anyone else. I can be as rubbish or as amazing as I like, it doesn't matter, no one else can play Pauls Boutique on a 5 string!
Watch crap telly. I personally like a period drama. The sight of Captain Ross on his horse, I mean for god sake... who's going to look at that and not instantly feel better?
I know it’s a cliche but talking to someone really helps. Just acknowledging what we’re all going through and talking about it. I personally have had to have conversations before where I’ve had to be reassured that its okay that I am not Fatima Whitbread and that we’ve achieved different things and are successful in our own right. Imagine how nuts that was?! So nothing you say is going to be laughed at or judged… I wasn’t, even though I should have been… ….Fatima Whitbread???… Emily really…? For Fucks sake?!…