Mental Health Awareness Week 2020 – Kindness

This week is mental health awareness week. 

Over the years I have written about my experiences with mental illness, from psychosis and suicidal thoughts through to struggling with depression and anger issues. I’ve had quite a range in my adult life and still do.

This year’s theme is kindness and I have spent the last few days trying to write a post about kindness but I keep coming up against a brick wall and losing my train of thought.  Lack of creativity seems to be hitting me quite a hit throughout lockdown.

My inability to write something started getting to me and I felt that I was putting pressure on myself and starting to be unkind.  After all, no one will care if I write this or not and I don’t want to write just for the sake of it. 

I want to write to help other people who are struggling at the moment because I have been there and know how hard it can be.  Truth be told, I, like many people have been there over the last two months because the world we are currently living in is surreal and not normal.

We’ve been staying inside, not seeing friends and family and home schooling our kids.

We’ve not been going to gigs, festivals are cancelled and an unfathomable amount of people are losing their jobs and that is fucking scary.

Kindness is important, perhaps now more than ever.  

Over the last year we have seen the effect being unkind can have on a vast amount of people.  The suicide of Caroline Flack was, in part, due to the unkindness of random people she never met on social media and the press.  We see it when someone is on TV and people don’t like them or think they look strange – well if you do feel that way, don’t share it, keep it to yourself and think – ‘how would I feel if someone said that about me’.

I have recently started calling social media ‘anti-social media’ as it has given people a soapbox to say things that they would never say to people’s faces.  So, stop doing it online.

Kindness is about checking in on your friends and family, and I mean really checking in.  Ask how people are, listen and although we are not meant to be hugging people at the moment, just let them know you are there.

There is another side to kindness which is often overlooked and I myself am incredibly guilty of this and that is, being kind to yourself.

Over the last year I have found that I often put too much pressure on myself and mentally beat myself up when things are not going the way I would like them to.  This is both from a work and family perspective but also, I have noticed I do this a lot from a musician point of view.

Let me explain. 

I have been making music for 20+ years and whilst being a full-time musician will never be my career I do want to move up the metaphorical ladder year on year.

Last year in particular was hard.  I started releasing music again after a 5-year break and got lost in the desire to get my album reviewed, get songs playlisted and book gigs and festival slots.

It is relentless and when it’s just one of you, whilst juggling a full-time job and family along the way, it can be a real mental struggle.  Don’t get me wrong, I love making music and performing but the promotion side is hard work.  Be it promoters who don’t answer emails or radio stations that don’t play your songs or even your own self-doubt – it is hard and can lead to unkind mental thoughts.

As I say, I realised I have been impacted by this and rarely ‘be kind’ to myself.  

I don’t give myself enough credit for the things I do achieve, or take solace in the little positives that happen and I want to change that.  

I want to practice being kind to myself more which for me means – letting go of expectation and pressure, remember to have fun with making music and not get lost in the other side of it.

Take breaks and step away from social media, emails, and the news – this is something I really need to get better at.

And as I said at the start, I don’t want to write just for the sake of it.  This post is kind of about me, but it is more about you.  

You need to be kind to yourself because you are unique – there is only one of you and no matter who you are, you are special and deserve kindness.  We all do.

So, start smiling at people, spread a little hope and happiness and let’s all make the world a kinder place.