On Friday 27th October 2017 I launch a project I’ve been working on for several months, and I’m so excited and thankful that it’s actually happening. I’m a Singer/Songwriter who has struggled with Mental Health problems since the age of nine; it was as though the bad periods, especially throughout my twenties, interrupted my life, like an unwanted and uninvited guest that stayed for far too long and, whilst hanging around, reeked havoc in my life and in the lives of those who loved me. It essentially meant I was late starting what I really wanted to do with my life, and in an industry which can often be very age conscious, especially with women, I felt a sense of pressure from the beginning that it may already be too late.
But I’m stubborn, and over the next few years I started to build something. I wrote, sang, recorded; I started to meet some brilliant people, opportunities came, along with several near misses and disappointments (with huge labels, influential managers.) Despite the see-saw journey, for the most part I felt in control with my Mental Health stuff; I had a coping mechanism and it generally worked.
Two years ago, I had (almost) reconciled myself to the fact that I would probably never be an Artist, (my big dream) but would focus on being a Songwriter for others and for Film & TV, a dream of a career in itself. But something happened. I went on a week-long songwriting retreat to Spain with The Songwriting Academy. I co-wrote with some incredible musicians, made friends I know I’ll have for life and, on top of this, kept being told, “You’re an Artist.” In the weeks and months that followed, these words were echoed and reinforced through a succession of comments from other sources. And I just knew: I’m not giving up. I’m meant to do this.
I’d had the idea of a music project for a long time, but it was put into focus through a chat with someone at a major record label; they suggested the idea of writing, recording and releasing a song a month for 8 months, culminating in an album release at the end of it. I was excited and inspired.
And then something else happened. I fell off the end of the world. Well, that’s what it felt like to me. In retrospect, it wasn’t surprising. But the thing with retrospect is that you don’t get it until after. There were some major factors (serious illness in the family, friends moving away, the all-overpowering CHANGE), and I took a dive such as I hadn’t in about 12 years. Which in itself was scary. Which made it worse. I buried my anxious self away for 2 weeks, hoping but not knowing things would get better.
One night, I was listening to music and was feeling a flicker of comfort, and in the midst of the fear, a flash of inspiration came. It was crystal clear: Make the project about Mental Health Awareness. It was as if, stuck in the middle of the “No”, I suddenly felt a “Yes.” It was one of those stop-in-your-tracks moments. The thing is, I’ve always wanted my music to be a vehicle for helping people. I guess it’s because I’ve always felt that if we’re given gifts, it’s kind of our duty to use them for GOOD. I know that the power of words and, in particular, words with music, can have the ability to cut through the moment you’re trapped in; hearing someone else articulate what you’re experiencing can be an immense relief in times like these.
Fast-forward 10 months. We’re Not Meant To Do This Alone launches this Friday with the first single and music video release “Stages.” I’m supporting and fundraising for the incredible Rethink Mental Illness. I still struggle, but I’m DOING. The one thing this illness is clever at is trying to stop you from doing exactly what you were meant to do, and the one thing that can help to set you free. For me, it’s music and words. I hope that the songs that come out of this will comfort, encourage and empower others who are also going through this painful illness. I’m on the journey with you. One thing I know: we’re not meant to do this alone.