Friday 25 February 2022

How music and football saved my life

The world is a difficult and dangerous place right now. I don't think I'm alone in feeling anxious and worried for the future. Not so much for me. If a nuke took out Mill Hill tomorrow, I can safely say I've had ten lifetimes worth of fun, but I have three children and they really do deserve better. I sometimes marvel at how I got through it all. When I was 13-14 years old, I was in a very dark place (I documented the reasons for this in THIS BLOG). I was on medication for anxiety and in hindsight I was probably borderline psychotic, although thankfully this manifested itself as very dark thoughts rather than anything worse. So how did someone who was a complete mess end up approaching sixty years old feeling satisfied and contented. Of course a huge chunk of the thanks must go to the missus, without who I'd be adrift. But in terms of my mental wellbeing, I think that there is a pressure release that has saved my life and my sanity. 

I'm very lucky really. I play in a rock & roll band & I play five a side football. That means I have 4-5 hours a week where I'm in a little world of my own where the world is a better place. When you're trying to remember a guitar riff whilst singing or score you forget your woes. I'm quite prone to anxiety, music is really the only thing that has kept me sane over the last 45 or so years, since I first picked up a guitar. All the time spent practicing, all of the time gigging and all the time songwriting has transformed me from being a nervous wreck at age 14 to someone who considers myself stable and successful.

It really is never too late to get into music or to pick it up if you stopped. There are amazing community choirs if you don't think an instrument is for you. It is something you commit too and have to concentrate on. I often dread band rehearsals as I'm feeling tired and lazy.But I have never finished a jam with the boys without feeling a million times better. Followers of my blog will know about the tragedy that befell the band last year. What you may not know is just how amazing it was as a unit to come together and carry our drummer through it.

So to finish off, never think music is something you can't do. I've never been on TOTP or the OGWT, but my life is immeasurably better for the time spent practicing, rehearsing, doing gigs in pubs and clubs and by the huge circle of friends I've collected on the way. 

As for football, I still play every Thursday at Powerleague Mill Hill. I cannot describe how much better I felt when I finished the game last night to my feelings at the start. I'm a rubbish footballer, but football has given back to me so much. I believe that being active and doing exercise is an essential part of good mental health. From what I've seen people who sit in there bedroom bashing away on social media 24 x 7 end up becoming very detached from reality. Football and music, for me at least, are an antidote to the worst ravages of the ridiculous nature of social media. 

In short, I believe that football and music saved my life. My Dad always taught me that if you can play a musical instrument or play a team sport, you will always make friends, whereever you travel. It was perhaps the best advice he ever gave me.

Stay Safe

Here's a little track that I wrote and performed with the band. Please have a listen and tell me what you think, I hope you enjoy it.

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