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Don't Dwell on Mistakes But Tough on Mental Health

Don’t Dwell On Mistakes But Tough on Mental Health.

In Alan Hutt's recent interview on this blog he gave as his piece of advice never to dwell on mistakes - let it go. In its simple words Alan’s advice is so true and I so wish I had been able to follow through. Mistakes always hurt and that lonely drive home after a gig the mistakes and what people think play over and over again.

My Fair Lady, McMillan Theatre. A packed evening theatre, crowd are in and all is going well until one of those moments. Up until tonight, in band calls, skitzprobes, dress rehearsal and performances it's been fine but tonight during the solo trumpet fanfare I split two notes so loudly and so ‘well’ it would have been heard in Truro. Even if a member of the audience were tone deaf or asleep they would have noticed. It was one of ‘those’ moments.

Musicians know only too well the many late night lonely drives home after a gig but when this happens as obvious as it did then it becomes a self analytical annihilation of my playing and worth as a musician.

In work next morning, after a sleepless night and desperate to offload the anxiety I shared my previous nights ‘experience’ with an esteemed fellow professional trumpet player. Calmly he rightly summed it up by responding:

“Paul if you were a surgeon and you made a mistake it’s really serious, life and death for us it feels serious but it really isn't”.

Great, calm, sensible, sound advice.

I must have played the said fanfare at least 20 times that day between lessons and didn't knock one of those notes over all day.

Arriving in the pit that night there was much friendly banter from my fellow musicians about the prospect of the now infamous fanfare and how I would do that evening. A smile can go a long way to hide that I was anxious, although the banter was funny.

Could it happen again? Would it happen again? I had climbed aboard the emotional express train of anxiety heading for doom.

As the trumpet was raised to the face to play this wretched fanfare I could physically feel the front of my black shirt moving in and out with the hard and fast heartbeat that literally was thumping my rib cage. Life flashed before me as I thought why one earth do I put myself through this to earn a living? Why?

The fanfare passed with no mistake. Que lovely appreciation of smiles and feet shuffling from the rest of the pit. I felt ok again.

I am not a surgeon and it wasn’t a life or death situation nor could it cause any harm whatsoever to a fellow being mentally or physically …… except to myself. So why the genuine fear and out of proportion, all consuming anxiety?

Anxiety is normal but it can also run out of control and make a life miserable or even unbearable. As mental health week has just passed I hope it won’t be forgotten and that my very small and humble contribution via this blog is to try and keep awareness of mental health not for a week but for all times. Mental health is not selective and it is carried every day.

When I see scenes on the TV, pictures in newspapers, on social media of natural disasters it is devastating to witness. It touches the very core of human care and the subsequent overwhelming desire to do something to support those on the end of the horrific disaster. The hard evidence is there. There is no doubting the suffering, hardship, the weeks and years of recovery. The world rightly reacts because it can clearly see the strife, misery, hardship, anxiety, sadness and fear.

For the many who suffer daily from mental illness there are no such pictures and films to provide hard unmistakable evidence of anxiety, fear, misery and a whole host of other emotions. We can’t show to the world hard indisputable evidence. Sufferers from mental illness will very often go the opposite way and do all they can to hide it. The shame that is felt is too much. The fear of a reaction of either silence, not being believed, or told to ‘get over it’ or ‘look at all the good things you have in your life’, or ‘you just need to snap out of it’ is too great to show the very film playing in their head.

Some of what is going on in a person’s mind when suffering from mental illness would be too alarming to take pictures of. The carnage is too uncomfortable to watch. Therefore there is no obvious hard evidence of the damage that has been done and what is being done daily, from waking every morning anxious, to coping with the day pretending and shielding and then going to bed ashamed or worse. All the films and pictures carried daily in the mind, unable to share mean there is crucially no hard evidence to say to the world ‘this is what is in my mind is like and these are my feelings every day’. Being able to share pictures of a mind in trouble on social media or newspapers would mean that words of explanation would not be required. A huge game changer for those suffering constantly with mental health.

If I could show pictures, films, slides, the disasters of the mind would be cured quicker and with much more understanding, but there are no pictures or films. When the courage of words start to speak from a mental health patient what is needed is please listen, believe, respond, stay in touch, be patient and care. A silent response, no help or action, or no quick response to help is devastating. A silent or impatient response means the huge courage it takes to speak the words of the inner disasters of the mind are not believed.

Believe the words because they are our pictures and films, our hard evidence.

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