I’ve been doing great in the isolation of Covid. I was more than happy to be told I had to stay home and not see anyone. It gave me leave to bury myself in my writing, to start a podcast, begin the process of indie publishing my work. I got so much accomplished in the past two years! I’ve been doing great!
Having said that, I mentioned to Matt some time ago, “I wonder if all this isolation has affected me in ways I’m not yet aware of …”
The answer is Yes. Yes it has. I have much higher levels of anxiety. An almost constant feeling of being nervous, even when there isn’t anything to be nervous about. Then, when there IS something to be nervous about, even a tiny bit, that feeling intensifies rapidly, so that I’m way more anxious about, say, the drive home from the ferry last week after my writing retreat. Shaking by the time we got home. Or, there’s a FAT Jazz gig coming up. I have always had issues with nerves before music gigs, but usually not until the day of. We have a gig on May 5 and I’m already wound up about it. Add to that all the worries about the world (and yes, there’s a lot of shit going on in the world that is anxiety-provoking).
So. I need to do something about this. It is absolutely no good for me to be sitting here in my armchair on an average day, working on editing, and for my nerves to be jangling as if it’s Gig Day. wtf? And see, I have been working a lot lately. So much that to even take a short break as been out of the question.
Now, speaking of gigs and music, this here armchair I’m sitting in is right next to my piano. My piano is a beautiful instrument that is also a gorgeous addition to my little living room. I can play it. I’m no concert pianist, but I do enjoy banging out songs, singing along, and even going through the books I used to play when I took lessons, seeing if I remember how to play them. We’re talking definitely not for the enjoyment of the neighbours, here.
So when it occurred to that this nerves/anxiety stuff is getting out of control I realized I need to take breaks. I have heard that a lot of people find meditation helpful for keeping their nerves under control, for keeping life in perspective. I never learned to meditate, but I do know that playing music has the same effect: It forces your mind to completely change focus. You have to think about the notes you’re playing, the tempo, the tone, the fingering, the dynamics, the lyrics if you’re going to sing along. (Playing in a band/group is even better because you also have to think about blending with the other instruments, your pitch, and how your notes fit with what everyone else is playing).
Add to that the sheer joy of music, the chords, the melody line etc. etc. and it really is the perfect meditation for me.
I am going to add making music to my daily routine, giving myself regular doses. Perhaps by doing so I will avoid needing regular doses of some pharmaceutical product, or other.
I hope you are finding ways to handle whatever mental health challenges you’re encountering.