In order to mark Mental Health Awareness Week 2018 we are sharing some stories from our singers in regard to how being a member of the choir has a positive impact on their health.
Here is Steph’s Story:
Most people would consider me to be confident and outgoing, so they are shocked when they hear I suffer from severe depression and anxiety. Mental health problems effect people in all sorts of different ways. Me, I’ve always been quite happy to get up on a stage and perform to an audience. In many ways, performing is what I do every second of every day anyway, acting out the role of model employee, perfect daughter, amazing friend, all while holding back how I really feel. Music is my way of taking off those masks and expressing the real me. There’s such a freedom in being in an environment where emotions, both positive and negative, are valued and prized. With music, no one is expecting you to play all the instruments at once or sing an eight part harmony alone. You are part of a team, and you work together to create something special.
The period before I joined Kensington Singers was one of the lowest points of my life. I had been signed-off work for months, and I spent my days watching rubbish daytime television, singing and generally feeling sorry for myself. At one point, I realised that if I didn’t do something about my situation I’d actually die, so I quit my old job, got a new job in London and decided to join a choir.
I was so nervous before my first rehearsal. I hadn’t sang in a choir since school! However, once I got settled in I really enjoyed myself. Hannah and the choir were lovely and welcoming, and there were a good range of age-groups represented, so I wasn’t the only young person there. Also, it’s difficult to be intimidated by people once you’ve seen them do silly vocal warm ups! Now, almost four years on, I find singing with the choir definitely helps me to cope with my illnesses. It’s a great way to meet new, like-minded people, and having a regular schedule and keeping busy are key for me. Performing in a concert is always a massive achievement, but the little achievements in between are the ones that keep me going from learning the lyrics to nailing that high note.
I can’t exactly say I’ve been cured, but I feel that rehearsing with Kensington Singers has really helped improve my condition, and I’d recommend joining a choir to anyone who enjoys singing, whether they suffer from mental illness or not!