(Photo by Louise Bichan)
Last week I was visited by a lady called Sinead from a charity called Help Musicians. This is the second visit I’ve had in the last year. They do their best to visit everyone they’ve helped, as they can. The visits are free of judgement and are informal. They are organised simply, to check in with you to see how you’re getting on and if and how their aid has been of benefit.
They provide a very wide range of services to all musicians of all genres and at any stage in their career.
They can help with financial ‘crisis’ which can occur when you are unable to work due to short term or long term physical or mental illness.
They work with older musicians who, for example, are dealing with much longer-term illnesses and may need financial support or assistance with home care.
They provide initiatives for young musicians trying to establish themselves and develop their careers.
In my case, they have provided me with a therapy grant to help me cope with chronic abdominal pain I’ve been living with for the past 4 years. This therapy has really helped me to keep my head ‘above water’ psychologically. It has definitely helped muster the strength to use my energy economically.
I’m not completely able to do as much as I used to (re. Work, socialising, exercising) and I’ve had to make quite a lot of big physical changes to my diet, working hours etc.
The therapy helped me gain confidence to speak openly with colleagues and employers about working with them within my new ‘frame-work’. It has also helped me remain grateful for what I can do and reduce my frustration at not being able to do other things.
I’m hopeful that the long waits for test and scan results, appointments with consultants etc will eventually amount to a diagnosis and an effective treatment. (And I won’t have to spend the rest of my days half-asleep or actually asleep on strong prescription-painkillers.)
In the meantime the charity have offered a further therapy grant as this is ongoing.
How amazing is that?
Without the help that this organisation provides, many musicians may have become laden with debt and/or guilt & shame in themselves as a result of not being able to work to their capacity. Most other jobs out there provide sick-leave when workers need time off to receive treatment or rest and recover from illness.
There’s no need to suffer or force yourself to ‘keep going’ when you aren’t well. Call these guys, go and talk to your GP and once you’ve asked for help, you’ll get it. You will not be judged or turned away!
I’ve learned (often the hard way) that your health is literally all you have. Like other jobs, you can go back when you’re stronger. Take responsibility for your health, use the resources we are lucky to have in this country. If you know anyone else who might benefit – spread the word.