We wish to acknowledge that some of our readers may be reading this during a crisis point. If this is you and you are feeling completely lost or are considering self-harm or suicide PLEASE STOP READING NOW.
If you are in an emergency or at immediate risk of harm to yourself and others, PLEASE CALL 000 IMMEDIATELY.
Acting can be therapeutic, but it isn’t therapy. When we previously mentioned the post-performance check in with your head space, it’s entirely possible that the bastard inner critic starts to crank the volume a bit more than usual. In fact, sometimes it can seem as if that dial is well and truly superglued to max and the feelings associated with it are rarely pleasant. If this is the case, read and truthfully answer the following questions:
- Am I continually feeling really nervous, as if nothing can calm me down?
- Am I drinking more or using over-the-counter/ recreational drugs to calm me down or to make me feel better?
- Am I feeling more hopeless than normal?
- Have I been feeling excessively restless, irritable or fidgety before/after these performances?
- Am I finding it extremely difficult to remain motivated and complete tasks?
- Am I experiencing a sadness that I can’t just laugh off?
If you find yourself consistently answering ‘yes’ to any of these, you could be experiencing early signs of anxiety and/or depression. And yes, it can both because they are just two sides of the same coin. If these feelings continue over a few weeks or start to worsen significantly, it’s time to head straight to a GP to tell them everything that has led to this point. Don’t forget that you can always talk through things anonymously prior to going to the GP. Lifeline and Beyond Blue are the best in the business and they do it in a way that is totally non-judgemental and confidential. A GP will also get you started on a mental health plan and work out the next steps you need to take. It is important to have the right kind of people around your on the long road back to better mental health so sure that you find a GP you can connect with. This also goes for any other mental health professional that you have to deal with along this journey. Likewise, if the problem is addiction, a GP can also refer you to many of the Twelve Step ‘Anonymous’ Programs that are available to get you back on track. You are not alone.
However, if you are one of those who dread the idea of group-based therapy OR are in the position where you are Living with Success and wish to remain anonymous, sometimes the best option is just good old fashioned one-on-one counselling. There are many gifted counsellors out there who deal specifically with artists and organisations like The Arts and Wellbeing Collective, Entertainment Assist and 4Change.com.au can help point you towards these people.
The stigma that still surrounds mental illness will remain one of the purest forms of bullshit you will encounter. A broken mind is just as busted as a broken leg. You are neither weak, nor a burden. Mental illness is just that: an illness. It is no more ‘just in your mind‘ than a drowning person’s water is ‘just in their lungs‘. Don’t try to go it alone and fix the broken leg yourself and let the professionals lend a hand. The road back to good mental health is a long journey to embark upon, but there a many people with a whole arsenal of skills at the ready to help you tread it.