Words written by Nick Vann…
I’m feeling a little resistance even beginning to writing this, I don’t quite know where to start, or what I might have to say about mental health. Over the past few years I’ve started to get over the resistance of telling friends I’ve been in therapy for almost 15 years… but for some reason this feels different. Goes to show talking about mental health still feels a little touchy. I don’t know why, given how important we now know it to be. It’s obvious we should take care of our bodies. It’s obvious we should take care of our friends and family. It’s even obvious we should take care of our homes and our possessions. But for some reason, it’s not obvious that we should also be taking care of our brains and mental health.
What’s in your brain? I know I’ve got all sorts of stuff running through mine all the time. It’s so bizarre being a musician today — half of your job doesn’t even consist of playing music. There’s so much random, tedious work that surrounds the music; legal obstacles, driving for hours, social media… So much goes on that so many don’t see. And it’s kind of expected that you just put your head down and grind through it until you ”make it.” I realized pretty quickly on my first tours how intense it could be, and how much can be missed and under- appreciated if I’m not taking care of myself. Even at home when I write music, the highs and lows can be so intense that I end up focusing on things that at the end of the day aren’t that important. If I didn’t work with my mental well-being, I think I’d be missing a lot more of life.
Life is for living — and hopefully we’re present enough to show up and meet each moment. Sometimes shit gets crazy and even the idea of showing up can be daunting. Those times in life when all we want to do is check out and just get through can be intimidating… and also so rewarding. Everyone has personal stuff they’re dealing and working with while we also work towards building a better world. Balancing personal and global struggles can be messy. I believe we have a responsibility to take care of ourselves so we can be there for others. For me that means working with my anxiety, stress, fear. And not only when I’m anxious, stressed or scared.
As I write this I realize that mental health is not a one-time, fix-what’s-broken type of endeavor. It’s a long-term engagement that changes forms and continuously gets shaken up. It’s natural that as we grow and develop, so too should the ways in which we engage with ourselves, our bodies, and our world. I wouldn’t expect an exercise regimen for an 18 year old and a 70 year old to be the same (though that’s what I’m trying to do). As we grow into
ourselves, some things get picked up, and other things get put down. Throughout the process of this constant changing, we need to hone our skills and find new ones to suit our new challenges & circumstances.
So… what do we do to take care of our mental health? I have a list written down that I pull out when I feel down or too tight. It’s got a bunch of things that I know are good for me and will make me feel better, no matter how badly I might not want to do anything. Things like taking a walk, cooking a good meal, riding my bike, calling a friend, playing my instrument, listening to music, etc. It’s good to know yourself and to know what can help you work with a funk when you’re in it. It’s good to talk to a professional and have someone that cares only about your well-being, even if that means some tough love. It’s good to take care of yourself. Take care of yourself so you can be there for others when they need you most. To me that’s the coolest thing in the world, no matter what people say. Cheers to you and yours — hope to see you soon on the road again.