Know Yourself

This week hasn’t been the best. You don’t need details but I’ve struggled to eat, sleep or basically function. Middle-of-the-night panic attacks have left me looking like the living dead and I spent the best part of 3 days in bed because there was no reason not to. (If I’d actually slept for 3 days then at least I would have looked well rested…). It’s my brain and my body and therefore my fault (for want of a better word) that I react like this. It’s nobody else’s fault that I’m not very well but it’s also so important not to blame myself. Because it’s a mental illness and ‘all in my head’ (obviously isn’t but you know what I mean) there’s pressure to feel like you should be able to get control over it. This is clearly bollocks, and this is me saying to myself (and anyone else that needs to hear it) that it’s not my fault, I’m a good person and I don’t deserve this, but I’m also much more than this, and should be proud to be myself and know myself.

When I’m having a bad week like this, music is something I always turn to. To be fair, no matter how I’m feeling I always turn to music. But it’s so good for being a distraction, and filling your head with such loud noise that it drowns out the overthinking, or being the complete opposite and helping you to articulate what you’re feeling so accurately that you’re pretty sure they wrote the lyrics with you in mind. This week I found some music that just said all the right things.


Laura Mvula is about to release her second album; The Dreaming Room. She has recently spoken about her anxiety and panic attacks for the first time in detail in this article. Even an extraordinarily talented famous singer can’t escape the joys of mental illness. She talks about starting to experience acute anxiety and panic attacks just before her career took off. I can’t imagine how she managed, it’s incredible. All the familiar words about anxiety – afraid of being alone, unable to talk to anyone for fear that they wouldn’t understand…  she says something that I know will ring true with everyone who has every suffered; “This anxiety thing is something that has dictated my life.” Her openness about the seriousness of her anxiety is refreshing. Her openness too about being diagnosed with clinical depression and being treated for that; I hope she knows that she is helping to break down the stigma surrounding anxiety and depression by being so honest. That’s what you have to remind yourself of when all you can see and feel is anxiety and the way it’s ruining your plans and dreams; that you are so much more than what goes on in your head, and don’t get sucked in by its lies. Anxiety / depression / mental illness of any kind is horrible, it’s debilitating and yes, at times, it can dictate your life. BUT you make your life work for you, and you deal with whatever it has dictated and make the best of it. In Laura Mvula’s case, she has done this with some serious style. Her new single is called Phenomenal Woman and it’s the one. The colours, the lyrics, the joy, the power and the strength in this song are so uplifting. One day this week this song was genuinely the only reason I got out of bed. It doesn’t matter what other people think about you, or what they say, what matters is that you are brave and strong and no one can take that away. To me, it’s about being yourself and knowing that that is enough; life is tough but so are you.

Side note – I read somewhere (genuinely can’t remember where) that she was inspired by this Maya Angelou poem; Phenomenal Woman.  I’d never heard it before and it’s so good. Women are awesome. Men, you’re awesome too, but this one’s just not about you.



Kyla la Grange has been one of my favourite women in the world ever since my sister introduced me to her music, probably about 3 or 4 years ago. They say never meet your heroes but I did and she was just as awesome in person. She’s opinionated, passionate, incredibly talented and (very importantly) has two very cute dogs. I could talk all day about why and how much I love her. She was actually the reason that I took the longest train journey that I’ve done by myself since I was diagnosed with anxiety, because I HAD to be at her gig. She’s just put out a song called Hummingbird, and in her own words “This song is for anyone who ever felt they were stagnating/bad at life – remember no one really has it together. Even the people who look like they have it together; they don’t really have it together. Everyone is inwardly freaking out, even probably David Attenborough. & that is fine.” It reminded me that you just have to do your best. I love the lyrics…

Oh watch your step
Find your love
Use your legs
Keep it up
Brace your heart
Know yourself
Face the dark
Ask for help

Sometimes songs just KNOW, they JUST KNOW.



Finally, there’s the one man super band that is Jack Garratt. His new song Surprise Yourself has an amazing video where actual genuine humans face their real life fears. When I see their faces I know EXACTLY the kind of fear that they’re facing, and I love them for going through with it. To the girl that walks through the aquarium, I can see that fear on your face and I know it, and GOOD ON YOU. The song was written for a special person in Jack’s life who had had a shit day, and he wanted to remind her that we all still have the confidence and the ability to encourage ourselves to be courageous. Living with anxiety means having to permanently brave. It takes courage to exist when almost every single aspect of your life is a struggle, and this song struck a chord. Recovery is about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and doing the things you never thought you could. Even if that’s something as small as just getting out of bed some days, be your own cheerleader and instead of beating yourself up, try encouraging yourself.


(If you’re interested, here’s a nice little video with Jack and the director talking about how it came about.)

So play these loud and be inspired, be encouraged and maybe cry a bit because they’re saying things you need to hear, and then fake a smile and carry on. In the words of these beautiful people –

It doesn’t matter what people say because they don’t know you, where you come from or where you’re going. You know yourself and that’s what matters. Ask for help if you need it, because nobody has it all together. And have faith in yourself, you might surprise yourself. xx