I have been massively impressed by the recent efforts of Planet Rock’s DJ, Wyatt, who has cycled over a thousand miles in the bitter cold and raised well over forty eight thousand pounds for CALM. Not only was it a plucky journey in punishing conditions, but it was also an excellent way to raise awareness of the work of the Campaign Against Living Miserably, and of the crippling effects of depression and anxiety.
I frequently read messages on my Facebook news feed that people I know and care for are feeling low, anxious, experience regular panic attacks and it’s ironic that, as we rev up for Christmas fun and the feeling of good will, there are people out there who feel isolated, unhappy and detached from the positive Christmas spirit. I have seen depression hammer people I care about and it is very sad.
For those of us who have been bereaved, have lost someone we love, Christmas is bitter sweet. We remember the good times but there is an empty chair at the dinner table. The mundane gifts we bought for that person every year stay on the shelves in the shops and supermarkets now,and we pass by, remembering what we took for granted.
It’s no surprise that, as everyone shifts up a gear towards celebrating, so many people feel a little bit left out in the Christmas cold.
The answer is always to talk to someone, to ask someone to help. Of course, not everyone has someone they can turn to, a party to go to, money to spend. Not everyone will speak out about how they feel; part of being alone and miserable is that it is very hard to tell someone or even to admit it to yourself. It is easier to believe that isolation and anxiety are a by-product of lack of self worth, one’s own fault.
I am a great believer in yoga, meditation, and the healing power of touch, whether it is family, friends or a hug from someone you have just met, as long as it’s well intentioned and given without any expectation that there will be a payback. Conversation is a good starting point. We can all do more to include others, to make them feel good about themselves, to take them out and experience a more care free environment and to share time with them inside their own homes, to listen and not preach or trivialise.
For me, music is an absolute positive energy galvaniser and it is quite possible that, when I’m on my own and not exercising, walking, thinking or writing, I might put some music on and dance like there’s no-one else there. Which there isn’t.
Here are a couple of suggestions to get you in the mood for Christmas, an alcohol free, energising pre-party celebration.Of course, no-one would ever suggest that a few happy tunes can remedy real depression. People experiencing anxiety and feelings of low self worth should seek advice, a friend, a doctor. Ask for help – it’s out there. But music can be a small therapy. It has the power to lift the spirits and also to bring on the tears. Avoid morose songs like Bobby Goldsboro’s Honey or Clapton’s Tears in Heaven or Joy Division Love Will Tear Us Apart. Don’t go anywhere near lachrymose lyrics like Leonard Cohen’s Thin Green Candle.
Try these tunes, if you want to celebrate music and you’re by yourself and need cheering up. Play them loud, really loud. Sing along, enjoy them. And dance. Here’s half an hour of good bopping which will help you dance the light blues away and banish the cold gloomy weather. A happy dancing play list, ready to go. Enjoy. It’s an early Christmas present, to yourself.
Dropkick Murphys. Shipping up to Boston
Johnny Winter. Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo..
Dropkick Murphys. State of Massachusetts.
Gogol Bordello. Madagascar Roumania (Tu Jesty Fata)
Burning Spear. African Postman.
Gogol Bordello. Through the Roof and Underground
Robbie Williams. Party like a Russian.
Gogol Bordello. Forces of Victory.
Big Mama Thornton. Everything Gonna be Alright.
White Stripes. Jolene. (Angsty but full of energy.)
Nirvana. Smells like Teen Spirit.
Althea and Donna. Up town top rankin’