How Classical Music has Helped With My Anxiety and Life in General

 

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I was never one to fist bump the air with elation every time I was subjected to classical music. In fact I would throw myself a pity party every time my parents would force it upon me. I can remember the uncomfortable car rides when we were living in New York. It was classical music 24/7. I would plead for them to play the country music station but alas, my calls would go unanswered. Yes, you read that right… I was obsessed with country music. I had a cassette tape of  The Judds which I used to play over and over again. My dad would get flustered and eventually snap at me because of my overuse. If it wasn’t classical or Greek music, he didn’t want to know.

When I was old enough to keep concentration for a while my parents enrolled me into a piano class. And when it was time to pick up music at school, the flute became my companion. In between these lessons they would take me to see the New York Philharmonic orchestra, and violin quartets and pianists and let’s not forget the hours worth of opera, ballet and musicals. Throughout my earlier years I saw piano and my classically trained background (I even took music theory and completed grade 5) as simply another shrug of ‘things that looked good on your college application’.

I guess I was so against it when I was younger because it was forced upon me without me having a say-so in the matter. But as I grew up I started to appreciate the fact that I was shown all these different kinds of artistic expressions. And before long I would use my time with the piano as a tool to alleviate stress. I could sit down for hours and play Mozart’s Sonata No.16 in C major over and over again. Because it soothed me. And  of course the most important reason, my brain would cease to spew out chaotic thoughts of the miseries I endured as a teenager. But then my piano playing became few and far between after I went to University. Once I moved to London I only got to play every time I visited my parents back home in Cyprus. Then they moved to another town and my piano went into hibernation. I haven’t played the piano in about 6 years now and throughout this time I have seen myself go through mental, physical and emotional issues without having an outlet to pacify these burdens. I started to get panic attacks, my anxiety was going through the roof. I ended up having a kidney infection and had to stay 2 days in the hospital. Antibiotics were my friend at that time because my kidney issues weren’t getting resolved.Money was (and is) always a struggle. I was exceptionally unhappy with my jobs. The men that I let into my life would seem to be unattainable and left me feeling insecure, vulnerable and unwanted. One, for example, said that they wouldn’t date me because of my weight. A sentence such as that sticks with you. It embeds deep within your psyche, attaching itself to even the most minute particles, where disposing of it seems remote. And I had quite a few of those sentences floating around in my noggin. Then I got IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) for which I’m still suffering 10 months later. The latter had deprived me of my simple unfulfilled life completely and my stress levels became fried. Almost as if the neurons short circuited after the amount of anxiety-volts coursed through me. I became depressed. I tried to reach out to people in my own way and they didn’t understand and in turn showed little support. I tried meditation, breathing techniques, therapy, and yoga. My music of Etta James, Little Willie John, Missy Elliot and FKA Twiggs (to name a few) wasn’t cutting it anymore in the relaxation department. And I’d like to add that the sheer thought of travel became unbearable. Which almost made me feel like I was starting to become agoraphobic, seeing as I couldn’t take the underground trains without experiencing panic attacks every single time I would descend the stairs to hell. I literally felt like I was imploding within myself. And then, amongst all this battered chaos, I thought of my piano…

I knew there was no way I could afford to buy one here in London, so I was stuck. Stuck in a place of knowing the cure that could tame the virus yet not having any syringe to dispense it. And then one day I thought, why not listen to my favourite Mozart piano piece and see how I go from there. I put my headphones in, turned the volume up and looked to hope that peace would come. Once the first notes daintily trickled out, I felt as if a gigantic orb of light engulfed me. My muscles relaxed and my brain ceased to churn out thoughts. For those 3 minutes a wave of tranquility washed over me and I knew that I had finally found my saving grace. Next I chose to play Chopin’s Nocturne No. 2 in E flat and that was when my stress melted away. I was smiling in a crammed sardine can without a care in the world. People didn’t bother me. My thoughts weren’t on my IBS. I just floated… on a cloud of calm.

Have you ever noticed, when you’re scurrying around trying to somehow not be associated with the metaphorical ant analogy, people’s faces and sound effects? Every day I would hear the huffing and puffing of wolves trying to blow down a path through the glazed commuter’s programmed route. And every day it would chip away at me. The facial expressions of hatred, annoyance and exasperation filled my view and I couldn’t shake it. Having to deal with that and all my other issues was a nightmare. Because their negativity would rub off on me. Until that is, that  one fateful day Classical music intervened.

I now listen to it everywhere I go, if you can believe that! From the girl whose threshold level for classical music was exceptionally low, this was a major achievement. It has also made me think that I am an old blob but hey, if it works then I will happily embrace becoming an old blob if it means I get to keep my sanity.

Classical music has somehow become my knight in shining armour. It has not only accompanied me on my journeys to and from work but has even caressed my ears while at work. Instead of watching countless hours of TV or waste my brain cells surfing the web, I put on a classical playlist and read a book or write in my journal. 

Before, I used to have a panic attack stepping out of my front door in fear that I would inevitably shit my pants in public due to this whole IBS thing. Because my mind was constantly thinking about all the horrid scenarios that could befall me. Before, my concentration was that of someone who was suffering from ADHD. That’s not a joke by the way. It’s how I was acting. While at work, I would flutter around from task to task, which in turn took longer than it actually should have. Because my brain would be in overdrive. While at home, simple chores became impossible to finish. While grocery shopping, I would hop around missing the essentials. But somehow all this has changed. Before, my brain would be on the go all the time; constantly inventing scenarios, conversation, over-analysing and over thinking. But now I listen to Chopin and Mozart and know that all will be ok. That I can calm myself without having to resort to medication or therapy. That I can concentrate without compromising my time. That I can live a life that’s less stressful. All I can say is….. It feels good! It feels really good.

❤ ❤ ❤

 

 

P.S.- I wanted to share this with all the pandas out there who feel like their anxiety, panic attacks and stress are getting the better of them. You are NOT alone. All I can say is to explore every possibility out there. Meditation might not have worked for me, but it might work for you. Or maybe you will find that walking more often might help. Or painting, or using one of those popular colouring books that are out there nowadays. Whatever it may be just do it often to de-stress. Because nothing is more important than the stability of your well-being! If you are unwell then you won’t be able to take care of anything else. So whatever it is, just do it!

❤ Love, Happiness and Laughter always ❤

The World Has Just Remembered Missy Elliott Again…And Why I Have Never Left Her Side.

Missy Elliott Super Bowl 2015


Another year has past, along with another Super Bowl. To America the Super Bowl is like religion while to the rest of the world it’s a time to watch a musical extravaganza of colossal talent. This year saw Katy Perry at the half time with appearances by Lenny Kravitz and the one and only Missy Elliott. The performance was all right but my excitement was focused solely on seeing Missy Elliott again. What I didn’t expect, was the world’s reaction to her.

I have loved Missy Elliott since the day I heard her song ‘The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly). I still remember the video as if I just saw it 5 minutes ago, but in reality I haven’t seen it in aeons. She brought freshness, flyness and awesomeness to a whole other level. I immediately went out, bought her album, came home, pressed play and sat there listening to song after song. ‘Sock It To Me’ hit me in my gut and cemented my love for her music. I would go on to then buy all her singles, all her albums, every collaboration she ever did (who can forget ‘Ladies Night’!) and watch every performance/ music video she has ever done. Is this sounding a little stalker-ish? I don’t mean for it to. It was a healthy obsession. Honest! Throughout the years Missy Elliott has stepped out of the spot light due to health reasons. People started talking less and less about her. Until it dwindled down to tiny whispers. People started to forget Missy Elliott and it seemed like I was the only person getting all ‘Teary eyed’ over a performer who I thought had such innovation, who constantly pushed the boundaries and where every rap verse was accompanied by the sickest of beats ever heard.

And then the Super Bowl happened and suddenly people became a little nostalgic. They started to remember as if awakening from a 10 year slumber. Her song catalogue stream sky-rocketed on Spotify by 676% according to Time Magazine Online. Which got me thinking…why are people not standing by artists for the long haul any more? We used to wait with baited breathe, back in the day, for a new song or album to hit the stands. We would wait and we would be devoted fans. Now it takes literally 2 months for a song to be heard, overplayed and then cast aside for newer generic commercial nonsense. Artists used to wait 2 years before releasing new material and the fans waited.

I decided to type in Missy Elliott Super Bowl into Google, and do you know what articles where coming up? USA Today wrote one about people not really knowing who the hell Missy Elliott was. Say what now?!
Example:
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Did you see the idiot who said …”but I feel like she’s just trying to be the next Nicki Minaj”?!!! Child, we need to educate you. I’m assuming she’s a Justin Bieber fan. Hang on while I go puke.

The Telegraph wrote one about ‘How Katy Perry helped get Missy Elliott’s Freak On’. Ummm…. excuse me? Then there were articles stating why she was the best part of the half time performance as seen on Buzzfeed and Gawker. Those ones I obviously liked.

Let’s get one thing clear people. Missy Elliott has been in the game for 20 years. She invented beats, spat them out, threw them in your face, hitting you in your soul and made people delirious even forgetting their own names because her songs where that good and still are that good! ‘Hot Boyz’ alone brings back a lot of great memories for me. Some of a few real life hot boyz and some of great nights out with friends, where I would, ahem, request this song to be played at our local bar in Limassol, Cyprus.

Missy Elliott tweeted:

Like I said, people have forgotten and its sad. The new kids who follow the rap game now only follow the current hip hoppers. But what about showing homage to people that have changed the game and reformed it? If you are fans of an artist, show your support and be loyal. I have waited years for new Missy Elliott material. If I have to wait 20 more years I will. I will stick by her no matter what. That’s what real admirers do for great beats. We stick it out and wait, all the while listening to old material breaking our necks (Busta Rhymes style) ferociously out of respect. I get into a jerky shoulder bouncing epileptic fit as I break my neck (White girl style) to ‘Work It’. I’m secure enough in myself to admit that.

Times sure have changed, I do know that much. The music industry has changed. People aren’t making music from the depths of their souls any more. And some artists show a disinterest in the process of making music. It’s like the labour of love has vanished. I feel like it’s mostly commercial and quite drab. And the listeners are switching artists so fast off their iPods they never build a relationship between the music and themselves.

Missy, can I just say. You keep doing you. There are some of us out here who have never forgotten you. Who have never left your side. Who waited for hours to see you perform live…

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Missy Elliott at the Works Club in Kingston, London. 2006, My own photo.

True fans know that you are still flaming hot in your licks and slick beats. I guess the world just needed a reminder…