The music industry reportedly has an above-average number of mental health issues in the UK alone (study by Help Musicians UK 2016). At the same time, the topic has come to the forefront a lot more since 2016 on a global level, together with a growth in understanding and lessening the stigma, thanks to artists speaking up and conferences and events picking up the topic in panel discussions.
The past 2 years I’ve been focused on building my own business in the music industry and grow shesaidso in Belgium. The shesaidso community has been advocating for mental health as well, pushing this as an important topic of discussion at events. Additionally, I’m training to become a holistic coach. My aim is to coach DJs and producers through periods of creative blocks, help them navigate the industry-wide job insecurity, along with the grand passion for what they’re working on, that often leads to enormous pressure and stress. Also, trying to maintain a daily, healthy routine in an irregular lifestyle – lack of sleep, eating properly and staying away from alcohol or other substances – is a challenge and could potentially lead to physical and mental health issues.
These are things I understand all too well since I’ve been experiencing some difficulties finding the middle ground between health and hedonism myself.
FROM SPORTY TO SNORTY
Early on in my childhood, I got into sports. Going into my teens, sports were replaced by music and by the time I hit my early twenties, I started to party, drink, try drugs and generally was having the time of my life. I wasn’t overly concerned about my health, weight and body image. I could eat what I wanted without gaining weight and was pretty quick to tackle any mental health issues that came up.
Around the age of 28, I started to notice some body changes. Mother nature prepping for mini-humans, or so “they” say. At 33, one random day, the scale told me I weigh almost 10 kg more than about 10 years ago. I was quite surprised by the number but didn’t find it really dramatic.
And then my boyfriend made a comment about it. a comment that came from a place of personal struggle and that was completely unrelated to what was happening to my body at the time. But that’s another story. Point is, it hit me like a sledge hammer. Suddenly, I was looking at my body with different eyes for the very first time in my life and noticed changes that I didn’t like. I didn’t sleep for 2 nights in a row. My head was spinning. Where did those curves come from? Why hadn’t I noticed that before?
On the other hand, I’d always admired more curvy women. I had an ectomorph body type – skinny, small joints, lean muscle and a fast metabolism. But now the curves appeared, the number on the scale went up and suddenly I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. How did this happen?
I took some time to think about what changed in my life and 2 main things came up:
1. I have a boyfriend now. Love weight.
2. I’ve been self-employed for nearly 2 years. Irregular lifestyle.
The first one is sweet and sour. My boyfriend, apart from a few moments here and there (he’s human!) is just what I needed. He walked into my life at the right time. I already felt really happy and fulfilled and he added to that joy.
The second one is tricky. Being self-employed, managing my own business by myself, leading a very irregular lifestyle and dealing with a lot of financial pressures and creative insecurities made me wonder: How do I stay healthy in this industry and enjoy it at the same time?
I’m not as much into sports as I used to, but I still get a kick out of it. However, at some point it went from working regularly and working out, to working at different times every day, squeezing in another meeting at 8pm, getting up early for that Skype call with LA, producing late night radio shows, jetting off to Amsterdam for another radio show, flying to Berlin because the boyfriend is playing in one of my favourite clubs. And of course, this all means seizing every opportunity to further my career: meet new people, network, skip that meal because we’re on a schedule, and hello vodka lemons and wine!
During the summer it’s even crazier. That one festival I love working on means spending a whole week on festival grounds, working in a small container, my ears exposed to loud music and just sound in general 14 hours a day, eating breakfast at noon and dinner at 11 PM, sleeping about 6 hours per night and occasionally taking a nap at the press area to maintain some form of general clear-headedness.
Just a few examples to illustrate how my life quickly turned into not enough sleep or consistent meals, taking on too much because I wanted to prove myself. Generally staying on top of things and most of all, loving what I do so much that I can no longer imagine doing anything else.
LEARNING THE TRICKS OF THE TRADE
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle in a high-demanding industry, that’s so rapidly changing, isn’t easy. Opportunities show up and disappear again in the blink of an eye. The pressure of being ahead of the game and not missing out can take its toll. My mind can be really exhausted from just juggling all the management details I do each day. Not to mention it’s still a male-dominated industry where many forms of sexism – ranging from explicit to casual – exist.
In order to keep your body and mind aligned, it’s important to find balance by listening to your body, checking in with yourself every day to see what you need. But most of all, you can’t be too hard on yourself. Trust the process and have faith that everything will happen at the right time.
And about that comment my boyfriend made? We talked, we discussed and there were loads of apologies. In the end, I thanked him for that comment. He reminded me how important body image is, how I alone am responsible for what I think of it, and how I treat it. My thoughts create my reality. Change those and you can have a completely different life. So I’m going to be sure to think awesome thoughts!
Eline Van Audenaerde,
Author Bio – Eline Van Audenaerde manages The Unicorn Mothership, her own one-woman business and heads shesaid.so Belgium, a network of women who work in music. She offers digital marketing to the music and tech industry, is a creative coach for DJs and producers and a full-time unicorn.