Photo of man smiling with drum

"Slowly my self-confidence and self-worth began to build and I credit The Buddy Beat for saving me and turning my life 360 degrees."

2006 saw the start of the worst time of my life. I was sinking lower and lower and self-isolating to a terrible degree. I pushed my friends away, as I found conversation and concentration difficult. I also found my anxiety made panic attacks a tricky obstacle when out in public. Through 2007 and into early 2008 I was closing down and really wondered what kind of future I would have.

My psychiatrist at the time was a great help and he sent me on a course at the local health centre. It ran for a number of weeks and on the last session we were visited by Dr Jane Bentley, a community musician. Jane brought a host of djembe drums with her and she ran a little 30-minute workshop. I sat there and drummed for the first time and I could not believe the peace it gave me- something that had eluded me for a long time.

The following week I joined The Buddy Beat, Jane Bentley’s award-winning drumming group for adults in Renfrewshire who have a mental health diagnosis. This was a big step for me but I wanted to cling on to that peace that I had found the week before. The weeks turned into months and I think the first time I spoke openly I said that drumming allowed me to be myself. Slowly my self-confidence and self-worth began to build and I credit The Buddy Beat for saving me and turning my life 360 degrees.

It led me into volunteering for RNIB Connect Radio, and I join the breakfast show twice a week and read newspapers on air. Suddenly I had two lovely things in my week that helped maintain my wellbeing. Over time I have installed other things into my routine- reading, the cinema, running, making films, socialising with friends-yes! I got new ones! – and all of these give me a fulfilling life.

Now I have my own drumming business Rhythm to a T, as I want to share the benefits of music making with as many people as possible. This year I was thrilled to get an ALLIANCE Self Management Award, and spurs me on in life.  Keep drumming!

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