Saturday 5 October 2019

Mental Health In Music: A Musician's Perspective #3 - Andy Curtis-Brignell (Musician of 13+ Years)

This latest instalment of the Mental Health In Music series features UK musician Andy Curtis-Brignell. Andy has been a part of the UK's black metal/noise community for well over a decade and here he shares his experiences and offers realistic advice to those suffering. I just want to personally thank Andy for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1. The idea of this feature is to talk about the problems that musicians face, especially those in DIY or up-and-coming bands. Would you mind talking about your own experiences with mental health?

A. Of course. I have experienced dissociative episodes from the age of 9 or 10, depression from 11, which graduated into a diagnosis of bi-polar disorder with concomitant attachment disorders combined with a previously undiagnosed Autism Spectrum Disorder. I have intermittently suffered from audiovisual hallucinations, mood swings and suicidal ideation my entire life.It has stained and tainted every part of my existence. I often feel as though I am being tortured in Hell.


2. Being in a band can be an outlet for people to express their feelings and to help them get over certain things in life but do you feel that it can also have a negative effect? If so, what do think these effects can be and are these linked to writing, recording, touring etc?

Until I was correctly diagnosed, music was the only way in which I could express my feelings to anyone. I was locked in. However, I find touring and often simply being in the proximity of other people intensely unpleasant and anxiety-ridden. I have an extremely avoidant personality. It has made doing this as a career....difficult. However, as I said, it is my inspiration. I've had therapy. Lots of therapy. I'm as good as I've ever been. But I am a realist. I do not believe I could now live without my suffering. What would I do? Who would I be? It's a part of me.


3. How do you deal with things now? Have you got any advice for those who are struggling themselves, musician or otherwise?

I am currently medicated. I try to meditate as often as I can, and have found a lot of comfort and stability in marriage and parenthood after nearly two decades of barely remembered hell. I try to only surround myself with people I love, which means my circle is very, very small. I feel a lot more protected with a couple of people I feel closer with than blood than I do with a crew of hangers-on and false friends, which has previously been the case. I used to trust much too easily. Not any more.


4. What more do you think can be done in the underground scene or even the wider music scene to support people who may be struggling?

There is, I think, a reliance on the idea that simply talking about things is going to help. In my experience, until there is a clinical, financial and societal infrastructure to support the mentally ill, anything I can say is simply lip service. Be kind to each other. Be kind to yourself as much as you can. That's all I hold on to.

If you are having trouble seeking out support and services that could help you or others, please reach out to Mind at

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