Festivals and Mental Heath

Finding your Tribe…

‘Music can change the world’ Beethoven

You may not have heard about Boomtown Fair but its the largest music festival in Hampshire and the 7th largest in the UK. Boomtown Fair helped me back in 2019 find my self again after years of abuse.

Whats the first thing you think of when someone says FESTIVAL, many think straight way of ‘Dance Culture’ drugs, alcohol, young people getting wasted. To me though, its so much more than just the reports in the news, the summer photos full of glitter, its away of leaving your ‘normal’ life and connecting to people through shared experience. In 2018 my husband of 8 years walked out, I had slowly awaked to the realisation I was in an abusive relationship. If it wasn’t for the support and help of friends who spotted it before me and helped me regain control over my life I would not be here writing this to you now.

Again today I have read of 14 deaths due to domestic violence, woman and children are now full time locked down with their abusive partner. Please don’t think am not aware this can be a two way street, its not always the male who is the abuser. Many of us are now unsafe in our own homes, in a prison with no escape. We have some of the highest rates of suicide in the UK. Last time I looked it up it was 14 young men taking their own life a WEEK in the UK. Something in our system is very broken.

‘Music fights against the system’ Bob Marley

Over the last handful of years, I have seen a huge change. People are starting to talk. Talk about their feelings, using new language, anxiety, triggered. When I was younger there was no word I could use to explain this overwhelming feeling of doom which would reach over my body and pull me in to the dark. Now you can say off the cuff to your friend, wow, my anxiety levels are super high today. They get it, or at least its a safe word to use to get that over to someone else. We are changing, we are awaking to things that have always been there but now we have better ways of talking about it. I think we have always cared about each other we just have a better way of understanding each other now. We are not fully there yet but we are becoming more open and more able to cope with different.

We need to know ourselves better, once we know ourself and are ok with who we are. We are more able to except others.

How do you ‘find your self’ don’t worry this is not some sort of ‘self help book’ Your journey is your journey. Am just gonna tell you a little about mine.

Well maybe now is a good point for some helplines, a dear friend pointed me towards – Stop Domestic Abuse. They have been there right there with me for the last few years, from supporting me and also giving my children counselling. Also my children’s school have been amazing, don’t feel scare about asking your school for help. Every month, though these figures are much higher at the moment, 21 women lose their lives from Domestic Abuse in the UK. This figure is made up with the ones who where murdered by their current or ex partner and the ones who couldn’t take it anymore and ended their own lives.

‘Last night I heard the screaming, Loud voices behind the wall, They say they can’t interfere, With domestic affairs’ ‘Behind the Wall’ by Tracy L Chapman

Leaving can often be the most dangerous point, so am not going to ever say – leave now – get support in leaving safely and remember you can ring 999 if you or someone you love is unsafe right now.

Emergency 999, press 55 if unable to speak

Samaritans 116 123

Stop Domestic Abuse Hants 0330 016 5112

National Domestic Abuse 24hrs 0808 2000 247

Solent Mind 023 8202 7810

Talk and Change 0300 123 4125

Please get help, YOU matter, YOUR needed. Every Mind Matters

Have you heard of people at last getting a holiday and then getting the flu? After years of coping, the recovery can be overwhelming at first. I highly recommend ‘Freedom’ a course run by Stop Domestic Abuse. I took this course 3 times at different points of my recovery. I had missed a few and took the whole course again. By doing it at different points, I got something different from it each time. One of the hardest things was hearing what others had been through but knowing it wasn’t only me, that some could say word almost word what had been said and done to me, brought me a lot of comfort. I started by reclaiming the space around me, my home. The space around you is so important, you could live in a tiny flat or a 12 bedroom castle but if it doesn’t feel like home, you won’t feel calm.

I felt like I had to reclaim that space. Some of the rooms brought back flash backs and I needed this to feel like a safe home for me and my children. I managed to change my sitting room, with no budget by selling the furniture that was there and using it to buy older cheaper items. Some women leave with nothing but the clothes on theirs and their children’s backs. I am very lucky and count my blessing, for I did have a roof over our heads and I could legally change the locks after he tried to brake down the door.

Your situation will be different to mine, maybe you lost your job which you loved, maybe a family member died, maybe you spent years being beaten both of your mind and body. If you found your way to my blog I want to send you the BIGGEST hug for whatever it is you have been through, going through or left behind. I hope your safe and wish you the very best in finding your self again.

Once I had started to reclaim my home, changing, cleaning, clearing the things he had dumped. I started to feel safer in my home and I noticed that as I became calmer the children did too. I remember taking a ton of baths at this point, for the first time spending a little frivolous money on bath bombs. Every time I watched the water pouring down the drain I imagined the hold over me becoming less and less.

Around this time the guy I had been seeing told me all about Boomtown, I was sold and couldn’t wait to get a ticket. I love festivals, I went to my first one in the early 80’s as a toddler! I hadn’t been to a big event in years, and missed it from my days as working as a club promoter. The sound of being part of a little crew and heading to a festival together sounded epic. It was a bumpy road getting to Boomtown, and ended up thinking about selling ticket, till I found the Solo’s group. In the end I did go on my own and meet up with a whole new crew of people I will count as friends for a lifetime now.

So why did a festival help me recover? Well it wasn’t just the festival, I mean my tattoo was a big part too, quite a few big and little steps led me to booking a few festivals. Boomtown though was the chance to close a chapter and open a new one. A way point in my busy messy life, a moment (well 5 days) to reflect, dance and go on an adventure. This was the most amount of time I had been away from my children since they would born and yes I would take them to Boomtown in the future. It was true ME TIME.

I have been to lots of events, I used to work as a promoter for one of the largest dance nights on the south coast. We had one in one out all night till close, good dj’s and me promoting, that was it. I’ve worked as a club dancer, and know lots of artists. In fact my family is stuffed full of creative types. I never really found what the one job that was a perfect fit but running a club night was pretty close. For me music is the back ground to live, we all have that one tune we put on to clean the house, or a track list for going for a drive. Pump up the volume and get lost in the beat.

‘Music is nothing else but wild sounds civilized into time and tune.’ Thomas Fuller

Thats what a festival can be, a chance to just be you, feel the music flow through your chest as your feet move to the sound. Music and humans go hand in hand. For many its not just the day at the festival but booking your ticket, the excitement, costumes, outfits, our friends. Sharing that adventure, just booking our ticket can keep us going through the darkness.

So 2020 hit us all for six, all our normal coping mechanism where washed away in one movement. Our lives, our loved ones threatened. Bills pilling up and worrying about the food shop, can we afford it, will there be any food on the shelf’s. Festivals are good for your mental health, they can give you a way point to work towards, something to get too. So we have all been hit hard by watching one by one them be cancelled. I found my tribe at Boomtown Fair last year, every day I chat to a friend I meet from the Boomtown family. To some they don’t understand how big a festival can be in our lifes, but many of us live for those days in the field. We have been left heartbroken not to see our friends, hug our loved ones and escape our normal every day lives for a few days.

Stefan Heimstädt “Festivals for me are an escape, where I can recharge my batteries. It‘s like rebooting a computer that ran too long and started getting slow. I usually leave a festival feeling physically exhausted but mentally refreshed.

The other negative effect of Corona was that I didn‘t get to see many of my friends this year. My festival crew met on the internet and consists of people from all over the world, so I really missed the opportunity to meet them and hang out with them.”

“I kept all my tickets (had several smaller concerts and festivals in Germany lined up as well). You’d have to be stupid to return a Glasto ticket 🤣. I also kept the tickets to support the festival organizers and bands and not put an extra burden on them. I haven’t really been hit moneywise but I fear that even the german economy will start to struggle if this situation doesn’t end soon.

Like Stefan says this isn’t just meeting up with friends who live close, but many travel from all over the world to meet up for a festival together. Just as the world was feeling smaller we have been cut off from friends and family living outside of the uk. Many of us like Stefan have tried not to claim a refund for our tickets, we want those festivals to still be there next year.

Till we can all be together again, dancing outside of a ice cream truck to kicking drum and base – STAY SAFE, KNOW YOUR LOVED. We will dance together again.

Click to lots of different places to get help and support (uk based) click here.

Beans on Toast pretty much sums up how I am feeling, big love to you all.

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