The weeks before playing a gig are filled with crippling stomach cramps, tight muscles, fitful sleep, eating disturbances, panic attacks, profuse sweating, surges of adrenaline and those occasional moments of serenity that are gone as soon as I question my right to feel anything resembling calmness.
Time and time again, it hits me. I call it my pre-gig, full-body shutdown, because that’s exactly what it is. I am susceptible to all illnesses. My voice used to literally vanish as gig day loomed closer. It would literally protest and burn out before I had the chance to put it to use.
I know for certain that it only gets harder as gigs are less frequent and more sporadically dispersed across the calendar year. With practices squeezed in wherever convenient and the other stresses of life dominating the headspace, performing is that fear you can ignore until the day comes where you simply can’t.
Tell me how it makes sense that somebody who loves to create and perform can be bound a fear of performing so great that it literally stops them being able to function properly. If I could make sense of it, I could conquer it! Yet no amount of writing about the experience or talking about the experience or trying to mindfully meditate myself into a hypnotic state where I can challenge the experience seems to change the visceral fear.
I’m still hopeful that one day, something will click. I’m sure as confidence improves, anxiety will reduce. I’m sure that with practice, I’ll grow used to the way my trainers stick to stage surfaces and the way that eyes are drawn to me the moment I approach the microphone. Till that day, I’ll simply do all I can to keep an open mind and practice good mental health hygiene, especially during those vulnerable times I know I’m most likely to be affected.
Stay safe and take care! Mental health is just as important as physical health!