There is lots of research to say that singing in a choir can contribute to an improvement in certain conditions such as anxiety and depression, whilst bringing people together.
Kelly is the wife of a serving airman who first joined Lossiemouth Military Wives Choir two years ago before moving to Coningsby Military Wives Choir in April this year.
As someone experiencing mental health problems, Kelly wanted to share her own story and also reflect on what singing as part of her choir means to her:
“When I first joined the choir, I thought I wouldn’t like it. If I’m being 100% honest, I didn’t want to join – you could say I was dragged along by the lady who set the choir up at Lossiemouth, Tracy!
Being surrounded by people I don’t know or haven’t met is one of the hardest things for me to do, because I suffer from serious mental health problems – problems which are very complex. In everyday life, I suffer from anxiety, panic attacks and depression and have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), borderline personality disorder and a form of bipolar disorder, which at times consume every inch of me. On top of that, I suffer from a form of absence seizures, phonophobia and migrainous vertigo, so my life isn’t easy. For years, I have had intense therapy yet I’m still surrounded by the stigma that comes from suffering from mental health problems.
Within the last two years I have hit rock bottom many times. My family have been my absolute rock – when times have got tough for us we have gotten through it, just the three of us. Things that would normally break a family pulled us closer together. [My husband] Rob still pushed with me to go to choir every week, even on the times when I told him I didn’t want to go. He was still right there telling me to go, go do what I am good at. But with mental illness I often don’t believe that I can be any good at anything.
And my other family, the main family in this story, the Military Wives Choir – for two hours a week not only can I sing which is something I love to do, for those two hours I feel safe. For those two hours I am me: when I sing I am me. Being part of a Military Wives Choir is a lifeline along with my little family. Being part of the choir gives me confidence to sing. We in the choir are a family, we stick together. On the Wednesday evening if you have something going on you know there is at least one person who is an ear who is willing to listen. The choir isn’t about just singing it is about friendship and most of all support. The motto of “stronger together” is most definitely true.
I want to say a massive thankyou to every single lady in all the choirs; all of you allow me to be me. You have given me the confidence to sing and especially Nicola my MD from Lossiemouth, who believed in me. The biggest thing I have done which no one thought I’d ever even be able to is singing solo at the Highland Military Tattoo. I have also sung solo at a big concert for charity. Again that is thankyou to all the ladies within the choir.
I’ve recently just started at a new MWC at Coningsby and it took me a few weeks to go but I did and I’m glad I did. I am not one to hide my mental illnesses, why should I? You wouldn’t hide a broken leg. At present my mental health is not always very stable but it won’t stop me from attending choir.
So if anyone is thinking of going to choir please do it, music can make a real difference to you. It does not rid you of all you have to go through daily but it’s a start of a support which is invaluable. A support network where you are all equals. A support network you won’t find anywhere else.
The Military Wives Choirs provide a fun and welcoming environment for women to sing, share and support each other. If you’re interested in joining a Military Wives Choir, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 7463 9407.
The Military Wives Choirs do not provide direct support for welfare or health issues (including mental health). As a signposting organisation, we advise women in the military community to speak to their GP or call the SSAFA Forcesline in confidence on 0800 731 4880, if they require support.
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