When I was 16 I was in a car crash which triggered a strange nervous system disorder called Fibromyalgia Pain Syndrome. For the next 10 years I was in constant pain from muscle spasms all over my body. Some of the time I was on walking sticks, some of the time I was so fatigued I could barely move.
I tried everything for the pain, every treatment under the sun. Nothing helped, except diazepam (which I wasn’t allowed because of its psychotropic side-effects) and certain types of cannabis. The pain varied – sometimes it felt like a burning, sometimes spasms or cramps, sometimes a deep ache – but always moving around my body. When it stayed in one place for a few hours I thought I would go mad.
This is nothing compared to what actress Cherylee Houston deals with every day. She interviewed me for a programme on Radio 4 called ‘The Agony and the Ecstasy’ which was broadcast today. She wanted to explore the connection between pain and creativity.
When I got a guitar for my 21st birthday and started writing songs my illness became a complete blessing in disguise – stuck at home, unable to go to university or work, I had all this time on my hands to write. For me, the urge to write songs has always been inspired by the need to overcome and transcend pain, either physical or mental.
Millions of people live in pain. It’s good to talk about it and think about how we can possibly transcend it through creativity. You can listen again to the programme here.