Derren Brown’s ‘Miracle’ Helped My Anxiety

In the last few months/years, you can’t deny that there’s been much more media coverage for mental health. Which is amazing. I would never claim to be an expert, nor would I claim to be a big sufferer (it’s never been bad enough to warrant a trip to the GP), but I do get anxiety, from time to time. I didn’t realise until a year or so ago, that virtually everyone I know has been, or is, affected by anxiety in some way. Which, whilst I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone, it’s quite a nice, sobering thought – to know that other people UNDERSTAND how you feel.

I don’t want to go on about it at all, because, full disclosure, I really don’t know an awful lot about it. I just know, that certain situations (or the prospect of certain situations) can really get to me. And this post isn’t going to be an earth shattering, internet breaking look at the way we live our lives, or facts and assumptions about mental health. It’s just something I’ve realised. That I’m going to leave right here.

The other night, Ed and I had just finished watching something on Netflix, and a trailer automatically started playing once the credits had started rolling: it was for Derren Brown’s ‘Miracle’. It looked pretty kick ass, so we went straight ahead and popped it on.

Now we all know what Derren Brown does, so I don’t need to give too much away. But he opens the show with quite a poignant suggestion about the way we live our lives – and when I say poignant, I mean (arguably) life altering. Who’d have thought that within a minute of the show starting, Ed and I would have pressed pause, looked at each in awe and had a two minute discussion about what’d just been said. THAT’S the kind of show it is.

Anyway, many wonderful and magical things happen during the show which I won’t spoil, but what I WILL tell you is that half of it has left me with the utmost respect for his brilliance, and the other half believing in magic. It’s at the end of the show when he starts to wrap things up and takes a moment to reflect, that something really hit me – it was quite a light bulb moment.

If you don’t want spoilers, look away now.

He’d said earlier in the show (and came back to it at the end) and I quote:

 

“We tend to dwell on our past and we think that somehow defines who we are. But our pasts are just stories we tell ourselves in the present…

 

…if this were the start of a film and it said ‘Based on a true story’, you would know that the events that were going to happen in that film weren’t real events exactly as they happened…you’d be naturally skeptical…

 

…we forget to apply the same natural skepticism to the most important stories we have, the ones we tell ourselves every day about who we are. We can choose to change those stories.”

 

And THAT has really resonated for me. The wealth of my anxiety comes from
– Having had a bad experience (of something) in the past
– Dwelling on it (and probably making the event worse in my head)
– Allowing that to influence my views on it in the present.
This ultimately leads me to panicking about having to repeat the same activity in the future.

I’ll give you an example.

A few years ago I was on a bus, and felt really ill. I can’t tell you whether the two were mutually exclusive or not, but now, I don’t want to get on a bus. For fear of feeling ill. Because my learned response to that situation (having told myself a certain story for all these years, as Mr Brown said), is that I WILL feel ill again. Daft right? And I know it is. 

I’m much better these days at dealing with little moments of anxiety, therefore feel a bit more confident to attempt to combat them. For example, last summer before I had my car, I got the bus down to Mum and Dad’s. It’s only a 5 minute drive, but that was a big deal for me. And a stepping stone to getting better at it. But a couple of years ago anxiety really did pull on the reigns of living a ‘normal’ life. 

And (going back to ‘Miracle’) something about the way he explained this – the idea of telling ourselves a story – really hit home. It may sound silly, but within that minute or so of explanation, I though ‘Holy s**t, this is so me. Hang on, this is actually going to help’. And now, I feel like I have ‘IT’S JUST A STORY’ ingrained on my cranium. 

I didn’t expect that sitting down to watch a Derren Brown show would make me re-evaluate my life and the way I deal with certain situations – but it did. And don’t I wish I’d watched it a few years ago!

The show is brilliant regardless of the message, and I’m not going to say ‘OMG YOU MUST GO AND WATCH THIS NOW!’…but it really is something special

And I leave you with a gorgeous quote from the start of the show that we loved;

“LIFE SHOULD BE MORE LIKE A PIECE OF MUSIC,
AND YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE DANCING.”

Lynette x (3)

ETC’s Jesus Christ Superstar – Review


I know I’ve spoken in previous blog posts about how when I’m watching a show, I find it very hard not to find fault. This weekend I watched Encore Theatre Company’s Jesus Christ Superstar, and whilst I don’t retract my original statement, I’m going to amend it. Having spent so many years on the stage myself, I know it’s very rare to have NOTHING go wrong in a show. Whether it’s you yourself that messes up, a cast member, a bit of costume that falls off, a forgotten prop, problematic set changes that take too long, a bum note from the band…there are many. So I get it, things aren’t always perfect, I think I’ve only come off stage at the end of a show ONCE in my life and gone ‘Yes. That was it. It couldn’t have gone any better.’ But sometimes, a production is SO good, you’re able to overlook those couple of weaker points in a show. JCS was one of those rare times. 18921925_760864400758836_5051103262799856063_n

Even though it’s an amateur company, it really was airing on the side of professional, and I’m not the only one to think it; I heard many comments from other audience members as we left, about how professional it was. From the overall show down to the ushers. The set and lights alone got you talking when you entered the theatre. D3AAC68D-1565-47CA-89FE-6FA8EEB77657

JCS is a one of those shows that’s completely open to interpretation, and the few versions I’ve seen have been completely different. This take had a bohemian rock kinda thing going on and personally, I loved it. It totally suited the performers and the choices they made (vocally and physically) and it was a really refreshing way of seeing it done.

The lighting was done beautifully (I’ve always been a sucker for good tech), in a way that completely suited the style of the show. It was obvious that there’d been lots of discussions between all members of the creative team to ensure all understood the director’s vision, and that understanding really just finished it off nicely. JCS

A shoutout HAS to go to my 3 favourite performances. To Ed Leigh as Jesus, Dale Vaughan as Judas, and Paul Forsberg as Pontius Pilate. There were some stand out performances from the entire cast, Sarah Clarkson was giving LIFE as Mary Magdalene and the beautiful tenor tones of Michael Frith created the strongest Annas I’ve seen live. But for me, those 3 were stand out performances. All 3 committed 110%, made the character their own, and portrayed them in a new and beautifully accurate way. Although I may be biased, there’s no denying Ed Leigh stole the show with a powerful and heartbreaking performance of Jesus. I wasn’t the only one sobbing. 18839123_760864317425511_4893897716775083855_n

Sending my congratulations to the entire Encore team, that was a knock out show.

Lynette x

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(Photo Credit: Nicole Walton Photography)