Whether it's chronic depression or lupus, managing chronic illness as a musician can be an immense challenge. Many professional musicians put in long hours, both onstage and in the studio, and endure lengthy tours and many late nights. Even for musicians in perfect health, all of this takes its toll – and for chronically ill musicians, the impact can be far greater. Here are four tips for managing chronic illness as a musician.
Take Your Time
Having a chronic illness often means needing to at least occasionally take time off to rest and recover. As such, the careers of professional musicians who live with chronic illness may progress at a slower pace than that of their non-chronically-ill peers.
Know that it's perfectly alright to take your time. Accept opportunities in accordance with what you are able to do at any given time – slow and steady will win you the race. Some of the most successful musicians in history live with chronic illness – including Madonna – so don't feel that your illness will be what gets in the way of your success.
Know When to Say No
If you're already busy – and especially if it's challenging your health maintenance – it's incredibly important to know when you should turn down an opportunity or show. Consider carefully before you say yes, and know approximately how much time and energy it will take from you in addition to what you're already doing. If you think it will push you over the edge – or even skirt you close – say no. Ask the entity offering if it can be pushed down the road apiece, and keep the lines of communication open for future opportunities.
Self-Care: Not Just a Mani-Pedi
Of course, treat yourself to that latte if you're feeling crappy, that trip to the day spa, or that soak in the tub. But don't stop there. Self-care means doing all kinds of unpleasant things, including regular visits to your health care practitioner, staying on top of your medications if you take them, and engaging in physical or mental exercises that help you manage your illness. Make time for these things above all else. Taking good care of yourself means that in all likelihood, your illness may impact you less – and you'll be able to consistently do your best work.
Living with chronic illness demands a variety of management methods and tools to lessen its impact and the suffering it causes. As mentioned before, keep in regular contact with your physician and treatment team. Ask for routine recommendations on how to manage your illness. Explore methods you think may work. Ask others for tools they use to manage their illness if they have the same one(s) you do. Anything that will help you live with your illness without it dominating your life should be investigated.
Many musicians live with chronic illnesses. Your illness does not have to define you, nor does it have