Being a DIY artist in the music industry is the ultimate catch-22. Mix in dealing with anxiety, stress, depression and a multitude of other mental illnesses and you’re in the middle of a creative quicksand. I’ve been an active, touring musician for the past 6+ years – having done 13 tours (all self-booked) while still holding down a full-time job when back home and off the road. For me, It’s that coming-off-the-road that’s always the hardest part of being a DIY musician. I’ve dealt with depression and severe anxiety for more than decade, but I didn’t realize until recently that post-tour depression was a real thing that wasn’t just a manifestation from my own personal battle with depression. When you’re on tour – you’re living your best life: playing shows every night, sharing your music, and truly savoring each moment in the present. My band and I have been very fortunate to have had the self-sustaining success that we have – and coming home from tour means having to walk away from that on-tour high and back to our regular day jobs with no time for any means of transition. Your heart and mailing lists are full, your FB likes are up, you’re really proud of how tight your live show has gotten, you’ve gained a lot of new fans, BUT – other than a suitcase of tour memories, to the unassuming world, it seems that you’re coming home empty-handed. Your non-musician friends can’t relate, your coworkers are envious, and your family thinks you’ve been on vacation. For me, this triggers a plunge into a hermit mode with a crippling slump in productivity that I have to disguise on social media as ‘hibernating from tour exhaustion’ while I buy time in trying to figure out why the hell do I do this. This is my post tour depression.
Typing it seems silly, but these post tour days can sometimes turn to weeks and as an unsigned DIY band, you can’t afford to lose ANY momentum. How do I cope? I have an amazing support team in my bandmates and fellow musician friends. I check in with my friends’ bands and get inspired by their hustles. Over the years, I’ve gone to non-musicians friends and family, but no matter how tight the hug or how inspiring the motivational meme – I’ve come to realize nothing pulls me out of this type of depression more than the self-fulfillment of making those next steps in our band’s career.
Book some studio time, go ahead and start routing/booking the next tour, book a photoshoot – book anything that you can tangibly see on the calendar as a starting point for the next chapter. And in the meantime… let yourself breathe, do yoga, hit the gym, spend time with family, binge on Netflix, hang out with your pets.. make yourself take care of yourself for whatever little window of time you get until that next date on the calendar comes. Having future plans set in stone always helps to alleviate some of my anxiety and depression, because the closer I get to the date, the more excited I get and the more I can shake off any doubts about why I choose to be a part of this industry.
As a musician, our dreams sometimes seem unreachable – but that upcoming date on the calendar means I’m allowing myself the chance to reach – which is a crucial step in self-care and healing. So, what ultimately comes first in this chicken or the egg riddle? Mental illness or the music industry? Honestly, if you’re still authentic and making honest art that you’re proud of at the end of the day, it’s a riddle we sometimes don’t need the answer to.
Jayna Doyle is the frontwoman of Glass Mansions, an alt/rock synthpop trio from South Carolina. In addition to being part of Taco Bell’s Feed the Beat, she has played SXSW, Warped Tour, Launch, Florida Music Fest + 13 self-booked tours. Follow her on instagram @jaynadoyle for lame memes, pomeranians, and never-ending tour pics.
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