- Singer-songwriter Andy Grammer speaks out on mental health.
- He shares how the pandemic has forced him to take care of his mental wellbeing and why he’s headlining an event to fund mental health awareness.
- Grammer also shares how music is healing for both him and his fans.
Critically acclaimed singer-songwriter Andy Grammer is known for his catchy, catchy songs. From “Keep Your Head Up” to “Honey, I’m Good,” even his song titles send out a message of positivity.
But Grammer wants the world to know that despite his outward personality, he too sometimes struggles with mental health issues. During the pandemic, he turned to therapy and self-employment to manage his mental well-being.
“[When] it went completely silent and I wasn’t allowed to leave my house and I wasn’t allowed to be around thousands of people and I wasn’t allowed, honestly, to just be distracted, I I had to sit with myself, and it wasn’t super fun,” Grammer told Healthline.”[I] realized, oh, I have a lot of work inside, unseen work to do here that I don’t think I would have done this soon if it hadn’t been for the pandemic.
To raise awareness for mental health and wellness, he is headlining the Beyond the Sidelines fundraiser on Friday, September 23. Proceeds from the event will be donated to Kicking The Stigma, an initiative led by the Indianapolis Colts and Irsay family, which addresses mental health issues and eliminates the stigma associated with them.
“It was really cool to line up with different organizations that do a really good job of breaking the stigma,” Grammer said. “[I] i want to be really open about this and say that i’ve struggled a lot and it’s totally normal and okay to take care of yourself…we’re all pretty clear that if you break your leg you have to go to the PT and get a cast and do the whole thing, but it’s a little more invisible and vaguer when it comes to sanity, but it’s not necessary.
Below, Grammer shared more with Healthline about mental health, music, and what drives and inspires him.
health line: Although the pandemic has had a negative impact on your mental health, it seems that it has forced you to pay attention. Is it correct?
Grammer: Looking back, I’m grateful to him. I’m currently outside of a building right now. We’re shooting a podcast called Man Enough, which is about masculinity, and we’re going into an episode yesterday about guys who we think go to therapy are weak or something. It seems almost cliché to talk about it. This is a point that has been raised a lot; there is nothing new about this. What’s interesting is that for me, I had to be completely destroyed to say ‘ok, okay, I’m going to go to therapy’. Why must this be so? Why do I have to be so clearly unable to get through my day and then say, ‘ok, I think I need some help.’ Rather than just saying “I don’t feel very well”, which is all the time, not consistently all the time, but throughout the day, you tell yourself “I’m sad” or “I’m anxious” or “I am these things.”
How has therapy helped you?
Therapy has helped me a lot. I would love to help do anything to help someone not sink so low before they can turn to this. In the end, is it like creating space in your life to work on your own stuff? and I know for me, I wasn’t, and that’s what the pandemic did for me. It kind of forced me, which I’m grateful for in retrospect, but it wasn’t a whole lot of fun to go through.
Was this the first time you went to therapy?
I went to therapy once in high school. My mom sent me because I thought I was supposed to start on the varsity basketball team. I’ve been working on it since I was 4e level, and I haven’t started. I came off the bench as the sixth man and it really threw my identity and my [self-worth] and then I went to talk to a therapist about four times and it was very helpful.
I think I was afraid of owning the darker sides of myself. So, therefore, it’s just kind of scary to recognize that you’re not perfect and everyone’s got shit. But if you’re never ready to look at those things or deal with things inside of yourself, then you’re not a full version of yourself, and there’s a place you’re fine with. , and totally pretty, and totally adorable , and shitty sometimes.
Your songs are so positive and uplifting, but they also address deep and serious feelings. Do you think people often think that happy, positive, optimistic people can’t have dark days?
I can’t speak for everyone, just me. I know for my own art, if you’re going to be someone who deals in the world of optimism and joy and uplifts and uplifts others, even the word uplift means you’re down.
I wrote my first song, “Keep Your Head Up,” after my mom died, so it’s all about pain. I think hope can be really rebellious in dark times, but if it’s not, that’s the kind of optimism and hope that I try to sing, that I can really take behind …I think joy or happiness in the face of darkness is so much more interesting, and that’s usually where I write from.
Did singing and writing heal you?
Yeah. On the last tour, I started my show with a poem, and it leads into a song called “Damn it Feels Good to Me”. I think it takes a lot of courage to own all the pieces of yourself. There’s real freedom in that, but it’s definitely a brave act in your art or in your life or with people you trust, to share all of yourself.
In a recent Instagram post, you mentioned that you originally wrote songs for yourself, but realized how much of an impact they had on others. Is it rewarding?
It’s super rewarding. When you do deeper work on yourself…when you are brave and share the whole version of yourself in your art or in your life, that gives permission for others to do that in their lives and that is such a sweet thing that by sort of healing yourself and then sharing whatever you’ve found, you’re creating spaces for other people to do the same. It’s a great, great life. I want to do as much as possible.
When you need a mental boost, do you ever listen to your own songs?
I don’t listen to my own songs. I have my own people I go to. That’s why it’s the biggest compliment in the world when someone tells me I’ve been that for them because I know how important that can be. The music is amazing. I always say that music is like a spiritual chiropractor. If you’re feeling funky, it can sink in and give you a little nudge to get you back on track.
I had a day the other day where I woke up, and I hadn’t slept very long, and I was getting ready to leave my hotel on tour, not in my best head space. I was like: Am I going to train? Am I going to eat something crappy? Where am I ? And someone had just texted me a song as I was leaving, and the song was amazing, and it changed my day. It made me choose better versions of myself that day, and that’s really important and powerful.
What self-care methods or coping strategies do you turn to during difficult times?
It’s definitely very personal, and I want to make sure people don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-all solution. I think it comes down to knowing yourself and understanding what actually works for you. For me, I’m not always the best at it, but I’m pretty clear that if I exercise, it helps a lot with my mental health.
And then something spiritual like respecting my own depth. Something that will go further and take me out of everyday life. If I do that on top of training really hard and sweating well, it’s kind of like you have to trust – because you don’t want to do those things – you have to trust that in the end, you be a better version of yourself. And over time, it became clear to me.
Is it rewarding to use your music to bring attention to mental health?
The best thing I love about what I do, and if you’ve ever been to shows, is that you’re in a specific place where you’re open to hearing things that you might not be. still. You know? For example, it creates space for you to go a little deeper into yourself when you’re around all these people, and the music has that effect, so it can be a really special time to go deeper with the people.
Do you have a particular song that really does that with your audience?
It’s so unique for people. When I start different songs, I can see that different people have taken certain songs [to heart]. I have a song right now called “Saved My Life,” which is about people showing up for you, and a lot of times I start that song and see a mother and daughter just hugging and crying. I have a song, “Don’t Give Up on Me”, which I think is part of that. “Keep Your Head Up” is a song that people use almost like an aspirin when they’re not feeling well.
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