While She Sleeps' Sean Long: To find inner peace, we must face our demons

As the conversation surrounding mental health continues, While She Sleeps guitarist Sean Long explains how it’s still possible to find peace within – even during the darker days…

While She Sleeps' Sean Long: To find inner peace, we must face our demons
Sean Long, speaking to Jake Richardson

"The vibe that surrounds the mental health conversation at the moment is negative – it’s portrayed like it’s a bad thing to suffer from anxiety and depression. I want to promote the idea that, actually, it’s not terrible to have these experiences because with internal suffering comes the opportunity to reflect on your feelings. With a fear-based thing like anxiety, you’re forced to look inside yourself and figure out what these demons are. People will try and mask it and run away from the problem, but you can’t, really; by facing up to these feelings, you bring about the chance for change within yourself, and your outlook on life will be broadened.

"I consider my experiences with mental illness to be a positive thing because I see the world differently now. Going through it, it’s almost like the cosmos is giving you a little prod on the back, and once you come out the other side, your outlook on life is much more optimistic. When I was growing up, I heard about depression and anxiety, but I didn’t know what they were. Now, I understand how nuanced it is – my version of anxiety might be completely different to someone else’s. It’s almost impossible to explain what mental illness feels like.

"Studying Eastern philosophy has helped me massively with my mental health. It’s showed me that my anxiety is a real, tangible thing. The teachings of Daoism have taught me to separate my anxiety from myself – not being able to separate ourselves from our feelings can be what causes us pain. I’m not saying you can simply meditate and get rid of your problems, but it does allow you to look at what’s going on. Meditation helps you to see the space behind all the shit that’s causing you problems. No matter how horrible life can feel, if I meditate on it, I can find peace.

"I’ve also read some great books that have helped me overcome my struggles, too. Alan Watts’ The Wisdom Of Insecurity, Laozi’s Tao Te Ching and The Power Of Now by Eckhart Tolle are some of the most powerful texts I’ve read. Ultimately, though, it’s important to say that no matter what your struggles are, the clouds will start to go. Things can get dark, but struggling with your mental health shouldn’t feel like the end of the world."

If you’re struggling with your own mental health, don’t suffer in silence. Talk to someone you can trust – a friend, a family member, a teacher, a doctor or a counsellor. Find more information on how to look after your mental health at the Mental Health’s Foundation.

And if you need help immediately, we recommend these organisations:

  • CALM: thecalmzone.net or call 0800 58 58 58
  • The Samaritans UK: samaritans.org or call 116 123
  • Or, in the U.S., the Samaritans helpline: (877) 870 4673 (HOPE)

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