I get flare ups. Big flare ups that sometimes look like a herniated disc in my spine or like not being able to walk down the stairs. I’m also trying to be a self-employed musician and make music in a way that is sustainable for me and my health.
I’m Charlotte. A singer-songwriter, girl boss and disability advocate living in the creative and community-minded village of Stirchley in south Birmingham. I write songs about mental health and real-life issues that everyone faces because I want people to find solace and solidarity in my music. I also live with scoliosis (my twisty spine) which can make running my own business and making an album a difficult balancing act. I have to listen to my body and look after myself otherwise everything can come crashing down and I’m stuck in bed for days.
I'm really passionate about the amazing community of people managing long term illness or chronic pain whilst running their own businesses. It’s so important for us to find ways of pursuing our dreams without burning ourselves out and find the best ways of looking after our bodies.
I have a monthly routine of self-care that helps me to manage pain and stay healthy:
I go to a chiropractor and also get a sports massage once a month.
I use ice packs and heat packs like my YUYU bottle to soothe inflammation.
I keep myself moving with Low Impact Steady State exercise and Pilates (from Build & Breathe) that are specifically made for people with spinal fusion like me.
I have a special chair and standing desk that help me to avoid sitting still for too long.
On good days, I can go about my day making music, teaching, working and managing by taking rest breaks throughout the day.
On bad days, I take pain medication, fill up a hot water bottle, lie down all day and sometimes work from bed-headquarters (like I am doing today as I write this!).
So how does my music fit into this? I’m trying out new ways of making live performances sustainable for me, especially for my album launch gig at the end of September. Shayanne, who is opening for me on the night, is going to open with a few of her stunning songs. Then halfway through my set, she is going to sing a few more of her songs while I go and have a lie down and rest. I’ll then come back to the stage and we’ll both sing ‘Say’ which we wrote together as a duet. It’s a little unconventional, but I hope it will make space for looking after my spine while also giving the audience a brilliant night of music.
Lovely people like Shayanne and my other band members are such a key part of my support network that make it possible for me to perform. I’m so thankful for friends and family who are willing to give me that extra bit of help without making me feel like an inconvenience.
I recently released a song called ‘Shimmer’ which is about being there for our loved ones through difficult times and I have definitely experienced so much of that. I hope it can encourage you and help you to remember that you are loved as you are.
To anyone facing chronic pain or long-term illness, I’d like to say:
“Don’t be ashamed of resting and give your body time and space to ‘be’. I hope that you can find ways to speak to your body with kindness and feel compassion for yourself in the midst of pain.”
Love and peace,
Charlotte Champian xxx
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