For the past six years my life has been a daily struggle with moderate to severe pain all over my body combined with extreme fatigue that is never relieved by rest. The best way I can describe how I wake up feeling every morning is this: before I fell ill I used to be into distance running and had completed several marathons. The day after running a marathon I would awaken feeling as though every ounce of energy had been sucked out of my body and been replaced with aches and pains of all kinds. I now experience this feeling, multiplied a couple of times, every single morning.
What makes this experience so much worse is the invisible and ‘unknown’ nature of my illness. On the outside I look perfectly well.
It came on suddenly one evening in 2009, and after many tests and hospital visits one thing was sure, there was something wrong. Various markers in my blood test results pointed to something going wrong but nothing could be picked up on any scans. The various doctors I was sent to were left scratching their heads and I was eventually diagnosed with ME and Fibromyalgia in 2010. The following couple of years where the worst of my life. My mother passed away late in 2009, I lost my job, due to the illness, in 2010 and was plunged into a deep depression, even becoming suicidal (I have been prone to depression all my life and have also been diagnosed with clinical depression).
Then music saved me. I would not only say that I make music despite struggling with illness and pain, but that I make music because of the struggles. Had I remained in my job as a secondary school teacher, I would never have had the opportunity to pursue my music. If I didn't suffer so severely with pain and fatigue I don't know if I would ever have lent upon music to such an extent as I now do. Music is powerful, life changing, healing and empowering. Music brings life. Music is deeply spiritual and as a Christian I believe that music is a gift from God.
Music gave me a reason to live. A purpose so I could carry on. And through music I have met so many wonderful people who are making music in and around Suffolk. I have been able to share my story with them through my songs and in return they have opened themselves up to me through theirs.
It’s a long hard slog, trying to make music when in such pain and feeling so dead-tired, but I have some wonderful friends and an amazing wife. Anna is the only person who really gets to see how unwell I am. She’s the one who still sees me when I’m too ill to get out of bed or off the sofa. She’s the one who picks up the pieces the day after I’ve shared some of my songs at a ‘gig’ or Open Mic. Anna sees me on all those ‘next mornings’ when I’m no longer putting on a brave face and smiling through the pain. She picks me up when it all becomes too much and encourages me when the burden becomes too great. I wouldn't be able to make music without Anna and I’m not sure I would still be here without music.
Author: Keith Sadler
I want to share my music-making journey with you, as well as my experience of the amazing local music scene here in Suffolk.