How do you get up from an all time low

Updated: Feb 21

Vitamin D has been my saviour these past years. I discovered it about two years ago, after a period of time when I was getting moody for absolutely no reason at all, feeling extremely fatigued right after eating breakfast in the morning, and feeling depressed to the point of crying, and for no apparent reason. I did some research and decided to start taking vitamin D supplements as I believe that my body was suffering from a lack of sunlight. Coming from Singapore which is hot and humid (and sunny) all year round, it was undeniably a huge difference in climate when I moved to the UK. I now rely on it so much that I almost never go by a day without remembering my daily dose of goodness.

The title of this blog post was inspired by the song "All Time Low" by British-Irish band The Wanted. It sprang to me quite forcefully while I was casually listening to it on Spotify, reminding me of a period of time last year.

It's been a journey full of ups and downs over the past few years, but in the last few months of last year, I found myself in a very angry phase with the oboe, due to several different reasons. It was so extreme that I seriously contemplated selling my instrument and using the money to start an entirely different career. I must say that this complete and utter lack of motivation was quite frightening as I had never experienced anything to that extent before. I definitely had had low moments before - after unsuccessful competitions or auditions or simply just being human - but I had always managed to pick myself up again after a day or two and get on with it. But this time it was a protracted accumulation of negative experiences that culminated in this mental fog which hindered my sight so much that I was honestly unable to find myself.

(On hindsight, I suppose it's all a matter of perception on whether we deem an experience to be negative or positive.)

Anyway, I therefore experimented with something new - modelling - and found that I quite enjoyed it. It was, in essence, a breath of fresh air from music, from reeds and most certainly from the oboe. I threw myself completely into the industry, putting together a portfolio, applying to various modelling agencies and starting to get active on Instagram as a way to promote myself. As I was still a student at Guildhall at the time, oboe was always in the background, something that I couldn't yet totally rid myself of. I started going religiously to the gym and also started eating more healthily. I tried hard but after approximately three months, I realised that modelling wasn't for me. I got a couple of offers from brands but I soon came to realise that putting myself out there in that industry was just not my cup of tea and that I felt very much like a fish out of water doing so. Hence, I dropped everything and decided to very slowly crawl back into the routine of practising my oboe again. I started off with 20 minutes a day, playing only what I truly felt like playing at that very moment in time. With no deadlines to meet, no pressure to perform; simply trying to reconnect with my oboe, hoping to rekindle some sort of interest and drive again. It took about two weeks for me to finally get back into the groove, and when I did so, I realised that there truly is nothing else I would rather do than music.

Well, at least for the time being.

I then started practising furiously for a project which had long been a priority on my agenda to learn, and that was J.S. Bach's oboe sonata in G minor, BWV 1030b. It took me about a year in total to develop enough stamina to play the entire sonata and also to learn it by heart. Personally, recording that particular sonata was a milestone for me as I find it so very difficult. It's definitely still a work in progress with much to improve on. Nothing that I upload onto my YouTube channel is my final interpretation on a piece of music, but I am proud of everything that I choose to upload, even if it is not technically perfect. YouTube is simply a 'yardstick' to chart my progress and journey through music.

Someday I'd very much like to record the Bach with harpsichord and basso continuo.

As for now, I hope to find some inspiration to keep going. The world is full of negative news these days and I sometimes feel rather down reading about the lives being lost to the coronavirus, the locust plague in Africa threatening a widespread famine, etc etc etc. Perhaps stumbling upon inspiration is overrated, if there is even such a thing. I simply need to 'do'.

© Bernice Lee 2020. All Rights Reserved.

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© 2020 Bernice Lee