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Lea’s story

Isolation is one of the biggest impacts of my condition.

Chronic pain, fatigue and cognitive difficulties caused by Fibromyalgia and Myalgic Encephalitis mean I can’t work or socialise regularly. Three years down the line, I find myself getting anxious about going to new places, experiencing new things and meeting new people.

Taking part in a Good Vibrations gamelan course at Jobcentre Plus helped me overcome these anxieties. Many people in the group were experiencing similar difficulties to me, so we could empathise and understand each other. Through working together as a team we helped ourselves individually. Connecting with new people in this way boosted my confidence in social situations and motivated me to push my boundaries further. I have already re-joined the local library and, while this might not sound like a big deal to some, it was a huge step for me. I’m hoping to do a Reiki course in the future too.

The gamelan music in itself was a therapy for me. For the first time in a long while I was able to fully focus on one thing. The experience was fulfilling. It gave me a real sense of achievement and helped me concentrate on what I can do rather than what I can’t. It reminded me that it’s important to do things for yourself in life.

Most importantly, the gamelan course was fun. We had freedom to experiment with different instruments and create new sounds, and the relaxed atmosphere meant we could socialise and laugh together. I would recommend taking part in a Good Vibrations gamelan course to anyone looking to build their confidence and have a completely new experience. If I can learn to enjoy my life again and relax, even when under a great deal of stress, anyone can.

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Photography by Toby Madden/The Independent, Osman Deen/South London Press, Camilla Panufnik, Elspeth Van Der Hole, GDA Design, Gigi Chiying Lam, G. Bland, Alan Bryden, Mark Carlin, Rachel Cherry, Francois Boutemy, Andy Hollingworth, Rebaz Yassin, and Guy Smallman.

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