Chris Olsen, a band member of Death and The Penguin, talked to us about anxiety, life lessons and childhood memories.
What are you listening to, reading and watching at the moment?
It’s been hard to avoid the World Cup over the last few weeks. It’s been really entertaining to watch. Any World Cup where Germany fail to qualify for the second round and England score 6 goals in a match (…or even in total…) deserves a bit of attention! In terms of listening, the latest Death Grips and Nine Inch Nails have been on repeat for me over the last week. They’re not the easiest listens, but then where would the fun be in that…
What has been your biggest life challenge so far and what did you do to overcome it?
I went through a particularly tough time a few years ago. I wish there had been a specific event where I could say “this is why I’m struggling” but that wasn’t the case. Instead, I just found my mental health deteriorating over a number of years. My anxiety was running riot and I was frequently tearful, having to spend a chunk of time out of work. The first thing I did was seek help – I approached my local GP. They responded quickly (we’re all too well aware of the statistics of male adult suicide rates) by giving me medication and cognitive behavioural therapy. Looking back, seeking professional help was the best thing I have ever done. Over time it made a dramatic improvement to my life and gave me tools to deal with those times when my brain misfires. I’m glad too that I took my girlfriend, close friends and family along with me on the “journey”. They were incredibly supportive and conversations with other sufferers made me feel less alone and less defective.
What have you learned about yourself over the past five or so years?
Feeling angry or feeling sad is sometimes the right thing to do (suppressing emotions can be just as dangerous). But reacting inappropriately can have a really negative impact on other people.
What would constitute a ‘perfect’ day for you?
A perfect day would start by spending a bit of time with my cat (she’s a little crazy, but very affectionate!), followed by a coffee at my local café (F Mondays Brixton, in case there’s any locals reading) and a walk around Brockwell Park with my girlfriend in the sunshine – living in London, I’m always looking to spend a bit of time decompressing in a green open space. After that I’d probably play some music before heading out for a few drinks with friends. Sometimes the simple days are the best!
For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
I’ve always had a very supportive group of friends and family, which I’m incredibly grateful for. I’ve also been really lucky to have the opportunity to spend time and play music with some amazing people. Touring over the last few years would not have been the experience it was if not for some of the amazing fans, bands and promoters we’ve met along the way.
Complete this sentence: “Ace mental health for me means…”
…having confidence in myself
What do you eat to stay healthy?
My diet isn’t always the most healthy (goddamn you, delicious pizza), but I do my best to stay away from foods that are too sugary – the highs and lows that follow tend to have quite an impact on my mental health.
Do you have a daily routine of exercise or do you make it up as you go along?
I have about a 4 mile run home from work, which I try to do a few times a week. I always feel better about myself when I’m feeling fit.
Here at The Mind Map we remember playing football and ‘tag’ – running around the playground every day and loving it – can you share a similar memory?
I was a bit of a nerdy teenager. I’d spend hours and hours as a teenager learning songs and teaching myself techniques on the guitar. I used to just love sitting down and learning something new. It’s really difficult sometimes now as an “adult”, with everything else going on, to make the time to just sit down and play the guitar just for the fun of it.
What three songs lift your spirits?
Really depends on my mood. Sometimes for me it’s the angriest material that makes me feel happy – that “fuck yeah!” feeling – Duality by Slipknot is one of the songs that always does that for me! Sometimes a big uplifting riff does the job too – You Eat Humous, of Course You Listen to Genesis by Alpha Male Tea Party is a great example! If I wanted something a little lighter, I’d put on a track like Dance Yrself Clean by LCD Soundsystem.
What is your favourite self-help book, or motivational quote?
I found “The Chimp Paradox” to be a really helpful read as there was a lot in there that I could resonate with. Definitely worth a try for anyone wanting to understand a little better how the mind works or get a different perspective.
What advice do you offer to friends when they are feeling overwhelmed?
We all have people in our lives who care about us, be it friends, family or colleagues. They are there for you and opening up does not make you a burden on them.