Dan sat outside and smiling

Introducing: Dan Brain

“I now see and feel Music Medicine.., It’s enabled me to revisit life and discover Dan again.
I’m an NHS Mental Health Peer Support Worker and Patient Research Champion. I’m now working in the same Mental Hospital I was sectioned in myself. During my second sectioning my mind was blind and my eyes were severely sight impaired
My senses, emotion and imagination were then paralysed,,.
My volume and internal vision has now been realised in an unimaginable way.
The “Cloudburst” has lifted to reveal a horizon. The waves are here to ride.., the drowning and blind mind has been left behind.” – Dan

What is it that affects your vision? And what is your vision loss story?

I’ve lived with MS and my physical health worsening since 2006. The prescribed steroids caused glaucoma and cataracts in both eyes. I became severely sight impaired 2014. This happened over a month. Deep depression followed which left me sectioned in hospital a year later. My internal vision was blind and mirrored my external sight.

When returning home from my section, Adele and her song “Million years ago” were my only communication for a while. I now recall her saying “Hello” a month earlier through a Radio, this was fed to me by family whilst I curled up in a hospital bed. Music Medicine was then prescribed and enabled me to revisit life through a different lens. Other artists and songs were then close behind and I was soon listening to Pink Floyd “Hello? (Hello? Hello? Hello?) Is there anybody in there?”.
After continuously listening to relative Music.., George Ezra’s “Blind Man in Amsterdam” hit me, Rod Stewart singing “Ever seen a blind man cross the road?” felt real to me and Chase & Status delivering “Blind Faith” was the rise in internal volume. This paved the way for “London Grammar” to paint the ‘big picture’.

Here are somw quotes that mean a lot to me.

“What the eye doesn’t see your heart doesn’t grieve over’ This was another from my young Grandma.

“Dying for some REM” Sam Fender

“Has Your Heart Adjusted to the Dark” Emili Sande

How did you get into music?

I was breathing music from as young as I remember.. It was mainly listening though. I didn’t understand confidence and would move away from attention. Apparently I was often day dreaming?
The turntable was spinning sounds most weekends when my Pops was home.
Queen and Freddy Mercury was often the loudest voice at weekends.., This was before I wanted to “ride my bicycle” and still “don’t like star wars”. Queen are legendary and a huge part of my music timeline.
Mum’s collection has mostly been attractive too. She still has a tidy music taste. Great music is timeless as they say. ELO and Fleetwood Mac are often being turned up thankfully.
My earliest memories of sound were nursery rhymes and lullaby’s.. Grandad Tiger was frequently popping the weasel with his muddy green fingers! Grandad Sparky would welcome the ‘Beautiful Morning’ with a strong whistle.
My little CD player was eaten by my brothers sounds when we had the house to ourselves. This was always good though. We shared the same sounds and so did the neighbours!
I still really struggle with remembering lyrics and end up trying to quietly sing my own I’m always fine listening to the moment instead though.
My life is now a Music Timeline., from the earliest memory to this present day.
Music moulded me and has been a bright shadow through the years.
I could never of imagined referring to it as Music Medicine though.

“From the moment I could talk I was ordered to listen” Cat Stevens

“Music is a world within itself”
“With a language we all understand”.Stevie Wonder

How did you find your role and what was the training like?

I was receiving valuable mental health care in the community after being sectioned.
My social worker at the time mentioned about this new peer support project that’s being tried in Oxford. He asked if it’s a goal and position i’d like to explore further? I hardly thought about it and could only imagine positive results alongside opportunities that weren’t available to me as a patient.
Initially communicating with others and social exposure felt challenging but I recall the training being insightful and essential.., spending the time with fellow peers and relating to each other was so important. I used to struggle in a training room but I didn’t snooze once!
The goal line painted by my social worker was feeling real.

My involvement with patient desearch now shares the same umbrella.
Research by lived experienced is sometimes the most effective research I feel.
It’s also incredibly rewarding for my own wellbeing and mental health.

“The Changingman” Paul Weller
“The times they are a changing” Bob Dylan

Are there any adaptions you’ve made to do your role?

I guess in being one of the first peer support workers I’ve been part of an experiment.

My NHS employers and colleagues have allowed me to explore my own ideas, learning styles and methods of working. This is whilst considering NHS trust policies and regulations – these are essential for both my own safety and patient peers.I’ve introduced “Music Medicine” to my work. It plays along side me and is a key ingredient when Influencing purpose, feeling and emotion to others. The power of ‘Music Medicine’ leaves my mind smiling too.

It’s important for me to be flexible and adaptable with peers. Working together and identifying individuals is my essence to peer support and assisting recovery.

I’ve been wonderfully supported, supervised and mentored throughout my experience. Especially at times when my mental and physical health have struggled.

“Better together”                                      Jack Johnson

“Shelter from the storm”                          Bob Dylan 

What is a highlight of doing your role?

I’m blinded by many but ultimately I now understand how passion feels and what it truly means.

“This is how it feels’ Richard Ashcroft

Dan has created this video to illustrate his work.

We look forward to seeing how Dan’s career progresses and will hopefully be able to work with him in future.

If you would like to tell your story please get in touch with us at info@oxeyes.org.uk or call Nathan on 01865 725595.

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