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Beating the drum for mental health

Tuesday, 13 June 2023 Ali

Ali blogs about why he hopes to break the world record for non-stop drumming.

People never think anything bad is going to happen to them until it does. I lost my partner Sharon to pancreatic cancer in 2021. Not surprisingly I was left devastated. I needed help with my mental health, and for me it came in the form of Drumathon live, a collective of drummers (some famous, some – like me – not) drumming to raise money for mental health. I’ve already made it into the the book of Guinness World Records for individual drumathons, and now I’m hoping to break the record by drumming for 150 hours! (The current record is 134 hours and 5 minutes).

“Drumathon Live has helped many people cope with mental health, especially through these difficult times.”

Drumathon Live has brought many people together across the world, becoming a huge family of friends who are there for each other. It continues to grow each year and I have benefited greatly through it giving me a purpose to play and enjoy drums again. I am now an even stronger person with the help of Drumathon Live and it deserves so much credit for creating a drumming community that sees people of all skills, ages, races and colours grow as a family together as one. Drumathon Live has helped many people cope with mental health, especially through these difficult times.

During Sharon’s illness I found that I had automatically stepped up to help and provide in any way I could to see fit to see she was comfortable and made to not feel afraid or alone. But after Sharon passed I experienced an emotional breakdown.

I struggled to concentrate on work and when I came home all I wanted to do was go to bed, have the TV on, and not let friends and family into my life. I told people I was fine, but inside I was broken. For 4-5 months all I did was shut myself away, apart from work. The fact that everything happened during the Covid-19 pandemic made it even harder for me. Although I know I did my very best to help Sharon, her family and friends I still felt that I could maybe have done more and started doubting myself. I was in a state of mental suffering and couldn’t get out of it.

Getting a new purpose

Thankfully Covid-19 lifted and my gym opened up fully, allowing me to use the spa facilities as well as the gym itself. I went 6 days a week and continue to do so. We had recently bought a new house in a town I wasn’t familiar with. I knew nobody at all, apart from a couple of neighbours. Thankfully, at the gym I started to get a purpose in life again. I felt I had a reason to start looking after myself and I found the more I got to know people at the gym, the more confident I was about getting out and being social again.

Sharon absolutely loved drums. That’s how we met. I wanted to do something in her memory, and the most obvious thing I could think of was the drumming world record. This is my forte; something I have been good at for 20 years.

The Drumathon family have been fantastic and some of the drummers have been extremely supportive of me since Sharon’s passing. I want to raise as much awareness and money for Mind and Northern Ireland Pancreatic Cancer charity as possible, while going for the world record. My aim is to let people understand that you should never feel you’re on your own. There is always someone who will listen to you, help bring self-belief back into your heart and mind. I hope that I can be there for anyone who wants to chat about anything to me and that through my world record bid I can show people that nothing is impossible as we try to strengthen our minds each day with positivity.

“When I try to break the world record by playing the drum kit for 150 hours, I am going to suffer mentally and physically.”

I love drums and music. I listen to music everyday, and it helps brighten my mood. Sometimes It gets me through the day as well. Some songs bring back great memories, and others create new dreams for the future.

When I try to break the world record by playing the drum kit for 150 hours, I am going to suffer greatly both mentally and physically. I will go through many emotions and will doubtless cry a lot during the event. I always remember who I am doing the event for and why.

Certain songs will trigger different emotions. This helps to spur me on when I am feeling like I am going to fail. I am blessed with amazing friends and family, and I hope that the music along with my playing will help bring people together. The live stream can be put on in the background for everyone to enjoy just over 2,500 songs of all genres.

Coming together for mental health

Mind is a charity that is close to my heart, and they do wonderful things. If I manage to break the world record it will be a bonus for me. But the most important thing is to show that we can improve our mental health by coming together as people and supporting each other when we most need it.

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