Throughout January, the First Fortnight festival presents than 70 events online, as they mark 10 years of challenging mental health stigma.

Below, Sinead White - singer/songwriter and curator of Cistin at FF 2021 - writes for Culture about the joys of music, and leaning into the things that you love...

I'm nothing special. Not the most talented, not the best at anything.

I do things arseways a lot, to be honest.

But I have a love that has never left me.

A love that has held my hand for my whole life, lifted me up, given me great courage and at times sat down beside me and said '’everything’s going to be grand’’.

I’ve loved music since forever, don’t ask me how it began, I have no idea. I found it early in my life and I am so grateful. It has given me a space, where it's okay to be myself. I always enjoyed banging on the piano, humming and making up little songs. I loved hitting the ‘demo’ button on my brother’s keyboard and then pretending to play. It’s funny the first time you do it but not something you want to see every day, for a few years.

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Watch: Sinead White performs Sometimes on Two Tube

I got into songwriting when I was a teenager and would pour my feelings into songs in an attempt to make sense of them. I loved Bob Dylan and wanted to be like him. My songs were so bad and I would play them over and over again, while my family tried to watch telly or just have a cup of tea in peace. I usually gig a lot. This time last year we were in Wales playing Other Voices, I had been gigging in Yorkshire the night before. I love the ritual of it all. There’s a rhythm to it. You arrive, load in, set up, soundcheck, go for dinner, come back, feel shaky in the greenroom, eat some grapes - and then it’s showtime.

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Watch: Falling For You by Daithí (feat. Sinead White)

I love the camaraderie, the conversations, the post mortem, the revelations and shite talk in the smoking area. I got sad during this whole yolk, I couldn’t dip into my usual reservoir and I had to look outside the box for happiness. I’d wake up in the morning and listen to Mr Blue Sky first thing. I’d absolutely blare it and do a little dance around my room. It might sound silly and my housemates probably hate me, but it made me feel better. I’d listen to ‘’I’m Walking on Sunshine’’ on the way to the shops, I’d find myself doing a little dance at the traffic lights too. I would smile at people and dogs.

Lux Alma

Then First Fortnight came along and asked did I want to be part of Cistin this year. We were so lucky that we got to do a gig in the middle of the pandemic. It meant to so much to me. We took over Arthur's Bar on Thomas Street; myself, Tríona Ní Dhuibhir, Lux Alma and Gary Tiernan. It was wonderful to be back in action, doing the thing that makes us feel like ourselves again. I don't know when this whole thing will be over but for now, I am going to lean into the things that I love and keep listening to Mr Blue Sky.

Cistin, presented in partnership with St. Patrick’s Mental Health Services, takes place on Thursday January 14th at 7 pm - for more information and bookings visit www.firstfortnight.ie.