"We couldn't have asked for a more appropriate guest this morning," Ryan Tubridy said, as he introduced psychotherapist and bass player Louize Carroll. Their conversation started with the musical side of Louize’s pursuits and the Blizzards bass player neatly summed up the effects of the pandemic on the music industry:

"One thing that has been predictable over the course of the last almost two years now is the inconsistency. The consistency of the inconsistency. And getting your hopes up and getting them dashed and getting your hopes up and getting them dashed. That kind of intermittent reinforcement is actually far more damaging and hurtful than a consistent state where we can’t do it. It’s the fact that you get your hopes up, you start to make plans – and I know several musicians as well as ourselves who have been making plans, who’ve been planning ahead with music, but with gigs, getting back out there. And I think we know at this stage that the only way to actually have an income is to be out gigging and performing."

The restrictions have devastated the arts and entertainment industries and, as Louize tells Ryan, the mental health effects are at least as damaging as the economic effects. Every time restrictions are adjusted, potential work is pulled out from under the noses of musicians, bands, actors. As Ryan puts it, "You’re living on your nerves, really." So that leads to the psychological query of how to manage that existential nervousness. Louize has been grappling with that question:

"I think there’s a lot of escalation of rage. Naturally, you know? And a lot of escalation of blame. And we get caught up in that because it gives us a sense of purpose, actually. It gives us a sense of control, that we can do something, we can point the finger, we can be exasperated by this and land the blame on somebody’s doorstep. And that helps. It helps us. It helps us to feel somewhat anchored and somewhat in control. But actually it also takes us away from connection with ourselves."

The way to survive this whole situation, Louize believes, is through connection: with ourselves and with others. It’s also about adaptability, how we can learn to adjust and adapt to the circumstances we find ourselves in. And Louize has little time for the sort of easy options that some people take when it comes to mental health issues:

"I get a little frustrated sometimes with the hashtags, you know? And with the 'kindness’. It’s just so easy to say. So many things are so easy to say but we don’t embody them. And this is the problem."

How do we do that? A lot of it comes back to connection with ourselves. When we pull parts of ourselves together to represent something in other people’s eyes, we’re losing that self-connection.

"So when we speak about kindness and self-care, we’re doing what’s expected of us, but we’re failing to actually connect with how to do that for ourselves. And self-care is not just candles on the bath."

Candles on the bath is exactly what Ryan says he pictures when he hears the phrase, candles on the bath. So, if it’s not that, he wondered, what is it? It turns out it’s quite a bit more difficult that arranging candles on the bath, as Louize explains:

"It’s actually staring down the things that you find challenging. It’s looking at them between the eyes. It’s staying in the game."

‘Staying in the game"’ is a phrase that Louize is fond of. It means, she says, not removing yourself from difficult or challenging situations just because you can. So much of how society is orchestrated these days is all about distraction and taking people out of themselves and allowing them to avoid the things that are difficult:

"And actually, avoiding what’s difficult perpetuates disorder... We are constructing a society that facilitates us to escape all kinds of pain, you know. People now want to be ideologically safe from pain or something that makes them uncomfortable, which is unrealistic, right? But it also perpetuates fragility."

Facing difficult times has been a part of life and sometimes people need to turn to a third party for help. Louize has set up a service for people looking to talk to a mental health professional because it’s not always easy to know where to start when seeking help or who to turn to when you’ve decided that you want to talk to someone.

"I kind of got the idea that, well, wouldn’t it be great if we could create a platform with hand-picked therapists? With therapists that I’ve interviewed, that we’ve gone through the process, that are exceptionally highly trained? So we remove all that sort of unknown and the burden of responsibility from clients by providing a platform that has a host of therapists who are exceptionally trained, but not only that, who are actually really emotionally intelligent too."

The service is called Prism Therapy and you can find it here.

You can hear Ryan’s full chat with Louize Carroll, taking in music, mental health, Prism and Jigsaw, by going here.