Start Over Again
Start Over Again
My name is Emily Maguire. I am an English singer-songwriter.
This is my story.
I was born in London in 1975. My dad will laugh at this because when I was a kid I was forever writing stories starting with a 'foreword' that would take up so much time and effort I'd run out of steam after chapter one. I also wrote diaries and sentimental poems that I never showed anyone, or I hope I didn't. Growing up with my beloved older sister and without a TV at home, I developed a passion for books and music from an early age, learning to play the recorder, piano, flute and cello. I had a very happy childhood.
By the time I was 12, it seemed like I might become a professional cellist. But in my teens, family difficulties put me under a lot of stress and I left home at 16, dropped out of college and was diagnosed with acute clinical depression. Not wanting to get better, I refused any medication for 3 months until my psychiatrist threatened to section me in a psychiatric unit. I was living in a shared flat with strangers above a Cambridge shopping mall, having visions and writing desperate words on scraps of paper, suicidally depressed but too stoned to kill myself. I ate nothing but Crunchy Nut Cornflakes for months until my gums were bleeding constantly and my hair was falling out. I became obsessed with Bob Marley, playing his tapes over and over again. Finally I agreed to take the anti-depressants, which I remained on for the next 4 years, and slowly began to recover. I moved first to France to work in a hotel, then to London to live at my aunt's house before returning back home to live with my mum and finish my A-levels in Cambridge in the autumn of 1992.
A year later, a car crash triggered a nervous system disorder called fibromyalgia pain syndrome (FMS) which became so acute over the next few years that I ended up on walking sticks, unable to work and stuck at home in a lot of pain for months on end. For my 21st birthday my mum gave me a guitar. I taught myself to play it from Bob Marley songbooks and a few months later a friend suggested I write a song. It was a complete revelation. I'd always loved poetry, and songwriting perfectly combined my love of words and music. Suddenly the illness became a complete blessing in disguise as I had all this time on my hands to write songs. I wrote constantly in my room, songs pouring out of my head, watching the sky outside my window. I smoked dope from morning to night, as a certain type of cannabis was the only thing that relieved the pain of muscle spasms caused by the FMS.
I tried everything to relieve the pain – cortisone steroid injections, magnets, TENS machine, aromatherapy, acupuncture, Chinese herbs, osteopathy, chiropractic, heat pads, yoga, Tai Chi, reiki, hydrotherapy... and every painkiller under the sun the doctor would prescribe me. Nothing helped except the cannabis, or diazepam, which I wasn't allowed because of its psychotropic side-effects. My mum looked after me, helping me up the stairs, making me food, giving me baths, buying me one pain-relieving treatment after another, taking me to appointments with specialists and therapists who said they could help. I was in hospital 3 times at the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases in Bath and on the third occasion, in 1996, I finally came to terms with the fact that my condition was permanent, and as far as anyone knew, incurable. I was 21 years old. In a moment of complete and utter despair, I sat in the garden of the hospital with my walking sticks, looked up at the night sky and felt a sudden feeling of warmth and joy, the words 'I can, I can' ringing in my ears.
In February 1998, after months of disability, I dislocated a rib and the pain went completely out of control. E