Manitoba

CBC Searchlight semi-finalist turns anxiety into passion for music

Frustration over years of struggling with anxiety launched Winnipeg's Emily J.V. Wood into a music career that has now earned her a spot as a regional semi-finalist under the name Emily and the Moon in Searchlight, CBC's quest to find Canada's best and brightest new band.

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Emily and the Moon is a regional semi-finalist in CBC's Spotlight competition. (Xcetera Photography)

Frustration over years of struggling with anxiety launched Winnipeg's Emily J.V. Wood into a music career that has now earned her a spot as a regional semi-finalist under the name Emily and the Moon in Searchlight, CBC's quest to find Canada's best and brightest new band.

It was five years ago, when Wood was 25, that she decided she wanted to beat anxiety.

"I couldn't take the bus. I was afraid of that. I was afraid of being in meetings at work. I'd throw up afterwards if I had to speak in front of anybody. I was really miserable," she said.

"I've always been a creative person and feeling trapped by anxiety and having this desire to create was really frustrating."

The frustration of being trapped in anxiety motivated her to change, she said.

"You have these dreams for a reason. What's the worst that can happen by going after them? You throw up again like I did once on stage?" she said with a laugh.

She made a list of all the things she was afraid of and would do within that year, such as writing a song and getting her driver's license. She started a blog to keep her accountable to following through. She also sought help from a counsellor and friends.

"Having anxiety issues doesn't have to hold you back," Emily J.V. Wood said. (Emily J.V. Wood)
She bought a $20 ukulele and learned to play by watching videos. Now she's recording an EP and has a chance at winning $50,000 in prizes, plus exposure on national TV and radio.

"Having anxiety issues doesn't have to hold you back. It can get to the point where you become so frustrated with yourself and realize that you're the only one who can ever change it if you want to get on board with doing the things that you dream of."

The song she entered in the contest is called "Polaris" and starts with a sound clip she got from NASA of someone saying a shuttle is returning to earth after 30 years.

"To me it's like, after literally 30 years I'm finally doing what I never believed I was able to do," she said. 

She said she still struggles with anxiety but she has learned how to better deal with it. Stage fright is still an issue for her. 

"I have my EP release coming out in a few months and I'm terrified," she said.

But her fear isn't enough to stop her from pursing music, she said.

"All I ever wanted to do was show people if you have a dream and desire, you don't have to hold yourself back."

Emily and the Moon is just one of many Manitoba Searchlight entrants. Vote for your favourite up to once a day now until April 20.

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