Healthcare, the arts and education. The sectors arguably shook the most by the pandemic’s colossal magnitude and 34-year-old Aaron Juska-Bowes is stuck between all three. Part bassist/vocalist for a local pop-punk trio, part mental health care assistant, part mature student and full-time dad; Aaron chats to Alex Mace to unravel his story and give some pointers on work/life balance.
Fittingly, Aaron joins me on zoom after a gruelling 12 and a half hour night shift as a health care assistant – specifically working in mental health – and is justifiably dishevelled.
In a snapshot, Aaron fronts pop-punk outfit Raging Clue, he works restless hours as a health care assistant, he studies Health and Social Care at Nottingham College as a mature student and also plans to retake his English and Maths GCSE’s; all the while playing dad to three children aged five, four and two. It would come as no shock that Aaron’s own mental health has worn thin at times.
Aaron said: “Of course there’s the anxiety that comes with all, repetitively thinking of the past and what I could have done differently. Then there was depression which I had to take a time off work for, following my own advice, to have some time to recover. I’m tired man.” Despite the obvious strain, working through one of the greatest mental health epidemics the nation has ever faced no less, Aaron seems set on his place in healthcare.
The 34-year-old said: “The difference between sympathising for those who suffer from mental health issues to working with it and experiencing what that actually means; it really opened my eyes. I thought I knew what mental health was but actually seeing someone properly suffer from the effects is quite different.
“But being able to help those people every day; I’ve never felt more sense of purpose in a career.
With a definite career path in mind, Aaron’s status as a mature student studying Health and Social Care makes perfect sense but, as he admits, doesn’t aid his vertiginous workload. “Sure it’s easier now it’s all online,” Aaron explains, “but if you’re not doing an online class, you’re doing an assignment so you find yourself using any spare time to do any sort of homework or relentlessly searching for references.”
“I’m not doing this on energy alone. To know you’ve got that support network, just to chat with friends or family; it’s the most important thing I’ve ever seen.”
Aaron Juska-Bowes, Raging Clue frontman and healthcare assistant
Somehow, through a robust support network and plenty of passion, Aaron still has the energy to conjure riff-heavy magic for his band Raging Clue. Whilst the band managed to secure three singles to drip-feed fans over 2021’s inaugural months, Aaron has maintained heading – quietly penning lyrics where and when he can. Some may be baffled by this ontake of extra work but the answer is simple; it’s necessary.
Aaron explains: “If you’re a musician, music is that therapeutic part of your life that you simply need to be able to deal with your life’s issues. It’s so important to have something like that to vent out. It’s going to sound really corny, but I finally found two lads that I play with, and the relationship is more than just the music, it’s like friendship.
More important still, Aaron is a family man. With both him and his wife taking turns working night shifts, they form a team of key workers that supports the nation along with their three children.
As Aaron explains, this has its own quirks. “Me and my wife will sometimes alternate with doing night shifts,” Aaron said, “so there’s not as much rest some days. Then the weekends finally come but I’ve got the children all weekend so you’ve got to be a full-time dad until they get settled in bed at like seven o’clock.”
Though his to-do list appears bottomless, Aaron smiles as his family become the forefront of the conversation; his anchor to normality in these strange times. The frontman continued: “I’m not doing this on energy alone. To know you’ve got that support network, just to chat with friends or family; it’s the most important thing I’ve ever seen.”
Regardless of where he may claim to find his strength, Aaron himself is a worthy example of resilience in the face of adversity; a figure we have all searched for within ourselves in recent times.
So what can we take from Aaron’s life? How can we find such resistance to hardship and such a will to stay productive? The Nottingham-based bassist had his own tips saying: “You need to find that thing that keeps your soul burning, if your soul is burning and your energy is bright you can pretty much take on anything.
“Also, while it’s important to have that passion, give yourself time to do nothing. Like literally nothing. Put down the phone, don’t scroll, just sit there and chill out, maybe watch TV or a film; something that doesn’t require you to use your brain. More than anything, use your support network, your friends and family because if you’re full-on all the time without that respite you’re only going to burn out eventually.”