Henry Lees is a Canadian singer-songwriter who has performed on stages across the country. He was recently honoured by the 17th annual International Acoustic Music Awards (2021) and placed second in the 2021 Indie International Songwriting Awards. He also has an anxiety disorder.
In honour of Action Anxiety Day, Henry is releasing his new song “Walking With Fear.” Our summer Community Engagement Contributor, Justine, asked Henry what the song — and Action Anxiety Day — means to him.
On June 10th, “Walking With Fear” will be available on Henry’s website and Bandcamp. You can pre-save the song on Spotify and Apple Music before Action Anxiety Day here. Follow Henry Lees on Instagram here. You can also find his personal fundraising challenge for Action Anxiety Day here!
Photos by John Shisko Photography.
Anxiety Canada: Thank you for taking the time to chat with us! We want to know: what is your anxiety story?
Henry Lees: I have lived with debilitating anxiety throughout my life. In 2011, I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder [GAD]. I finally had a name and an explanation for the fear and apprehension that had dogged me almost daily since childhood and had manifested in troubling mental and physical issues. I used to call it Chicken Little Syndrome: “the sky is falling! The sky is falling!” But I’ve learned to cope with my GAD now.
AC: What worked for you in managing your anxiety disorder?
HL: I’m very happy that through a combination of therapies including CBT and my own efforts to reshape perceptions, I now successfully manage and live with GAD. Anxiety still rears its ugly head now and again, but I can deal with it.
AC: That’s great! Why did you write “Walking With Fear”?
HL: I co-wrote “Walking with Fear” with my good friend David Leask, a very talented and wise singer-songwriter based in Mississauga. Just before our writing session that created this song, I was talking with David and had opened up about how I had recently gone through a harrowing period of daily, exceptionally high anxiety.
Fear became like another entity to me, like a child that stays close, wanting to protect me from danger but [without] the maturity to understand what’s truly a threat to my wellbeing. I know that my anxiety will never fully go away, but I had worked to learn how to feel less controlled by my fear and more at peace when I feel those emotions.
David said, “It sounds like writing a song about that could be cathartic.” I said, “Yes, let’s do it.” It certainly was, and continues to be, cathartic.
I hope “Walking with Fear” is relatable for others struggling with anxiety and inspires them to feel hopeful and remember that it is absolutely possible to live peacefully with anxiety.
– Henry Lees
AC: What do you hope others will take from “Walking With Fear”?
HL: I hope “Walking with Fear” is relatable for others struggling with anxiety and inspires them to feel hopeful and remember that it is absolutely possible to live peacefully with anxiety. Music has been a saviour and guiding light to me, and I hope “Walking with Fear” can bring some illumination and hope to others.
HL: Through telling my story in “Walking with Fear,” I hope it will help humanize fear, make it less of an intangible threat, and give it the qualities of [something people can move] forward with rather than holding back.
AC: Why is Action Anxiety Day important to you?
HL: I want to help amplify Action Anxiety Day 2022 because it is personally significant to me. Awareness and education are key in reducing and erasing the stigma that [people] can so quickly and easily [attach] to mental illness when it’s misunderstood.
I’m so glad to see that Action Anxiety Day is in its second year of growth, and it’s becoming a national focal point for shedding more light on mental health, raising funds for education and treatment, and showing us how we can support each other and promote widespread knowledge, acceptance, and understanding.
“Walking With Fear” was co-written with award-winning Canadian singer-songwriter David Leask, recently named Songwriter of the Year by the Mississauga Music Awards. It was co-produced by David Leask and multiple JUNO Award winner Steve Dawson. It was recorded in Nashville, Toronto, and Vancouver. Henry Lees is the lead and background vocalist on the recording and David plays acoustic guitars and keyboards.
A Vancouverite now living in Nashville, Steve Dawson (Birds of Chicago, Matt Andersen) plays electric guitar and mixed the song. Torontonian Gary Craig (Jann Arden, Anne Murray, Bruce Cockburn) plays drums, and Vancouverite Jeremy Holmes (Colin James, Jill Barber) plays bass. Additional mixing and mastering were done by David Vanderploeg at Naturally Digital in Brampton, Ontario.
We’re thankful Henry took some time to chat with us, share his passion for music, and spread awareness of Action Anxiety Day. Learn more about him here.
Want to help support #ActionAnxietyDay? Read on for ways you can participate in our worldwide anxiety awareness day!
How can you ACT and support Action Anxiety Day?
ACT on Anxiety:
Awareness/Advocacy – Raise awareness of anxiety by sharing your anxiety story, with help from our tools, including suggested posts, hashtags, and frames. Learn more here.
Treatment – Raise funds to develop trusted evidence-based resources and affordable treatments for children, teens, and adults.
And don’t forget to sign and support the Action Anxiety Day proclamation!