My and My Health: Frances Black

By Grainne McCarry
From Belfast Telegraph

Folk singer turned addict counsellor Frances Black can't start the day without a cup of tea. The reformed alcoholic lives in inner city Dublin with her husband and manager, Brian Allen. She has a grown-up son and daughter

Do you get eight hours sleep a night?

No, not really. I try to if I can. Because of my work, my body clock is never in a proper time zone. I'm staying up late for my gigs and then travelling home afterwards. I lead a chaotic lifestyle. I don't get a long amount of sleep. If I could nap during the day I would, but I don't have that ability. I might sometimes take a 10-minute power nap on the way to a gig, but normally I can't relax my body long enough to do that.

Early bird or night owl?

A night owl, definitely. Last night, I didn't go to bed until 3.30am and I woke up at 7.30am. I usually wake at 8.30-9am.

Do you have a high pain threshold?

I don't know the answer to that question. I could probably deal with physical pain more than emotional pain. I would run for the headache tablets usually if I had a sore head, but recently I've been going for walks rather than take a tablet.

When was your immune system at its best?

Now. I think I'm at the healthiest I've ever been at this moment in life. I'm trying to eat as healthily as I can and I'm at my fittest.

Have you ever experienced depression?

I would say so, yes. You go through bad phases in life. Coming up to the end of November I can feel myself getting a bit flat. That's not really the same thing (as depression), but it's a time of year I don't look forward to.

I would say from December to January I feel quite dreary. I find that time of year very, very difficult. I don't mind New Year's so much as that means Christmas is over. I like seeing my friends and family at Christmas and spending time with them but I always feel a bit melancholy over Christmas.

Old wives’ tales or as the doctor ordered?

I'm not a big doctor fan at all. I think I would always question what the doctor is saying and get a second opinion and then maybe a third. Tablets aren't always the answer to problems. I think there's always a better way than tablets.

As for old wives’ tales, my mother always said: “Your health is your wealth.” I probably thought when she said that she was being boring, but you only have to look around you to see people with all sorts of health problems and to see how true it actually is. Then, you realise how lucky you are to have your friends and family around you.

Last time you were feeling under the weather — what did you do?

I'm a fantastic believer in Vitamin C and Echinacea so if I feel something coming on, like the cold or the flu, I would fill myself up with them.

The last time I was very, very ill was a couple of years ago when I was performing with my family at an Irish festival onboard a cruise ship. I was so violently ill I was off the radar for four days and I honestly thought I was going to die. About 400 people on the ship caught it as well — there was some sort of thing going around. It has put me off cruise ships for life.

When did you last visit the doctor?

A long time ago, I can't remember when exactly. It might have been a year ago.

Do you calorie count?

I would watch what I eat, but I wouldn't calorie count. I'm not good at sticking to it, though I do my best and try not to stuff myself.

Do you take any supplements?

No, just the Vitamin C and Echinacea if I feel a cold coming on.

Do you eat your five a day?

No. I eat a lot of salad — at least one a day — so I suppose that counts, but I'm not a big fan of fruit and veg. I would tend to watch that I'm not eating too much bread and to eat more protein.

Do you exercise?

I do. I go running, walking and I go to a spinning class which I really enjoy. Out of the three, I love walking the most. I live in the inner city of Dublin close to the canal so I take the dog with me and we walk along that.

Do you believe in the mid-life crisis?

Well, I don't think it's happened to me yet, although I've had enough mid-20s and 30s crises to last me until I die!

Organic or ready meals?

Organic — definitely as fresh and healthy as possible. That's not to say I wouldn't have a ready meal if I was on the run. If I do, it's not very often.

Is sex vital to overall wellbeing?

If you're in a relationship, it's a very healthy part of it. It's part of the whole make-up of the human being — emotional, physical, spiritual, mental and sexual.

They are the five things that the human being is made up of and we need to look after all of these parts.

Best advice ever received?

There's so many ? I suppose ‘live in the now’ because that is all you really have and not to waste time thinking too much about the past or the future.

I don't know who I received those words of wisdom from. I think I read it in the book The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. I'm not sure what sort of book it is, spiritual maybe.

Have you ever donated blood?

Yes, once, a long time ago.

The Organ Debate — would you?

Yes, I would. I don't have a card though. It's always one of those things I meant to get around to doing.

Favourite hot drink?

I'm a tea-aholic now. It's like nectar to me. I can't function without a cup of it in the morning. I go around in a daze like a zombie until I get a cup. Even if I'm running late I have to have a cup. It's my saviour.

Desert island must have?

My copy of The Power of Now and sunblock.

Grainne McCarry