Happy Friday, folks. I’m off the road this weekend, just playing a set with my friend Patrick Sweany’s Tiger Beats on Saturday at noon at Tennessee Brew Works, here in Nashville. I’ll spare you photos and what-not, for now. Just wanted to catch up on a few things, and talk a bit about a cause that’s important to me: mental health awareness.
1) Work continues on the new recording project. We have nine songs recorded; some of those are nearing completion. I am fired up about this collection of songs and the great production by Joe V. McMahan. It’s exactly what I hope for in a new record—something that sounds familiar but offers new sounds, new approaches. I always want to feel like I grow with each release, and it certainly feels like we’re onto something good and new with this one. The opening of the pre-sale campaign will be soon, perhaps as early as June 15. But before that happens, there are some older loose ends to tie up, which leads me to item #2:
2) Long Gone Time sponsors: I am gradually, as schedule permits, getting the posters and other remaining sponsorship rewards out to you. I thank you, as ever, for your extreme patience.
3) “Burning” vinyl reissue project: We’ve had quite a few unexpected technological hurdles to jump with this one. But rest assured, I am plowing forward with it. Not exactly the timely “10th anniversary” reissue that I’d hoped for, but I think it’s still important to put this very very analog recording out on vinyl, and generate new exposure for a record that kinda flew under the radar when initially released in October 2005.
4) May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I want to speak frankly here; I have friends and family who take active steps towards achieving and/or maintaining good mental health, and I have friends and family who likely don’t. I can speak only from my own experience. I was diagnosed with depression in 2004, but I can remember symptoms occurring long before that. Thankfully, with the help of my physician, I found a good therapist who specializes in working with creative types (whom I still see about every other week), and I see a psychiatrist every six months to monitor my meds. Which are minimal in amount, but do help. Medication doesn’t give me a buzz or turn me into anyone I’m not; it simply helps me function more effectively, and doesn’t let the illness “win”—stealing days’ worth of time, sapping my energy and willpower. Do I still have bad days? Sure. Some of you might not be comfortable with the idea of medication for mental illness; you might be lucky enough to be able to maintain a positively effective routine of exercise, yoga, prayer, meditation, etc. (whatever gets you through), and that’s fantastic. But one of the most insidious things about mental illness is that it can be self-denying, or maybe more correctly put: self-protective. Those with personality disorders can invent elaborate systems of denial—and that denial is in itself a symptom of the disorder. Think about that. The denial keeps the sufferer of the disorder going about their business in the world, such as they can, insisting that nothing is wrong, all the while wreaking emotional havoc on those around them. If you think you might be suffering from a mental illness, remember: 1)It’s not your fault. 2) It might be “your business”, but this isn’t just about you. You’re not just hurting yourself. Those around you are hurting, too. Seek professional help, if you think you might need it, which I realize is a big first step. If you see a therapist or doctor and don’t like them, go to someone else. Don’t let yourself “reason-weasel” your way out of the chance at positive change. Unfortunately, it is a reality in this country that economic factors play a significant part in treatment options, what with our dysfunctional health care system.
To state the obvious: I am speaking in harsh generalities about an extremely deep, wide, and nuanced subject. Though I do try to read from reliable sources about these issues, that doesn’t prevent me from very possibly “talking out of my ass” about all of this! I encourage you, at very least, to become more aware of the reality of mental illness and its effects. There’s still a lot of shame surrounding these issues, despite the progress made within medical science in effective diagnosis and treatment. And that shame can be devastating to those who hold it inside. Still-common enemies to the truth are those hyperbolic terms used to describe both the sufferers and those professionals who treat them: “quack”, “crazy”, “nuts”, and on and on. Lost in the usage of such language is some much-needed compassion and sense. We could all stand more of both.