Patchbay Fest: Music, Mental Health, And Making A Difference
Stigmas and Shenanigans
About a year ago, I was at Woodlands Backyard watching Badfish with my buddy and Patchbay partner Brian. It was there among the swaying crowd where we first conceived the idea of The Patchbay Festival. Shortly after I was inspired by my friend Ron who founded Roochute, an entity and social movement that raises awareness for mental health. And yes, they have an actual parachute. A parachute with a purpose to be exact. So I thought, why not a concert with a cause? A festival with a..with a.. You see where I’m going. I believe that Roochute’s mission to start conversations about mental health, encourage acts of kindness, promote self care, and spread positivity is important and more relevant than ever.
Mental health underlies our very well being. Our consciousness is the platform from which we operate and it affects all other aspects of our lives. Our ability to care for ourselves and forge a meaningful, purpose driven life relies on our mental well being. Even though mental illness is more prevalent than ever, it’s still overlooked and undervalued. Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. (46.6 million) experience mental illness in a given year (1). That means all of us know at least a few people struggling with mental health problems. You may feel like that isn’t true, and that’s because most of the people you know who are struggling with mental health probably don’t talk about it. For some reason our society has built up this negative connotation around mental health. We’ve built these stigmas that say those who struggle with mental health are weak and pitiful people whose problems are just in their heads. As a society, it’s time to call bullshit. Scream shenanigans from the rooftops. Light the fire and call up arms. Mental health is a very real problem. It’s a disease with an organic etiology just like any other health condition. A disease we shouldn’t be ashamed to struggle with.
When we birthed the idea of The Patchbay Music Festival, we saw the opportunity to create conversation about mental health. We saw the opportunity to show those in our community who struggle with mental illness that they are not alone and that they don’t have to be afraid of speaking out about the struggles they’re dealing with. Columbus is a collaborative and supportive community, and one that I’m proud to be a part of. We knew that the people of Columbus would be supportive of this cause if we just laid it out on the table. And so far they have been. I’m amazed by the level of support and enthusiasm we’ve encountered so far. Everyone from the folks at Land Grant who have been gracious enough to help make this event happen, to the musicians who’ve helped our fundraising efforts, to the businesses who’ve donated items for our raffle. They didn’t feel obligated to support this cause. They were genuinely excited to help make a difference in the community. For this I couldn’t be more thankful.
What It Means To Me
I can understand why those who aren’t personally affected by mental illness don’t feel a sense of urgency to alleviate the problem. Those who haven’t experienced it or know someone who has don’t really understand the cascading effects of mental illness or the significance of the impairments it has on the lives of those who do struggle with it. I get it. There are a million problems in this world, and many of them are much more apparent in our every day lives. This is another reason why starting the conversation is so important. If those of us who struggle with mental illness openly talk about it, we can give others a better understanding of what it’s really like and how prevalent it is. Furthermore, we will inspire others to share their struggles. When we become open about our mental health issues, others who struggle with it won’t feel so alone, and those who don’t won’t feel so distant from the problem. We will no longer feel the need to demand change because we’ll be inspiring it.
This morning I read an article written by a friend from Music in Motion Columbus. He wrote a preview about The Patchbay Festival in which he shared his personal struggle with depression. Afterwards I was inspired to openly share my experience with mental health with the world, something I’ve never really done. I’ve never been great at talking about my feelings, go figure. I feel that writing though is a medium through which I’m capable of expressing myself most accurately.
My mental health issues first manifested as anxiety as child, and at the time it was something I was rather unaware of. I thought it was normal to constantly worry about things. As I grew older I began to recognize the fact that I was always on edge and worried about things that shouldn’t be worried about. Still, it had a minimal effect on my life. At 16 is when it became a problem that affected my life on a day to day basis. The anxiety became only a symptom of a much deeper rooted problem. It was in the latter days of my sophomore year of high school that I came face to face with depression for the first time. I always thought that depression was just a chronic state of sadness, but I quickly learned it was much more than that. To me depression is like having the volume of life turned down. It’s the absence of vibrancy. It’s a tonic and flat sensation. A motionless world that lacks a dimension. It’s looking at all the colors of the world and only seeing gray. It’s waking up in an unfamiliar story every single day. Depression to me was the realization, false or not, of my intrinsic meaninglessness. It was knowing that I had so much to be thankful for and things to be happy about, but feeling the looming sensation that somehow, no matter what, nothing matters. I don’t feel depression. Depression is a void, and I become part of it.
I would go for months feeling that way, saying nothing. I would slip subliminal cries, hoping someone would recognize what I was saying. I always figured that telling people about how I felt would only bring them down and do nothing to help me. Then out of nowhere I would feel okay, not great, but okay for months. In and out of episodes I went for years before I finally spoke to my doctor about it. Three different times I went on three different medications. Some helped slightly, and with all came side effects. I didn’t take any for more than a few months. I found that self medicating did a better job at temporarily alleviating the symptoms, but as time went on both the highs and the lows fell deeper. I dwelled in a dark cold place, but on the surface I was all jokes and smiles.
To this day I still have episodes of depression (less often than I once did, and seemingly less intense than they once were), but I’ve learned how to deal with it in my own way. How to look at it in my own way. What I’ve found is that my depression has played a role in making me into the person I am today. A person I’ve not only come to accept, but a person I actually like. My depression has taught me to be grateful for the good things I have and to not take things for granted. After experiencing the darkness, I’ve become much more sensitive to the light. Except for the few occasions when I feel nothing at all, I’m emotionally in tune with the world around me. It’s made me realize that no one ever really knows what someone else is going through so I always give people the benefit of the doubt. It’s given me the urge to connect with people in anyway that I can. It’s made me stronger than happiness ever could have. I’m grateful for the things I’ve learned about the world and myself because of my depression.
My depression has also made me appreciate one of the things I value so much today: music. Music has become the most effective medication for me. It’s something I can relate to no matter the way I’m feeling and it assures me that others out there feel the same way I do. It also has the power of changing my mood and pulling me out of some of the most dreadful states. It makes me feel connected to others. Going to shows instills me with a sense of community and alleviates the loneliness. I’m drawn to the potent and raw emotion music emits, and I will always cherish it.
The Patchbay Music Festival is a culmination of my experience with mental illness and my appreciation for music. It’s intended to be a place of acceptance, and an event that celebrates the power of music. A place for those struggling with mental illness to realize they are not alone, but in fact they have a bigger community of people who care about them than they ever imagined. My hope is that this festival positively impacts someone’s life in someway, just as so many concerts have done for me. Furthermore I hope this festival creates awareness about mental within our community so that we can better recognize those who are in need of help and further build a community that supports those individuals. No matter who you are, where you came from, or what you’re going through, The Patchbay Music Festival is for you.
Stay tuned for my write up on the On Our Sleeves campaign, Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s pediatric mental health campaign!
Any Mental Illness (AMI) Among Adults. (n.d.). Retrieved May 1, 2019, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/mental-illness.shtml#part_154785