OF SOUND MIND

About a year ago, I finished reading Andrew Solomon’s Far from the Tree, a deep and intensive study of what shapes our personal and perceived identities. Solomon drilled into such harrowing subjects as genetic abnormalities (deafness, dwarfism, Down syndrome), criminality (children of rape, mass shooters), gender issues, and schizophrenia. The book changed my life in a small but very real way.

I had always thought myself a compassionate person, one who wasn’t given easily to prejudice, but reading Solomon’s tome turned me inside-out. His very personal immersion in his subjects’ lives (Solomon himself, a gay man, suffers from debilitating depression) brought their stories into painful focus while detailing layers of misunderstanding from which the general, “normal” public suffers.

Though often marginalized by society, and at the same time blamed for its woes, schizophrenia may be the least understood of all of the subcategories of mental illness. But it’s real, and it destroys people and their families.

Chandler Loveless knows firsthand what this is all about. In May 2015, he “came out,” so to speak, as a sufferer of Schizoaffective Disorder, a condition that manifests itself with a number of schizophrenia-like symptoms: hallucinations, delusions, and deregulated emotions. Chandler recently teamed up with show promoter Shawn Jasmin to spread awareness of the disorder and other mental illnesses. He recently spoke to Folio Weekly about smashing the stereotypes surrounding mental illness.

Folio Weekly: What is Mind Over Music’s mission statement?
Chandler Loveless: With local music promoter Shawn Jasmin and psychology graduate student and band photographer Andrew Carroll, our mission is to bring people together and create a positive environment that a lot of us crave and need. We hope to build a safe, open and comfortable environment for the people who [suffer from mental issues].

It seems creative people are prone to mental health issues. Is this a stereotype, or are creative people truly predisposed to these conditions?
That stereotype gives the impression that all creative people have a mental disorder or illness, which couldn’t be further from the truth. There are so many talented artists out there who are neurotypical and have no claims to any mental health issues. In turn, there so many people who have a mental health issue who aren’t expressively creative. What we want to project is that these social stereotypes are enforcing a somewhat unrealistic idea of people with mental illnesses or disorders.

That teacher you loathed in middle school, the one you called “crazy” behind her back with your friends, she was normal from a psychological standpoint, but the nicest guy who makes your coffee every morning with a smile is the person who has held onto a heavy mental health diagnosis that he’s been managing for years. That may be shocking for the general public to grasp at first, but once we create a community for those people who have made their way in life isolating themselves because of a label to talk openly about it, the public will get our movement in the zeitgeist.

What kinds of services do you offer?
Mind Over Music Movement will provide public events to raise awareness for our message, in addition to one day offering free counseling services from licensed counselors. We will team up with musical acts as a means to spread our message by the inclusive power of music. In partnership with bands, we will help promote them for our events and get them more playing opportunities with other bands with which we have partnered. The partnerships are not limited to bands, but to all expressive artists. We extend our hands to the theater, fine artists and photographers who all share our passion and viewpoint.

Where specifically does the money go?
The money we raise goes into projects which bring awareness to the cause. We have a goal to eventually open up a venue where we can hold our events. Also, we want to host community nights for those who are seeking a safe space to discuss their labels. Eventually, we would like to team up with local mental health counselors so we can offer free counseling to those who don’t have the affordable means of getting the necessary help.

Can you give me a success story that has come out of Mind Over Music?
I couldn’t in good faith give a success story without mentioning that our launch campaign, “#IAmNotMyLabel,” is a collection of stories submitted from people all around that explains their current situations. They discuss what they feel is relevant, whether it be their current job, aspirations, or hobbies. They illustrate in their own style that they are a person just like you or me. So the beautiful model that you just read about who has excelled in college with a 4.0 GPA and has traveled the world to sing and model lets you know that she has been able to push forward and do so with depression, anxiety and borderline personality disorder. These are the most beautiful stories you will ever read, and I encourage anyone who reads this to check them out and submit at iamnotmylabel.org.

 

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