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Watch for much more to come from Heather McCready, the "Travelin'Girl. Be with me on the journey!
Mental Health Awareness November 15, 2010 As a personal advocate for mental health awareness, I want to share the story of my own struggle with bipolar disorder and depression. The following details my journey with this disorder, and I hope it inspires and touches others as I fight to end the stigmas associated with mental health.
For as long as I can remember it has been my passion to write and create music. In the beginning I simply wrote melodies on the piano. When the lyrics started to come to me, they became my way of dealing with the challenges I faced growing up and into adult hood.
In my early youth, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and suffered with migraines. As a result, school was a great challenge for me, physically and socially. Music was my comfort and I spent many, many hours writing and singing at the piano. Thankfully, my family was able to provide classical vocal and piano training for me, for which I am forever grateful. Throughout my school years, I performed and flourished in musicals, spending all of my time in the theater. Nevertheless, I always felt most at home in the studio singing my own songs.
When I was thirteen I began recording in the studio and at fourteen I had the trill of traveling to New York to record my first professionally arranged song. In college, I studied theater and world religion, yet in my heart I knew I wanted to be a singer and songwriter, as communicating ideas musically has always been my passion.
It wasn't until after my children were born that I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I had previously known it as manic depression and was aware of its effect because my paternal grandfather and aunt had suffered with it all my life. My grandfather, who was treated with shock treatments and lithium, remained functional most of his life and was a brilliant and successful, yet eccentric businessman. My aunt, although she was beautiful, artistic and exceptionally gifted, remained untreated all of her life and was therefore very troubled and mostly dysfunctional.
My first major depression came soon after my youngest child was born and I was hospitalized repeatedly for bipolar swings from mania to suicidal depression. My life was saved through electroconvulsive therapy, otherwise known as ECT. Although my mind was restored to a place of peacefulness, the treatments erased my creative ability for six years. I was grateful for the quiet in my mind, but I greatly missed writing.
Gradually, over the years, my creative abilities were restored and I have been enjoying the process of writing, singing and producing music. I am fortunate to have worked with some of the most brilliant musicians around and I just completed my third CD, Give It A Day, with much creative support, encouragement, and help along the way. I am endlessly grateful for all the support and guidance I have received throughout the years.
Through my journey, I have become extremely passionate about mental health awareness. I strongly desire to encourage others who suffer from mental health disorder, and I seek to rid the world of the ancient stigmas associated with them in all forms. As a long time sufferer I have looked for meaning and purpose for the pain, and I now believe I am finding clarity. Whatever the scale may be, if I can in some way comfort and inspire sufferers and help others understand the pain with new empathy in their hearts, I will have been successful.
There is a whole lot of hope out there and I am reaching out to grab it. Life hits me in the face a lot but I am working hard to punch it back. I am so happy that there are those out there who are appreciative of the art that comes out of me. I am so glad your heart relates to mine and that your soul connects with the music. Music can reach deep inside of us in a way that is hard to understand, but it is powerful and it moves us. It has an energy of its own and we either connect with it or we don't. Music is for me like an old friend that I have talked to and who has listened to me every single time I asked it to. We have written wuite a few songs togther, music and I. :)
Good morning friends :) Today feels like a good day. When I wake up in the morning ( my 14 year old son wakes me with coffee and my pills) , I open my eyes and evaluate the way I feel. Do I have a migraine? Is my neck stuck? Am I depressed? Am I happy? I say all this to let you know about the real me and the place that the songs come from. I have fibromyalgia, Dercum's Disease ( an autoimmune disease causing intense pain) and an anxiety disorder as well as bipolar disorder. Ugh! My mental health is controlled now, but it's always a balancing act. The same place in my brain that allows for me to write and create music is also the place that causes me to swing up and down. Depression is an invisible but very powerful enemy. I lost both my aunt and my cousin to suicide within the last 5 years. They were also bipolar and brilliantly artistic! But the stigma associated with mental illness caused them to not want to admit they had it and it made them unwilling fot treatment. I am on a mission with my music to gain a voice, a platform to speak from on this subject. I want people to know that mental illnesses, like depression are not weaknesses or flaws in one's character, rather they are no different than being born diabetic and deoendant on insulin. I want to fight the old ideas that people have about depression and bipolar disorder. It should be a subject that people can talk about outloud and feel no shame.
I'm working feverishly to complete my third CD! I'm very excited about this one and plan on doing a lot of promotion for it in the fall. I am also thrilled to report lots of interest and airplay overseas in the Netherlands,Gernany, England, and France! Who would have thought? .. Now, I am hoping for some more airplay here in the USA. I have a had some, and with being an Indie artist it's tough! So, I am also hoping to grab the attention of a good label to help me market this music. Because, I have been fortunate to work with the best musicians around including Milo Deering, the Dallas band, Beatlegras, as well as the awesome celloist John Landedeld and last but certainly not in the slightest the least, George Anderson on the upright bass. All exceptionally great and the music is worth being heard! So, I'm on a mission and appreciate the help I get from enthusiastic friends and fans. It's all about making connections and people are the ones who make that happen and I am grateful for those of you who have helped me so much already:) ... I'm going back to work now recording the new song, Maybe. I can't wait for you to hear it!!