“Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.” Benjamin Franklin
I hated 2021. It wasn’t good for our country, no matter which side of the aisle you are on. It wasn’t good for my family. Or for our profession, for that matter, though most of us were forced to be more creative than we ever have been and that’s something positive, I guess.
Yes, some good things happened here in the south suburbs of Chicago, such as re-doing our kitchen and being able to finally have rehearsals and a concert cycle—in person– with my chamber choir. 2021 was especially difficult for us as one of my sons struggled with the mental health issues he’s struggled with since he was a senior in high school. To give him some privacy, I won’t use his name.
The Pandemic and COVID-19 issues have not been good for anyone, much less for those who struggle with mental health problems, but we began 2021 hopeful. My son decided he would finally apply for an advanced degree in Sacred Music which he had to postpone for over a year due to COVID. He would take several placement exams, create a concert series for his church job, write for a local church musician’s newsletter, and was chosen to be a leader in another sacred music organization. He knew he was overqualified for the church job he had had for almost ten years but decided to stick it out until he moved on for his education. It sounded like a good solid plan, and he seemed confident it would work. But my son’s mental health problems intensified during the year.
As the year progressed things seemed to get better, then got worse. There were some improvements in his situation, his plans were coming to fruition, but he seemed very stressed and canceled a few things, very much unlike him. Suddenly, things got worse, much worse. Right before Thanksgiving, there was a difficult situation in his parish and clergy didn’t seem to be taking it seriously. That was what pushed him over the edge. We almost lost him both literally and figuratively. It’s too difficult for me to recount what happened here but trust me, it was awful.
He’s home and healing, with a new physician and a new outlook. It was difficult for a few weeks; we had some backsliding and now things are becoming more stable. We are hopeful 2022 will be good for him to begin anew.
I may, or may not, write further about my own son’s struggle during this year but I WILL be writing about a few ChoralNetters mental health struggles during the Pandemic. The Pandemic has not been good for anyone’s mental health. Artists of all types seem to have a higher prevalence of mental health challenges and we must be aware and be kind to help them get through these challenging times.
Until next week, be well and be safe. And Happy New Year too.