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3 Doses of Music as Medicine

Two full years of the COVID-19 pandemic have tested my mental health as they have for many of us. So have the lingering complications of my wife’s 46-year-long case of type-1 diabetes. Many symptoms persist after two transplants saved her life and then cured her decades-long condition. Blood sugar fluctuations have long been know to alter mood. When the dust settled after the pancreas transplant and my wife was no longer diabetic, the remaining, persistent major depressive disorder became more apparent. I’ve called the overall effect of the transplants a “complicated miracle.”

In trying to help mitigate the mental health side effects of all this, I watched all the TED talks I could, listened to podcasts and read books. I even moved my therapists’ advice about exercising from the “agree politely” column to the “Let’s do this!” column. I started an exercise routine and even found my way into meditation. When time and health permit, my wife and I engage in these self-care measures together.

But I’ve found the most powerful medicine to be reconnecting with my lifelong musical abilities and my love of rock-n-roll. I’ve spent periods of the last year writing and recording a new album of songs, titled “Salt and Sand: Rock Songs to Heal the Mind.”

As with the COVID vaccine, I receive this medicine in three doses.

The first dose is when I create the music, immersing myself in the process, engaging the creative parts of my mind and helping me process the issues I face by writing them down and singing about them.

I get my second dose when I listen back to my own completed, radio-ready tracks — often in my car. I may never fully discern how much of this lift I feel is pride for having seen my vision through vs. how much of my own supportive messages are getting through to me, as they might a member of my intended audience. I hope you, dear reader, can help me figure that part out.

The booster comes in the third dose. That’s when I get to see my songs resonate with people who needed to hear them. That’s why making music is more than a hobby for me. It’s a way of connecting — a way of paying it forward for all the mental health survival skills I’ve learned and shared with my family.

I invite you to participate in the run up to its February 4 release over on my web site https://jasondidner.com. There, you can hear the already-released singles from the album and find out how to hear some of the yet-to-be-released tracks in advance. You can also see my schedule of online concerts, intended to connect us as a community in the safest possible manner during this time of pandemic.