I write today on the 20th anniversary of my father’s death.
It’s a always a hard time every year, but this year it hit me like a ton of bricks.
20 years since my dad, Gene MacLellan, was here and yet it still seems like just yesterday.
His music is still with us and I meet his friends along the road all the time.
People who’s lives he touched, people who were on the receiving end of his generosity and musician friends that brought him so much joy and inspiration.
My dad struggled intensely with depression and the highs and lows of living as a sensitive artist. Ultimately, he took his life.
It took me a long time to understand anything about what happened but as I struggle with my own depression I am able to relate somewhat to his experience.
His challenge in his final years was to find help within a medical system that, in the end, failed him. And failed us, his family.
Now my hope is to be part of a wave of people challenging the status quo, fighting the stigmas surrounding mental health, and shining a light on how we can change the mental health care system.
The tide is changing, but ever so slowly.
Everyone of us has felt the effects of mental illness, whether struggling with it yourself or seeing it in friends or family. The time is now to keep the discourse flowing, to open up our minds and hearts and be a shoulder for someone to lean on.
It’s also time for all of us who are afraid of sharing our own struggles to lay down our burdens of silence and make noise.
My heart goes out to all of you who have lost a loved one to mental illness and a huge feeling of gratitude to all of you who have considered leaving this world but were able to stay.
I should really let you know about my upcoming tours, but I’ll do that at another time.
Instead I’ll leave you with a clip of my dad and a link to more of his music that you may not have heard.