I just accepted the Lionel Aldridge Champions Award from NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness). I have to say that this honor and the evening spent speaking and singing for NAMI's National Convention has been the best night of my life. It is hard to find the words to express how honored and happy I felt. I know in my heart that this is just the beginning. Thank you to the audience for being so amazing. I love you all.
I am honored to be receiving the Lionel Aldridge Champions Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness. I could not be happier or feel more blessed and consider this to be great encouragement in my endeavors to share my story and songs of hope. Here is the news release on the award: Montana’s own country singer Jason DeShaw has been selected to receive NAMI’s (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Lionel Aldridge Champions Award. This award recognizes an individual living with a mental illness who has exhibited courage, leadership, and service on behalf of all people living with mental illness. In selecting DeShaw for this award, the NAMI Board recognizes him for his efforts to be a voice for those who struggle with mental illness. DeShaw will receive the Champions Award at the 2014 NAMI National Convention this September in Washington, D.C. where he will perform for the attendees. Vice President Joe Biden will also be receiving an award that night. Thank you for being in my corner and inspiring me to keep rolling.
I had the honor on Friday of sharing my songs and story at the Montana State Hospital in Warm Springs. The day before the show I was struck by a crippling depression which made me wonder if I could go on. With a little help from my friends, I chose to forge forth in spite of the heady fog and total self worthlessness that consumed me. My first show was at 10:00 AM in the forensic lock down unit which they call D-wing. Reminiscing Johnny Cash as the steel entrance gate closed behind me, I thought of the core belief my musical hero and I shared in common. Every human being has inherent value even in spite of mistakes they may have made however grave. It is in embracing our fellow man with our eyes and telling him that we are but fellow journeymen, that human connection transpires. Our roads of past may differ, but we are together in the journey forward. Together we were. I didn't pretend that I was feeling good; I shared with them that I was badly depressed. I let them know that I share the struggles they face on a daily basis. I saw my reflection when I looked into their eyes. And together we embraced recovery interwoven only by country music. It was a day I will never forget and my life will be forever changed by the residents and staff of Montana State Hospital. I've shared my story and songs more than a few times, but never to an audience that full of my brothers and sisters who share in this fight for our lives. People believe that mental illness is a matter of health. I believe it's a matter of humanity. Before I could begin to heal, I had to accept what ailed me and work towards recovery. Before society can heal, the whole must realize the value of its individual. -Jason DeShaw