I just returned home from the East Coast. I performed at Harvard's McLean Hospital for clinicians and researchers. I also went to New York City to meet up with Glenn Close and see her perform in her Broadway play, Sunset Boulevard. It was a stunning performance! She is an amazing person as is her sister, Jessie, and nephew, Calen. Now I prepare for a busy spring of touring. I hope to see you out on the road.
I was a little reluctant to share about my struggles in my hometown. In a small town you care about what other people think of you. Yesterday, I put that aside hoping to make a difference in Plentywood, Montana. Three other high schools also came to the event. The students were amazing, as was the entire experience. I received the following message from one of the students: "Thank you so much for coming to our school. You made me realize that I am not alone. You gave me purpose." I finally feel at home, in my hometown.
This past week I had the honor of performing at Montana State Hospital in Warm Springs. This was my fourth visit to the hospital to speak about hope and recovery. Oftentimes psychiatric hospitals don't get many visitors. It is a privilege to sing there and to see some of the patients I've come to know. It is a powerful experience to tell them that they have value, just for being. To say that they are enough, as is. We all have a sacred right to exist. No matter where we are or what we've done. Love is always the answer.
In spite of the blues, I keep on rolling. I'm preparing for a busy fall between the Montana Schools Tour and other performances. In between schools I'll be in New York City, Illinois, Canada, Washington, and Nevada. I'm ready for it. It seems like I do better when I stay busy. Mostly, I'm just glad to get out there and see some good come out of all this struggle. If one life is made better by my work, then it's all worth it.
It has been a while since I posted an update on here. In the months of January and February I left town to get a new form of treatment for depression called Deep TMS. I was slated to begin an 18-school tour across Montana in late March, but life or the universe had different plans. 40 days ago I was diagnosed with liver failure due to an over the counter medication. The doctors said it would take 3-months to recover, but I am beating those odds. It has been a spiritually awakening journey as most things are that bring us to the brink. And, as I said, I am still alive and kicking and loving life. We had to move the schools tour to the fall, but I will be hitting the road towards the end of April to spread the word again. All my very best and keep on hangin' on!
I recently performed at a Montana high school and was amazed by the experience. There were nearly 600 students in the audience in addition to staff and teachers. I've never had a more attentive audience; they were totally in tune with every word I spoke and every song I sang. Their school counselor messaged me the next day saying, "We have had a flood of students coming into our office telling us that 'if Jason DeShaw can talk about his depression, then I can talk about mine.' These were kids reaching out for help that no one knew was suffering." We are all in this together. We all play a part. I am so blessed to play mine.
From the cotton fields of Georgia to the San Francisco bay, I have met with some amazing people this year. I sang and spoke for inpatients on forensic lock-down units, high school students in Canada, and veterans in the South. We are all in this together, trying to find our way home. I strive to humanize mental illness and addiction, because we must replace fear with understanding. When the human connection is made, everything good is possible. When we touch hearts, the mind follows.
I write this from a coffee shop alongside the road that never ends. The Montana Serenity in the Storm tour kept getting extended with more towns and cities, keeping me out on the road for three months. What an amazing experience it all has been. From the kids on the Hi-Line saying they didn't know there was hope before I came and that they no longer felt alone, to the sponsors who said they could not have been happier. So many special moments came together to form a momentum of goodness. An amazing chapter in my life that I will never forget. And, it is just beginning.
This tour is off to an amazing start, having performed in Butte, Great Falls, Fort Benton, Havre, and Malta, Montana. As I've sang and spoke in these places, I am reminded of the connection that we all share. We all hurt, to varying degrees. There is much pain in this world, oftentimes wrapped 'round in fear. But light can pierce any darkness if compassion opens the door. Every human being, no matter who they are, needs an ounce of hope to remain and flourish in this world. Hope is the great translator between human beings, and we get it from one another. I am exhausted right now following 3 events in 3 days, but I rest easy knowing that the more we say the words mental illness, bipolar disorder, and alcoholism, the more we humanize them. And when the world realizes that mental illness is an issue of humanity, we will enter the era of understanding. And with that comes love.
I am embarking on a 10-city tour across Montana this spring. I want to give people hope and let them know they're not alone with mental illness and addiction. My presentation, Serenity in the Storm, combines my story of recovery with songs of hope. I will also be presenting in schools along the way. This tour is presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana and The Center for Mental Health Research & Recovery at Montana State University. For performance details, visit the "Tour Dates" tab on this website or Facebook. I hope to see you at one of the events.