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.
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 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
Howdy Holidays to You. Yesterday was Christmas in Montana. I spent many an hour in my rocking chair by the fire. It felt more like Thanksgiving as I reminisced and gave thanks for being healthy again. I rode the rodeo circuit in 2013 on a bull named bipolar. Bucked off often, it was your applause that enabled me to pick myself up and get back on again. It was the friends that I didn’t know I had, that helped save my life this past year. Thank you for your love & support. I feel a song coming on…
I recently shared my story and songs at a suicide prevention conference. I was the keynote presenter in Helena, Montana. It was a conference teaching people about QPR, a wonderful prevention program that you should check out. Many of us have experienced suicide in our lives, and it’s important to know the tools to prevent this great tragedy. What an honor. http://www.qprinstitute.com/
I love all of you, my Friends.
Howdy, and welcome to my brand spankin’ new website. Now that you’ve made it, I invite you to stay a while and relax Montana style. I’m sure glad You stopped by, and I look forward to our paths crossing soon.