The music of mental health

I have a gorgeous and talented daughter, Stephanie Rose. Loosely translated the meaning of her name is, my ‘garland of roses’, which most certainly exemplifies what she is to me.

Late last year she was diagnosed with ‘Frontal lobe epilepsy coupled with bipolar markers’.

Stephanie is an accomplished musician;- music is her life, as well as her chosen career path. She is a very eccentric, creative person who has a unique, unconventional way of looking at the world. My child views the world around her through a four-dimensional kaleidoscope, not through rose-tinted, or any other colour for that matter, glasses.



This originality and expressiveness comes packaged together with high emotions, passion and unpredictability. As she grew older I began to notice that these qualities were mushrooming out of control. She became a tumultuous whirlwind of emotion. Being her mother, (and because I am faced with mental health challenges), this alarmed and concerned me.

It took me months of begging and pleading for her to agree to consult a mental health professional. Thankfully this ultimately resulted in an informed diagnosis and treatment plan.

Steph was prescribed medication, which seemed to work for a week or so and then turned her into a nervous wreck. She was then given a different script;- this also didn’t have the desired effect. Again it took much convincing for her to agree to help. She was checked into a mental health clinic from where her medication could be altered and the effects monitored. My daughter was also required to participate in various therapeutic workshops. One of these was a music workshop.


After spending almost all of her nearly 21 years in the music industry, her natural instinct is to professionally and extremely ingeniously analyse, compose and perform musically. (And, yes I am a proud and adoring mother.)

This particular therapy session required her to ‘just be’ in the music and speak openly about the feelings this evoked in her.

“Mom” she said after the workshop, “that was such a difficult thing to do;- all I could think of was how I would improve the music. Then it dawned on me that if I could just listen, not critically listen, I would begin to understand how music makes people feel. It took me a while, but I did it, I just listened for my own pleasure. This was the most liberating and fulfilling experience.”


I was of course very pleased that she had enjoyed the workshop. Then it struck me that this was a perfect analogy for a choice we have life;-

We can judge, examine, criticise and always strive to improve things, or we can allow ourselves, even if only now and again, to just ‘be’ and enjoy the world around us. It may be a challenge but it will be a liberating and fulfilling choice.

Because, what is life really if we can’t just sit back and find pleasure in it when an opportunity presents itself?








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