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Mental Health Matters: The Monster in My Head

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There is a monster in my head. I mean, I think there is a monster in everyone’s head, but I’m most familiar with my own monster. Being an artist and a songwriter has allowed me to become very good friends with that monster. The interesting part about my relationship with my monster is that I would never trade it for anything, because without it I’d never be able to feel the massive extremes that I’ve felt. So, in some ways it kind of feels like you have mental health X-Men superpowers, which allow you to experiences polarized emotions at high-risk levels. In other ways, it can be dangerous. I’ve found that if you can learn to understand those powers, the results can be truly beautiful.

So that’s where I think being a musician and a songwriter has most directly impacted my life as a persona living with depression and bi-polar disorder. It’s taught me how to figure out my own mutant “powers” (by the way, the teenager in me is truly enjoying this metaphor).

There is a pie chart of shit that gets me through any given day. This specific routine was created as a result of the last 5 years of touring, writing, recording at odd hours, working random gigs, constantly being looked at, taking criticism on a daily basis, and overall, doing something that is far beyond the “norm.” I’ll break it down into some pieces.

Home – As an artist, especially as a musician and a songwriter in the 2017 pop world, I am rarely in one place all of the time. For years I would go out on a tour, experience a huge emotional high, then come home and be depressed as f*ck. It was horrible. This directly lead to the development of a daily morning practice of meditation and writing as well as daily physical exercise. That practice has become my HOME. It gives me something I can take everywhere. It has also opened me up creatively in a way I’ve never experienced before. The catch 22 is without the post travel depressive episodes I would never have found this new “home.” This is a consistent theme in my thoughts around mental health and its relation to music. I wouldn’t trade it for a second, but the path towards finding a real balance is vulnerable and scary.

Friends – I will never judge anyone for texting while traveling. Obviously, balance is

Photo credit: Myriam Santos
Photo credit: Myriam Santos

a great thing, and if you are on a technology free trip to the jungle it’s a different story, but keeping in touch with friends and family when I’m traveling, or even during the day if I’m working alone for 12 hours, is a huge part of my life. It’s really simple and it’s a game changer. It’s super easy for me to get caught up in my head working along all day on a project without connecting with other people. I sometimes slip a little too far down the rabbit hole – which is both bad for the songs and my health.

Writing shitty songs – This part is really about writing music all of the time. Again, it’s a really simple thing, but for me it’s been everything. It’s weird being so obsessed with writing songs from multiple places – creatively, expressively, and then the part of my brain that knows if I do it I’ll feel better or at least I will increase the chances of feeling better. A byproduct of writing songs I love is cleaning out the drain from getting clogged with disruptive, paralyzing thoughts.

Plants – Haha… Ok this one is extremely particular to me, but I think it could be applied on a larger, more general scale. I started getting some plants a few years ago and was shocked by how much it resonated with me. In New York my plants survive beyond extreme conditions every winter, they look like all hell, and then by June they come back more majestic than the year before. It’s a constant reminder for me. All of the hard days, all of the “failures,” the bad songs, the “no’s,” and the days when I feel out of control, they make me stronger. In fact, the more extreme the condition, the deeper the growth.

So… I want to say LOUDLY that I know all of these things don’t work for everyone, but for me this is my particular cocktail of how to enjoy life with a complex monster in my brain as an artist and songwriter in New York City. These are not “solutions,” they are approaches to living. So, if I boil it down, I need the up and downs of music, I need the failures, I need the chaos. It’s just how I’m wired..and that’s ok, in fact, it makes me a little bit like a member of the X-Men.

Born in New Jersey and based in Brooklyn, Stolar sharpened his natural songwriting and singing talents by playing countless local late night shows, studying other musicians’ live performances, writing for artists such as The Voice and America’s Got Talent finalists Caroline Pennell and Alice Tan Ridley, and penning purpose tracks such as the anthem for the most recent Brooklyn Nets playoff run. By working tirelessly, he’s amassed a following in New York for his unabashed performances and honest lyricism. With an unmatched drive and enthusiasm for human connection, Stolar was destined to tell his stories as a recording artist. Living with depression and bipolar, he’s also dedicated his storytelling skills to shed light on mental health. He’s worked with both the Jed Foundation, speaking alongside advocates such as Brittany Snow, as well as Demi Lovato’s Be Vocal campaign. His fight with his illnesses has unearthed difficulties that, in a larger sense, we all face to various extents. In the wake of pop culture’s fascination with glossy songs that cannot be readily felt, we are able to unravel with Stolar’s music. His dark confrontations with himself led him to empowering collaborations that, as a singer and a songwriter, make Stolar an integral soundtrack to all of our lives.




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Angela Mastrogiacomo

Founder of Infectious Magazine & Muddy Paw Public Relations. Lover of passion, ice cream, and books.

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