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Writing, Music, and Mental Health

I've been so caught up with introducing other artists that I forgot to introduce myself. 

Growing up, music was always around in one shape or another. I can distinctly recall listening to music with my father in our living room. At four years old, I was too young to understand the lyrics or artists’ names. Plus, stereo headphones were far too big for my nappy head at that age.

One of the things people don’t know about me is my love for writing. Let me put it this way. For career day in 2nd grade, I wanted to dress up like an author, but I had no idea what an author was supposed to look like. Looking back, I think there’s a beauty to that. I never experienced a full-on identity crisis when I was young, partly because I didn’t have a strict model to follow when the time came to figure out who I wanted to be; in this case, a writer.

The only thing I could think of was a pen, and I knew how to use a pen; therefore, in my mind, I was cut out to be a writer.

I got into the practice of writing before I even knew what I was doing. I got my first journal when I was five. I’d love to tell you how I carried it with me every day and that I still carry it. Truthfully, it’s far from the case. I think I may have used a couple of pages out of it, and now it’s lost. The cool thing is, I kept coming back to writing year after year. This went on until high school, but I never thought to pursue it as a career. I had other things in mind.

I practically grew up listening to a bunch of different music, but unlike most people, I didn’t have anyone to explore it with (a father, brother, friend, uncle, etc.). Instead, I just uncovered it all on my own, and I think that’s why I’m such a deeply passionate professional who can work independently and get the results I want.

I never considered music as a possible career until high school rolled around, so up until then, it lurked in the background just as a hobby. I caught on to guitar surprisingly fast and began studying audio production in my spare time. The lightbulb went off, and I graduated with a degree in recording industry management 5 years later.

Right after college, the studio gig never came. I grew impatient, restless, and really discouraged. Post-grad depression hit me like a brick wall, and I found myself lost and really confused about which foot to use next. Reluctantly, I took the only job I could find, a customer service gig for a pro audio company that’ll remain nameless. I was miserable. I couldn’t exercise the creative side of my brain, and I quickly began to feel worse and worse. For some reason, I became really lonely, despite the really awesome support and encouragement from my family.

It all happened so fast. I stopped practicing audio and looking for clients to work with. My office studio began to collect dust. I even stopped listening to my record collection and music altogether. It was a really dark time.

I love music and thrive in creative work environments like you wouldn’t believe, so taking a desk job right after college wasn’t ideal for my mental health. It felt like an entire part of myself was closed off with yellow tape. I had to move forward and bring myself out of the post-grad blues. The last thing I wanted to do was allow a contagious, negative mindset to ruin me. I knew I had to do something, but I didn’t even know where to begin. Contrary to what most people would probably do, I found myself staring at the fish tank in a psych office in downtown Nashville.

It took months for me to rewrite my personal blueprint.

Without a healthy outlet to quench my thirst, depression and anxiety began to fester quickly around every other part of my life. After all, I was a green college grad who was completely new to adult life. My fulltime gig sucked up all of my energy, so there wasn’t any fuel left when it came time to produce music or design sound. It still feels that way sometimes, but I’ve learned to cope and be involved with music in other ways.

One of the things that dragged me out of my rut, was writing – particularly music/entertainment journalism. For the record, I’m still new to the freelance journalist hussle, but writing has been a part of me for a very long time, so building the blog and cranking out articles came really easy. I actually began building blogs when I was in my early teens. Although I had no idea what I was doing, I gained experience through trial-and-error.

With my heart set on writing and telling stories, everything else just fell into place.

These days, most of my time is spent building this blog. It helps keep my foot planted in music as I carry on through regular life and attempt to unravel it all. jhallwrites.com is my blog, portfolio, showcasing platform, and personal outlet.

It’s the center point where music and writing come together to benefit fans and artists in the best way possible.

I hope this blog serves someone. I don’t have any time to be selfish. I try to promote an example of modesty. I’ve always strived for humble success, and I’ve discovered how incredibly difficult it is to bring home the smallest portion of a win. There are days I come home barehanded and blank-minded without even the smallest kill to throw on the table. Nevertheless, I write rain or shine, and it rains a whole lot.

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