Living with a mental illness isn’t a walk in the park by any means. Whether it affects you from a young age, or much later in life, it’s difficult to not only come to terms with, but difficult to find ways to cope.
As someone who’s lived with anxiety, depression and panic disorder since I was young, I had to find ways to cope fairly early on in life. It took a lot of trial and error that was often accompanied extreme frustration and exhaustion. It wasn’t until I was 14 years-old that I had my “aha” moment when I discovered electronic music. In my most difficult moments, I blasted deadmau5 and Zeds Dead, or watched low-res videos of music festivals like Shambhala Music Festival on YouTube.
Since then, I’ve been to 12 music festivals, too many shows to count, and seen over 150 electronic producers and DJs. These events and festivals have become my strongest coping mechanism. Through music, I’ve rediscovered my creativity and my love for the little things it life that make it beautiful.
Since music festivals have been such a powerful way for me to cope, I decided years ago that I would dedicate the rest of my life to creating these places of healing for others. I hope that by creating these experiences, others will find a similar strength that they’ve brought me.
When I began my journey into the music festival industry, I had one festival in mind – Shambhala. I applied to be their summer intern for 2017, knowing it was a shot in the dark, but crossing all of my fingers and toes hoping that I would be successful.
My 14-year-old self screamed when I got the call from the Director of Entertainment, Christine Hunter, telling me I got the position.
For what seemed like a short four months living in Nelson, B.C working with the Shambhala farmily, my love for the industry only grew larger. The love, acceptance and creativity amongst the Shambhala staff, volunteers and attendees was the spark I needed to propel myself into the world of music festivals.
Armed with a wealth of knowledge and drive from the Shambhala crew, I’ve now created and organized a music and art fundraising event called With Love to support youth living with mental illness. On February 7 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, live painters, performers, art installations, live bands and DJs will take centre stage to help youth in need.
Using a festival-inspired event to raise funds for a cause I care so deeply about is exactly how I wanted to make my mark on the industry. But it wouldn’t be without the support from incredible organizations like Shambhala. They were not only the inspiration for the event, but also generously donated two 2018 tickets to help us raise funds for the benefitting organization, Inspire Community Outreach Inc.
Their continued support of not only my personal journey, but of mental health and wellness as a whole is truly inspiring. It drives me to do more, be more, and help more people.
I hope my story encourages others to explore coping strategies that may be outside of the “norm.” Sometimes, just finding your escape, your freedom, and something that makes you want to wake up in the morning is all it takes when you’re in need.
Don’t forget that music festivals will always have a place for you. Places like Shambhala will always have a place for you. Find these places, and visit them as often as possible.
- Talia, Shambhala Music Festival Summer Intern 2017