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On CBC radio this month, musician Steven Page hosted a series devoted to mental health issues.

Covered in the series were issues such as children’s mental health and the link between creativity and mental illness. He spoke with medical specialists in the field and interviewed well-known people who suffer from mental illness such as author Robert Munch, comedian Mike McDonald and author Mark Vonnegut (son of writer Kurt Vonnegut Jr).

Page, the former lead singer of the Barenaked Ladies, begins the series being interviewed about his own mental health issues. Here are some excerpts from that interview:

“I’ve struggled with various kinds of mental illness over probably most of my life, actually. Since a child I think, I’ve dealt with depression. I’m always fascinated by the whole process of identifying and treating mental illness. I’ve been identified by some doctors as having major depressive episodes, others saying I’m bipolar, others saying I’m rapid cycling. There are so many different ways to identify it and they keep changing the criteria for them too.”

“As a young adult I remember specifically a time when I was getting ready to shoot a music video and I could not move. I could not physically get myself out of bed. At that point I realized it was a bigger issue at hand. But there’s a certain level of guilt and shame that you have to deal with as well. You feel like, ‘Well my life’s good. I should just pull up my boot straps and get to work and get better.’”

“[An artist with issues of depression becomes a better artist] is a romantic notion and when you’re in the throes of it you can subscribe to that because it helps you feel like you’re not completely worthless. But in retrospect, I look at the work I’ve done, and my best work has been done when I’m at my most ordinary, not the peaks and the valleys.”

“I think a lot of people with depression put on an act for everybody else and people are surprised you have this darkness inside of you.”

“Stigma is a huge burden for those with mental illness. I certainly have to deal with the stigma, but I’m going to deal with it anyways in a public way; I may as well address it and hopefully that can shed some light for other people who are not sure how to proceed.”

To listen to further episodes of the series, click here

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