Stephen sheds light on long term illnesses with album
A man who suffers with a conditon which confines him to his bed for most of the week has made a music album which captures the realities of mental and long term illnesses.
Stephen MacLachlan, 34, started writing the album, called The Glitch, two-and-a-half years after he was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in May 2014, which saw him bedridden for six months.
“I went from doing six or seven days teaching and working to hitting a brick wall. Lifting a glass of water was the extent of my capabilities,” said Stephen.
“I started writing the album in December 2016 because I just thought, well I have something to say now. Making music has never been a problem but I have just never had anything to write about. Lyrics have never been my strong point. I’ve always written instrumental stuff or written with other people so that was new to me.”
The album explores themes of doubt, isolation, exhaustion and mental breakdown. It started off as a personal project for the former music teacher, who taught at King Edward VI School in Bury for 10 years, to help him understand and cope with his illness, as well as the depression and anxiety he developed as a result of it.
“It was never meant to be anything commerical. I just needed something positive to focus on and setting up with an instrument was where I felt most comfortable. It was just something to do initially,” he said.
“It was really helpful to have something that I felt comfortable doing. I’ve not been able to fully enjoy my two kids growing up and I can’t just get out and about when I want to. Working on this has been essential to my life.”
But Stephen, who has played music since he was a teenager and has been a big part of the music scene in Bury St Edmunds since he moved to the town15 years ago, said that it wasn’t until after speaking to others who suffered from the same or other mental and long term illnesses that he realised how the album could help people.
“When I approached others they were very open and wanted to share things because it’s really not something that is talked about much in day to day life,” he said.
“I know that even people I know were really shocked when they learned the extent of it because they heard chronic fatigue and just thought I was a bit tired. But that’s really not it at all so I want to get out there what’s really like.”
Stephen wants to continue to make music to bring difficult or misunderstood ilnesses into the light and to allow people to be open about them.
“If I could do something about my illness then great but if I can’t there’s no point in hiding or worrying about it,” he said.
“It’s no different from a broken arm and no one would feel the need to hide their arm away from the world. It’s no different from a physical injury and it’s nice to be able to talk about it and feel like I’m helping others to do the same.”
Visit Stephen’s website www.smacstudios.com/the-glitch for more information or to pre-order the album.