Chloe Garrett (RMT, MMT, BMUS) is a musician, a lover of humans and a humour advocate. For Chloe, music has been a therapeutic process, a job, a love, and her most valued tool for connecting with other humans. Co-creating with the people she works with, turning their feelings into words into melody, is some of her favourite work.
Music making has been a huge part of my life since I was a small child. Music has been a therapeutic process, a job, a love, and my most valued tool for connecting with other humans. Co-creating with the people I work with, turning their feelings into words into melody, is some of my favourite work. I feel very privileged to be able to help people experiencing difficult times in their lives turn uncomfortable feelings into an aesthetic experience they can sit with. It has also been an additional way to connect through masks and our various PPE requirements in Melbourne.
I can’t speak to the inner worlds of the folks from this group, but my impression is that this work shows a certain defiance to be influenced by current events. Recovery, resilience, and social change need not bow to a pandemic, and I have purposefully steered conversations away from COVID in light of the fact that, pandemic, social unrest, or no, we as communities and individuals still need to work to support ourselves and each other.
I think resilience is a huge part of this work. The group members showed me that they were willing and able to take control of their narrative, respond to stigmatising voices, and even share a laugh about them. In doing so, they were able to share their experiences and seek support and validation from the rest of the group. Stigma makes us feel isolated, ashamed, and alone. Processing this in a group to create an artistic product is an act of connection and acceptance.
‘Take a Pill’ (2020), Song and art works made by residential clients at the St John of God Pinelodge Clinic. Song sung and played by Chloe Garrett.
The artwork in the clip is not mine, but my personality and sense of humour makes its way into the music. My playing and singing were directed by the group, but of course I am part of that process.
Anyone who has had a mental health journey will be able to tell you the stigmatising attitudes they’ve encountered. I think in the age of the internet we’re starting to do a bit better at talking about mental health in our communities, but now that we feel that we can talk to each other more, we have to learn how to listen as well.
In recent times I think we have had aspects of experience we can all share. In Melbourne we have all experienced the difficulty of lockdowns and uncertainty and limited freedoms to some degree. This was compounded in inpatient mental health facilities, where visitors and leave were restricted or cancelled completely. We have all been able to share in the imminent joy of being able to see loved ones together.
Thank you for showing this work and providing the opportunity for this group’s incredible work to touch others. If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health during this time, know you’re not alone. Please visit https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/mental-health-helplines for a list of mental health resources you can access.
More of Chloe’s work can be found at https://medium.com/@justkeepswimming/about