Success Stories

Personal Stories of Recovery

Music a way to express, bond for Andersons

Karl and Andy Anderson can rattle off facts about the Beatles as if they personally knew the Fab Four.

“Twist and Shout was recorded when John Lennon was nursing a cold and drinking milk and sucking on lozenges,” Karl says. “But for whatever reason it worked.”

Andy, not to be outdone, counters by mentioning the contributions of the band’s producer, George Martin.

“People are always stunned at how well I know these things,” he says. “I just read these things online.”

Their familiarity with music isn’t merely limited to little-known trivia, as Karl and Andy fancy themselves performers as well. A staple on the local karaoke scene, the Andersons have found a shared passion in performing for an audience on stage.

“It’s just about getting up there and having fun,” says Andy, who also plays the guitar and harmonica.

While performing each week has provided an opportunity for bonding, it has also proven to be therapeutic for Andy, 34, who was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder as a teenager.

“Music is a way you can express yourself and just let it out,” Andy says. “But you don’t want to go overboard because you can blow out your vocal chords.”

For the more than 10 years, Andy has also participated in the local band Money Shot, which performs across the Erie region. The thrill of entertaining audiences can be exhilarating—and equally daunting, says Andy, whose self-confidence has also improved since he started performing.

“It’s always harder to do it on stage than in the studio,” Andy says. “I’ve heard that the Beatles said the same thing.”

But most of all, however, Andy has forged meaningful friendships through music and his involvement with Money Shot.

“I’ve seen how these guys impact my life,” he says.

Karl, 61, offers another perspective.

“I think Tito and Swan are the brothers he’s never had,” says Karl referring to the band’s lead vocalist and drummer.

Tito, for his part, reciprocated Karl’s sentiment.

“I know that every time I look over and see him jamming with a big smile on his face it makes me smile right along with all of the people who come out to be entertained,” he said. “Andy is not just a band member, but really has become like a little brother to me.”

With medication along with case management and psychiatric rehabilitation services from Stairways Behavioral Health, Andy feels a greater sense of self and improved mood.

“I’ve had a very positive experience at Stairways,” Andy says. “I know if I have a problem, Stairways is there for me.”

As for the most natural form of medicine for Andy, Karl perhaps sums it up best:

“Music is basically a good therapy.”

"Stairways helped me to work on recovery, one step at a time." -Ron S

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