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Classical Guitarist Shares 20-Year Journey With Mental Illness

Tuesday, March 26, 2019
Classical guitarist Andrew Geddis playing his guitar.

Classical guitarist Andrew Geddis has learned to manage his schizophrenia with NewBridge’s help.

Andrew Geddis gave future social workers an invaluable gift: the opportunity to talk to a person with a 20-year history of serious mental illness. The NewBridge client was a guest speaker at a Rutgers University School of Social Work class in October.

“Here was a person living with mental illness, openly sharing his story and answering their questions,” said adjunct lecturer Carolyn Artale, who has known Andrew since childhood. “It gave them insight and understanding into what works, and how they could be most beneficial to clients.”

Artale’s 20 graduate students heard how the 50-year-old landed in a psychiatric hospital diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder at age 29 — the first of 20 hospitalizations.

“It was an eye-opening experience for everyone,” said Andrew, whose career as a classical guitarist was sidetracked for years by mental illness. He performed on bass singer Kevin Maynor’s 1998 album, “Paul Robeson Remembered” and did numerous solo shows in New York City.

Andrew began attending NewBridge’s day treatment program in 2017. The psychiatrist listened and “we found a treatment that works,” he said. Diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, Andrew began using medical marijuana, which allowed him to wean off two anti-psychotic drugs.

“This is the first time my treatment wasn’t dictated to me, and I felt understood,” the Montclair native said. He now attends NewBridge’s day treatment program two days a week, down from five.

Andrew is sharing  his story to help overcome stigma. “Ten years ago, if I had suggested speaking to a class at Rutgers, I would have been laughed at,” he said. “People are beginning to question their biases about mental illness.”




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