TONAWANDA, N.Y. — “Changes 2021” dropped on social media New Year’s Day. Musician Richie Derwald, 54, has been using instruments as an outlet for his depression and anxiety his whole life.
“My first memory of my depression and anxiety was when I was in kindergarten. I was very anxious, I stutter, so it’s a lifelong battle,” Derwald said.
Derwald says he understands first-hand the challenges those with mental health issues face — especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. He says the lyrics to the song are meant to create reflections, connections, and inner growth for anyone who needs it.
“Even before I started on the song, the interactions I was having with my real friends took a whole different outlook, the art is the therapy,” he said.
As someone who constantly battles anxiety and depression, he had to overcome his biggest obstacle yet when the pandemic canceled every show he booked through 2020.
“I couldn’t believe that it was happening, it would have been my best year for traveling and acting,” he said.
Even with the tough break, Derwald says the positive is that got to spend more time with his family.
He says that this is the first time he’s publicly announced his struggles. He says he was always told that it would “ruin” his career. But now he knows and wants to teach others that it’s OK to be yourself.
“I hope that the therapy that I’ve gotten through creativity will be contagious and that others will dive into their creative projects because now we have the time,” Derwald said.