Bryan is an incredible dude. But I don’t need to tell you his story, he does a much better job doing it himself.
My passion is understated but fierce. It’s a funny thing. I’ve been to the VA mental health clinics. I’ve been to VA emergency rooms and civilian emergency rooms. I’ve been medicated and sedated. I’ve been drugged hard enough so that I wouldn’t dream. I gave up hope a few times and then I found NBSS. I found violin making.
If you’ve never been in a violin maker’s shop, you’re in for a treat. There woodworking and then there’s this bag of ridiculousness 🙂 we work wood to within .01 of a millimeter accuracy. It’s crazy. We share common tools with model makers and machinists. And we can sharpen like we were part of the Tasai family. With any luck, you’ll get to see it.
I’m open about my experience with PTSD because I think stigma is something that should be forgotten by society. There’s no use for it aside from holding people back.
When I first walked through the doors of this school, I was in the throes of the worst panic attacks I had ever experienced. I was sleeping maybe an hour a night. I had to have someone on the phone with me all the way to the shop’s door. The world had become a pretty unforgiving place for me. I couldn’t handle people even being behind me. I still have some issues with that.
I quickly learned once I sat at my bench, that it was mine. This little wooden platform was now my world and anything beyond its borders I need not be concerned with. I focused on the craft. My technical mind woke up and my hands were happy to be working again. It took a couple years for me to realize that I was actually healing from that first day onward. It was a safe zone for me. I knew there was power in it, so I just kept coming back. This trade is demanding. It takes all of your focus from all of your senses. In order to succeed, I very simply had to start letting go of the afflictions that were stealing some of that energy. In a world where we have very little control; to find a place that was all mine and the sole benefactor of my attentions was special. I didn’t have to worry about anything at all except for becoming a better craftsman. That alone, was a regaining of focus that I hadn’t experienced in awhile. It’s crazy to think of how much this has done for me. A sense of purpose is a wonderful thing. For mission oriented people, it’s everything.
I’ve been as active as I know how to be in showing people the way that I’ve found to cope and heal. I look at my violins every morning and remember how shattered my mind was that first day that I walked into the shop. Elegance from chaos. A rising Phoenix. Something from less than nothing. There’s a lot of cliché out there. Plain and simple, I was broken. More than I’ve ever been. Then I started making violins. Now I’m less broken. I smile again. I breathe again. That’s because of woodworking. Thank god for the GI Bill.