There are some speakers and storytellers that couldn’t hold a listener’s attention too long, but thankfully there are some lecturers that can make absolutely any subject interesting. Thankfully, the coverage and honest debates about mental health, drug addictions and other tough stories have grown in recent years, also in the punk communities. Our special guest Craig Lewis does a lot of work in the community, in particular, as a dedicated helper who’s increasingly passionate about helping young people avoid wrong diagnoses, which he tragically experienced. We connected for an interview in January 2016 and it has finally been completed. We discussed Craig’s traumatic experiences, his books ‘New Traditions’, ‘A Mental Health Recovery Workbook‘, ‘You’re Crazy’ (featuring 25 stories of punk scene participants and their stories about addiction, mental health struggles, and trauma), and his unbelievable story of suffering, survival, and transformation. Funnily, we have eventually managed to meet in real life, wrap up this interview face to face and say hello to another long-winded interviewee Greg Bennick :)
The following interview was conducted in sections throughout 2016 and 2017. Photo by Robert Oldhcdude Cortez.
Craig Lewis is a Salem, Massachusetts based author, speaker, as well as addiction, trauma and mental health recovery advocate. He is transcending the challenges of his past and sharing his experiences, knowledge, and lessons learned with all those who will listen. He’s been sharing his unique experience of surviving decades of trauma, poverty, addiction, psychiatric torture and finding a happy, healthy life in a series of live performances around the world. During his performances you can feel all the gratitude and passion that he developed in the recent years. You can contact him at [email protected] Also, be sure to check out his official web page at BetterDaysInternational.net.
Craig will be conducting Better Days Four Week Online Workshops next month. Go here to learn more.
Hey there Craig! I’m so glad you agreed to take so much time with IDIOTEQ and make this interview happen. How are you, buddy? How’s Salem? How’s Boston?
Great! Thanks so much, you’re looking good buddy. Thanks for the kind words about Poland. We’ve just lost to Portugal on penalties in Euro, despite being quietly quite impressive this tournament, haha. It was the main subject of all talks in the country, but I promise we won’t be discussing football (meaning ‘soccer’, haha) this time ;)
Ok Craig, before we dive into the details of your publishing work, please let’s start off with “A Short Introduction To Mr. Craig Lewis” and learn more about your personal story. Please share some of the details of your teenage years, beginnings in punk music and the background that has shaped who you are today. What got you into punk rock and hardcore? Do you remember the first shows and record that really grabbed you? Also, what are some of your fondest memories of the time you spent playing in bands, hanging out with your friends and going through late 80s and the 90s?
Back in 2004, what made you realize that you needed help? Can you remember the point where your environment and way of life became a problem?
Were institution like MA Rehab Commission helpful at that time? How would you rate and comment on the help you had received from the Government’s agencies and “the system” in general?
How did it all evolve to helping others? What was the process of transforming yourself and what triggered your move to join the bright side of a helper, not a victim? Also, and how has your mental health worker training impacted your perception of the problem?
Wow, thanks a lot for these thoughts. Now please tell us about your current take on music. How has your relation with independent music and punk scene changed over the course of the years? How are you active in that field now? How have all those years of stagnation affected your relationship with punk music?
Wow, amazing! My hometown lays very close to Białystok. And you pronounced it amazingly well, haha!
Ok Craig, so being a trainer that helps others with mental health challenges, what exactly do you do? How often do you travel to talk to people directly and what other activities do you combine the job of mental health with?
So Craig, We were expecting you here in Warsaw and you cancelled and it has been months since we communicated; what has been going on?
How does it feel getting away from the Boston area? Do you like visiting new places?
Ok Craig, so let’s have a closer look at your publishing projects. What exactly prompted you to revisit the question of mental health problems and link this issue with punk music scene? Also, how does it relate to the other book “Better Days”?
Was it a struggle to convince your interviewees to participate?
Considering the “Better Days”, please explain, how can a simple little book help people cope with mental health symptoms? Therapeutically, what purpose can it serve?
Ok Craig, we’re almost done, buddy. Tell us about your plans towards the end of 2017. Wrap it up and share your final words.
… and then they have finally met in person:
Well, we’re not even sure, but considering its 22 months in the makikng, out of around 1000 interviews conducted for IDIOTEQ, THIS was probably the longest. Ha! Greg Bennick, you won!
Learn more and get the books at this location.