I guess you could call this my experience with mental illness.
I remember the first time I played the piano. I was eight, my mother and father had bought a new upright piano, a yamaha, and my siblings and I squabbled over who would get to play it first. Eventually, it was my turn to give it a try. I'm sure it didn't sound very pretty, but I felt something when I played it. I didn't take piano lessons though, I was convinced I wouldn't enjoy them, so I took guitar lessons instead. My first guitar was one of those flimsy ones from a Sears magazine, it was blue with a lightning bolt painted on, and barely stayed in tune for an hour...but I fell in love with it anyways.
I took guitar lessons for three years, but I became bored of learning things like Greensleeves, I wanted to learn chords, something I could sing to! My guitar teacher moved away shortly after my thirteenth birthday, but before he left, he wanted to have one last recital, and even though I wasn't his student, he invited me. Performing in recitals altogether scared me, so I faked sick. I didn't touch my guitar for a long time after, and eventually sold it to a friend. But, to my horror, my mother signed me up for piano lessons. My first lesson went better than I had expected, the teacher kept telling me that my hands were perfect for music (long, thin fingers). I struggled to play to a metronome, let along read the notes, and when it came time for my first recital, I was terrified. My brother and younger sister were to play before me, as well as a few other people. Their performances sounded absolutely solid, and I was sure I was going to screw up awfully.
As I sat on the stage in my pristine white shirt and black tie, placed my hands on the keyboard, and shaking like a leaf, I started to play "somewhere over the rainbow." I hit several wrong keys, and (probably cursed a little too loudly) but people clapped anyways. My teacher came up to me afterwards, and gave me a big smile. She told me:
"Don't sweat the small stuff, Your a very talented kid...just keep at it."
People seem to continue to tell me that, some years later...even a fellow patient in the psychiatric unit.