PLAYING A DIFFERENT TUNE
Bryan Koesler finds hope and healing through music
By the time Bryan Koesler arrived at McLean Hospital in September 2006, he had been in and out of rehab—and in and out of trouble—for nearly 10 years. Early adolescent experimentation with drugs and alcohol had led to a serious addiction and a dark paranoia and depression that Bryan could not shake. After a rollercoaster of experiences, including run-ins with police, visits to psychiatrists, bouts of panic and drunkenness tempered by periods of relative calm and sobriety, Bryan one day found himself walking barefoot down the middle of the street, guitar slung over his shoulder, high on drugs...and in despair. "I remember calling my mom saying, 'I'm in the middle of the road. I'm sorry. I just don't care anymore,'" he says.
With support from his family, Bryan was eventually admitted as an inpatient to McLean's Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder Program, where, he recalls, "I was in horrible shape. I was suicidal, depressed and paranoid. I couldn't even go outside." McLean psychiatrists diagnosed Bryan with schizoaffective disorder and went to work, helping him get well.
After a week's stay on the inpatient unit, Bryan moved to Appleton House, a residential treatment facility on the McLean campus, and began attending group therapy and on-campus Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. Every day, he battled numbing lethargy and depression. "At first, all I could do was pray," he says.
Soon though, Bryan's social worker Sharon Berman, MSW, began to notice a positive change in Bryan. She encouraged him to play the piano for residents in McLean's geriatric unit. A talented musician, Bryan had played his guitar every day at McLean but without much heart. "The music just didn't feel good anymore," he recalls. But playing for the elderly residents helped restore his vitality.
Today, the tune of Bryan's life has changed dramatically. Discharged from McLean in May 2007, he has been clean and sober for 18 months. A junior at the University of Massachusetts/Boston, he is majoring in psychology and hopes to become a drug counselor. "I want to help people the way McLean helped me," he says.
Bryan credits his supportive family, the dedicated therapists at McLean, faith in a higher power and his love of music for helping him get well. Now living in an apartment with a friend he met at Appleton House, Bryan finds time every day to sit on his porch and play the guitar. "My music is better than ever," he says.