Originally published in Romanian by PSYCHOLOGIES

Lessons discovered in the midst of a flood

Anxiety, depression, alcohol, drug abuse or addiction, lack of sleep are some of the most common problems that those working in the music industry are prone to. Mental health is still a taboo subject, and the personal price paid by those who fail to find an escape from these problems is huge. We all know what it feels like to be unable to escape your own demons, but that’s far from true, and artist Michelle Titian is proof that there are solutions.

Michelle Titian is a world-class Canadian artist with a complicated life story of alcohol addiction. After years of alcoholism slowly destroying her relationships with others, her career and her own life, Michelle called it quits and took control of her own destiny. Now, in addition to her inspiring music, Titian has also created the Drive Foundation, a charity that inspires and helps people struggling with depression and addiction.

Michelle Titian will be present in Romania, between September 6-8, at the event dedicated to the music industry – Mastering The Music Business. During the conference, Michelle will participate in the How to stay sane in the music industry and will talk about her struggle with alcohol addiction, her recovery and the role of music in this struggle.

We talked to Michelle about all of this in an exclusive interview full of hope and saving grace.

Psychologies: Tell us about your career and life before your battle with alcoholism.

Michelle Titian: I have always struggled with alcohol addiction. I drank for the first time when I was 13, and that was also when I had my first black out. I remember waking up the next day thinking about how incredible I felt. From then on, I lived only for the next drink. I felt that I had found the solution to all the inner problems that I had always had. I started my music career in my early 20s, and at that point I was still managing my addiction. But later, in my 30s, I started to lose control completely.

Completely blocked by fear, I was unable to progress in any way in my music career. The opportunities I was missing out on because of my drinking problems were huge. All this pushed me even deeper into addiction, I lost my self-esteem and even the will to live.

Michelle Titian

One’s battle with one’s own addiction is something extremely complex and subjective, but tell us a little bit about this battle. What was the hardest part?

MT: Drinking had become quite a problem, because every time I ended up passing out, falling and hurting myself. I remember my husband asking me: Why can’t you stop? And I answered him: I don’t know why! I don’t understand what’s wrong with me.

I could stop, but my problem was that I always started drinking again. Once my obsession with drinking took over, nothing and no one could stop me from putting alcohol in my system. Once I started drinking, I didn’t have the control to stop. I was powerless in the face of alcohol.

What was the moment you said STOP?

MT: You don’t realize you have a problem until you start losing, and I lost relationships with loved ones. This led me to start a 12-step recovery program. I tried everything, absolutely everything to stay awake on my own, but after the first drink, I fell again. When I finally accepted the truth and got help through the 12-step program, for the first time in my life, I was able to stay away from alcohol. I was at the point where I could fully admit that if I continued to drink, I would die. I surrendered, accepted help and am so thankful every day that I did because it truly saved my life.

You’ve made your drinking problem public. Not infrequently, people react vehemently when a public figure becomes vulnerable. How did the public react to your honesty?

MT: I’m not ashamed, I’m open and honest about my recovery, and I’m incredibly grateful for my life. My voice and music have an incredible impact on others, especially those struggling with addiction. I truly believe it is my destiny to deliver this message of strength and hope to those struggling as I once was. It is my main goal to share from my experience with the hope that those in need will ask for help.

Is addiction still talking to you? How do you manage to silence her?

MT: The obsession with drinking is now 100% eradicated from my mind, body and spirit. Alcoholism is a disease that resides in the brain. In my case, what saved my life and continues to do so is this 12-step recovery program that I follow daily. It’s my lifeline.

How did the song Drive come about? Tell us about the creative process behind the piece. How do you feel when you play it?

MT: I had been awake for 6 months when I wrote the song Drive. In fact, I was trying to evolve and move forward in my songwriting career, and I was tormented by the thought that I wouldn’t be able to do it without drinking alcohol. I remember sitting down and playing the guitar. I started writing the song and I felt connected to an incredible source of power because the lyrics just flowed out of me directly onto the paper. After I finished writing I went to the kitchen to drink a glass of water and when I came back and reread what I had just composed I wondered where that creation had come from? I completed the song in a few hours. DRIVE is a song about saving me. When I perform it, I feel extremely connected to my purpose on this earth.

Offers advice to artists struggling with addiction.

MT: Be honest with yourself and accept help from others. This was the first step in my recovery. The day I accepted at the deepest level that I had a drinking problem and was honest with myself and others, was the day I was finally able to stop. The truth set me free.

Tell us about yourself now. What are the future plans. how are you

MT: We just signed with Entertainment Music Group (EMG) and we are planning a global tour in 2023. I don’t think there are words to express how grateful I am for everything. I am finally in a place where I am free, without fear, without resentment, without selfishness and disrespect. I believe that my music and voice are a vehicle for this message of strength and hope.

What will you talk about at MMB?

MT: I will share my experience, strength and hope and encourage those struggling with addiction to seek help. I will talk about my recovery and what I do every day to maintain it, I will talk about mental health to normalize these conversations, I will promote that recovery is absolutely possible. I will start a conversation with the goal of educating, promoting the solution, and providing resources to those who need help. I will pass the message on.

Mastering the Music Business is the first and biggest event in the music industry organized in Romania. Dedicated to all music enthusiasts, MMB is the place where both the country’s independent artists and industry professionals have the opportunity to meet, learn from and interact directly with top industry experts. How to launch your own festival, how to write and compose songs or how to create a star from scratch are just some of the topics covered at the conference.You can find more details on the website www.masteringthemusicbusiness.ro.