Before attending the University of Miami, Danielle Lowe was dead-set on pursuing songwriting. Due to her personal experience with mental illness, specifically eating disorders, Lowe saw the importance of helping others and thought the best way to do that would be through music.
However, Lowe began to realize that music alone was not the best conduit for change. Instead of simply pursuing music, she wanted to do something with which she could make a tangible change in people’s lives; she wanted to help people through her music.
So she joined the Frost School of Music to study music therapy, which marries psychology and music.
Once Lowe came to college and began meeting new people and having new experiences, she watched many of her previous issues fall into the background. That should be a good thing, right?
Well, the happier Lowe now struggled to find inspiration for her music. Since she began her songwriting career as a tool for coping with her struggles, she no longer knew what to write.
“I’ve become a much happier person,” she said. “And so I didn’t have as much content to then include in my music.”
So when it came time to choose a senior project, she no longer felt as drawn to songwriting as she initially had. Instead, she wanted to use her creativity in other ways, so she began writing a book.
In her autobiographical work, “People Say I’m an Artist, But I Don’t Feel Like One,” Lowe explores the personal journey of her own creative evolution, specifically how she deals with the pressures and expectations of earning a degree in a creative major.
In her book, she goes into depth about being in a competitive music environment and feeling like she’s not good enough. She explores her struggles in coming to terms with the fact that songwriting is no longer her priority, and that it’s OK to be creative in other ways.
“Even though you may have ebbs and flows in your creativity or the mediums in which you’re creative change, you’re still an artist,” Lowe said.
Lowe’s book, which she began writing in October 2017, will be self-published and appear in hard copy at Books and Books this May. She’ll even be hosting a reading to promote her book before its release.
When discussing her writing process, she emphasized that the content came very easily; it was the ending that was the hard part.
“I’ve started a lot of songs and projects, but often they go unfinished because of my own fears,” Lowe said.
She worried about people’s expectations, asking herself, “What will people think, what will I think?” Her most difficult challenge was deciding her book was valuable and that people would want to hear her story.
Now, as president of Project HEAL, a national non-profit organization that helps raise money to provide scholarships for people with eating disorders who can’t afford treatment, Lowe has started to discover her passion.
“It’s a very under-recognized illness by insurance companies,” she said.
The cost of treatment for eating disorders is not something that the average person can afford independently. From weekly visits with physicians, psychiatrists and nutritionists to residential programs, which cost on average $30,000 a month, this disease can become a financial burden for many families. This is why Lowe works tirelessly to raise awareness about the reality of eating disorders and to help gain funding for those still struggling.
This fall, Lowe will pursue her goal of being a music therapist by completing 1,000 hours as an intern at Stony Brook University Hospital on Long Island, working at an inpatient adult psych unit. She will be doing music therapy with adults who suffer from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression and PTSD. As a music therapist, Lowe will help improve the social, cognitive and emotional skills of those suffering from mental illness by incorporating activities associated with music and songwriting to ultimately promote growth and enhance personal creativity.
For people currently struggling, Lowe wants them to know that “there’s always someone who wants to listen, there’s always resources out there.”
“I thought I was going to be stuck in my eating disorder my whole life,” she said. But by putting in the work and finding treatment, Lowe was able to emerge a stronger, healthier and ultimately happier person.
“You have the power to make a different choice,” she said. “Your life can always turn around.”
For those still struggling with eating disorders, Lowe says you should not wait to get help.
For support, resources and treatment options for those struggling with eating disorders, call the National Eating Disorders Hotline at 800-931-2237.
You can read her full book, “People Say I’m an Artist, But I Don’t Feel Like One,” when it hits shelves in May at Books and Books in Coral Gables.