While the punk rock scene has led to plenty of legendary musical acts, it has been about about more than just the music for the people who identify with punk rock. Many of those involved in scene had previously been dealing with drug addiction or struggling with mental health problems and found punk rock as their salvation.
The punk rock community is considered a safe haven and a place of acceptance for people that are considered strange, different or "crazy". Punk rock artists rebelled against the status quo and created their own music scene rather than listen to mainstream radio hits that did not reflect their own sensibilities or beliefs.
They also created a community for anyone who felt like they did not fit in with the mainstream world. Writer Craig Lewis compiled true accounts and stories from people closely involved in the punk scene in his book "You're Crazy: First Hand Accounts of Mental Illness, Addiction and Trauma from the Punk Scene."
He focuses not only on the significance of the punk scene but how it personally affected individuals who are passionate about the community. The book includes twenty five stories told first hand by the people involved in the lifestyle of punk rock.
Stories of Addiction and Painful Memories
Each of the twenty five stories of the book is told by the person who lived the experience, in their words and their style of conveying the events of the past. For some of the authors it is clear that it is their first time sharing their personal story, while others seem well-versed in sharing what they went through as though they have told the story many times over and have crafted their style.
Some of the stories are familiar for former addicts who have heard the struggles of their fellow AA or NA support group members. While each story may not be completely new, they each reflect the soul of the teller and how their addiction or mental health issues impacted a period of their life.
Some stories like "Disease" focus on drug addiction and how an addiction can turn from a person's best friend to their worst enemy. Others like "Pat's Story" are first-hand accounts of failed suicide attempts and recovery from some severe mental health issues. The unique story "More than Just a Tag" tells the tale of a "normal" kid who is sent into the mental health system where he eventually becomes sick.
The Community of Punk Rock
Although each story provides a unique perspective on personal experiences with addiction and mental health issues, the book includes the common thread of music and punk rock. Each story is told from a member of the punk rock community who found acceptance and escape through punk music.
The local punk communities described in the book are judgment-free zones where each person is able to be accepted in spite of their painful experiences without being labeled as "crazy". Punk rock becomes a guiding light for people who have been rejected or marginalized from other communities because of the things they have done in the past.
The book highlights the need for the punk scene to continue taking care of the outsiders of the world and those who are truly passionate about music. The collection of stories serves as an inspirational read for anyone who has been through their own issues with addiction or mental health problems and for those who believe in the ideology of punk rock as a place for the marginalized. The book creates an image of the punk scene as a place for people to connect and be welcomed for who they are.