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Friend’s mental health struggle informs album

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North End resident Randy Yaworski, released his debut album, Living, Coping, Breathing on May 6 to pay tribute to his friend Ben, who suffered from mental illness.

MATT PREPROST Enlarge Image

North End resident Randy Yaworski, released his debut album, Living, Coping, Breathing on May 6 to pay tribute to his friend Ben, who suffered from mental illness. Photo Store

Randy Yaworski hears voices from other worlds, but don’t call him crazy.

It’s hard to call him that when the voice is from an old friend, recently passed.

"I was reflecting on his absence during a morning meditation and, in my silence, he shouted out, ‘You don’t see what my eyes see!’" said Yaworski, a North End resident.

"It was almost like he was yelling to me, reaching out from a different plane and giving me the OK to tell his story."

The ethereal line has become an integral part of the opening track on Yaworski’s debut album, Living, Coping, Breathing, which the 51-year-old released digitally on iTunes and other major platforms May 6.

Yaworksi, who promises you’ll come to know him as Randy Rhythm, says the project is his contribution to Mental Health Week, taking place this week across the country.

The album is a tribute to Yaworski’s childhood friend, Ben Borys, who died in 2011 following a gruelling, nearly lifelong battle with mental health issues.

"It seems the world is getting a little bit crazier at times," Yaworski said.

"People have a lack of understanding, awareness to these sensitive issues. A lot of times people are shunned because of misunderstanding, really."

While Ben struggled with mental health problems as a teen, Yaworski said, he was able to build the foundations of a successful life — a good job that allowed him to buy a few homes and vehicles, while working towards building a family with his girlfriend.

That came to a screeching halt when Ben starting losing it all in quick succession: first his job, then his family, and eventually his father, whom he had moved in with. It all led to 25 years of instability filled with depression and anxiety, exacerbated my prescription medications, alcoholism and problems with the law. Ben was 49 when he died.

"He took less care of himself. He lost interest in everyday things," Yaworski said.

Yaworski has since spent his time familiarizing himself again with music, recording a swath of 12 twangy, garage rock songs in his makeshift studio. The goal was to reflect on Ben’s life by getting into his mindset. The results can be heard in the songs, which range in themes from paranoia, to alter egos, to the human and spiritual form.

"It’s North End music," Yaworski joked.

"I didn’t want it to be polished. I wanted it to be raw and capture the emotion and sporadic life of Ben."

Compassion and empathy go a long way in helping people struggling with mental health issues, Yaworski added.

"For the most part, you wouldn’t notice anything different about them," he said.

"Then, one day, their world shatters and it affects every one of us."

For more, visit www.randyrhythmmusic.com.

matt.preprost@canstarnews.com

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Twitter: @timesWPG

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