Mildly Medicated: How Type 1 Diabetes and Music Made a Family

By Steve Freed of Mildly Medicated

Steve Freed is the 2nd lead Guitarist of the Modern Rock Band Mildly Medicated. What do you get when you combine a lead singer with Hemophilia, a guitarist with ADD, a guitarist with diabetes, a bassist with Tourette’s, and a drummer on HGH therapy? You get the modern rock band Mildly Medicated. Against all possible odds, these uniquely talented young musicians from Monmouth County NJ found each other in 2012, all unaware that each of them had medical issues.  It was only until they were discussing possible band names that they all realized that they shared a commonality.

It’s not easy not knowing what is wrong

It all started so normally. I grew up happily in the bucolic and sleepy town of Colts Neck NJ, content to play video games and watch movies on TV. My parents were wonderful and I got Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 11.58.00 AMalong ok with my older sister. I was generally a quiet kid and blended in well, sometimes into the back ground, of school. Then things started to change. I became bloated and a little over weight. I started to not feel right. One day at school I passed out and it prompted my parents to get me tested of an assortment of things. When the results came back, it was determined that I had Type 1 Diabetes. I was dumbfounded.

I mean, I ate healthy, and really didn’t have much of a sweet tooth, but now suddenly I’m being taught to “understand” what it feels like to feel like I’m getting “low” and needed to take an injection. It’s not easy being the kid who travels with a red bag loaded with insulin, syringes, and alcohol wipes. I became a bit of an outcast; I think because kids my age didn’t understand and thought that people who had to take needles in order to survive were somehow different. I became mildly depressed, and my parents, god bless them, became naturally more vigilant and protective, which I think didn’t help matters, but hey, they are parents. I’m not sure I would be any different if I were in their situation. They worried, which is understandable. I think I was too young to worry or grasp the seriousness of my affliction. I decided to really start throwing myself into music to cope with my situation. I had dabbled before, but I really wasn’t very good. This time though, I tore into learning my guitar with a vengeance. It became for me the great equalizer. When I mastered a piece of music, and back then it was stuff my parents hated, heavy metal, I felt accomplished. I felt, well, I guess “normal”, if not super-normal. The more I practiced, the more I learned to listen to my own body in the same way I listened to music; very carefully.

Explaining is the hardest thing to do

I really hate explaining myself and my red container of drugs to people. I want them to look at me for who I am, not what I take. I want equality. In fact, I used to make that topic the last thing I ever talked about. Sometime I got sloppy and didn’t listen to my own body or pushed the limits of my sugar levels and of course paid the price. If I passed out it was embarrassing, and I know I often worried my parent more than I should have. I was not much of an athlete, and sports generally bored me, so I reverted back to my guitar for the solitude and peace that I so desired. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with my talent, but I do know that it made me happy.

When I was in middle school, I met a kid at the music school I attended. His name was Rocky and he was a short pudgy kid that played the drum pretty well. I mean he wasn’t great, but he was good enough. I really didn’t even know him but I asked him if he wanted to try to form a band and he said yes. I later on found out that Rocky didn’t have anything going on in his life either other than also having medical issues which he rarely talked about. We spent countless hours in his basement practicing and being coached by his father who had some early digital recording equipment. As the years went on, we became fast friends even though we went to different high schools. I remember being mad at him for going to an out of district music conservatory program and not spending four years with me going to the same school. Still, we continued to practice every weekend, and eventually got good enough to start making our own CD’s and playing local parties. We played with a number of different individuals, but they would come and go, and it always turned out to be Rocky and I all alone looking for people to play with. I think we were both nearing the end of our ropes, both frustrated, when lightning struck.

During freshman year of high school, we were talking about who we could get to play withScreen Shot 2016-05-25 at 11.58.16 AM and our other guitarist was in the next room and overheard the conversation. We knew him from the music school that we all attended, but considered him way out of our league. We were shocked that he actually wanted to play with us. A few days after this conversation, this girl Amanda walked into the school with her mother needing vocal lessons. She said that she was never picked for anything other than a background singer. When our manager heard her sing, he literally grabbed her and brought her into the next room where were taking about the next steps for the band and who do we know that could handle lead vocals. We spent about 5 minutes trying to find out what we commonly knew how to play, and what she knew the words to. We settled on the rock classic, “Heartbreaker” by Pat Benetar. Our manager Mike Basile had us run the song on the spot and when the last note rang out we all sort of looked at each other and knew we had something special. It literally happened that fast. The band was born in a matter of 15 minutes.

My other Family

As I said previously, I’m not a talkative guy. I usually don’t share freely, but these guysScreen Shot 2016-05-25 at 11.58.33 AM became my family. Countless hours and endless miles in the van touring the east coast eased me into allowing these offbeat guys into my life. Once I had to collect 24 hours of urine for a medical test, and we were booked to play Six Flags in Jackson NJ, a huge venue for us, and I had our saint of a manager Mr. Basile hold a quart mason jar with my bodily fluids for almost two hours. If that’s not family, then I’m not sure what is. Ryan has my back no matter what, Rocky is a bit of a jerk with an obvious Napoleon complex, but he’s my jerk and my drummer, and I’m sure we’ll be friends for life. Jenna I just adore. Not a bad bone in her body. No one judges me when I’m with them. It’s just us, the stage, the audience, and the smile and side glances we share that bind us together. Quite honestly, there is no place I’d rather be than on stage with Ryan, Rocky, Jenna, and Amanda next to me. It just feels right. It feels like home.

We will always be Mildly Medicated. (and I wouldn’t want it any other way)

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