The Central Virginian

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Louisa man shares his struggle with mental illness through his music

Posted on Tuesday, May 30, 2017 at 5:00 am

Andrew Maternick, of Gordonsville, now lives in a group home after three years at a state hospital in Staunton. Submitted photo

After seven months in solitary confinement and three years in a state psychiatric hospital, Andrew Maternick welcomed his return to the community at the end of April. All that stood between him and a move to a group home in Charlottesville was one final court hearing.

“I think today’s going to be a good day,” he said. “I’m very fortunate to have a second chance.”

Maternick, 28, was trying not to express his hopeful feelings too strongly. The past few years have been an exercise for him in learning to be humble and to find peace with his place in the world.

It was July 2013 when Maternick stabbed his younger brother, Kyle, in the family’s Gordonsville home. Maternick thought Kyle was an impostor wearing armor, and he was stunned when he saw blood.

Maternick had been diagnosed with a mental disorder in 2009, a few months after a car accident caused brain tissue damage. But the diagnosis wasn’t quite right, and Maternick had lived since then on the ragged edge of stability.

The one thing that seemed to keep Maternick from unraveling was his guitar, which was a constant companion through his years at Western State Hospital in Staunton. In fact, music had flowed out of Maternick almost from the moment his old life began fading away.

Ray Maternick, Andrew’s father, was on tour in Afghanistan with the Air Force in 2010 when his son began mailing tapes of himself playing and singing.

“I’m scratching my head, going, ‘Where did this stuff come from?’” Ray recalled. “I didn’t understand it, because it was good.”

Andrew had been one of the top lacrosse goaltenders in Virginia at Fairfax’s Hayfield Secondary School, Ray said, and was recruited to play on college teams. A sports injury, along with the 2009 accident, put an end to that phase of his life. In its place, Andrew began writing songs about his state of mind.

One of the first tracks he sent to Ray was “Headed to Mars,” which includes these lines:

They say I am out of my mind

I just think I’m out of place at this time

You don’t know what you have until it’s gone

Now all you have is this bloody song

Consider me gone

I’m headed to Mars


To read the entire story, see the May 25 edition of The Central Virginian.

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