The Depression Files

Al Interviews Sam Miltich | Jazz Guitarist & Mental Health Advocate

December 29, 2019

In this episode, Al interviews Sam Miltich, jazz guitarist and mental health advocate (recorded 12-16-19). At the age of 18 and living in his rural hometown in northern Minnesota, Sam was discovered by a Minnesota Public Radio reporter and his jazz career skyrocketed. This young, small town jazz musician joined Paul Mehling's Hot Club of San Francisco and started touring internationally with the world-renowned Robin Nolan Trio.

At the age of twenty-two, Sam was stricken with a major psychotic episode. He encountered delusions including believing that he was the antichrist and that anything he came into contact with was doomed. He hid for hours in a closet in order to prepare for solitary confinement, as he believed the CIA were coming to find him. Sam entered a partial hospitalization program and went from a diagnosis of depression with psychotic features, to schizoaffective disorder, and finally to paranoid schizophrenia.

Sam's second psychotic episode occurred at the age of thirty, as he was heavily impacted by the stigma of mental illness while attempting to wean himself from his medications. This episode lasted a full year.

Today, not only does Sam share his music professionally, but also his story of living with schizophrenia in a performance that he calls, The Improvised Life. You can learn much more about Sam by visiting his website at You'll also find him on Facebook at Sam Miltich Music.

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