Nancy-Lee Mauger is a French horn player with dissociative identity disorder, which means she alternates between different personalities.
A conservatory graduate who went on to play professionally, she quit the horn in 2013 because at times one of her personalities — a personality who doesn't know how to play the horn — appeared when she was rehearsing or performing.
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In 2018, one year after returning to the instrument — she'd missed it terribly — Mauger joined Me2/Orchestra, the world's only classical music organization created for performers living with mental health conditions and the people who support them.
No auditions. All musical levels can participate.
"Mental illness makes it harder to be in the world,” says 58-year-old Mauger, of Needham, Massachusetts.
Me2/Orchestra helps ease that burden because it lets her pursue her passion without judgment. Though Mauger is “more grounded” these days, she can't be sure when the part of her that's unable to play the horn will show up.
"And it's OK when that happens in this orchestra,” she says. “There's no judging."
Without music, life is without meaning
Me2/Orchestra was created in 2011 by 65-year-old music director and conductor Ronald Braunstein and his wife, Caroline Whiddon, 51. Braunstein knew what it was like to be discriminated against because of mental illness; he was once fired from a conducting job after disclosing his bipolar disorder.