If you listen to her speak or sing, you’ll see that Lisa (Cannon) Robles seems to be someone who understands on a deep level what it’s like to be caught in the valleys of a taboo subject like depression but also knows the great freedom of calling her struggle what it is and finding a way through it.
She’s a 2000 graduate of Nodaway Valley High School and the youngest daughter of Phil and Cheryl Cannon of Greenfield, and Robles grew up in an extremely musical family. She and one of her older sisters, Laura (Cannon) Harrington, gave a concert alongside local friend Josh Nelson, who is the son of Paul and Jina Nelson, for family and friends Sunday night in the auditorium of the Warren Cultural Center.
One of the main messages that seemed to resonate from the hour-long concert was that it’s OK to not have it all together and it’s OK to reach out to someone else for help when you’re struggling. Robles did.
Robles says that research has shown that there’s a strong link between head injury, concussions and depression. She experienced concussion-like symptoms for the first time in elementary school when she head butted a friend by accident on the playground. She had her second episode when she fell on the ice at a birthday party. A third time, she had concussion-like symptoms when she missed the landing pad in seventh-grade high jump competition.
“It changed my personality. I was talkative, confident and outgoing and I became very shy, quiet and insecure. As an adult, I struggled with anxiety and depression. It was something foreign to me and I fought feeling it for a long time,” Robles said. “My aunt had a car accident and they told her that when you have a head injury it’s not a question of if you’ll have depression but when. That’s what made it click for me that some of those things I was dealing with, I learned the manage them rather than fight dealing with them.”
Robles has learned how her own depression is most often triggered and has found how she counters that depression the best — with her Christian faith and with music.
“The Lord is the biggest thing that helps me cope. I was back stage going ‘Breathe, just breathe,’” Robles said, quoting a lyric from a song she and Laura sang. “Getting up on stage is something that’s huge [in triggering] anxiety and is terrifying but the Lord asked me to do this and in obedience I wanted to follow.”
Lisa and Laura’s other sisters’ names are Sarah and Amanda. They’re all very musical. Lisa sings, Laura sings and plays piano, Sarah plays piano and Amanda sings and plays guitar. Their mother, Cheryl, teaches piano lessons and sings while father, Phil, sings and plays guitar. Appropriately so, family reunions are said to often include talent shows.
Laura is said to be an accomplished songwriter. Her concert with Lisa Sunday was actually the third concert they’ve done together. They’ve performed two concerts before in their current home of Wichita, Kansas.
“Growing up in a musical family, we’re used to singing everywhere in front of people,” said Laura, who is the second oldest sister. “I’m not as much of a solo singer. I love doing backup. Anytime I can get on board and sing harmonies, I’m there. It was a lot of fun working with Lisa putting this concert together.”
Nelson, the son of Paul and Jina Nelson, graduated with Robles and thoroughly enjoyed singing a couple of numbers with she and her sister. He’s a former mail man who now works as an IT person at the Adair County Courthouse.
“I’m glad that she asked and I was happy to help,” Nelson said. “It just kind of took me back to elementary, middle school and high school. I’ve known them since I was a little kid. It was neat to be part of this story she told.
“For me, music is a big part of who I am and it always has been. It was the same for the Cannons. We went to the same church as kids,” Nelson said. “That was a foundation and a relationship we had with all those people. This is just another part of that.”
Robles said during the concert that her life is not perfect to this day. The key thing is that she sought out help and received it from those around her and from a source she believes is far better than this world can offer.
“I would encourage people to tell someone, even though it is hard. I expected to have some backlash from this concert but I have not. Time and time again, people have come up and said ‘I have felt what you have felt’ or “I understand.’ You never know,” Robles said. “Hopefully you can have somebody in your corner that you can share that with and they can encourage you, keep you accountable and realize when you’re struggling.”