Black Hole Sun Won’t You Come And Wash Away The Rain 

The past few weeks has seen my anxiety slowly get the better of me. 

Time and time again I’ve felt it rise and fall, sometimes completely taking me over. 

I’ve let things slip. A few months ago I was exercising regularly and running guided meditation exercises pretty much every day. Pains in my back and hips made me stop running, then when they abated I would get pain in my feet. It just felt there would always be something stopping me or getting in my way. The guided meditation just kind of slipped by. It’s so easy to miss a session or two. Next thing you know, it’s been a week or more since your last session. 

Are these linked in with the increase in my anxiety? It can’t be a coincidence. 

Have I become too complacent in my road to recovery that I thought that I could skip steps that were helping me in ways that I didn’t realise? 

It hasn’t been a conscious decision to do so. I thought I was done with my current mental rehabilitation that I didn’t need to do these steps anymore. A few months ago I thought I was well enough to come off my current course of medication. Now I’m seriously considering the option of increasing my regular dosage of Venlafaxine to help try to keep me more stable.

Sometimes I feel that people look at me as an example of living with anxiety, of what you can achieve. I suppose that goes hand in hand with being open about my condition. I don’t really mind it at all but I’m not the perfect example that people think I am. I’m just as fallible as the next person. I have the same weaknesses as anyone has. 

I need to start taking more control of my mental health. I need to stop taking it for granted. I need to step up and realise that it’s a continual ongoing role, that I can’t stop at any point. 

With this illness I need to be thinking long term. I may have gained myself some victories in the past couple of years but I need to keep at it. I can’t and won’t let it get the better of me. It may have been a slight relapse what I’ve gone through recently but I refuse to let it ruin what I’ve achieved, what I’ve managed to overcome. 

The title of the this installment of my blog comes from the song “Black Hole Sun” by Soundgarden. You can find a video of it on YouTube here Soundgarden – “Black Hole Sun”. I’ve also now created a playlist on Spotify featuring the songs I include in my blog. You can find it over at The Order Of The Dog Spotify Playlist. I’ll update it every time a new blog is published.

As usual, if you’d like to chat to me further you can email me at theorderofthedog@gmail.com and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. I’ve created a closed support group on Facebook also called The Order Of The Dog. It’s there for people who struggle with mental health issues as well as people who want to support and get a better understanding. It’s a closed group which means only members get to see and interact with what’s posted there. Finally, please feel free to share this blog with anyone and anywhere you think it might help.

Cheers,
Scott
The Order Of The Dog.

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Hell Is ‘Round The Corner Where I Shelter


John-Paul Satre is attributed to the quote “hell is other people”. When you suffer from anxiety there’s often no truer statement. 

Being around other people in any way, shape or form when you’re in the throes of an episode is no easy task.  Family, friends, work colleagues or strangers, everyone can attribute to that internal feeling of dread. It’s so incredibly hard trying to mask yourself in a shroud of normality when all you want to do is disappear. 

Social anxiety is a big thing with me. Gatherings and get togethers are a tough challenge for me, even around people I’ve known for years. Even meeting friends in a one on one situation can be hard for me to get through sometimes. 

I don’t know why it is. My stomach churns, my hands become fidgety, and I feel like I’m in permanent defensive mode. There’s no reason for it, it just is. Sometimes I can control and disguise it better than others, other times it’s raw and exposed. 

Last week we had a family get together. My sisters, nephews and nieces, my parents and their partners were all there and everyone was in good spirits. Apart from me. It’s not that I was in a bad mood or anything. I was just struggling being there with my anxiety trying to constantly trying to bring itself to the surface. 

I’d spent the car journey feeling more and more anxious. My family aren’t judgemental, in fact they’re incredibly supportive. But, even so, I couldn’t settle. I spent most of the time feeling out of place, a fish out of water. I spent most of the time I was there self medicating with a bottle of red wine. I don’t drink often but I find red wine almost comforting. A few hours and a bottle of red wine later and it was over with. 

It might make it sound like a chore and it isn’t. I love my family and I love being around them. It’s just these kind of situations leave me feeling strained and stressed out. I feel permanently ‘on’ which leaves me completely drained at the end of it. That’s the problem with anxiety. Even a short spell with it can leave me exhausted and tired. 

I’ve ended up kind of trying to adopt a character of Scott to get through these situations. Like a clown, I hope the fake version hides my insecurities beneath the mask I force myself time wear but that people can still accept it as being me. 

Even going to a gig can be incredibly hard work. Sitting on a bus can be almost like torture, people sitting too close, the sounds and smells overspilling into my world and unsettling me. But at least in not having panic attacks or anything similar in public. Most of my anxiety is quite self contained at the present. 

It seems like there’s so much around me that helps dial my anxiety up that little bit further. Nothing that I can put my finger on, nothing that I can say is the cause or acting as a trigger at the moment, it’s just the way my brain is interperating the signals it’s receiving. 

I need a holiday away from my brain. I need a holiday away from my over-sensitive emotions. I need a holiday away from myself. 

I just wish it was as easy as that. 

The title of the this installment of my blog comes from the song “Hell Is Round The Corner” by Tricky. You can find a video of it on YouTube here Tricky – “Hell Is ‘Round The Corner”. I’ve also now created a playlist on Spotify featuring the songs I include in my blog. You can find it over at The Order Of The Dog Spotify Playlist. I’ll update it every time a new blog is published.

As usual, if you’d like to chat to me further you can email me at theorderofthedog@gmail.com and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. I’ve created a closed support group on Facebook also called The Order Of The Dog. It’s there for people who struggle with mental health issues as well as people who want to support and get a better understanding. It’s a closed group which means only members get to see and interact with what’s posted there. Finally, please feel free to share this blog with anyone and anywhere you think it might help.

Cheers,
Scott
The Order Of The Dog.

If I Hadn’t Made Me, I Would’ve Been Made Somehow

Typical. 

I post a blog saying that I’m in a decent place and how I’m living alongside the parasitic illness that is my anxiety and depression then, suddenly, a few days later my anxiety is busy creating knots where my stomach should be whilst trying to yank away what’s left of my bouyant mood. 

I felt the anxiety picking at the frayed ends of my sanity for a few days before it managed to get a proper purchase on me. Once it started pulling at the threads I could feel any pretence of stability start to slip. 

I feel tired, drained and on edge. There’s a dull ache in my gut and my shoulder as the mental symptoms try to manifest themselves as something physical. 

That’s right. What you might not realise is that occasionally an illness that mainly preoccupies your brain will try and create something a bit more physical for you to deal with and be aware of. 

If I was stressed I could understand the stomach and shoulder ache. But I’m not. Things are (generally) okay. I’ve not really got any major concerns or worries so there’s no reason for this manifestation at the moment. 

I often give up trying to decipher what has triggered my anxiety when there’s no major cause to point the finger at. What’s the point in stressing over asking myself “why?” when I’m better devoting my time and energy into dealing with it. I try and prevent the anxiety and Dog begging for my attention as much as I can but sometimes it all sneaks through. 

I have several coping techniques for dealing with anxiety. Sometimes it involves things like guided meditation and mindfulness. There’s also certain albums I’ll listen to and focus on. 

Much has also been said about the need for being creative and it’s something I wholeheartedly endorse. I have a couple of guitars in the living room I can pick up at any moment. No matter where I go I have my notebook with me for writing things down physically, or my phone where I can vent through my blog notes (the joys of modern technology). 

Writing helps me so much. My journal, my blog, scraps of poetry, music reviews. The cathartic process of getting words and feelings from out of my head into some form of understandable prose helps so much. The fact that people seem to like way I write is an unexpected bonus. To me though it’s about communication, about being able to talk things I would generally struggle with saying in. It also helps me keep busy, something that helps with the darker moods thday occasionaly visit me.

Also, and it’s going to sound a bit weird, but I enjoy cooking, especially baking chilli scones. 

Yes, you read right. I enjoy baking chilli cheese scones for people. I’ve often made some for bands or musicians I go to see, trying to come up with different types for each band. I used to bake a lot and take them to work, something that had eased up for various reasons. We have a business partner visit at work the other so it was the perfect reason for me to fire up the oven. 

Spending the hour or so making them was quite therapeutic, focusing on finely chopping the chillies and blending them together, mixing it all together and getting the right bake. To me knowing they’re appreciated gives me satisfaction. 

So, is there a moral to this? Yeah, get creative. Don’t let people judge you for it. Who cares about the quality? As long as you like what you’ve done that’s what matters. There’s no need to show anyone if you don’t want to. It’s all about you. 

Just do something. 

The title of the this installment of my blog comes from the song “Make Yourself” by Incubus. You can find a live video of it on YouTube here Incubus – “Make Yourself (Live)”. I’ve also now created a playlist on Spotify featuring the songs I include in my blog. You can find it over at The Order Of The Dog Spotify Playlist. I’ll update it every time a new blog is published.

As usual, if you’d like to chat to me further you can email me at theorderofthedog@gmail.com and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. I’ve created a closed support group on Facebook also called The Order Of The Dog. It’s there for people who struggle with mental health issues as well as people who want to support and get a better understanding. It’s a closed group which means only members get to see and interact with what’s posted there. Finally, please feel free to share this blog with anyone and anywhere you think it might help.

Cheers,
Scott
The Order Of The Dog.

When You Feel Life Coming Down

Every time I come here to start writing it feels harder to put words down in a way that feels meaningful and worthwhile.

Part of it lies in the nature of my illness. Just because I suffer with anxiety and depression doesn’t mean I’m permanently in some deep pit of existential self torment. Over the past few years I’ve become a lot more aware of how my illness works and how it tries to incapacitate me. Hell, some days it’s almost like I can blend in with the rest of the human race without raising suspicion. 

When it strikes though the mood can take me and swallow me whole in moments. 

It becomes an emotional and mental break, everything around me becomes raw and overwhelming. I can feel my jaw grinding my teeth while my hands grip my coffee mug, the arms of a chair, the neck of my guitar, whatever they can do. It’s almost like you realising (wrongly) that you’re in some kind of immediate danger. 

Depression brings with it it’s own bleak symptoms. A feeling of worthlessness. A questioning of your life and your achievements. It becomes a lie that drowns out any sensible reasonable arguments. It will hold you under until you start to weaken, until you start to give in to incessant demands. Like the sea, it can slowly erode you be constantly wearing away at you or it can crash over you like a tsunami, swallowing you whole and dragging you away to it’s depths. 

Getting through it is hard. It takes it out of you, the constant fight leaves you drained. The negative energy overwhelms you, sucking every ounce of positivity out of you leaving you feeling drained. It’s damn hard to try and recover from it, no quick or easy solution. You find yourself chipping away at it, taking every opportunity to grasp any victory, no matter how small. Setbacks are crushing, all you can do is keep clawing away, desperately hoping that you’re making some kind of progress. 

Then there’s the uncomfortable subject of suicide. 

I’m going to be quite honest here and it may make for uncomfortable reading for people, especially those closest to me. 

I originally tried to commit suicide in my late teens. A confused mess of thoughts and emotions, I was unsuccessful in my attempt. It wasn’t really a conscious decision to kill myself, it was more like a response to not wanting to exist any more. It’s not a cowardly or selfish action, it was simply just my way of trying to remove myself from the equation of life. Looking back at it now I can see the hurt and sadness I would have left in it’s wake. 

Although that time has long past those thoughts occasionally rise to the surface of the murky depths of my depression. They’re something I’ve grown used to, their visits random and confusing. They seem to have a sole purpose of leaving me disoriented, and they succeed in that. It’s like a permanent reminder of living life with one foot already in my grave. 

Every time they come they lay me low, I don’t feel the need to act upon them. It’s almost like I’ve come to respect them to a certain degree. I’m always mindful of the power that they can have over me, of how easy it is to succumb and give in. But I won’t, I can’t. 

I’ll point out that I’m not writing this whilst currently inhabiting that frame of mind. Far from it, my mood is relatively good at the moment. But I know it can change at any point. Even though mentally I feel good at the moment it takes very little to break this fragile state of equilibrium. My balance can vanish any second now without warning.

It’s that feeling that frightens me the most, not the days lost to depression or the moments stolen by anxiety. I know they will pass. But that moment where it all breaks, that’s the feeling I’ve grown to fear the most. 

Why do I fear it? I think it’s more that I know that, deep down inside of me, no matter what I do it will happen. To me, it’s inevitable, inescapable. It’s not a case of how it will happen but when. But I know I can fight it. It can’t lay me low enough that I will give in to it completely. 

All I can do for now is keep one eye on the clock and watch time pass. Each second, each minute, each hour that passes is another victory. Another step further away from what I was, another step closer to what I could be. I know I’ll never be truly free from my illness but at least I can try and live with an understanding of what it can do to me. 

The title of the this installment of my blog comes from the song “Life Coming Down” by Dierdre (feat. Byron Carrick). You can find a video of it on YouTube here Deirdre (feat. Byron Carrick) – “Life Coming Down”. I’ve also now created a playlist on Spotify featuring the songs I include in my blog. You can find it over at The Order Of The Dog Spotify Playlist. I’ll update it every time a new blog is published.

As usual, if you’d like to chat to me further you can email me at theorderofthedog@gmail.com and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. I’ve created a closed support group on Facebook also called The Order Of The Dog. It’s there for people who struggle with mental health issues as well as people who want to support and get a better understanding. It’s a closed group which means only members get to see and interact with what’s posted there. Finally, please feel free to share this blog with anyone and anywhere you think it might help.

Cheers,
Scott
The Order Of The Dog.

I’m Strong On The Surface Not All The Way Through 

Chester Bennington (1976-2017)

I was heading home when I heard of the passing of Chester Bennington from suicide. 
I’d hoped it was just another cruel hoax, that it was just some sick joke. 

Immediately I went on WhatsApp and reached out to a friend who was a huge fan of Chester’s band Linkin Park who confirmed it.

It’s horrifying to know that he was in such a dark place, that he felt that the only option he had was to take his own life.

When depression takes you, it can swallow you whole. It can engulf any spark inside you, drowning any kind of hope you may have and replace it with this complete void of light and hope. 

Depression is a cancer of your soul. 

Depression is something that we don’t fully understand. It affects people differently. It’s symptoms are different. Nobody is the same as the next. 

I suffer and I know others who do. I’ve been at the point where me not being here anymore seemed like the only option that was open to me anymore and I’m so pleased that it wasn’t. 

Mental health is a curse on modern society. It reaches beyond every possible boundary and won’t discriminate. It doesn’t care who you are or where you’re from. It doesn’t care what your sex is, how much money you have, your social status. If it wants you it’ll try to take you. All you can do is try to fight it as best you can. 

Suicide is many things but it is not selfish. It might be the only escape people think they have. It may be a release. It may be a cry for help out support. 

Chester leaves behind a family. Six children are without their father. Fans of his music are reeling with many unanswered questions, most of which will sadly never be answered. 

Sadly, he won’t be the only person today who had decided to cut short their lives this way. We’ll never know must of these people but somebody will. Somebody will lose someone today because of this tragic curse. 

If your heart and soul are in that dark place, please reach out to someone, anyone. It may feel like the hardest thing you could ever do, but it will certainly be the bravest. Don’t let the feeling of hopelessness overwhelm you. 

You are never truly alone in this life. 

Sleep well Chester. 

The title of the this installment of my blog comes from the song “Leave Out All The Rest” by Linkin Park. You can find a video of it on YouTube here Linkin Park – “Leave Out All The Rest”. I’ve also now created a playlist on Spotify featuring the songs I include in my blog. You can find it over at The Order Of The Dog Spotify Playlist. I’ll update it every time a new blog is published.

As usual, if you’d like to chat to me further you can email me at theorderofthedog@gmail.com and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. I’ve created a closed support group on Facebook also called The Order Of The Dog. It’s there for people who struggle with mental health issues as well as people who want to support and get a better understanding. It’s a closed group which means only members get to see and interact with what’s posted there. Finally, please feel free to share this blog with anyone and anywhere you think it might help.

Cheers,
Scott
The Order Of The Dog.

“Music Brings Me The Most Happiness In Life” – Talking Music Obsession, Book Writing And Mental Health With Gary

What do you do when you love a band so much? You write a book about it of course!

Gary Davidson has just released “Zealot In Wonderland”, a book based on his love of the musician Ginger Wildheart, frontman of The Wildhearts as well as many other bands. The book also tells of the story of Gary himself over the years, and everything that he has gone through. I spent some time recently chatting with the new author about his book, his love of music as well as his own dealings with mental health.

So Gary, care to give us a few words about your good self?

Good? Yep I’m good at the moment. Happy, happy joy joy! Listening to new and old music like it’s not going to exist tomorrow. I’m 44, damn good looking and… ha ha! What do ya wanna know?

Ha ha ha. Sounds like a dating intro lol. So, let’s talk about this book of yours “Zealot In Wonderland”. For the uninitiated, what’s it about?

Well….me! Ha, ha, no. Well, kind of yes but with a huge splash of Ginger, The Wildhearts and depression thrown in – and a lotta funny shit that’s happened to me over the years at gigs. I do get myself into some silly situations, mainly fuelled by music, alcohol and a drive to not miss out on anything. 

I started out with the intention of “Zealot” being about The Wildhearts, yet a few sentences in ‘I’ and ‘me’ soon popped up. At times I have questioned whether anyone would give a shit about my life soundtracked by the greatest band that ever was/is – at those times I’ve always told myself if someone else had written something along the same lines as “Zealot” I would love to read it!

It’s also about fanaticism. Don’t think you can get more more fanatical then writing a book about your fave band; or covering your body with tattoos of said band. I’ve done both! Shit, I sound like some kinda weirdo stalker now. Come to think of it…… Ha ha!!!

A huge buzz for me is the fact that Ginger has read and enjoyed it. It’s been a long journey. Ryan Jarman (The Cribs) writing the foreword was also lovely. Got to meet him in person to say thank you as well. 

I started writing in 2005 and stopped in 2012. When I started I was of course still going to see The ‘Hearts and Ginger play live and listening to new albums released; and we all know that’s a lot of albums! 

The book starts in ’92 when I first saw The Wildhearts, so I was writing from ’92 – what I remembered anyway – then if something happened in present time I would also jot it down. My head didn’t stop spinning with Wildhearts/Ginger for seven years. Not that it’s stopped now. So much funny interesting stuff has happened since 2012 that I find it hard not to keep on writing about it. But I’ve got to for my own sanity. 

I started of interviewing members of The Wildhearts and associated bands with the view of those interviews going in the back of the book. The interviews happened (great interviews they are too) but it soon became apparent that “Zealot” would be “War and Peace” length if they featured. I decided to have a website to run alongside “Zealot” with the interviews on there, along with some other nonsense that flowed from my pen after the completion of “Zealot”. You can buy it on the website too. 

So what was it about Ginger and The Wildhearts that appealed to you?

The riffs, changes in tempo, and bare to the bone lyrics and lyrical juggling. The “Mondo” EP (The Wildhearts debut EP) hit me round the head like a sledgehammer, yet at the same time gave me a warm friendly hug. And of course Ginger’s lyrics.
Just noticed I’ve mentioned lyrics three times (four now) in quick succession. We all know that Ginger has a way with words, and that struck me I think more than even the music and melodies themselves. I suppose a combination of all these things just clicked something inside that no other band had quite managed to up to that point.

When depression hits I’ll stop smoking and drinking alcohol – though occasionally I’ll drink to drown my sorrows. I associate drinking and smoking with having a good time and socializing; two things that never happen when the dog bites hard. Now I’ve just opened my first can of falling down water, as 120 copies of “Zealot In Wonderland” have just landed at Wildhearts Cottage! I’ve just played Ginger’s ‘Casino Bay’ from the album “Market Harbour” whilst opening the boxes and feeling elated after a long journey. 12 years in the making and my baby’s finally arrived!


So I gather it’s fair to say that they’ve helped soundtrack your life for you?

Certainly. As all music does, but for me not to the same degree that The Wildhearts have. It’s all in the book I guess. From my first sexual experience, to the ultimate highs and the lowest of the lows.

So let’s start touching on the other subject mentioned in your book, that of you and your mental health. When did you start noticing aspects of it creeping into your life?

“This’ll be the most disjointed interview ever!” That’s what Jon Poole said to me when I started interviewing him way back when for “Zealot”. I’d had a few before the interview and got my questions all muddled up. Good times, good times! So, next question? By the way am I allowed to be drunk while under interrogation? 

Ok mental health. In secondary school never really had many friends and was incredibly shy and insular. Don’t get me wrong I wanted to have friends but it pained me to actually talk to people. My confidence was none existent. I think this lack of confidence was through me not grasping maths, English – you name it I just couldn’t take anything in I was taught. I dreaded the moment a teacher would point and say: “Gary, what do you think about that?” “Do you know the answer?” 99% of the time I didn’t. Made me feel as thick as shit and dumb-ass to boot. Of course, looking back I know I’m neither. Ok I’m still pants at Maths but I now know that ain’t what life’s about. 

When I left school I got a menial job and felt a little better as I didn’t having to sit in-front of a teacher babbling on about shit I didn’t understand and didn’t even wanna. I’d been a forklift driver since ’89. In 2008 after becoming stressed and anxious – which lead to depression – and quitting every job I ever had I ended up being a cleaner. Some people say lowest of the low, but fuck ’em! I’ve finally found something that I’m comfortable and happy with. I see an immediate result and walk away from the job with no worries. And you know the best bit of all? The best bit is I get to listen to music through my headphones all day!!! How cool is that? I’ve been known to play a mean Wildhearts riff on my vacuum tube on many occasion.

Yeah, I think a lot of people use a person’s job as a measure of happiness or status. There’s a lot of “if you don’t earn £X you can’t buy Y which means you won’t be happy”. There’s something good about just knowing you’ve done a good job.

Spot on mate! Music brings me the most happiness in life! Touching on the ‘All Things Ginger Wildheart’ ‘community (a Facebook fan group), I’ve made so many gig buddies. Wonderful people every one of ’em! People often ask me if writing my experiences in “Zealot” had been therapeutic. I’d love to answer yes – but no. No because I was writing about my past experiences. Writing my feelings down at the time of being depressed has sometimes helped and I should do it more often. Unfortunately being under a dark cloud makes me wanna do fuck all! Normally all I do is listen to music. When depressed I watch utter sit on TV! 

The only thing when going into my experiences with depression while writing “Zealot” did was make me realize how much quality time I’d wasted. Last year I left the house four times. I missed so many gigs I’d bought tickets to the year before. Every time one had passed I’d rip up the ticket. Fucking depressing in itself. When the depression lifted in February I grabbed life by the balls! I’m on such a high at the moment it’s untrue! Oh yes!!! I don’t touch on depression in my book, I tell just what I’m like when locked inside my house (bedroom) for so long. There’s a little humour thrown in there too. I’m a man that likes to have fun and be happy. I really am! Lovely to be in that head-space again. 

Shutup!!!! Sorry not you… “P.H.U.Q.” has just ended. “Don’t worry ’bout me, don’t worry ’bout me I’ll be alright” (a ‘hidden’ Wildhearts track at the end of that album that’s been a fan favourite). I always am in the end. This too will pass. 

Tell you what though this chat has been lovely. Has it ended? I’m all for another question.

Don’t worry it’s still ongoing lol. I know I’ve made a lot of friends from online groups. I’ve been able to be pretty open about how I am and I think the anonymity helps. Have you found it easier?

I’ll be honest, not really. I don’t tend to post on the ‘Net about any issues I’m having. It’s wonderful to see others are though and I sometimes reply to them with a few words that I think may be of comfort. That being said, in March, I think it was, I posted on my Facebook wall a photo of myself in the grips of depression (full beard and bloated) and alongside it one of me all happy as of now. I wrote a little piece along with it. I did it because…why the fuck not?!?! If I had a broken leg and posted the before and after it would be more than acceptable. I just wanted people to see how shit I looked when depressed, ’cause they don’t normally see that side of me. But more than anything if just one person took some comfort and felt less alone from that post it would be worth it. I’m looking for it on my timeline now. You wanna see it?

“I thought for a good week about making this post. But why think? If I had a broken leg and posted photos of my recovery, all would be fine. So… what a difference six months makes. Yes the Grizzly Adams’ lookalike is me; me in the grip of depression. I’ve suffered from depression since my late teens. It’s a fucker of an affliction. Strips you of body mind and soul until you are not you anymore. You are an empty vessel. But I’m happy now – look at me happy all smiling. You’ve probably never seen the Grizzly Adams’ impersonator version of me; he likes to stay indoors and gain 3 stone and throw money down the drain. Anyway happy times now. If you think one of your friends may be depressed and hiding away; don’t be a stranger – your knock at the door or ring of the phone could be just the motivation and force needed to stop them becoming Grizzly Adams too (sorry Grizzly, I’m sure you’re a lovely happy go lucky guy). Valor my friends… :-)”

It’s a good post mate, and was good to see people respond to it accordingly. How did it feel to make a ‘confession’ like that?

The response was lovely. I felt really open. Kinda naked online. I’d been thinking about making it for a while and always pulled back from doing so. Then I thought why the hell not? Glad I did now. We need to be open; we need to chat. Nothing is gained from keeping so much shit in your head. NOTHING!!!

That’s certainly true. So, when you feel the dog nipping at your heels what is it you try to do to keep it at bay?

When I feel it nipping? I fucking hate that feeling!!! When I get a little down or perhaps in a mood; as everyone does, I wonder if it’s the dog or just a mood. It scares the living hell out of me! I know the triggers so try and keep doing what I normally do and fight through it. At times I’ve managed to do that and come out the other end. On too many occasions that dog had ripped me to shreds and fed on the carcass. Think he loves the taste too. He can fuck right off though as I’ll be back stronger than ever having gained experience through past encounters.

I’m on my last beer now. I’m enjoying this so much Scott. Thank you for giving me this opportunity.

Pleased you’re digging it man. Sometimes it’s good to shoot the breeze. Going back to the book, how does it feel to know it’s done and out there

As we speak I’ve just received a tweet from Ginger saying that he’s enjoying it. Like any art, creating is one thing but the real joy is from others getting something from your work. I’m proud of it and I hope the reader will enjoy. I’ve reached my goal and I for one am enjoying the victory!

That’s amazing mate. I bet you’re made up about that?

Speechless… for once. Ha ha!

So is that it? Want some last words from a happy man?

Yeah man, go for it! It’s all yours…..

Last words? Sounds final. It’s not. I’d just like to say thank you for this opportunity. Thank you. I’ve opened up because someone had an open ear (you). Someone non-judgemental. Please buy my book “Zealot In Wonderland”! It’s pretty good if I don’t say so myself. I hope the reader takes something from it. Something they pass onto someone else. Paying it forward and all that. Valor and never ending riffs, Gaz Wildheart.

Thanks to Gary for a fun and honest chat. It’s cool to get a positive story after someone has gone through a tough time. You can order his book as well get more information from the Zealot In Wonderland website.

As usual, if you’d like to chat to me further you can email me at theorderofthedog@gmail.com and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. I’ve created a closed support group on Facebook also called The Order Of The Dog. It’s there for people who struggle with mental health issues as well as people who want to support and get a better understanding. It’s a closed group which means only members get to see and interact with what’s posted there. Finally, please feel free to share this blog with anyone and anywhere you think it might help.

Cheers,
Scott
The Order Of The Dog.

Carrion Blue We’re So F**ked Up, We Don’t Even Know How Far Down We Are 

Caution: May Contain Triggers For Certain People. 

“Heard joke once: Man goes to doctor. Says he’s depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain. Doctor says, “Treatment is simple. Great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up.” Man bursts into tears. Says, “But doctor…I am Pagliacci.”

“Watchmen” – Alan Moore (1986)

The past few months have been tough and, hand on heart, they’ve taken a toll on me. I’ve tried to keep my head above water with varying  degrees of success (and failure). I’ve also not been 100% honest as I should have been with myself which, in turn, means I’ve not been 100% honest with the people in my life. 

I’ve had some increasingly hard and emotional personal times. My family and the people around me have gone through some heartbreaking times. Despite everything, we have made it through it.

I also took it upon myself to think it would be a good time to wean myself off the low dosage of Venlafaxine I’ve been taking for the past eighteen months. Perhaps it was a result of me trying to feel optimistic and positive about everything that was going on. Okay, in hindsight it probably wasn’t the wisest decision I’ve made. 

The timing wasn’t perfect but I felt, in my heart, that I needed to give it a go. I felt that I was coping, despite everything that was happening around me, and that I needed to try.

And I was wrong.

That’s possibly the wrong thing to say but it’s the closest way to describe it. I was right to try coming off my drugs, but even after a course of eighteen months it may have been too soon. I did it the right way though – by gradually lowering my dose for a few weeks before reducing it further alternating the days I would take it as my doctor and I discussed in my meds review earlier this year. 

The Venlafaxine has been out of my system now for about a month (my brain is a little fuzzy with the actual dates). The first few weeks were wobbly (the best way to describe it) but I knew that was just my brain readjusting it’s chemical balance. At the end of the day it’s had a daily boost of chemicals and that’s been taken out of the equation. It needed to learn to live with itself again. 

If you’re unsure of what this can be like to recover from here’s an analogy:

Someone breaks their leg and they’re given crutches while their leg is in a cast. After a while the cast is taken off but they’re told to still be cautious for a while and use the crutches for a few weeks. After that’s taken away they’re still having to walk again. There’s still that pain, that unsure feeling of how to approach the task. 

This was me. Trying to figure out what to do with my brain without my chemical crutch, what would be natural and what wouldn’t be. In short, getting myself to learn to be myself and cope with things again whilst trying to be as normal and natural as I possibly could. 

I’d felt like I’d become estranged from a lot of things that had been cornerstones of my life up until they point. Just when I thought things felt settled the cracks would be starting to show in me. 

There’d been signs. I can see that, especially now. Hindsight can be such a wonderful, torturous thing. The general anxiety disorder I suffer from would have to be dealt with more often to various degrees. My moods would go to polar extremes quite quickly. I would go through spells of complete disinterest with things, I found it hard to motivate myself. I wanted to comfort eat more than usual. I found myself becoming more agitated around people. I’d be wanting to shut myself off. My sarcasm levels had reached Def Con One. I would doubt myself and why I was doing things. I’d constantly question my value, my worth and my motivation for doing anything. I’d have moments where I’d start crying. Not just a few tears I mean full on sobbing. Luckily I was able not to be around anyone when that would happen. There’d be moments where I’d stand around in the work toilets, just trying to hold myself together. 

I made a decision the other morning to get a doctor’s appointment and I was incredibly fortunate to see my GP, someone who knows my history. If you think is hard to get an an appointment now, just wait until the idiots in charge of the country privatise our public health services. Anyway my doctor and I talked about how I was and about going back on my medication again. He asked if I was writing the blog still, which I confirmed. He sees what I’ve achieved so far as a victory, even if I struggle to see how. 

So, I’ve got a prescription written out in my name for Venlafaxine. It’s the same dosage I used to be on with the option of increasing it if I feel the need to. I could be in these for years to come, just to get that little bit of balance back in my brain. 

I feel like part of me has let me and others down. I’ve advocated about being open about mental health struggles and what people go through but recently I’ve not been able to. No real reason, I’ve just found it harder than usual to put into words and articulate what has been going on in my life.

Hence not writing much for the blog recently, latching on to anything else other than have to deal with myself. Why the fuck would I want to deal with myself when I could continue in this state of denial I seemed quite happy in?

Actually, that’s not really true. I’ve written plenty, I’ve just not published anything. A lot of it has either been deleted or archived, never to see the light of day again, probably for the best. 

Add into the mental spaghetti my brain has become, my phone died on me last night. Not only have I lost a lot of personal photos and the like, I’ve lost a lot of my writing. Not just my blog notes but also musical sketches and notes of songs that were work in progress. Just enough of a deal at the moment to tip me over a bit. There’s never a good time to have bad time. 

So, here I am. I kind of feel like I’m back at square one. I need to take a couple of feel breaths and get myself ready for this. I need to take my time, it’s not a race about who can get better the quickest. I need to feel more comfortable with who I am and what I’m going through. There’s no shame in accepting this and reaching out. That’s the point, I should be okay to feel like this, there is no shame. I’m more of a work in progress than I ever thought I was. But I can move forward. I will move  forward. 

I have to move forward.

The title of the this installment of my blog comes from the song “Carrion Blue” by Mutation. You can find a video for it on YouTube here Mutation – “Carrion Blue”. I’ve also now created a playlist on Spotify featuring the songs I include in my blog. You can find it over at The Order Of The Dog Spotify Playlist. I’ll update it every time a new blog is published.

As usual, if you’d like to chat to me further you can email me at theorderofthedog@gmail.com and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. I’ve created a closed support group on Facebook also called The Order Of The Dog. It’s there for people who struggle with mental health issues as well as people who want to support and get a better understanding. It’s a closed group which means only members get to see and interact with what’s posted there. Finally, please feel free to share this blog with anyone and anywhere you think it might help.

Cheers,
Scott
The Order Of The Dog.

“I Tried To Talk to Him Over And Over but Always Went About It The Wrong Way” – Talking About Living With Someone Else’s Mental Health Issues with Jill


I was going through the ‘On This Day’ section on my Facebook profile the other day (one of the few things I actually seem to enjoy about it at the moment) when I saw mention of an interview my old band did. Cool, I thought, I wonder what the interviewer is up to now so I checked out her profile and found out she’d been writing a blog. I clicked the link and read the first one it brought up. 
The first piece was about the relationship between herself and her husband as he’d been diagnosed with depression (you can read it here). It was a great read as she talked quite frankly how hard it had been on the pair of them to try and deal with the illness and what it brings. 

I dropped Jill a message to say I’d read her blog and sent my best wishes for the pair of them. I also asked if she’d be okay with answering a few questions which she was happy to do. So with thanks to Jill and her honesty here’s the result of our chat.

Would you like to give us a few words about yourself?

So, not sure what you want to know…but I’m 33, married for 5 years with a 8 year old step son. I work full time in Senior management and am obsessed with running and keeping fit, spending most of my free time running or working with a trainer to improve my running!

It’s your husband who’s dealing with issues around his mental health. How did things start manifesting?

Yes, my husband has only recently received a formal diagnosis of depression and to be honest I’m not really sure how and when it all began. We argued more and more and he always seemed hollow… not sad but just very disinterested in life. I just assumed it was our relationship changing and as someone who’s pretty selfish, with absolutely no experience in depression I had no idea what was going on. My husband has no idea what triggered it and hadn’t even realised himself that things were changing. Suddenly he started to depend solely on me. He followed me into every room I went to, became insanely paranoid about everything, was suddenly argumentative and never joined in conversations. There was no light in his eyes anymore.

We buried our head in the sand for a very long time. I assumed it was just who he was now but then realised I couldn’t cope. I tried to talk to him over and over but always went about it the wrong way. It hit a head when he was forced to admit he had lost a lot of our money through an addiction. This led to him seeking medical advice and it went from there.

How did you find things after you both started opening up? Did you find those first conversations with each other hard? 

To be honest the opening up is still very much an ongoing process. I’ve always been open about my feelings but have slowly begun to realise that I’m not doing that in the correct way. 

My husband doesn’t open up very well. I’m very over powering so it’s tough. We’re both making a conscious effort to understand the other person. 

Do you find you’ve had to make many compromises with each other?

We’ve made a lot of compromises. My husband is learning to respect my need for space and not take my actions personally and I’m learning a lot about how to be patient and understanding. I’m learning that listening is often enough and that I can’t fix him. It’s not about fixing him. It’s about understanding him and allowing him to not be ashamed of how he feels. 

Have you both gone through any kind of therapy together or singularly?

We’ve had no therapy as a couple but we don’t rule it out in future. My husband has weekly counselling through his GP and completes workbooks about his feelings. At his lowest point he has used the Samaritans and the charity MIND.

How does it feel to live with someone who suffers? What goes on in your head?

We take each day as it comes and I try not to think of it as living with someone with depression. He’s my husband and it’s just part of him. That being said, sometimes it’s like a ticking time bomb as his mood can change very quickly. In my head, I suppose I just worry. I want to fix things but this illness isn’t logical and I have to realise it’s beyond my control sometimes. I worry about every little action I do and whether it will send him back over.

How’s your husband coping at the moment? How do you approach a bad day?

He’s coping well at the moment. He’s making an effort to talk more and understand his feelings and now he is receiving help and support he feels a lot less lonely. He’s seeing his friends again and on the bad days he makes an effort to try and tell me how he is feeling. We tend to try and do something on a bad day. He’ll force himself to go walking with me just to try and take his mind off it. His workbooks through counselling help as he can then write it down as he feels it. 

Is there something that you’re taken from this that you’ve learned and been able to apply to your own life?

I’m not sure if I’ve taken anything from it as such but it’s definitely taught me to listen more and not dismiss other people’s feelings. My life is so busy I often expect people to come along for the ride and didn’t stop to see that he wasn’t coping.

How do you try to cope with things? What do you do to try and process what’s happening when you know it’s not directed at you specifically?

I run and I train. That’s been my coping mechanism for a long time. I’m raising money for MIND at the moment by running 2 marathons, 2 road half marathons and 2 trail half marathons and an obstacle course this year. It gives me focus and time to think about my feelings so I can deal with my husband’s when we’re at home. My gym is like a family so I can escape there when I need to. 

I try and remind myself it’s not directed at me but sometimes he can be extremely personal and hurtful to try and stop himself hurting and that’s tough. That’s when I run or talk to my parents. 

What would you say to anyone who has a partner that’s dealing with mental illness?

To anyone with a partner dealing with mental illness… don’t feel guilty for wanting to get away sometimes. It’s ok for you to have feelings too and you should try and talk to someone about them. But also remember that mental illness is just that, an illness. Your partner wants it to stop as much as you do. Be patient and just be there for them but make sure you make time for you. 

Any closing words Jill?

To be honest, there’s no right answer as every individual is different and I can only go by my very recent experience. It took me a long time for us both to come to terms with it but the main thing I have taken from this is not to be ashamed. So many people are struggling with mental health and yet the stigma of it means so little people talk about it. It’s important not to feel alone. We all deserve to be heard. 

Again I’d like to really thank Jill for her time and for answering questions as honestly as she could. You can find her blog at Running And Raising blog. If you’d like to donate to Jill’s fundraising (she’s raising money for MIND by running two marathons and a half marathon Total Warrior obstacle course) you can do so here


***UPDATE*** Jill completed the Edinburgh marathon in May. The next event, a 12K Total Warrior Obstacle Course, will be happening soon. 


As usual, if you’d like to chat to me further you can email me at theorderofthedog@gmail.com and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. I’ve created a closed support group on Facebook also called The Order Of The Dog. It’s there for people who struggle with mental health issues as well as people who want to support and get a better understanding. It’s a closed group which means only members get to see and interact with what’s posted there. Finally, please feel free to share this blog with anyone and anywhere you think it might help.

Cheers,
Scott
The Order Of The Dog.

There Must Be Something Else, There Must Be Something Good Far Away From Here

‘Down On The Upside’ album cover

I’m finding it hard to let the passing of Chris Cornell go. 

It’s always in the back of my mind at the moment. When I’ve been picking music to listen to over the past few days days it’s mainly been his body of work that I’ve delved into, apart from Soundgarden’s ‘Down On The Upside’ and the Temple Of The Dog album’s. They’re still too raw for me. 

A good few of my friends have been feeling the same. We didn’t know him, we didn’t meet, but his music and performances meant something to us. His words touched our souls, his music soothed us, his words guided us. 

We have talked a lot about what his music meant to us, the memories we have, how they connect us. I’ve heard of couples meeting because of the band, of night’s out, of gigs, of hearing that voice. 

Like I said in my previous blog, for me he’s linked with becoming who I am, and also the passing of my grandparents. Music had often been my medicine, and it still continues to be so. It is what helps me through the day at times. 

Some people look at the outpouring of grief and wonder why people feel so said. It’s the same kind of reaction when David Bowie passed away. We are sad because his art meant something to us, it connected us to him in ways that you can’t quite comprehend. To me, I’m reminded of good times and bad times, of friendships, of chats about music, about times of introspection and inspiration. 

A week on and I can’t shake it from me. At the moment I’m still finding it hard to wrap my head around. In the disposable nature our world has become he provided something in his music that is eternal, something that reaches out and touches your soul. 

I keep getting to hold thoughts of positivity through his music and his words, but also feelings of sadness and occasionally anger. Damn it, why did you have to go? Why did that become your only option? Why did you feel that leaving us behind was your only choice? I can empathise with how he must have felt. I’ve been there. I know what it’s like. You don’t think straight. Everything becomes so clouded and twisted you can’t think think straight. Everything doesn’t feel right, you feel pushed down a corridor where the door at the end seems like the only option.

Please, if you EVER feel that way. Talk to someone, anyone. Tell someone how you feel. Try to draw hope from somewhere. You’re not alone in this. 

I must obey the rules

I must be tame and cool 

No staring at the clouds

I must stay on the ground

In clusters of the mice

The smoke is in our eyes

Like babies on display

Like angels in a cage

I must be pure and true

I must contain my views

There must be something else

There must me something good

Far away

Far away from here

Far away, far away from here

Far away, far away from here

Far away, far away from here

Far away, I’m far away from here

And I’ll be here for good

“Boot Camp” – Soundgarden from the album ‘Down On The Upside’

The title of the this installment of my blog comes from the song “Boot Camp” by Soundgarden. You can find a  live video of it on YouTube here Soundgarden – “Boot Camp (Live)”. I’ve also now created a playlist on Spotify featuring the songs I include in my blog. You can find it over at The Order Of The Dog Spotify Playlist. I’ll update it every time a new blog is published.

As usual, if you’d like to chat to me further you can email me at theorderofthedog@gmail.com and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. I’ve created a closed support group on Facebook also called The Order Of The Dog. It’s there for people who struggle with mental health issues as well as people who want to support and get a better understanding. It’s a closed group which means only members get to see and interact with what’s posted there. Finally, please feel free to share this blog with anyone and anywhere you think it might help.

Cheers,
Scott
The Order Of The Dog.

I Never Wanted To Write These Words Down For You

Chris Cornell (1964-2017)

I’d only been up for an hour or so before the news started breaking through of the passing of Chris Cornell of Soundgarden shortly after a show. He’d been an influence and an inspiration for me, and to quite a few of my close friends too. I was describing a to friend of mine how his singing reminded me so much of Cornell, meaning it as a really high compliment which I knew he understood. Now I can just see the stunned news reflected in the news feed of my friends, all of us shocked, all of us sharing stories, all of us trying to find it hard to digest what has happened. 

Cornell has always been in my life since I was a teenager, Soundgarden being one one of the first bands I got into without anyone else nudging me in their direction. I loved their music but for me, it was Cornell’s voice that drew me in. I can still listen to it now and get shivers, it’s like he’s singing from his soul. He could articulate what I was feeling in a voice that could range from a whisper to a full on roar. 

I remember seeing the video for ‘Hands All Over’ on late night TV and the impact of the guitars and THAT voice left me stunned. I’d soon picked up the single on 12″ vinyl (remember when bands did those kids?) and pretty soon I had the cassette of their ‘Louder Than Love’ album, something that me and my friend Mark listened to a lot. Grunge was just starting to peak it’s head out and I was already starting to get hooked. 

Chris was heavily involved with the Temple Of The Dog album, written by himself as a tribute to his friend Andy Wood of the band Mother Love Bone who’d passed away. He was backed on the album by Soundgarden drummer Matt Cameron and members of MLB (who incidentally went on to become Pearl Jam). The album, a requiem to loss, helped me with the passing of my grandad. Cornell’s voice helped soothe the sadness I felt inside, made me realise it was okay to grieve but to also remember the good times. 

In a strange moment of synchronicity, I listened a lot to the Temple Of The Dog album a few weeks ago after the passing of my gran. Again, his voice and words helped soothe and console me.

His work with Soundgarden and Temple Of The Dog were his highpoints for me, but he also did some great work fronting Audioslave as well as a solo artist. Hell, he also did a Bond theme song. There’s an acoustic bootleg called ‘Unplugged In Sweden’ which is just him and available acoustic guitar which is a great showcase for him and his talent. 

It’s starting to come to light that he has killed himself. I’m finding it hard to absorb the news, my hands are griping the headrest of the bus seat in front of me so tight. I’ve got Soundgarden on my headphones to try and remember the joy his voice brought but all I can feel is the emptiness his passing has left. I feel such sadness for family.

I was genuinely saddened at his passing, just as I was when Johnny Cash or David Bowie passed away. His talent was incredible, the range and power of his voice was just breathtaking. He was always there to sing me songs of peace, and he always will be. We’ll have his songs forever. But we’ll have nothing new from him, nothing that will reflect him getting older and his view on the world. I’ll miss that opportunity. 

Sleep tight Chris…….

The title of the this installment of my blog comes from the song “Say Hello 2 Heaven” by Temple Of The Dog. You can find a solo acoustic version of it on YouTube here Chris Cornell – “Say Hello 2 Heaven (Acoustic)”. I’ve also now created a playlist on Spotify featuring the songs I include in my blog. You can find it over at The Order Of The Dog Spotify Playlist. I’ll update it every time a new blog is published.

As usual, if you’d like to chat to me further you can email me at theorderofthedog@gmail.com and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. I’ve created a closed support group on Facebook also called The Order Of The Dog. It’s there for people who struggle with mental health issues as well as people who want to support and get a better understanding. It’s a closed group which means only members get to see and interact with what’s posted there. Finally, please feel free to share this blog with anyone and anywhere you think it might help.

Cheers,
Scott
The Order Of The Dog.