There Was This One Time Where Everything Was Okay (The Anxiety Diaries Part 1)

People watching

The grey and damp Tuesday morning weather really suited my mood as I headed to the doctors. 

My anxiety has been flaring up for the past few weeks. It’s there first thing in the morning when I get up and that’s when the fight starts. 

My mind and body have been constantly going up against it. It was on the increase despite everything I was doing to try and combat it. A few days ago I had to conceed that I needed some extra support to help fortify myself. So I booked an appointment at the doctors. 

I’m lucky that I can get an appointment with my GP quite quickly. Not only that but he’s a good guy to boot. He’s aware of my medical history so he knows that when I turn up it’s because I need the support I can only get through the NHS. Because he’s aware of what’s going on with me I don’t need to explain my history in detail, I just need to explain the situation. Although I could feel my anxiety getting worse it hadn’t reached the levels of where I was two years ago. I’m still quite hands on with my mental health so I’ve been recently keeping up with my guided meditation as well as watching what I’m eating and making sure I get to bed at a decent time. 

We talked quite a bit about what’s been happening. There’s been quite a few major things going on in my life this year that perhaps have had more of an effect on me than I realised. I’ve probably been acting a lot tougher on myself than I intended to. 

Old meds vs new meds

We decided on a two week sick note and an adjustment in my medication. I’m now on a single dose of 150mg of Venlafaxine a day now, a large brown capsule that always seems to stick in my throat when I take them. He also encouraged me to keep writing as an outlet/journal of things. Before I left he also wrote down a link for a TED Talk that I may be interested in on self compassion by Kristin Neff, a specialist on the subject.

Self compassion is linked one with mindfulness and better mental health. I’d been aware of the term but hadn’t really looked into it. After watching the link a few times I realised how much it made sense, and it’s something to look further into (no doubt there will be a blog about it in the near future). 

I travelled into work the next day to hand the sick note in. I could have posted it but I wanted to see everyone. I like the guys I work with and they’re all really supportive of me. It makes things a little easier but it still didn’t stop the panic attack I had when I was walking in. I had to force myself to stay there, to try and put a face on things. By the time I left I felt exhausted from the brief visit, my jaw aching from me clenching it. 

Part of me feels like a failure, that I’ve let myself and everyone else down by succumbing to the anxiety again. I can’t help, I’ve tried my best to look street myself but it kind of feels that this time my best wasn’t quite good enough. Again, I know that’s just me being tough on myself. I need to accept that there are times when I need the extra support and I should be okay with being able to reach out for it. So why am I finding it tough to practice what I preach? 

Work have also arranged for me to have some CBT therapy over the phone. My first consultation session is on Tuesday next week, quite a quick turn around. I’ve had CBT before and know how helpful it can be. Hopefully it can help me regain the hold I need over the anxiety, give me the tools to help me wrestle it back under control. 

In honesty, part of me is worried that I’m heading down the same route I was two years ago where I ended up in a position that I couldn’t leave the house without a major anxiety incident, where I felt like everything was falling around me. I’m praying that we’re trying to cap this before it engulfs me too much and starts defining who I am again.

Rather than locking myself away from the world I’m making sure I’m getting out of the house every day, even if it’s just for a short walk. Yes, I can feel the anxiety whilst I’m out but I need to make sure I’m not isolating myself away from life, which it would be so easy to do. This morning I took a short bus ride into Durham to get a couple of things I could have easily bought at my local shop but I wanted to push myself. I even sat in a local cafe and had a coffee, sitting at a window seat to people watch and write this. 

I’m finding my emotions are a little more to the fore than they used to be, making things a lot more raw. Whilst having the previously mentioned coffee I could feel my eyes welling up for no real reason. I let the tears flow, feeling that to force them back would probably feel counterproductive to the journey I’m on at the moment. 

I need to remember this is only a brief moment in time. Things will change. I will be better. 

The title of the this installment of my blog comes from the song “Polaroid Picture” by Frank Turner. You can find a video of it on YouTube here Frank Turner – “Polaroid Picture”. 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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Your Painted Face Has Cracks In The Surface

In one of these photos I was having an anxiety attack. Can you tell which one?

One of the things I believe in regarding mental health issues is being honest with yourself and those around you. If you can’t be honest then you can’t really try to deal with what you’re going through. 

Anxiety is invisible, hiding beneath the smooth surface of life, just waiting for the moment it can break it’s way through. 

At the moment my anxiety is in ascendancy. I can feel it most mornings, already awake ahead of me, trying to rob me of the calm I expect when leaving my slumber. It doesn’t even feel like proper sleep either at moment as I’m waking up a few times through the night. 

I head to work wrestling with it. I use music to help medicate me, to help ease myself through it’s effects. And what are the effects? I’m restless, tired and listless. It’s hard to focus on things I enjoy doing. Recently it took me over a week to write a review for a five song ep that I enjoyed. I start writing blog entries then abandon them, just not quite feeling them. 

By the time I walk through the doors I’ve become “Scott”, my work persona. I need it to get through the day, without it work would be impossible. I take calls, hoping I can convince myself that I’m okay and dealing with it. I think I’m able to fake my way through most situations without most people realising I’m fighting my fight. Occasionaly I’m quiet, occasionally I’m withdrawn, occasionally I’m in the toilets in tears. Sometimes I need it as a release, a cathartic means of release to stop the negativity choking me up. 

I hope that most of the time people can’t notice the difference. 

Each day I try to help others, I try to make people realise they’re not alone in this fight, that even in the darkest moment there can be some light, some way out of this suffocating mire. That no matter what there’s an invisible chain of support that binds us all together. That we can get through it. 

Somedays are tougher on me than others. Some are gentler with only light brushes with anxiety, other times it tries to swamp me, overwhelm me to a point where I’m struggling to see positives. It might take me more time than usual but I will see them. 

So I keep slogging through this, this sorry illness, this chemical inbalance that sucks the joy and colour out of my life. Sometimes I feel like I’m cursed, worried that I’m carrying some dark, soul sucking contagion that will be passed on to everyone around me like some strange mutated version of a virus. But I know it’s not real. It’s just the way it tries to fool me into believing it. 

And here I am. Looking back at Facebook I seem to be in a similar place that I was two years ago when I had my last major episode. But know I’m armed with knowledge and a need to fight what I’m going through, and I want to beat it. I can do this. 

We all can. 

The title of the this installment of my blog comes from the song “Cracks In The Surface” by The Empty Page. You can find a video of it on YouTube here The Empty Page – “Cracks In The Surface”. 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 Won’t Back Down

Today is Worldwide Mental Health Awareness Day.

Today is a day where we should talk about what we go through, enlighten others with our stories, our trials and tribulations.

By remaining silent, by not talking, we perpetuate the myth that we should remain quiet, that we should suffer in silence. 

When we do this we feed the black dog inside us. We give it the liberty to dictate our lives. We give it the power to control and lead us. We submit to it’s whims and it’s wants. 

By talking about what I go through and how I suffer I give myself some control with how I let it take me. 

I will not be quiet. 
My name is Scott. I suffer with depression and general anxiety disorder. I have tried to kill myself once in the past and occasionally that dark thought returns. I’ve self harmed. I have good days and I have bad ones. 

I will make a fight of it, I will not give in, I will not submit. 
By talking about it I’m not saying I’m weak. I’m realising I need to take strength from somewhere. By being honest I can use that strength to fight more, to push back against this tide of fairness.

I will use my voice as often as I can. Sometimes I might whisper, other times I will talk in measured tones. I can scream and shout. When my voice is hoarse and I can use it no more I will type here. 

We need to keep talking. We need to keep telling our story. By doing so we take the power back. We destigmatise the problem. We make it easier for others to open up. 

If you are suffering, say so. Tell someone, anyone. You just need to open up to one person. You have no need to stay silent. 

Today is Worldwide Mental Health Awareness Day. 

Every day should be Worldwide Mental Health Awareness Day. 

We all have a voice. Together we can use it to drown out the bark of the dog.

Together we are strong. 

The title of the this installment of my blog comes from the song “I Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty. You can find a video of it on YouTube here Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – “I Won’t Back Down”. In fact, have a load of American football fans singing along to it. 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.

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.

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.