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.

This Is How You Talk To Her When No One Else Is Listening

Your mind is a powerful thing, if you fill it with positive thoughts, your life will start to change

I took some time off from things last week and headed down South for a few days. I needed a break, not realising how much I needed it until I actually arrived in the warm hospitality of my friend’s home. 

When I was there I took the opportunity to get some downtime and see some friends, old and new. We caught up with each others lives, talked and swapped stories with each other. 

I was especially pleased to meet up with one guy. We’d known each other for a couple of years online from a couple of music groups. Over that time I’ve got to know him pretty well. He’s always inspirational. Where he sees anger and hatred he replies with love and happiness. He also gives killer bear hugs. 

Whilst we were chatting he told me about his daughter. Let’s call her River

Now River is just a young girl, not even in her teens. Already, he said, she suffers from anxiety. She’s been seeing a counsellor through school. He’s also looking at getting her something private. All he wants is the best for his daughter. 

He said he also reads the blog to her. He said it helps River, let’s her know there are others out there that go through the same thing. I was really touched. It blows me away to think that I’ve been able to reach out to someone. 

I also felt sad. It’s really down heartening to know that this girl, barely starting out, is already feeling the stress of trying to live her life. I said I would write her a message and send it through her dad to pass on. 

The following day I spent an hour or so putting together the message. I wanted River to know she wasn’t alone in this. 

“You just need to remember that tomorrow is a different day” I wrote. “It might not be a better one than the one you’re having now but it also might not be as bad. Things like this change all the time.”

I sent it and her dad was thankful. It made me feel good, knowing I’d been able to try to make a difference. 

Yesterday my friend posted in a private group we’re a part of what River had just done. “River went upstairs yesterday and said ‘Dad I have done this for myself and I know a few of your friends have the same problem will you put it on your Facebook page?'”

She’d written two motivational pieces, one I’ve put at the top of the blog, the other at the bottom. I couldn’t believe how concise and perfect they were. I was incredibly moved to see them and asked for permission to share them. 

Why am I doing this? Well, I want to show River that you can reach out to anyone with what you say, make a connection and help someone. Also, that we’re listening to her. That she can say things and realise that people won’t judge, they’ll just want to help. 

The final reason is that I’m still stunned that someone of her age is suffering from anxiety to a point that she needs some help, and that there are people out there who are quick to judge people and label them. This really has to stop and the only way we can remove the stigma associated with mental illness is by opening up and talking about it, no matter how old we are. 

Inspiration comes from anywhere and River has certainly inspired me. You’re never too young or old to keep fighting this disease. We certainly need more people like River around. With more people like her in the world our fight feels a little bit more easier and our future doesn’t feel as bleak. 

Never let the silly little things steal your happiness

The title of the this installment of my blog comes from the song “24 Frames” by Jason Isbell. You can find a video of it on YouTube here Jason Isbell – “24 Frames”. 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.

There’s A Man Who Walks Beside Me He Is Who I Used To Be

Mirror mirror…..

I always feel like I’ve had a dual kind of nature. I think it’s been my way of coping with my own brain and with my life. 

There are multiple aspects to everyone, that’s just the way we are. To me, I definitely have two distinct sides. There’s Public Scott and Private Scott. 

Public Scott is what everyone sees of me. That version of myself is the one who goes to work, turns up at family events, the one sitting on the bus, the one who’s just like what you’ve posted on Facebook. People like Public Scott. 

Private Scott is a different person all together. He doesn’t exist. He’s the one who’s trapped inside my head. He’s the sower of self doubt. He’s the one who wakes me up on the small hours of the morning with an anxiety attack. He’s the one who’ll cancel your get together at the last minute. He’s the one who will take whatever you’ve just said to me and fuck with it until it’s unrecognisable and let it lose in my brain. 

I really hate Private Scott. 

No matter what’s going on, good or bad, Private Scott always comes along to try and make things worse like some drunk gatecrasher at a party. It’s all about him and he’ll shout loud enough until it’s hard to ignore him. He’ll take the situation and twist it to it’s own agenda. 

Private Scott is permanently at my shoulder, whispering in my ear. 

I’ve gotten to know Private Scott a lot of the years, especially since I’ve started fighting and dealing with this properly. Using the blog as a way to diarise what happens means I have a better grasp of my mental health journey and what my brain is doing to me.

For instance, the previous blog covering my search for happiness reflects how good and positive I’m feeling at the moment. Yet…..here Private Scott slinks up and takes all these positive feelings before twisting them into something unrecognisable. I should be feeling good but it’s scratching away at the scab until the doubt and worry starts to bleed out. 

I’m lying here fighting self-doubt. I feel tears in my eyes. I just want to hide away. I’m not letting it take me, I refuse to let it take me. 

I need to stop listening to Private Scott. I need to ignore him. I need to face him and stare him down. 

I will not let that aspect rule me. It will not and can not win. 

The title of the this installment of my blog comes from the song “Live Oak” by Jason Isbell. You can find a video of it on YouTube here Jason Isbell – “Live Oak”. 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.

One Hundred 

Writing it out.

This is my one hundredth blog. 
It might not mean much to you but it really does to me. 

When I first started writing this it was a way for me to share what I’d gone through. It was helpful, it allowed me to make  thoughts that were in my head, heart  and soul that needed to be made tangible. I was able to reach out, I was able to connect. I found a purpose to myself. 

Over the months it’s evolved. It explored my relationship with my mental health issues a lot deeper than I thought it would but it became more than just that. I looked into my past as well as opening myself up so I could look inside myself. I was able to tell the story of other people. It became my open journal allowing me document my life, what was happening and how it affected me. It became indispensable. 

Depression and anxiety had ruled most of my life. It was a darkness that controlled me and led me down certain paths, some dark, some destructive. 

But not all. 

To me the darkness is also something. It shines inside me. The darkness gives me something to work against, something to push against. It acts as a beacon for me guiding me towards the hope I can have. 

I have been very much a loner in life, no matter what. I’ve always marched to my own beat. I’ve always put others before myself, something that had been detrimental to me for so long.  With counseling I learned that, yes, being considerate to others was a good thing, but not at expense of my own happiness. 

And that’s what matters in life. That one word. Happiness. If you are doing something that doesn’t make you happy you are stopping yourself fulfilling your true potential. I know, I sound like a bit of a hippy with that but it’s the truth. Well,  it might not be THE truth, but it’s certainly MY truth. 

My truth has certainly led me to some changes over the past year. I still feel as though my journey isn’t yet complete. I still have a way to go. I don’t know how long it will take or where it is I will eventually end up. All I do know is that happiness is my compass. It is what leads me and directs me. 

Over the past year and a bit it has brought me into contact with new people and away from others. My life has improved so much, it has been enriched because of it and because of these people that orbit through my life. I’m thankful every day for them and I know I wouldn’t be there without their strength love and support.

There are people that are no longer a part of my journey. Some because I chose not to let them join it, others who feel let down myself. To them I can only apologise. It was never my intention for that but there were times when I needed to focus on myself much more than others. It makes me sad and I hope that one day things may change. For that, only time will tell. 

My journey is certainly far from over. There are still things that are to be addressed, my happiness is still not complete which means I continue to keep searching. We all go through our lives as works in progress. There is no set of instructions for us to follow. We fumble way along unseen paths in life, hoping that without the map we all need to know where we’re going we’ll still arrive at our destination and whole. We steer our ship through dark seas without a star to guide us, without charts or compass. 

We are the result of our journey. We are the sum of our experiences. We can only gather what we have around us to hand to let us nourish us. Let our hopes and dreams guide us ever onwards. 

Stay good. Stay well. Stay strong. 

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 Speak At One Constant Volume At One Constant Pitch At One Constant Rhythm Right Into Your Ear You Still Won’t Hear

Just So Tired….

I’m sat in the small bedroom at mine right now. 
I’m tired and feel worn down, drained of everything. I’m trying to relax but my brain doesn’t feel like it belongs in my head. I’ve got a small light on whilst Paul Miro’s ‘Based On A True Album’ plays quietly. I’m trying to focus on that, picking out sounds that come across as different to listening to it on Spotify. 

Tonight marks nine weeks of my gran being in hospital. I was sitting with my sisters in her room up on the seventh floor and I looked around at us all. We all had a haunted look in our eyes. We all look as tired as each other. But we have to do our duty, there is no other option. We have to be there for her, trying to raise her spirits just a little. Sometimes it works, sometimes it falls completely flat on it’s arse. 

Tonight sees a couple of small victories. Susan starts singing a kids song about frogs so gran joins in with a series of strange noises. “Stop it gran,” I say, “you’re beginning to make normal!” We all laugh, proper belly chuckles. I wear an unused sick bowl on my head as a hat to celebrate the nine week anniversary. We laugh at something else, I get the giggles and break wind slightly. We start laughing properly which prompts my backside to join in a little louder. Oh dear. 

I feel myself starting to crash later on standing in the toilets. I close my eyes as I’m washing my hands and I can feel the room moving so subtly like I’m still in the lift coming down from our visit. I feel nausea rise in me. 

I get home and feel so tired. I don’t feel myself. Catching my reflection in window and I feel I look so old, like I’ve aged a hundred years in the visit. My mood tanks as I feel like so much is going on in my head right now. There’s the buzz of white noise, the incessant chatter of thoughts trying to rise to prominence over each other. Even Headspace tonight doesn’t seem to be helping with it, my focus just drifts off as I try running a session. 

Some days you feel you win, some days you feel you lose, other days you wish you didn’t feel at all. 

The title of the this installment of my blog comes from the song “A Small Victory” by Faith No More. You can find a video of it on YouTube here Faith No More – “A Small Victory”. 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.