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.

Stretch The Skin Over My Head

Trying to explain depression and anxiety feels like an impossible task at times. 
The what and the why can be concepts that come across like whispers and ghosts rather than tangible facts. If there was something physical that people could see or touch I’m sure it would be easier for people to understand and relate to. 

My mood has tanked at the moment and my I feel like I’m in a constant battle with my anxiety.

Who’d want to be around me when I can’t bare to be even in my own head at times?

I became, long ago, accustomed to this darkness inside of me (a friend of mine calls it his dark passenger). It tries in vain most of the time to control my thoughts and my feelings, but recently is reared up a lot stronger than I’m used to. The fight is a lot tougher and it feels at the moment that it’s getting the upper hand. 

The other day I just felt like staying on the bus as I went to work, not getting off and just sitting there until it reached it’s final stop at the coast. I just wanted to sit there, alone with my thoughts, drawing from it. 

The hospital visits feel like I’m worn down at the moment, the never-ending cycle is just grinding away at me. I feel like I’m having to plaster a fake smile on, wear some kind of fake Scott costume to get through the day. I know the feeling is only temporary but, man, it feels sometimes like it’s never ending, that there’s no respite from this white noise in my head. 

The anxiety is starting as well. I’ve managed to keep it at bay with the help of some friends and some of the coping techniques I’ve learned, but I worry that it’s not going to be enough. 

I’ve got some good friends and family in my life who help support me, who don’t give up. I still appreciate the beauty of music or sunrise so I’m not beat yet. I’ve still got that spark of fight in me. 

I refuse to let myself become the way I was before, that dark, bleak, introspective shadow of myself. There are good things and good people out there I keep reminding myself. I was supposed to go see a band tonight but I just couldn’t face it. Now, I feel disappointed in myself, that I couldn’t even go see something I would have enjoyed. Sometimes this darkness makes me feel weak and I curse it. 

I feel like I’m wearing a Scott costume at the moment. That version I can wear over myself to try and make it appear I’m okay whilst I try to deal with this shit, fool myself and fool you. If it works, good. If it doesn’t……

I need to remind myself. There is always a dawn, there is always a light, there is always that change that comes to brighten things up. I need to ride this wave of darkness and try not to drown. By breathing, by focusing on what is weak in me I can make it stronger. 

I can, and will, fight it. I will not let it take me down again. 

The title of the this installment of my blog comes from the song “Let Me Drown” by Soundgarden. You can find a video of it on YouTube here Soundgarden – “Let Me Drown”. 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.

Nothing Ever Changes But The Shoes 

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
Same day, different date. 

Just feels like everything is a constant loop at the moment. No routines change, nothing feels any different. Hopes rise then get dashed. 

It’s now just over seven weeks since Gran came into hospital. Seven weeks of us trying to keep together, hoping desperately for some change, any change. 

Visits have taken their toll on us all. We feel weary and worn down.  We all have that weird kind of acceptance to how futile we’re feeling. Everything is out of our hands. All we can do is visit. 

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. 

I walk in wondering if she’ll remember my name tonight. The other night she called me Brian…. David…. Dean…. anything but Scott. It cuts me to the bone, but not as much as it hurts her. Seeing the confusion in her eyes is just devastating. I can feel my eyes filling up…..

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. 

“They can’t get my temperature on a morning,” she says. “There must be something wrong with me.”

“Well, you are in hospital” replies my sister. 

A brief respite from everything. The mood lightens a bit. 

She tells my sister not to come visit on her own. This is the fourth time she’s told her since we arrived half an hour ago. 

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. 

There’s a vague smell of shit in the air when I walk in, shit and piss. At first I didn’t know how long I’d cope. All I wanted to was…..run. Hide. Anything but be here. 

There’s something heartbreaking hearing people crying for their mam. Even more so when they’re in their eighties. Everyone wants their mam when they’re ill, that never leaves, even in your twilight. 

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

One of our evening routines is me sitting and holding a fan to cool her down for a few minutes. She sits there, closing her eyes, slowly tilting her head from side to side. You take for granted things like the wind in your face.

I start to worry about things. My gran’s future. My parents’ future. My future. 

They don’t prepare you for this shit at school. What the hell use are fractions to me right this moment? They can’t make this moment any better…..

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. 

Gran dozes off a little. Well, she starts to but then fights it. I just wish she could rest. 

Her bed clothes look as though as though they’re hanging off her. Her skin looks like it’s shrink wrapping her slight skeletal frame. She’s lost weight, not that she can afford to. She was never a large lady and now it looks like she’s tiny, like she’s shrinking away before our eyes. 

“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls! Roll up and see the incredible shrinking lady!”

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. 

You fall into patterns before too long. My dad and uncle do the afternoon visits. My two sisters handle the evenings. I go along e every other day after work. 

It’s odd when you see others at the same visit as you, like you’re suddenly in the wrong place at the wrong time. Your routine feels off. But it’s good to see them, the change feels like some of the burden has been shifted a bit. After a while though it’s back to the way it was before. Everything settles back to the way it was before, like nothing ever changes but the shoes. 

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. 

It’s not all darkness, there’s moments of light. We need to make them, otherwise we’d just drown. 

We Facetime my niece who’s at university in York which helps lift her spirits and gives her a glint in her eye. Then there was my sister showing her how Snapchat filters work. Sarah telling bad jokes. My brother-in-law trying to playfully wind her up. 

Then there’s the moments of sitting there, picking through the bones of a bad day trying to find a good news to pin your hopes onto. 

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. 

Sometimes all you can do is look at the flickering lights in the distance from the hospital window. 

She has a small clock on her bed table, each minute lasting a thousand years before ticking over to the next for her. It’s not much use, it marks the time but by now she’s lost all concept of time itself. There’s a few times she’s asked us what we’re doing there so early in the morning, why aren’t we at work, even though it’s the evening. She has no idea what day it is. Why should she? Her world is trapped in an endless loop in this small room. 

Repeat. Repeat. Fucking repeat. 

The title of the this installment of my blog comes from the song “Nothing Ever Changes But The Shoes” by The Wildhearts. You can find a video of it on YouTube here The Wildhearts – “Nothing Ever Changes But The Shoes”. 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.

You’ve Got To Breathe Man Breathe, Coming Up For Air

Wearing my CPAP mask

Sleep. It’s something we all have in common. 

I’ve had a peculiar relationship with sleep for so many years. For so many of them I thought I suffered from insomnia. I never felt like I had a decent night’s sleep. I would always toss and turn, snatching a few hours here and there. I never felt like I dreamt at all, inever really understood the concept. Progressively I developed bags under my eyes, and also my nerves would seem shot to shit the less sleep I had. 

A few years ago Sarah sat me down and showed my a video of me sleeping. It was a short video, only a minute or two long, and you couldn’t see anything as it was in the middle of the night. But you could hear me sleeping. 

Or rather you couldn’t. You could hear me take a few ragged breaths, then you wouldn’t hear anything, no sounds of breathing at all for about twenty to thirty seconds, then I’d start again. 

That wasn’t normal, even I knew that. I made a doctor’s appointment and up we went. Sarah explained to the young GP (who’s my current doctor) what was happening in my sleep and he referred me to a sleep clinic at the Freeman Hospital. I didn’t have to stay overnight thankfully, but I had to wear a lot of sensory equipment overnight to measure what was happening to my body as I tried to sleep. 

Hardwired…to sleep.

Having a health care assistant as a partner meant Sarah got me wired up properly and I went to bed that night looking like a cheap knock-off Borg.
The next day saw me back at the Freeman to hand everything over and get the results. My respiratory nurse explained the results to me. I had been diagnosed with sleep apnoea, a condition normally found in older people or people who are grossly overweight. I wasn’t really either but what happens is my throat muscles relax so much when I’m sleeping that they close off my windpipe which is what was stopping my breathing in the night. Not only that but there’s a scale for apnoea fact fans! They class severe sleep apnoea as having an average of more than twenty instances where your blood oxygen levels drop under a certain percentage. 

I was averaging eighty five. 

No wonder I was constantly feeling tired and not rested! I was given a CPAP machine to use each night. What this does is it sucks air from the room via a filter (to get rid of any dust) and forces it via a face mask under pressure into my windpipe to keep it inflated and stop it collapsing. 

The magical CPAP machine

I’ll admit, it took a bit of getting used to. I have the mask strapped over my mouth every night with a thick plastic air tube connecting myself and air pump but, after a few weeks I got used to it. Okay, I look like a cross between a second world war fighter pilot and Bane, but it’s a price I’m willing to pay. 
Breathing through the night and getting proper rest has certainly been a benefit, but there’s a few downsides to it too. If I want sleep, I need to wear it so it has to come with me when I stay anywhere overnight. The mask and tubing is quite restrictive and controls how you sleep. I pretty much sleep on my side and subconsciously I’m aware of not wrapping myself up in the air tube as I sleep. We also now sleep with a cushion between mine and Sarah’s pillows to stop her being hit in the face through the night with the thin jet of air. 

There’s some aspects of it that have had an affect on me, almost as psychological and physical effects. There is an after effect of being filled with air all night. I wake up and my stomach is bloated and filled with excess air and it has to come out somehow. Cue some weird and wonderful noises as I continuely break wind for a good while. If you ever need comedy flatulence noises, please get in touch. 

It’s taken me a while to get used to a better quality of sleep. Because im now exposed to having dreams they kind of freak me out. I spent years not really experiencing them so now they have a strong power over me. A bad dream can leave me incredibly freaked out as it takes a while for my brain to process what’s real and what isn’t, leaving me confused and disorientated. 
It’s going to sound peculiar but just as a poor night’s sleep can trigger my anxiety, so can waking from a deep sleep. Again, it feels like it takes me a while to adjust from being fast asleep to bring awake and seems to knock on the door of my anxiety. I’ll always find myself feeling nervous for a good while, the coiled feeling of anxiety settling comfortably into my chest like it always belongs there. 

First thing in the morning – the mark’s left on my face from the CPAP mask

There’s also something else, something that I’ve never really admitted to many people. Since wearing the CPAP machine I’ve become paranoid about it leaving marks on my face from wearing it. They’re visibly noticeable when I first wake up and take off the mask. There’s the mark it leaves around my mouth, cheeks and nose, and also across my forehead. I’ve become more and more self conscious of them, especially the one on my brow, as I’m sure they’re visible to everyone, even though I’ve been told that they’re not. Even if they’re invisible I’m still aware that they’re there. 

There’s a reason behind me telling you all of this. Sleep is a huge influence on our moods. Before I was diagnosed with apnoea my moods were all over the place. I would be jittery as hell, moody, manic, depressive. Honestly, I’d be total mess and unpredictable as hell. At least the better sleep kind of helps that a bit. 

The title of the this installment of my blog comes from the song “- Human” by Metallica. You can find a video of it on YouTube here Metallica – “- Human”. 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.

Lord I Have A Broken Heart

Here I am.

Another day, another hospital visit. 

It’s early evening and I’m sitting at the foot of my gran’s hospital bed. At the moment she’s asleep, her leg twitching every now and again. Her hands are pale and slighty puffy.

We’re quite high up, on the sixth floor. It’s turned dusk. The view from the window is peaceful. The amber lights from the housing estate suggest warmth, the lines of streetlights stretch off into the distance. There’s a funfair in a mile or so into the distance, neon blues, reds and green obviously tempting the local kids to spend their money. 

It’s quiet. The odd click and hum of distant machinery. Beeps and drones from various alarms. Coughs. Splutters. The shuffling of feet up and down the corridor as nurses try to go about their business without disturbing patients and visitors alike. 

I’m the first one in tonight, so I sit quietly, thinking of what’s brought us here before others turn up. 

Two more family members arrive. We’re spread out across the room, all three of us sitting quietly, taking occasional turns to talk in hushed tones to each other. 

My gran wakes up asking what day it is. We tell her but she’s confused. She starts to fall back asleep but not before telling us we should all be in bed (it’s six forty in the evening).

A couple of minutes later we’re asked to step out while nurses check her over in private, affording her some dignity. 

Standing in the corridor, we exchange some small talk with together. When we go back in she’s a bit more awake, and fighting to stay that way. After a few minutes she’s telling me off for not being at work (I finished a couple of hours ago), then tells us all off waking her up before she tries to go back to sleep. 

We’re all in various stages of fatigue now. The past few weeks of visiting are weighing heavily on us but we’re not complaining. We’ve all accepted our duty, we need to do this for her. 

I find little things niggle and irritate me, not on purpose, just because I’m tired and concerned, as we all are. I’m trying to meditate on an evening to help me deal with this, to help keep things in check, to keep things controlled. The last thing I need is for my moods to darken. 

My youngest sister has been taking most of the visits recently. My dad was handling double visits every day until he fell ill a couple of weeks ago. His health hasn’t been great himself, the constant travel to and from wearing him down until he was advised to rest. 

It’s been five and a half weeks now for her. She even managed to get out for a night into a home where they were going to assess her before working out what physio to do. The next day she was back in via an ambulance, this time into an infection ward where they’re monitoring her closely. Infection after infection after infection. 

I worry, we all do. Five and a half weeks of fighting and she’s still going. Muhammad Ali has nothing on her. I think she’d show Mike Tyson a thing or two too. When Trump heralds us all into the great nuclear rapture only a few things will be left on this planet. Cockroaches. Keith Richards. Ozzy Osborne. And my gran. 

She tries to remain lucid and cognisant. Each minute feels like a body blow to me. Sometimes I feel myself fighting my emotions, trying to remain positive no matter what. It was hardest the first week she was in, your brain and heart telling you to fear the worst. Now we sit and feel each second pass by. 

Time waits for no man, it is the enemy of us all. No matter who we are, no matter what we do, we all have that internal clock counting down. 

Tick tick tick….

The title of the this installment of my blog comes from the song “Broken Heart” by Spiritualized. You can find a video of it on YouTube at Spiritualized – “Broken Heart”. 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.

We’re As Good As Each Other…And We’ll Talk Of Tomorrow When There’ll Be No More Sorrow

A friend of mine posted a well written blog yesterday regarding the stigma around being open about mental health issues (you can read that here and I urge you to do so). It made me think about how some people frown upon people who talk about it openly in public forums. 

When we’re brought into this world we’re all born, in theory, on a level playing field. Of course that’s not quite true. Some are born with better fiscal advantage to others or more stable social environments than others. But some things are exactly the same. We’re born, we live and then we eventually pass away. 

My family were working class. My dad was a pitman, mam looked after us whilst working part time jobs. There were good times, there were bad times. We got through them. 

I don’t think this has a direct influence on my mental health issues. I can see traits that run through my family, but each of us fight our own fight on a different beast, with varying degree of success and failure. 

Part of my openness to talk about it comes from both my parents. My mam has always told me to be open and honest about things, to take strength from that. My dad, in a move that stunned is all, started opening up in a massive way when he was diagnosed with early onset alzhiemers a few years ago. Not only with us, but publicly as a spokesperson for the Alzhiemers Society. This a massive step forward for a man who was very closed and private, coming from a time and community that didn’t really allow you to open up to this degree. 

Not only has my dad talked about his alzhiemers, but he’s also opened up about his mental health issues. He’s been diagnosed with depression, which is understandable. It’s still hard for me to hear him talk about seriously contemplating suicide (and I know he feels the same when I talk about my attempt) but I’m pleased he does. We should never feel guilty or bad about talking about these darker things that happen or concern us. If we all felt comfortable enough to talk about these things. I find it so frustrating that there’s people life (friends and family) who can’t because they still have that fear of “what if?” in their lives. 

Money or privilege hasn’t given me the strength to be open. My family and friends have encouraged me to be open and vocal. 

Do I still have anxiety and depression? Yes, but I’m in a comfortable relationship with them. I know they’re there and present and we have a “yin and yang’ thing with each other. Are there times when I wish I wasn’t here anymore? I’ll be honest here and say that, yes, part of me still feels that. But it’s something that’s held pretty securely in check inside of me. I deal with it when the feeling starts to bubble to the surface and it’s held in check. It’s not a suicidal feeling, more a one of not wanting to exist. To me being suicidal is more the act of wanting to kill yourself where as this more the feeling is almost just disappearing altogether. 

We need to encourage more people to open up about the way they are and not be judged by others. We should be there to support, not push people down. How can we expect to look to our future if we deny our past of it’s existence? 

We need to learn that we can be open. We shouldn’t feel shame or guilt over this.

The title of the this installment of my blog comes from the song “Bring Out Your Dead” by Paul Miro. There’s no video for it, unfortunately, but you can buy the song from digital retailers or buy the album ‘B.O.A.T.S.’ that it’s on direct from Paul at his webstore . 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.