• Mark Mathews

Mental Health Awareness Day

Yesterday was Mental Health Awareness Day and there was a lot of activity online from people sharing their stories, offering their help and time and a chorus of people using the tag line, "It's OK not to be OK" (a phrase that I truly do love for it's simplicity and directness).

I watched on and read these posts and was at times astounded by what people had been through, shocked at some of the celebrities that were brave enough to come out and let their voice be heard and I also felt connected to a community that are trying to break through to the other side of these dark woods that they find themselves in.

I felt, 'connected', because for the past three and half years I've been on the front line of my own battle with mental health, that has had various ebbs and flows, but is a vessel that I still find myself having to Captain through stormy weather.

Yesterday I wanted to engage and I wanted to share but something inside me was not ready or not able to. I could not find the courage to get involved and so I sat on the sidelines, watching but not participating. Learning but perhaps not growing. At times this didn't feel good.

And so today I thought I would write this, for no other reason than to actually appease my mind and throw some semblance of something into the ring. I'm a day late for sure, but fuck me, now that I barely use Facebook I can be years late to wish someone a Happy Birthday, so this is progress at least.

God knows when mental health issues truly began for me, but I'm pretty sure they have been burning longer than the past three and half years. The thing is, I've been very good at self-medicating myself. I like to think I've been a bit of a master at it to be honest!

But I properly noticed it happening back in March 2015 and I didn't fully accept it until a couple of years later in 2017, after doing some very self destructive shit and being a bit "cray-cray, y'all"!

At my best I just wore a coat of sadness that I tried to take off as much as possible and at my worse I had suicidal thoughts and scared the living shit out of myself and my lovely, beautiful little brother - the kindest soul in the world and one I am so, so fucking grateful to have in my life.

Things this year intensified in a big way when I allowed a very toxic person to enter my life early on in the year and there were some unhealthy situations that hungover from the end of 2018 and I pretty much was the lowest I could ever imagine.

Said person and situations were not the 'reason' per se, but they added high octane gasoline to the burning city!

It's certainly not something I'd recommend nor do I want to hit that low again, but now with the beautiful benefit of hindsight, it was certainly an experience!

I mean that shit got reeeealll kooky man.

And experiences are what life is all about, right?...right, guys?...is this thing on?!

Anyway, things got bad.

I couldn't leave my bed for days on end and it felt like this intruder was inside of me (not like that, for Christ sake! Bloody hell!) controlling my every move. I was a mere observer as this dark shadow took over the controls of my mind and body and there was nothing I could do about it, except 'enjoy the ride, baby'!

Thankfully by this point in the mental health surfing I'd been doing, I had sought out professional help and was able to begin to wade through this marsh land, with the added support of my little bro and a couple of friends.

As with this blog post, I wasn't very forth coming initially with the severity of where I was and it has taken some time to even get to where I am now.

I hold my hands up and say I still struggle being a totally open book. It can be hard.

But it was for this very reason of struggling to dissect and open myself up, that my therapist, (The Girl with the Raven Hair - Oh yes, SPOILER, that song/hymn is about her! And you all thought it was just another fucking love song! ha!) recommended that I channelled and opened up by writing music.

At this point I was writing nothing - I mean I could barely get out of bed, I often broke down in tears in embarrassing public places and I felt like I was carrying the weight of the universe on my slender, pretty shoulders (!), so writing a fucking song was not on the menu.

Thus, don't judge!

My response to her was that I couldn't do it because it'll be a load of old shit, to which she replied, "Well, go off with the intention of writing a shit song".

What a legend!

I left and went home, not really thinking I'd bother writing a song, but when I got back I thought "fuck it" and I sat at my piano with my guitar (This is what I do guys! It's only because I can easily switch instruments if one ain't working, alright?! Again, don't judge!) and I wrote three songs.

One was absolute dog shit.

One was ok but will probably never see the light of day.

But one of them was actually pretty good and was this new sound for me, that I'd never investigated.

Said songs lyrics concerned the toxic person from earlier on this year (You've been taking notes right, kids!) and although I had made peace with the situation (and to an extent with this person), it was a cathartic and releasing experience that I clearly needed in conjunction with the therapy, friends and self work I was doing on myself.

"Self work I was doing on myself"? Sounds like I was building an extension or a conservatory ON myself there, huh? - "It'll be great for summer BBQ's when it's done. You simply MUST come round!"

But not only was this a healthy, cathartic experience, I also had a fucking decent song after a long drought and a closeness to giving this songwriting game up.

Though songwriting always finds me again and drags me back, the filthy little hussy!

This then led me to decide to pursue this song a little further and cut a demo of it. It then became one of my finest self-produced demos, (even if I do say so myself!) which then kick started some other ideas and before long I was taking a new musical direction that was keeping me attentive and interested and most of all...HAPPY!

There must be equivalents to the energetic, magic and joy that comes from seeing/hearing a song come together right before your eyes/ears, but unfortunately I am not aware of what that is, so I can only talk in these terms.

The electricity and the PURE BLISS that rushes round your veins is like no drug on this planet...and I've tried quite a few, let me tell ya! And although that sounds like a huge load of clichéd bull-shit, I seriously can't think of anything that comes close to the purity of that excitement of creating a tune that you think has some real cojones...

...perhaps if I was injected with pure MDMA, whilst Phoebe Bridgers sung to me about wanting to live in California with me for the rest of our lives...but that's not happened (yet), so it really is hard to say.

I've currently got four demos that I am really pleased with, but still tinkering with here and there, so I've got no idea when I may release them (though I definitely do want to release them at some point)

These tracks have kept me on a better trajectory. I'm not out of the woods by a long shot. I work hard every single day with my mental health and know I have a long way to go, perhaps I may have to forever deal with it, I don't know. The past two weeks have actually been pretty tricky and turbulent as it happens and it's taken all my strength and focus to deal with the heavy burden that sometimes falls onto me. This is also why I wanted to write something yesterday on Mental Health Awareness Day...and why I am writing something today. It's helped me to read the plights of others and it has actually helped me in writing this now.

And so aside from the beautiful people who are helping me in my day to day, I now have these songs that I really want to get done! I listen to them and it makes me happy and excited to think of releasing them and this makes me want to stick around, give myself a (loving) slap in the face and get on and see where my creativity will take me next.

And there will of course be haters out there that will say, "This is a shit song", but thanks to my therapist I'll be telling the truth when I say to them, "Yeah. That is EXACTLY what I was going for!"

Hey do you know one of the best things you could do for me and my music is to follow me on Spotify?! Click HERE and give me a lovely follow and if you fancy adding some of my tracks to a playlist of yours, even better! xxxx

#Mentalhealthawarenessday #mentalhealthawareness #itsOktonotbeOK #brave #spoiler #therapy #TheGirlWithTheRavenhair #littlebrother #communication #mentalhealthcare #mentalhealth #PhoebeBridgers

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