Mental Health, Music and the Mind.
Music. It's such a wonderful thing. An entire language and entity unto itself. The most beautiful method of communication there is. A way in which to say so much whilst saying so little. I really struggled to express myself for a long time when I was younger. I had the vocabulary but when it came to letting the words out, they wouldn't come. I would imagine myself in situations saying exactly what I wanted to say and I would build up to the moment in my head and it was so intense that I would just become completely dumbfounded. This happened every single time I wanted to say something that meant a lot to me, and it really affected some of my relationships.
Then I discovered songwriting. The minute I realised I could write down all the things I was thinking and feeling and put them to music, I was relieved. The feeling of having all of this stuff inside you that needs to come out but you don't know how can be a terrible burden on a person, and I know I'm not alone on this. The death of Scott Hutchison, Frightened Rabbit's frontman, affected me more than I thought it would. I've never felt so heartbroken about the death of somebody I didn't know. That is absolute testament to him as a person because even though I never met him and didn't know his music as well as I should, I felt the effect of him as a human and as a musician. I heard his lyrics, I recognised his struggle with mental health, I understood his highs and his lows and his coping mechanisms, and I saw the impact that he had on almost everyone around me - musicians and music lovers alike. This was because of his brutal honesty, his humility, and because of the way he expressed himself totally through his music. Scott's death was tragic, but at least he found a way to cope with his struggles for his time on this earth.
The beauty of the writing process is that it doesn't require skill, or talent - it only requires honesty and an open mind. I used to do workshops with young people who were struggling in school. I tried talking to them, asking them questions, but a lot of the time this felt too intrusive and they would completely shut down. The minute I began to introduce songwriting into the mix, the sessions changed as they began to feel ownership over what they were telling me. Because I stopped asking questions and I let them write, they were able to say so much more than they could in our conversations. At the end of each session, they would take their lyrics away with them and - I hope - they experienced that beautiful feeling when you create something. I want to call it pride or achievement but maybe it's just pure relief at having found a way to express yourself.
Mental health is an issue, and it is a massive issue amongst musicians. Maybe it's that those who are struggling found music to be their coping mechanism, and there are others out there who are still struggling and haven't yet found a way to deal with how they feel. Writing, drawing, painting, talking - whatever it is, do it. Find out what works for you and do it. Because the longer we go on without talking about our mental health, the more damage we'll cause and the more people we may lose. The news of Scott Hutchison was devastating and my heartfelt thoughts and condolences go out to his family, friends, bandmates and those that knew him well. I only hope it has opened up a dialogue for people to talk, or write, or express themselves in whatever way possible. Don't suffer alone - you don't have to.
Here are a handful of brilliant organisations that are here to help.