To ‘celebrate’ Mental Health Awareness Week, I’m going to be exploring themes on the topic. From the shame we feel, actions we can take – both as someone who is affected and a friend/colleague of someone who is – opinions that need to be altered, to the toxic masculinity that undoubtedly contributes to so many men taking their life.
In the interest of full disclosure, the passing of Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison this week has affected me deeply and angrily. This may affect my writing, I may be in a worse place than usual. The loss of a poet and someone who’s influenced so many in a positive way is always a tragic thing – the loss of anyone is tragic – but to think he felt he had no other routes that he could take to end the pain he was in is deeply distressing. I didn’t know him personally, and although the phrase “grief tourism” has been batted about a lot the past few months, it is irrelevant when people genuinely hurt and does little but belittle those who still feel deep sadness. Not something I will ever subscribe to.
It’s okay to grieve someone who you never knew personally and you shouldn’t feel ashamed of guilty for it. I’m struggling with that myself right now when his family and friends are in an imaginable place emotionally. I flit back and forth between being deeply affected and convincing myself I have no right to be. But at the end of a day, it’s not a terrible thing to be affected by someone else’s pain or the loss of someone who you admired. In a way, it’s a beautiful and human thing that we can relate or empathise. We care.
I’d never want to imply that I am in any way affected to the point that his friends, family and loved ones are. But at the same time, I’m sure that they, in particular, are people who wouldn’t want people to feel guilt at mourning this indescribable loss.
My experience with Frightened Rabbit. I know their music well and know his voice in a song within seconds, having followed them from the beginning. He is from a small town I know well, close to where I grew up and left us in a place that is part of my heart. Okay, I know that sounds cheesy and possible cliched, but Edinburgh is where I call home, I know it like no other place, I know the community, I follow the music scene, I’ve spent many a day and night getting lost in its labyrinths, had many a crisis and dark night there, walked those streets countless times. It’s the first city I knew, the first I lived in and the capital of my home country. It’s home.
There I go trying to justify my grieving, as I’ve been telling so many not to do over the weekend. I’m learning.
Their music is so deeply emotional, so relatable. Exploring depression, regret, boredom, loss, longing, heartbreak but ultimately – hope and resilience. As Scott himself said in 2014, “I think anthemic-misery-indie is … Scotland’s greatest export”, and it’s the anthemic part that makes it so hopeful throughout it all, through all the sadness there’s this upbeat undercurrent of powerful melodies and prolific choruses. When you’re in a bad place it can be so incredible, so inspiring. It doesn’t make you want to stay down and cry, it made you want to stand up and fight.
For me, their music was always so hopeful. I’m devastated that it’s not something Scott could hold on to himself. He’s left a beautiful legacy, a catalogue of music that many so many will continue to find inspiration and comfort from. It’s no consolation though. His problems were too much in his head, and that’s devastating for the people he left. What a fucking loss to the world.
[Featured image posted on twitter by @admprk_, a letter from Scott to a fan – @justntimejustin]