My mental health story

Sat alone in the communal room of my student halls on a cold November night, until the early hours of the AM, I didn’t know where to turn. I had hit the worst and lowest point of my 18 year existence on this earth and had no idea what would fix my wounded mind. I felt trapped in my own skin and wanted to escape, I wanted freedom and peace at last from this wretched psychological path. As every passing minute went by the tears continued to flow and my heart continued to sank, the worst part about all of this? I had absolutely no idea why I felt this bad.

There was no specific detail about that day, or even those past couple of weeks which triggered my mindset to slump so drastically. I was going about my student life in a typical way, going to lectures and having a laugh with some good friends, how did I end up in a 5am strike of crisis?

Well the answer it would seem is now simple. Mental health, something that before then I’d only heard mentioned in extreme cases, cases of suicide or cases of insanity, but not for me? Surely not. I kept kidding myself that I wasn’t in danger of having a mental health issue but the reality of it is, millions of people suffer, more than you’d ever want to imagine.

After a long night/day’s sleep I sat and thought to myself what was the best thing to do, I had no idea. Who should I tell first? Whoever I tell won’t believe me, if they knew me well enough they’d know I was the last person you’d expect to have something like that. So I sat and suffered in silence for a bit longer; quite possibly the worst thing you can do is be quiet about it and assume it’ll sort itself out. More and more late nights of fear and disappointment rolled in, feeling like a let down and an embarrassment to my family and friends.

That was until one night that changed my life. I spoke to a girl who just listened to what I had to say over the phone, she embraced it all and gave me incredible advice, the whole night seems a blur now because for the first time in so long, I was smiling without forcing it, I was enjoying my time.

There was still a long way to go, I hadn’t even seen a doctor yet so I wasn’t sure if I was actually a sufferer or not. After the girl convinced me to go away I went and the relief was there. I’ll cut it short and tell you that I was diagnosed with a strand of depression but was told that it seemed worse because it had all rushed to me at the same time. I knew that with the right support I’d break through this.

So I still needed to tell my parents, quite possibly the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. On reflections I’d do things differently, but I just wanted one of them to know. I text mum on New Year’s Eve in general conversation and eventually got around to telling her. I know, over text. Understandably the whole thing seemed quite bizarre and far fetched to her and she started to panic. That was the last thing I wanted her to do, I felt awful inside for scaring her with it but I felt fairly good for getting it out there. Me and dad had possibly the deepest conversation we have ever had and it resulted in a lot of tears, but I think telling my parents has made me a stronger person and helped me overcome a lot of trials and tribulations.

So anyway, I’d like to say a bit about this girl, and if you know we well enough, you’ll now know her as Beth, my girlfriend of 10 months. She saved me from the abyss that night. At my lowest ebb she was there, when I felt lost with nowhere to go, she was there. We just spoke for hours and hours about everything and I’ve never felt more comfortable in the presence of someone else but that’s what she had, this mesmerising ability to put my mind at ease and forget about the demons in my head. I love her so much and don’t know what I’d do without her.

So, where am I with I think all now? Almost a year on from my first really scary encounter with my mental health, I can assure you that I’m at a stage in my life where the future is bright, the things I see in front of me are colourful and the people I have around me are absolute gems, ones I wouldn’t change for anyone. Thank you so much to everyone who’s sat and listened to me at any point of my life, thank you to those who have been there for me through thick and thin. Thank you to my parents for being the most incredible mum and dad I could ever imagine, picking me up when I’m down and helping me to realise the potential I have. Last but not least, thank you to Beth, for making it feel like someone cared, for putting me first, for being perfect in every way and for putting up with me and my ways for all this time.

Thank you for reading my insight and personal experience with mental health, please don’t feel alone and suffer in silence, there are millions of sufferers just like you and there are plenty of people who can help you when you need it.

Ellis x

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Bastille – Wild World: Album Review

Bastille are a dynamic quartet from London who burst onto the scene in 2013 with hit single ‘Pompeii’ which went straight to the top of the charts. The album which followed, ‘Bad Blood’ went to UK number one and was nominated for Album Of The Year at the BRIT Awards, thanks to huge singles such as ‘Flaws’, ‘Laura Palmer’ and ‘Things We Lost In The Fire’. After a little break, Dan Smith and the rest of the band have made a comeback with the eagerly anticipated second release ‘Wild World’. Many questions have been asked of Bastille as to whether or not they can maintain the levels of their debut album, especially given the difficulty of making a second album after such a creative success on the debut. Let’s see whether or not Bastille have created an album worth mentioning in the same bracket as ‘Bad Blood’.

Good Grief – 9/10
The comeback single and you can see why. Full of life, energy and joy as well as having a smattering of funk and jig to it, it’s such a cool track and I really like the variation from verse to chorus, whether it comes from the vocals or the pace of the instrumental which remains immensely talented from start to finish. The song itself is all about a girl who he loves dearly and mentions how desperately he needs to spend time with her and how much he misses her. The dialogue at the start and in the bridge is an extract taken from Kelly LeBrock in the 1985 teen comedy ‘Weird Science’ and talks about being “in the jungle” in more of a metaphoric sense. The chorus is catchy and has all the credentials of a classic indie pop anthem in its approach so there can’t be many complaints. I loved this song from the moment it was released and it’s only got better in my opinion, fantastic album opener and lead single.

The Currents – 5/10
A bit of a different dynamic and style about this one in the bass synth and the violins which create more of a mysterious element rather than a happy-go-lucky attitude which you get from ‘Good Grief’ and this idea continues as the song progresses. Dan’s vocals and lyrics are a bit more steady and reigned in rather than the bizarre and wondrous style of the first track. The chorus, however, does pick up and maintain more of a Bastille sound with elongated tones and fast paced instrumentation. It is only a short and snappy chorus though as we cut straight back into the verse which brings us back to earth. It’s a strange tactic on the song to have this style of instrumental and for me it doesn’t work, it takes away from the vocals and it’s also a half hearted attempt at changing musical direction which has gone wrong. Poor song in my opinion and one I won’t be going back to.

An Act Of Kindness – 4/10
Piano keys twinned with slight electronic synths at the start before we get the vocals of Dan and he is isolated alongside the piano in the verse for approximately four lines. This lures us into believing it could be a slow ballad with just Dan and the piano but luckily it isn’t, because that particular part of the song, for me at least, was horrible. The build up will excite you as more and more backing instruments are added as Dan repeats “it follows me every day” until we just fade into a disappointing lull which brings us back into another verse which has basically the same thing going on. It’s a dull song which is trying to be cool and stylish by adding some electronics and it doesn’t fool anyone. Yawn fest.

Warmth – 4.5/10
I can’t work them out anymore. Why are they trying to sound like Skrillex or Diplo with their instrumentals? I’ve never witnessed a band take such a bizarre and quite frankly irritating direction because Dan’s voice just doesn’t suit any of this, his voice suits ‘Flaws’ or ‘Laura Palmer’ not stupid fading trance beats. Also, why is he trying to incorporate the two as if indie music and EDM/House music will click on perfect harmony? The instrumental is awful and quite frankly it put me off the rest of the song. The lyrics are quite touching and emotional as he links to the “Wild World” which the album is named after and it works well comparing the “warmth” of this girl to the “cold” outside world. That’s the only thing this song has going for it I think.

Glory – 8/10
This song gives me a slight dose of hope despite the electro styled keys but they’re a decent touch in this particular style of song as they add a new twist without completely taking over. This song is much more like it from start to finish as we get more of a Bastille the band sound rather than Bastille the wannabe DJ’s. As the chorus builds and kicks in we barely hear the keys as the drums take over and we get some beautifully calming violins to complement Dan’s voice which is FINALLY being utilised alongside a song which suits his vocal style. It’s amazing what can happen when a band actually sticks to what they’re good at and stops trying to be revolutionary for absolutely no reason. I do really like this song, it has a warm feel good factor about it and the balance of futuristic and traditional is executed to perfection with the instrumentation.

Power – 7/10
Raw guitar notes are an absolute joy to hear let me tell you that for certain. It’s a relief to hear them over some stupid and unnecessary electronics which just don’t suit the song at all. The bass and electric guitars on this song are fantastic as they really take centre stage instrumentally and almost stake claims as pace keepers for the rest of the band. I like the way that as Dan shouts “Power” to propel into the chorus the energy is kicked up a notch and you get a surge of power coming from all over the band, it’s a very simple but cool touch. It’s also quite a hard hitting song by Bastille’s levels as he sings about being walked all over by a girl and how he’s angry at himself for letting it get like that. Another step in the right direction, luckily it appears as though we are clear of the genre twist monstrosity we heard earlier in the album.

Two Evils – 7.5/10
Already an emotional and strong topic from the off as the first line states how he’s “the lesser of two evils” implying that it’s a toxic relationship and one which has been full of neglect and wrong doing. It remains a constant theme throughout the song as he mentions the “two evils” fairly regularly. The instrumental is incredibly subtle and it gives Dan an opportunity to wow us vocally and that he does, hitting some extremely high notes and adding some serious passion and heart into his lyrics. I like how it’s only a short song too as you get the impression this is just Dan spilling his heart out and telling the world what he really feels about this relationship, almost as if it isn’t a song it’s just a statement. It’s certainly a strong statement and I liked the song lyrically as well as vocally so I think it deserves a decent mark.

Send Them Off! – 8/10
A bit of a different feel to this song, it could be described as a bit moodier and darker in its approach, from the at times muttered vocals of Dan to the horns and the stagnated drum beats. I do really like the direction they take with this, however as the band demonstrate their flexibility in a way which is different to the bizarre risks they took earlier in the album. The difference being that this is good and that wasn’t. A catchy chorus and some very old school film snippets which are a real mood setter and have a nostalgic feel to them. Easy to see why this was released as a single and is a good showing from the boys as they attempt to branch to new pastures.

Lethargy – 5/10
I’m not a fan of the muffled and strange electronics on the instrumental and they take attention away from the song as a whole. Even without that irritating fuzz of electricity in the instrumental the song is dull and a bit of a bore fest. There’s really not much to say about this track other than it’s very same old and doesn’t seem to have any form of variation from start to finish, it’s all exactly the same whether it’s verse or chorus. Just plain and unoriginal pop music which will do well to move from this album onto people’s speakers. I think the worst part of this song is that the electronics are a blatant plot to try and sound unique and it really doesn’t work. It isn’t fooling anyone.

Four Walls (The Ballad Of Perry Smith) – 8/10
Toned down massively in both mood and the instrumental which is stripped back with a nice hint of electro keys. As the title of the song suggests, the song is a ballad about a man who is deemed trapped by these metaphorical “four walls” and is trying to break them down, thus living an enjoyable life, but it’s to no avail. It’s a bleak message but also a very clever one with a clearly advanced view on life, something which always bodes well for making music which is to be spoke about in future generations so it’s a real step in the right direction. In usual circumstances I wouldn’t be a huge fan of the dreary drag on the instrumental but in the context of the song it works and that’s all that matters. One complaint is that the chorus is fairly basic and gets on your nerves after a while, which is a shame given the depth of the verses lyrically.

Blame – 4.5/10
This sounds like a modern day track from The Vaccines with the thrash guitar at the start before a complete guitar shut out for the verse with dark vocals. That would be all well and good, but it’s painfully unoriginal and it’s not as good as The Vaccines, not even close. The only change is that we get a frustrating whining vocal from Dan Smith as opposed to the subtle tones of Justin Young. Oh, and just a tip for Dan, repeating the word “Blame” isn’t an adequate chorus, that’s clearly from the book of how to write chorus’ by West Coast rapper YG, someone I have often been critical of for dreary repetition of before. Anyway, you get the point with this song, no endeavour to it and not really a lot of talent sadly.

Fake It – 5.5/10
Another old school film sample at the start, nobody is really sure why they add them in so often especially given they appear to have no correlation to the song’s they are involved in whatsoever. This has the feel of a 1975 throw-out in the instrumental which Dan has sung over, in the verse that is with the snares and the high pitches harmonising which barely sounds human. The chorus is barely a chorus as it changes tune completely and has a bass heavy beat which you can barely hear and has some fairly plain lyrics overlapping it. It just doesn’t entice me, it’s very difficult to listen to this song and not get bored unfortunately, no matter how hard they try to spice things up electronically.

Snakes – 6/10
A bit better sonically, there’s actually a bit of rhythm to it and it’s an easier listen than some of the other cuts on this album. Quite bouncy and fun while also having a softer sound in the verse which is coincided well with the lyrics which use the metaphor of humans being snakes and different animals, himself included. The chorus is very short which really is unlike what we’ve come to expect from Bastille given their track record for big anthemic choruses. This song does pass you by again, however as you don’t realise how quickly it goes, mainly down to it not really having much to it in terms of depth. Has the sense of a filler track to make the numbers up, something which is a real pet hate of mine on albums.

Winter Of Our Youth – 5/10
Another song, another pointless sample. Another song, another plain Bastille song, it’s clear that they are trying to be more than the preppy pop band but as a result of their attempts to change, we get these really dull songs which are increasingly difficult to speak about. Dan’s vocals are nothing more than average on this so even that can’t save this song and album from dwindling into a null and void finale.

Overall – 5.5/10
Without meaning to sound doom and gloom about a band I had such high hopes for after the release of ‘Good Grief’, this album is like Penne pasta, as plain as it gets despite trying its hardest to be unique and cool. The singles are good but beyond that I can’t really say much good about this album. A message to you Bastille, stop trying to be revolutionary because if those is anything to go off, you can’t do it. Stick to what you’re good at, making energetic and excitable pop music, something which gave you such critical acclaim on the debut album. They’ve fallen victim to the infamous second album syndrome sadly.