An Awfully Serious Post, Boz Scaggs and “We’re All Alone”

Last week was Mental Health Awareness Week. Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, this year’s focus was on stress. Research has shown that two thirds of us experience a mental health problem in our lifetimes, and stress is a key factor in this.

MHF

Here in the Highlands we have had an epidemic of young men taking their own lives – In one case two best friends committed suicide within days of each other, and in response one of their uncles set up a local helpline, hoping to reach out to other young men who may also be vulnerable. Darling daughter has many friends who have suffered from mental health problems over the years, and even today, because of chronic stress at her workplace, she is going to hand in a letter of resignation. Something has gone horribly wrong along the way. The government tell us that more people are in work than ever before, but these jobs do not offer the security and support that we used to associate with the world of employment.

So, last year I threw in the towel, and this year it is to be DD. Unlike me she does have a plan however so I am hopeful all will turn out well for her in the end. Until my ongoing parental care situation is resolved (after four months we are still on a waiting list to get the official diagnosis) I am in limbo, unable to commit to anything other than helping out with our online business and boring old domestic stuff. It’s a lonely life, especially as the other half isn’t around much any more, having had to pick up on the bread-winning side of things.

By my own admission I spend far too much time in a day sitting in front of a computer screen and too many hours can slip by, falling down that rabbit hole – The Web was essentially designed to function in this way because of how the hyperlinks work, but boy can it steal your time to no purposeful end. Facebook was something I had all but abandoned after discovering blogging, but of late I have taken to carrying out a daily browse, finding out what my friends and family are up to. The other week, the awful news came through that Scott Hutchison of the Scottish Indie band Frightened Rabbit, who had been missing for several days, had been found dead. He had taken his own life. Despite having helped so many others through dark times, telling them “they were not alone”, when it came down to it, he was indeed alone.

Many of my Facebook “Friends” offered condolences – They had been big fans of Scott’s music so were understandably saddened by this news. Many added the hashtag, #youarenotalone which I took to be the offer of a helping hand to those who might be in need. An opportunity to test the water I thought, so I put together a short post along these lines: “Like most of us, I am constantly in awe of the dazzling lives my Facebook friends seem to lead. I am also fully aware that life is not quite as dazzling as portrayed, all the time. As someone who is currently working from home/looking after a parent with dementia, I miss the buzz of meeting lots of people every day – If any of my FB friends are in a similar position please feel free to PM me as you might have a few ideas on how to both fit everything in, but still have “real life” people to connect with. A First World problem I know, and not complaining, but just thought I’d throw it out there!”

Needless to say, this post led to a tumbleweed moment. A few acquaintances “liked” it but I don’t think they had actually read the words, and were just liking the pretty picture of some cherry blossom I had added to take the edge off the sombreness of the post. I had suspected however that this would be the case, as at the end of the day, most of us don’t want to be “brought down” by other people’s troubles. I myself have been very wary over the years of DD getting too involved with kids who have mental health issues – It’s not contagious but it can impact on their lives, spectacularly so, like the two best friends mentioned in my opening paragraph. Sad but true.

Another water-testing moment came along last week when a family get-together was organised – Mr WIAA’s side of the family all lead the kind of dazzling lives I mentioned in my FB post, but when we get together, it inevitably crops up that our lives are perhaps not quite as dazzling at the moment – Somehow it always causes a bit of an argument because of what I perceive as being unhelpful advice being given on what we “should be doing”. But, difficult for those not in the same position, to really understand how it feels. This time I decided we would turn in the performance of a lifetime – We would be bubbly, joyful and interested in all their adventures. No mention would be made of parents with health issues, offspring with career dilemmas or money worries, and of course it worked a treat. There were no arguments for once and invitations flowed freely to spend time in their various holiday homes (which of course is impossible at the moment anyway). But of course it was all an act, and the next day I went back to being a bit sad and lonely….

Was Mental Health Awareness Week a success? I’m not sure, but I do know that my little experiments did confirm what I have long suspected – At times of crisis, those who have previously maintained they would always be there if we needed them, were suddenly found wanting. People are busy, and have their own troubles. Fortunately for me, my situation is a cause and effect one, and once things start happening in terms of getting professional help, life should get a bit less lonely.

But this is supposed to be a music blog, and so far not much music around here today. I had a lot I wanted to say however and sometimes our blogs provide the perfect forum, us being essentially anonymous after all. Not looking for comments here, but just glad I got my thoughts down – I wish it wasn’t the case, but at the end of the day I think We’re All Alone, (courtesy of Mr Boz Scaggs).

We’re All Alone by Boz Scaggs:

We’re All Alone Lyrics
(Song by Boz Scaggs)

Outside the rain begins
And it may never end
So cry no more
On the shore of dreams
Will take us out to sea
Forever more, forever more

Close your eyes and dream
And you can be with me
‘Neath the waves
Through the caves of hours
Long forgotten now
We’re all alone
We’re all alone

Close the window
Come alive
Honey, we’ll be alright
No need to bother now
Let it out
Let it all begin
Learn how to pretend

Once the story’s told
You can’t help but grow old
Roses do
Lovers too
So cast your seasons to the winds
And hold me dear
Oh, hold me dear

Close the window
Come alive
And it will be alright
No need to bother now
Let it out
Let it all begin
All’s forgotten now
We’re all alone
We’re all alone

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was written by my favourite songwriting team Bacharach and David - The opening line to that song was "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

17 thoughts on “An Awfully Serious Post, Boz Scaggs and “We’re All Alone””

  1. I know you’re not looking for comments, Alyson, but this post resonated with me more than most. I have been considering doing a series on Lonely Songs over at me place, but worried people would see it as self-indulgent (even though some of the best songs ever written are “lonely songs” in my opinion). Social media does encourage people to brag about happy families and convince the rest of us that everyone else is out having a whale of a time all the time, which really is a lie. Then again, when people do put forward an honest “things are a bit shit right now” side of things, it’s too easy to accuse them of being needy or attention-seeking. I don’t spend a lot of time on facebook, but I think the people I do connect with on there are the ones I can just share a laugh with when I need it.

    I actually find the blogging world a lot more honest and realistic. Bloggers seem less afraid to say when things aren’t that great. We may or may not go into detail about why that is, but when we do it, the responses from other bloggers are often a lot less superficial and more heartfelt than the ones you see on facebook. There’s an irony to this that the majority of people we know on facebook are actual / former acquaintances who know us personally… whereas the people we know via the blogosphere are to all effects strangers. But the message is linked to the medium. Facebook is a superficial platform, so begets superficial responses. Blogging is deeper, more personal – and so people respond in a more personal way.

    I hope your current situation resolves itself soon. And best wishes to DD in her new endeavours.

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    1. Thanks for dropping by, although you are right, I have held off writing this post as I didn’t want to seem attention-seeking or needy but somehow it’s the best place for getting your thoughts down, and out of your head – A bit of a relief really. I just found it so ironic that last week was Mental Health Awareness Week but other than help from the professionals trained to deal with such conditions, we all tend to be a bit alone, terrified of admitting that things are indeed a bit shit, for fear of being dropped by our friends with the dazzling lives. You are right about FB – It is incredibly superficial and really only for pictures of fab events and holidays, along with the odd meme or funny cat video. FB Envy is a thing though and although I think youngsters have veered away from it lately, many a teenage girl has come a cropper because of it. Photoshop and other similar apps have a lot to answer for.

      The blogging world has been great and I feel as if I have “met” more like-minded people since jumping in with my little offerings than I touched base with in 30 years of office work – It also helps being relatively anonymous (although I’m becoming less so all the time but can’t help myself) as you can offload stuff that you wouldn’t necessarily share in the real world. Yes, ironic that blogging buddies are in effect virtual, as opposed to real-world – But definitely not “strangers”.

      I await DD’s return home with trepidation – It will have been a stressful day (yet again) for her. What a waste of all her training.

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    2. Oh and I forgot to say, I know this is perhaps not the most appropriate song for my situation but I have always loved it, right from the time I bought the Lido Shuffle album in my last year at school. Songs about Love and songs about Loneliness are the most powerful ever written.

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  2. As someone with long time mental health problems (40 years next year), I think it depends on what type of problem you have when dealing with the Internet. I only started using Facebook a few years back but tend to ignore the dazzling lives of others. I had a 30 year career as a reporter before illness finally forced me to quit, so for the past 20 years I’ve had a lot of time on my hands. Early on in my Internet life I spent way too long in front of a PC screen – chatting with folk in the UK, Europe, Australia and the USA and it had a major impact on my state of mind. I was getting way too high which led to short spells in a psych unit (that’s how bad it can get), so for the past 10 years or so, I’ve gradually reduced my computer time and read books a lot or watch TV. I only have a handful of friends and have found that suits me. Being bipolar, I tend not to worry about online hassle since when I’m high I don’t give a thought to what anyone thinks of me. In person, I know I’m harder to deal with and am always pleasantly surprised that my closest friends are the ones who’ve known me the longest. I haven’t been in a psych ward for 10 years now and I put that down to 2 things – 1) learning to cope with my illness and 2) realising the difference between being alone and being lonely.

    BUT, it’s different for everyone and the best advice I can offer is – try to find a balance. One that suits YOU. Sorry for the capital letters. Like I say, I get carried away sometimes.
    It seems to me that blogging is something that keeps you balanced and your posts are always honest and thoughtful. Judging by this latest post, I think you have your head screwed on just fine. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for being so honest around here of late – Your personal insight in dealing with such a condition helps others to understand it all a bit more. As for my situation, I am well aware that I am merely a bit sad and lonely at the moment, nothing more serious (I don’t think) and hopefully there should be a few changes coming along that should help with that. I am by nature a “people person” but days can go by nowadays when I see no-one other than my mum and Mr WIAA. As for the blogging and sitting in front of a computer screen, I’ve had another bash at cold turkey recently but it doesn’t help so back to posting new stuff again. Important to get the balance right however as you say, and although I broke my resolve today, I have started setting the timer for an hour, and then stopping – Otherwise the hours fly in. As for Facebook, it can be a horrible place to visit and a day that had up to that point been quite a good one, can descend into doom and gloom. Best to avoid unless you are in a pretty good frame of mind!

      Thanks again for dropping by – I wasn’t looking for comments for this one but glad I posted it.

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  3. I think Facebook is probably more poisonous than the world’s ten deadliest spiders and snakes put together; but I guess you didn’t need me to tell you that.
    I’m a fairly sensitive soul and when I’ve witnessed the kind of things you’re talking about, from an up close and personal perspective, my heart sinks and my feelings towards the people with whom I share this planet plummet likewise: a vase can only be dropped, chipped and repaired so many times.

    It won’t always be dark at six.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are right and I see old Zuckerberg was having to apologise today for all sorts of misdemeanours that have nothing to do with teenagers being cyber-bullied, young girls having low self-image etc., just the total manipulation of the democratic process. I really will have to stop dipping in. And to think, he only set it up in the first place to find out which girls were single, and available to date!

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  4. Sorry to hear that you are struggling and to hear about your daughter’s situation
    I work in mental health and know that there are a lot of people in your situation
    I would venture to say that there are personal experiences in every extended family.

    I have always avoided Facebook. Mrs CC was on briefly but came off for the reasons everyone has described above
    no-one has the dazzling lives that they claim.
    I find that blogging alleviates my stress and I feel it offers a supportive community

    The most important thing is your health and family – all the superficial stuff is by and large irrelevant.
    So you look after yourself and I hope things will improve as I’m sure they will

    Liked by 1 person

    1. First of all thanks for dropping by as I really wasn’t looking for sympathy, but this is a good place to vent in an anonymous kind of way, if you know what I mean. DD’s resignation went well as it turns out and it looks as if she will get a good reference so not as awful as she suspected – College beckons in the autumn with a bit of travelling first so all good there (although I only gave up my job because it looked as if she was finished with education!). As for me, most families have elderly parents who need taken care of at some point so just got to get on with it, but not easy – Missing the “craic”.

      Good for you for avoiding FB – So has Mr WIAA and has never felt as if he is missing out. A very superficial platform as you say. As I think you’ve probably guessed I really took to blogging from the get go and really value the virtual friendships I’ve made here. Maybe it’s because we don’t know each other from the real world that it makes it easier to write about stuff – Anyway, it looks as if my hiatus is behind me and after 200 very structured posts, from now on anything goes!

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  5. A great, honest post and great comments from everyone too. I’m just sitting here going “yes yes yes” – I wholeheartedly agree with it all. My mum had mental health problems throughout her adult life – chronic depression including several serious breakdowns for which she was hospitalised – it’s a subject close to my heart for obvious reason; it was hard to witness as child, teenager and adult, some difficult things to deal with as I was growing up which caused all sorts of shame and embarrassment at the time, and has of course affected me and my attitude to mental health I sometimes avoid blogging about the serious stuff because I don’t want to bring anyone else down but at the same time I’m acutely aware that the false reality being portrayed by the Facebook types you mention is so misleading and unhealthy, so a few more candid posts now and then are surely more relatable, more honest/. I imagine the reason you had a tumbleweed moment after the FB post you quote from was because people found it difficult to admit to feeling the same as if it would expose some kind of imperfection in them – oh the shame!!! And there we have the whole problem with social media…… perfection is the only option!

    All the best to you and DD – these are trying times but we have to protect our true selves, first and foremost.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Tipsy blogging – It used to work well for me. Will have to give it a try again soon as an experiment. Half a bottle would also be my limit nowadays, before utter gibberish kicked in.

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    1. Yes I wasn’t looking for comments here but people have been good at jumping in with their thoughts. I’m so sorry to hear your mum had mental health problems whilst you were growing up – Must have been really hard. Nowadays young men seem to be most at risk – Around 10 years ago my neighbour’s son had dropped round to see her on a Wednesday afternoon and I had a chat with him (a lovely young chap of 36). The next day, Thursday, he took his own life – I would never have suspected anything was amiss. We’re all alone.

      I had kind of promised myself I wouldn’t write about negative and personal stuff any more. Also I was to be on hiatus for a month. Never works for me but maybe that’s good as discussions like these arise. Facebook portrays a false reality indeed and I really must stop dipping in as I just get cross with it all. As you might see in my reply to CC, DD got on ok today, EE was fine about it!! – But seriously, a new life awaits her in the autumn which is quite exciting, but all because the job was off-the-scale stressful.

      Thanks for dropping by.

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    1. Thanks for saying it anyway, cliché or no cliché – The blogging community is a very supportive one. Everyone has times in their life when all is not going as planned, but it shouldn’t go on long-term as not good for anyone. I feel so sad for our young people though, as the world of employment is not as I remember it when I started out, and hard to them to find a balance – Stress leads to Mental Health problems and around here it’s young men who seem to be suffering the worst.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I just wanted to say that piece was one of the greatest things I have ever read anywhere. I’d echo pretty much what everyone else said.
    KT.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gosh – Thanks for dropping by KT and thanks for the kind words! Yes, the great thing about these kind of posts is that (although I wasn’t expecting it) people comment about their own experiences. Has led to quite a good discussion and one thing is for sure, we all think FB is evil and unhealthy. Not sure if you’re a user but you will no doubt agree with the superficiality of these kind of platforms, whereas blogging on the other hand is a whole different animal…. I’ve been touched by the support around here.

      As for the writing, I know you guys put together excellent posts over at your place – Being possibly a generation older than you and not really a muso, I feel a bit out of my depth leaving comments, but I do visit!

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