Scott from the band TALK on overcoming addiction, and how exercise and music help his mental health on a daily basis.
Tell us why you are supporting MHF Live / your own mental health story
As much as I am in a good place now at 31, it has not always been like that. When I was younger I just wanted to be in a band, but at 16 I started drinking, and by the time I was 18 I knew I had a problem, although I never admitted it, even to myself.
I told myself I was just young and all my pals were drinking too, but deep down I knew I had an issue. As I got older it only got worse and by the time I was 24 my mental and physical health was in a really bad place.
I was 17.5 stone, I drank all the time, I never exercised, I was a smoker and the band I had been in for 10 years had finished. I hated myself, hated my job and hated my life but the only thing that made me feel better was drinking.
Obviously, looking back, drinking made me worse; when I would sober up my head was a mess and it was only masking all my problems short term, but I was addicted to how it tasted and how it made me feel and I craved it. It took away my problems and how I felt about myself short term but It was ruining my life, my relationships with my friends, family, my work at the time, and biggest of all, my Dad.
My Dad was my best friend but I ruined our relationship a lot with my drinking. I constantly let him down and ruined family events. He knew about my drinking and tried to help me stop and after a four day bender in May 2012 I was at my lowest point and I didn’t want to be here anymore. I was sick of living my life the way I was, so I told my dad about everything and how I was feeling and I stopped drinking altogether.
Deep down I didn’t know how long I would be able to keep this up as I was really struggling, but on July 28th 2012 my Dad went out to play golf, collapsed and died. No illness, no warning. When my sister phoned me to tell me, my first reaction was to go to the shop and buy booze, as this was how I would always deal with problems.
But I was over 2 months sober and I thought of letting him down, my wee sister was only 12 years old and I decided for once I wasn’t going to let alcohol get the better of me. Saying ‘no’ that day changed my life forever and I still have not had a drop of alcohol since May 7th 2012.
Since then I have lost five stone, completed three Olympic distance triathlons, one half Ironman and am currently training for my first full ironman in July this year. I have raised thousands of pounds for charity through these events, became a certified personal trainer and nutritionist, started running a successful personal training business helping others change their lives like I did, left a job I hated to do this, and started writing and playing music again… but most of all I am happy, healthy and have an exciting future to look ahead to.
Being young and knowing I can never drink again is a daily battle along with missing my dad every day and having the regret of me changing my life too late for him to see, but knowing he’s looking down on the man I am today, I live every day to make him proud and this is why I will never go back to the person I used to be.
What does music do for your mental health?
The two things that help me so much on a daily basis to stay in control are music and exercise. I would never have been able to achieve what I have in the last six years without these two amazing things that make me so happy.
Alcohol would have killed me and made my life miserable, but there is always an opportunity to change things if something like alcohol is the reason for bad mental health, this is why I’m so open to talking about my story and my past - because if I can change from where I was, then absolutely anyone can.
I have people who are really close to me struggle with mental health and addiction and I think it is so important to raise awareness so that people can open up and talk about it.
What’s your earliest musical memory?
Apart from pop music on the radio - listening to Blink 182 for the first time changed my life because it got me listening to bands and ' alternative ' music and shaped the rest of my life through playing pop punk music still to this day and so many of the important people in my life I know through that scene. My first live gig was Slipknot and Korn at the SECC when I was about 14 years old.
Who is the musician who has most inspired you?
Kenny Vasoli from The Starting Line - I used to play guitar when I was younger, but when I discovered The Starting Line through Drive Thru Records and saw Kenny play bass and sing, I bought a bass and from then on I played bass and sang in pop punk bands from 16 years old still to this day. I’ve had such an emotional connection to The Starting Line and pop punk / emo / screamo music since then, I’m still a big emo kid and I’m cool with that, haha!
What makes you happy?
Lots of things make me happy, but I have to say training and music makes me feel a way nothing else can really. Music has always been a thing that has made me happy and shaped my whole life since I was 14 and finding exercise at 25 literally saved my life and makes me feel amazing and has gave me purpose in life. Combining both together gives me a high more than any drink ever could and improves my health rather than destroys me. The sun always helps too!
What’s the best sound in the world? And the worst?
The best sound in the world is when I’m out on a long bike ride in the countryside with my favourite bands playing my ear. The worst is when I’m trying to sleep and my neighbour is blasting Despacito upstairs at 2am.
What song is in your head just now?
Killer / The Sound by Phoebe Bridgers + Noah Gundersen. It’s such a beautiful song and I put it on repeat to write this.
Please tell us about (and share) a piece of music that has had an impact on your mental health.
I wrote a song about how I was feeling about missing my Dad one day with my band TALK. I hadn’t planned it, I was just in my flat with some sad thoughts one day so I picked up my acoustic guitar and wrote the song in one go and just sang exactly how I felt at the time. Writing that song and playing it live makes me feel proud, and we then played it as a band more upbeat so it didn’t come across as too sad whilst listening and also has a positive message in it too.
Scott is performing a free acoustic show of pop punk and emo covers at Bar Bloc, Glasgow, on Thursday 11th July, raising money for the British Heart Foundation and Mental Health Foundation. For more details visit the Facebook event page here.
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