23rd February 2017. The day I never thought would happen.

The reality of the day was that it started like most days did at that time. Shitty.

The week before had been my birthday. My best friends were worried about me. So much so, they insisted I came away with them to France for a week.

How did I find myself in this shitty state? Well, I’d had a crap 12 months. A failed startup business and the fall out from it was fierce. I had, what seemed like at the time, relentless trolling online. I’d put myself in a situation where I’d gone all in. And I lost. I’d gone from the previous year thinking things were really turning around, to a pit of nothingness.

I was once again single, which a year previously I hadn’t expected to happen. Was I on self destruct or was I just very down about my life? I didn’t know.

I’d had been suffering from depression for a few years. Since 2007 really. I had previously written about it here. This was a little different though. The nothingness seemed worse.

I remember flying back into the UK the week before. I had no plan. No idea what I was going to do. A nothingness and no idea how to change things.

Thursday 23rd Feb 2017 was no real difference to any of the other shitty days that I’d had for a few weeks. But something happened that day I never thought would happen later on.

I ended up here. It was the weirdest thing I have ever experienced. I had no idea how I got there.  But I ended up in my car at the end of this country lane. With a hosepipe, gaffa tape, a bottle of Jack Daniels and a shit load of pills. I had reached the end and I didn’t even know how I physically got there. I woke up. Suddenly snapped out of whatever had happened to me to find myself here. Down this country lane. Seemingly ready to end it all.

I’m a massive music fan. Music has always been a part of my life. Music was playing during this whole time. I had a random playlist on at the time. Then one song came on.

A few seconds into that song I broke. I broke down into a mess. A crying mess. A state like I’ve never been before. I ‘woke up’ to see the hose pipe. And all the shit I somehow managed to collect. And the most fucked up part is that I had no fucking clue how I got there.

I had never had a suicidal thought ever before. Despite all the depression, it never entered my head. Why would it? Yes, things were shit. But I had an amazing family around me. And the best friends anyone could wish for. I had support and love. For fuck’s sake, I had two amazing boys. What the fuck happened? What had I become?! During my most depressive time in the past in 2013 (I wrote about it (here) I had never felt like this.

To this day, I still don’t know what happened. This song saved me from finding out.

I stayed in the car for what must have been half an hour after I snapped out of it. And played that song on constant repeat. Crying my eyes out. Then I started to walk home. I must have been walking for half an hour. This journey should have taken five minutes normally. My best friend saw me walking not far from my house and picked me up. Then it all hit me.

I went to the doctor’s the day after. He told me I’d entered a “dissociative fugue” state. Essentially, my brain took over and gave up. It wasn’t me. I had gone into a fucked up autopilot. Scary shit as I’d always thought I was in control of my own mind.

It took a few days to start remembering how I managed to get to that lane. I remember saying goodbye to my dogs and parrot. I remember going to the DIY store to buy hose pipe and tape. That’s all I remember to this day.

A word about Frank Turner.

It feels only right that I tell you a little about the man whose song stopped me in my tracks. And maybe saved me.

This is about Music is Life. To me music is life. Not just because of what I have written here, but because music has always been a massive part of my life. No matter what, music has always been there for me.

I was first introduced to Frank’s music when I heard “I still believe” on the radio. It was MY kind of music. After getting more of his albums I was sold. This related to ME. This was real. He sang from the heart. Listening to his lyrics you could tell he had been through his fair share of shit too. I went to some of his gigs. I believed in this music, I believed in this man. He was real, as real as any musician can be.

I’ve been lucky enough to meet him a few times. It was nice of him to invite my two boys to see him sound check before their first gig. He even put me and my boys on his guest list for his 2000th show. I told you, this Man Is Special. One of the nicest, most down to earth guys you could ever meet. And a fucking great musician, who sings from the heart. There is a Frank Turner song for every part of my life now. Good times. Bad times. And many in between. I’ve now seen him play live at least six times. And every time it gets better. The experience, the connection to his audience, the connection to the music. I introduced my girlfriend Gabi to his music in Manchester this year. She went with an open mind. Although I’d played his music to her, it wasn’t necessarily her thing but after her first gig, she was sold. She got it. She understood why his music is such an important part of my life. (That night we went to see him play a DJ set in Manchester). A week later, we were in Leicester again with my boys. My boys know every word to pretty much every song. It’s truly a gift to share with them.

So, to Frank. I owe you a great deal, my friend. THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for being so kind in the past. And THANK YOU for writing a Song for Josh. Although such a sad song about a great guy whose battle with mental health ended in such a sad way, that song probably saved me. Thank you for your music, your gift to thousands of people. And for being far more powerful than you will ever know. Music is Life, and having your music in my life is something I will treasure just as the many thousands of people around the world treasure your music. Thank you, Frank.

Check out more about Frank on his website here

After all of this, I made some massive changes in my life and simplified everything I had going on. I had a lot of help from friends and family and they helped me to turn things around. Then, after 22 dates with 22 women, I was lucky enough to meet Gabi on date 23. :) We got on right away (the waitress even thought we were celebrating something special. At the end of the date, she asked us what the occasion was and we said its the first date). That tells you how great we got on. I’m blessed to have her in my life. She is supportive of me through everything and understands me as much as any woman will ever understand me. :)

I would be lying if I said I don’t struggle occasionally, but I’m glad to say I have never felt like that again. And I hope I never will. I’m working hard on rebuilding my life to be exactly how I want it to be. And I’m getting there. The reality is, I won’t stop until I get back to where I want to be.

When I have written and talked about my mental health issues before most people were supportive and empathetic. Some, however, were not. I even had a few people use it against me. I’m determined however, that no one should suffer in silence. We HAVE TO get rid of the stigma once and for all.

This is the reason I am putting this out there. I have chosen to share my story with you because if it helps just one person, it will be worth it.

That fucked up but powerful day was the reason I set up the Music is Life Foundation. Music has the power to bring people together and help people in so many ways.

Music has the power to stop someone in their tracks, just as it did for me that day. Music can change someone’s mindset within minutes. This is why I want to combine the power of music to help as many people with mental health and depression issue as possible.

My final thought is that if you are reading this and suffering, or know someone who is, please know the world gets better. Things can change in a heartbeat and trust me, I’m living proof that everything can turn around.

If you are struggling, there are so many great resources to help you. CLICK HERE to see who I think can help you. These charities are the best there are and they CAN help you.

Keep going, get through the dark days and never give up.

With Love,

Mark Lyford

I’ve set up the Music Is Life Group for people to share their stories and love of music. The group is an extension of the Music is Life Foundation. The aim of the group is for people to share their favourite music and stories about mental health. Join for free by clicking the button below. I look forward to seeing you in there! :)