Amy Goddard - making music for mental health
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26th Mar 2014

So as the dust settles after my album launch concert, I've been asked to write a bit about why I chose to involve some fundraising for Sane. To answer that I'll have to go back to when I wrote the song Don't Try.

It was in early January 2013. I'd already addressed the subject of the black dog in previous songs (some of which have yet to see the light of day). The approach I'd taken before though was that of the feeling when the depression or anxiety starts to lift. Whilst that can be a great feeling and worthy of a song I felt it didn't really validate the on-going battle with mental health that so many of us have. Attempts at writing songs about the darkest moments had left me with a couple of half finished song that were so unuttarably dark and yes, depressing that I wasn't sure I wanted to share them. So I had to think carefully about what I actually wanted to say. Now it's written, the song tells the story better than I'm able to explain in prose, so here it is:

There is something you should know,
There is something I must tell,
There is something that I will not be allowed to hide.
Some days it just won't get light,
Some days I just cannot fight,
Some days you will see a darkness deep behind my eyes.
But don't try to fix me just say you'll be there.
Don't try to solve it just show me you care,
Like the night this will pass and I'll come up for air.
Please say you'll be waiting just say you'll be there.
Please don't think it's just for fun.
Please don't panic, cut and run.
Please don't think I do it just for kindness and effect.
This is just a part of me,
There's so much more for you to see.
Just a weakness seeping through that most days won't touch you.

I sent it to few friends and several people told me it had made them cry. I have learnt that making people cry with a song is a good thing because it means it has touched their heart. (Repeats to self: “it is ok to make someone cry with a song”, worry-worry-worry...)

I had followed the Black Dog Tribe on Facebook for some time already. I enjoyed their uplifting pictures and messages and, although I've not needed to use it myself, their offer of a number to call if you need to talk is a great idea. I thought other people who have suffered with anxiety or depression might particularly relate to my song and it might bring some small comfort.

I decided to release the song as a charity single, with all proceeds going to Sane who now run the Black Dog Tribe. I must confess that I also thought this might generate some interest in my other songs. To quote Phoebe from Friends “there are no totally selfless good deeds!” (Repeats to self: “hoping my fundraising will get people interested in my songs does not invalidate what I have been able to
give”, worry-worry-worry... worry...)

I've always liked the black dog metaphor for depression. I read the Mathew Johnstone series of books after my Mum discovered them online. The idea of externalising the illness and giving it a body helps to reinforce the fact that it is an illness, not simply an annoying personality trait. The dog is a good metaphor because an untrained dog can wreak havoc on a house and family. Training a dog takes persistance and patience, a lot of effort in fact. In my case, the road to recovery required a lot of hard work. The only problem with the metaphor is that, as a dog lover, I kept feeling sorry for the dog! In the end it was my love of dogs that led me to think of making toy dogs to sell as a way to fundraise.




Lots of people love dogs and cute cuddly black dogs to raise awareness of mental health seemed like the perfect thing to sell for Sane at my album launch concert. There were a few times during the months preceeding the concert when I thought, whilst up to my neck in felt and ribbons, why did I start this? But in the end, with the help of my amazing Mum and some friends we made enough black dogs to have a table of them at the launch concert.

We also had one bigger dog toy and asked people to guess the name to win the dog. People responded really well and almost all the dogs sold. The concert went really well and the single has been played a few times on local radio and the presenter explained the charity on air too. If I’m concerned as to whether the song is acceptable (worry-worry-worry) – I take enormous heart from a comment on an American music blog that my Dad has just sent me:

“The stand out track for me is “Don’t Try.” Maybe it’s because of a personal thing going on rightnow in my life, or perhaps it’s just one of those songs that hits ya, but this one is a keeper.”

Thanks to Merlot, the artist formally known as Merle. I will of course still worry, worry, worry at times – but you can write me a review like that any time you like! :)


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