It’s March of 2016. I’m living in gray Chicago, where spring is slow to arrive, and I’m waking up to find that Frightened Rabbit, one of my favorite bands of all time, has released a new single, “Get Out.”
I listen to it on repeat the day it comes out, and then the week, and then for about a month straight, until the new album, “Painting of a Panic Attack,” is released. All the while, Scott Hutchison’s familiar voice is in my ear. I’m in the arch of the church between her thumb and her forefinger / I will worship her.*
A few months later, in July of 2016, I’m standing in the crowd at Lollapalooza, singing my heart out. After the show, I’m fortunate enough to meet Scott and the other band members, briefly, as they sign an album for me. I try to put all my love and gratitude into a few seconds of praise. But I don’t tell them the most important part.
Frightened Rabbit saved my life.
Your illustrious blogger, whose hair was definitely out of control, meeting her beloved Frightened Rabbit in July of 2016.
I’ll never forget the first time I heard a Frightened Rabbit song. I was at my then-boyfriend’s (now husband’s) house watching MTVU in 2008, and “Head Rolls Off” came on. When my head rolls off, someone else’s will turn / and while I’m alive / I’ll make tiny changes to earth. The sentiment reached out to teenaged me and gripped her in its comforting embrace, and I was a FR fan for life. I couldn’t listen to “Midnight Organ Fight” fast enough, and I found there a complex and beautiful understanding of life as a depressed person.
I felt seen. I felt understood. Most importantly, I felt like I was no longer alone.
As a young teen, I suffered from depression, OCD, and anorexia nervosa. When I finally admitted that I had a problem, I started seeing a clinical psychologist. Being in high school and keeping those monthly appointments was not something I found easy to discuss with friends or really with anyone. I started to get back to a healthier place, but I admit to being ashamed, back then, of that part of myself. Except when I had Scott in my ear. Scott taught me that I wasn’t the only one. I wasn’t crazy.
In the fall of 2015, I moved to Chicago. I left behind a job I’d held for years and a close circle of friends to start the next adventure with my husband. As much as I thought I was ready, depression came right along with me. It crept up on me at night and lingered during the long, cold Midwestern winter. The things I loved started to lose their color. I didn’t know how to talk about it. I didn’t have health insurance at the time, so I couldn’t afford to see a counselor. I started to push away even the people, like my husband, who tried to help.
And one day, while I stood beneath a pounding stream of shower water, I contemplated killing myself.
I never got farther than that. Never made a plan. But the thought lingered, for a while. I reached my very lowest point.
That was when “Get Out” came out. Suddenly, I had a reason to wake up in the morning. I felt excited about something for the first time in months. I remembered what it was like to share meaning across distance and space. To feel seen.
To feel understood.
With each passing week, and each new single released, and finally the record release in April, I got better. Later in the year, I got health insurance, and I started seeing a counselor again. I also started adjusting to life in the city: I took risks. I went to events. I went to Lollapalooza. I met Scott.
I wish I could have told him this then, but I wasn’t brave enough. So I’m saying it now.
Thank you, Scott. Thank you, Frightened Rabbit. Your music will be written on my heart forever.
Words can’t express the heartbreak I felt when the world lost Scott last year. He was a gift to us all, talented and vulnerable and gone too soon. He sang about making tiny changes to earth, and he made more than that. He saved my life.
In celebration of Scott’s life, the Hutchison family have started a mental health charity called Tiny Changes. You can read more about it and donate here. In gratitude for all that Scott has done for me, and in honor of his life, I will be making a donation of $1,000. I invite you all to join me in whatever amount you can toward this great cause. For mental health awareness, for love, and for life.
Thank you, Scott. We love you.
*According to Google, the lyrics are slightly different, but I’ve listened as close as I can, and I think this version is correct.