All Stories, Writing

How Podcasts Helped Save My Summer…and Life. by Paul Reilly

On the surface this may seem an odd story for publishing on Christmas Day. However, here in LS Towers we like to think that we are a thoughtful bunch and you’ve already had a couple of ‘almost’ traditional Christmas Tales.

This piece blew our minds when it arrived – We have always known what makes  ‘good’ writing is not comma placement and clever verbiage, what makes a good piece in our opinion, is passion.  This writing is so powerful we wanted to share it, as it shows that the degree of passion in a piece can override grammatical and constructional anomalies, it can be cathartic and it can be moving and leave you feeling as if you have been slapped in the face by it.

So, why this – now?

Well, we agreed that apart from anything else this piece of writing reminds us all that at this time of the year when we are all pressured into ‘jolliness’ there are many for whom it’s a struggle to simply exist from day to day. The bloke at the table next to you, wearing a Santa hat and reading Christmas cracker jokes could be falling apart inside. Maybe not the usual Christmas message but if it makes us just a bit kinder to each other – we reckon this story is probably a gift to us all.


How podcasts helped save my summer…and life.

Even though we had unbelievable weather here in Scotland, bbq’s & beer most nights. The World Cup was on, we had Trnsmit, I graduated from uni. However, I was not a happy bunny. I was at my lowest of lows. It was hard to get out of my bed and go enjoy the sun.
Around the end of May I was doing something I had been dreaming of for the past few years and that was working at the BBC. I was absolutely buzzing to begin the adventure. It was just a short couple of weeks contract, but never the less, an amazing two weeks. There was always a sense of worry and unhappiness playing around in the back of my mind. However, in the second week I had never felt so worthless and down in my few years I have suffered from depression. It was a whole new experience and turn of events. This new phase of the illness came at me like a tone of bricks. I was down on the canvas and struggling to get back up. I was the most worried I had ever been. I couldn’t concentrate on my work at the BBC, my biggest passion wasn’t even something to look forward too. I also had a few days trip to Barcelona and paying a visit to a promising music festival. Going back to it was the most worried I had ever been…well, it was because the thoughts and ideas were of suicide. I had never attempted or planned out how I would kill myself. Although, it was coming into my mind and confusing me deeply. If I heard someone on the news had taken their own life or some sort of mental health related story I would panic and not want to hear it. At the end of a long hard day in the office at the BBC I decided to go into Sainsbury’s, buy a nice cold beer, a pack of cigarettes and sit in the sun on Grassmarket. I had a beautiful set up, lots of space, a decent bit of grass, sun was shining directly on me. But still I was not amused, I actually felt more anxious for some reason. I was freaking out that I was going to turn mad. I mean, its crazy as if this was this time last week I would have been enjoying myself and not having these thoughts. What the hell has happened in over a week? I 9 times out of 10 would always appreciate sitting on a beautiful grassy hill in the middle of a city, with a nice cold beer and smoking a lovely Marlboro gold. However, I just could not. Something was seriously up. I was working at the BBC until the day before I went to Barcelona. I was too scared to go. The thought of drinking heavily (festival amount anyway) actually frightened me. Would that tip me over the edge? Would I want to plunge to my own death from our apartment balcony? Who knows, can’t back out now. I was dreading this, I really didn’t want to go. I wanted to go see a doctor instead and finally go on anti depressants. It was seriously about time. As I mentioned before – I have suffered depression for a few years now and have never really done anything about it. Why? I don’t know, afraid? in denial? It’s just something you don’t really want to face or accept, it is so horrible. I always had this ideology that I didn’t want to look back when I am in my 40s or 50s (If I make it till then) and remember I was a nervous wreck who had to see medication. People go their whole lives without having these thoughts and avoiding having to go on medication, so why not me! Why do I have to? Do i really have to look back and remember that stage of my life. Let’s just try and see how things go and take each day slowly. A day at a time and maybe this will all pass over. I will forget my trauma (which I will go into detail later) and things could go back to ‘normal’ but of course that was way too good to be true. If I was to ever want something that was real from science fiction, it would most definitely be memory eraser from Men In Black. Hopefully one day some mad scientist will make that happen, but for now, it is only a dream.

So it’s now time to head to Barcelona *yay’s sarcastically*. I have to go through with this, brave face for a few days (If I make it) and seek help AS SOON AS POSSIBLE when home. What keeps coming into my mind is the times were I felt 1000000000000000000 times better than this and I was still not happy. I couldn’t feel any worse I don’t think. One thing that made me slightly optimistic for the holiday was I will be around eight other dudes for six days and hopefully that will put my mind at ease. I wont be thinking about these crazy thoughts and my brain going round in circles. The worst thing is being yourself and feeling trapped. Nothing else is here and no one understands. Although, on the holiday even when in conversation with someone I would just be thinking of how awful i feel and how scared I am of suicide. Maybe that was a good sign of being scared, I dunno. I mean, at least I didn’t want to just go and kill myself. I was determined to survive and do anything I can to overcome this. During the holiday I noted a list on my phone of how I can be more therapeutic. Things I would get slagged off of my mates, including yoga, meditation, massages, lonely walks, running. Whatever it was, I didn’t care. It had to be done. Great news…I make it through the holiday. Great as in my big fears of what may happen over there didn’t come to light but sad news of still feeling like a dump. I was glad to be home in order to go see my GP. It was time I finally told another soul on this planet something I have kept up inside of me for six years. This was my demon, this is where it all started from, self inflicted I know. But this is it. It’s the reason I suffer from depression. It was a very nervous and massive deal for me to tell another living being on this planet my story. What is reassuring though, is that they are a doctor and everything is strictly confidential. Well i hope. After I told him what happened to me, It was a huge relief honestly…a weight lifted off my back. A slight bit of sun shining through the dark cloud. It was what I had to keep doing. One step at time. Open up, speak to fellow humans. It could save me. I have now got my prescription for anti depressants. I am not in a good way the doctor believes. I can’t just rely on the pills. I will need to do my homework and my bit in the meantime. I will stick to the list I created on my holiday and see where it takes me. There is no point in giving up. One of the first things I do in part of my recovery is order myself a book online. Which I definitely feel is necessary and could help save my life. I came across the book at the BBC when I was doing some research for a briefing I was preparing. The book was called ‘Reasons To Live’ by Matt Haig. I had read the introduction of the book and it was truly, truly inspiring. A young man 24 years old almost committed suicide when standing at the edge of a cliff in Ibiza. He is now in his late 40’s. That was the motivation, read his story. If someone else can do it, then so can you. Matt Haig was a real driving force and what initiated my recovery. I keep saying recovery because currently as I write this 5 months on I do feel much better when looking back. Its honestly night and day. Being on medication, being more therapeutic and positive has really helped me along the way.

The real medium I want to dedicate this piece to is however, podcasts. The joy they brought me during my darkest days. I always listened to them at the end of the day. When it was night time and I was in bed with the lights off. So soothing just thinking of it. Honestly. And yes I am a bit of an audio/radio geek. Thats what I want my full-time career to be in. It’s where my passion lies. My degree is in Broadcast Production: TV+Radio. The more podcasts I listened to, the more I really started to enjoy speech based audio. In turn I really started to like listening to speech based live radio. BBC Scotland was now my favourite station. Especially the mornings programme with Kay Adams and John Beattie the slot after. I loved just relaxing, drinking a coffee and eating some breakfast and tuning into their shows. It made me look forward to things again and therefore I had a more positive thought process if I was enjoying things. I had just graduated and only worked twice a week in Tesco. I had so much time on my hands to listen to these radio programmes, just incase you were wondering. I was actually quite relieved at this moment in time as I didn’t have a full-time job and i wasn’t  still in education. I don’t think I could bring myself together to face it. I just needed my rest. I was very ill. My thoughts were so different to when I was in uni and I was dying to land a job straight after. Certain themes of things really did affect my mood. For example, I struggled and didn’t like to listen to Good Morning Scotland on BBC Radio. Even though I loved the news and that particular news programme. I listen to it most days at the moment. But back then, in that current state, I just couldn’t. It’s such serious news, low deep tone of voices, no music beds underneath their voices. Very still atmosphere. I really liked waking up to George Bowies Breakfast Show on Clyde 1 for example. It’s really up beat, positive, he’s a very lively, vibrant and flamboyant presenter which reflected nicely with my mood. I wasn’t afraid of listening to it and I knew I could enjoy it. It’s weird having to type this out at the minute, it’s just how my life is and how my brain is. But to someone who is reading this right now and thinks I am from another planet as they have never gone through such experiences, it’s really hard to relate to. I really don’t want to be like this, but I am. I just have to accept because whats happened has happened. Can’t go back in time, but oh lord I wish I could. Biggest regret ever is what I did six years ago.

So for the first month I was living with my serious depression, there was only one thing I really looked forward to and that was listening to my podcasts at the end of the day. My admiration for podcast’s started in March when I did this new media and podcasting module at uni. I started to pay more attention to them and then make them. This was of course before I started feeling as low as I did. So I didn’t appreciate them enough or fully understand how they made me feel. However, now looking back…they really did save me from insanity or further depression or maybe even death. My most tuned into podcast is Clyde 1’s Superscoreboard, but of course it is the summer and so the season is over, it is no longer on. I have to wait till flaming August. I’ll see what I can find in between then. So this might be me contradicting myself a little bit here…I started to have an obsession and fascination with serial killer profiling. I know I said previously that whatever I was listening to had go hand in hand with my mood. Obviously I am depressed at the minute so hearing about the horrors of serial killers doesn’t sound too appetising. However, it did. I had already watched the classic Dexter and just started Mindhunter. But the the podcasts to do with serial killers gave me more satisfaction. When having a browse on Spotify, I came across a podcast called Serial Killers. I scrolled through the episodes and came across some names such as Bible John, Jack The Ripper and Ted Bundy. I had heard of these guys and so that was an instant hook. I obviously started with Bible John as he was a Glasgow serial killer and I am Glaswegian. The way episodes sounded were so easy listening and very interesting. Surprisingly not depressing. Great presenting with lots of fluency and character. Uplifting at times and for the actual narrative, I could paint the pictures in my head. That’s what is so good about audio storytelling compared to television in my opinion is that you use your own imagination and see what you want to see. Everyone has different imaginations and directors/producers on television have their own interpretations on adaptations and historical stories. So for something like serial killer profiling, podcasts fit the bill perfectly. This was so ideal for my mood. I could take my head back in time to somewhere to a random setting in America, 1960’s Glasgow (Bible John) or 19th century London (Jack The Ripper). My mind would drift and I would have ‘mindspace’ for once. Wherever my mind is taking me might not fit to the description from the podcast, but it doesn’t matter, it’s easing me and I am getting some air…literally. It’s this certain of style of podcasting that does it for me though. Storytelling, sound effects and dramatisations that i feel at ease. It’s what I love to hear and I enjoy it the most. When I listen to my other podcasts such as just purely conversation such as Superscoreboard, Good Morning Scotland and Open Goal. I am just purely focused on the words and what is being discussed. My mind isn’t being taken anywhere, I am just being heavily informed of what they are talking about. If you are ever having a rough time, feel rock bottom and not sure where to turn to. Then make sure you do something completely different. Visit somewhere so your mind is creating new memories and not the same old depressing ones you have. In my case it was listening to certain podcasts and being put at ease. It was completely therapeutic for me. Whatever it is for you, then try it! It might not be podcasting, it could be something of a complete contrast. Just make sure it helps you! So I thank the Parcast Network who helped me battle with my depression over the summer by providing me with some great listening.


Paul Reilly


2 thoughts on “How Podcasts Helped Save My Summer…and Life. by Paul Reilly”

  1. This has a lot of content in a little space. Thoughts –
    “Tone of bricks” misspelled or I am missing something. Is misspelled misspelled?
    From a book on serial killers –
    Usual characteristic – No positive presence in their early lives, pet torture, bed wetting, pyromania
    During times of constant warfare killing desires could be sated on the battlefield
    Males are usually twisted, women do it for money
    Despite concentration on white males, the profile is quite mixed
    It is not a new phenomenon – it is now more recognized
    Before mass publication, the public fascination manifested in murder ballads
    I believe that the narrator is mistaken in believing he is alone. I think that the majority go through this at times, perhaps not as seriously. Like wounded animals we try to hide the damage.

    A fine portrayal of an interior monologue.


  2. Hi Paul,
    I enjoyed the honesty in this.
    It was rustic, real and relevant.
    When we hear a mix of thoughts from anyone, there are a few that have a common theme. Those are the issues that need addressed.
    It was an honour for us to put this up on Christmas.


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