Trevor, Shea, Murray

Scenic Route To Wellbeing

TREVOR: My name is Trevor Mann and I make up one third of the Edmonton based band, Scenic Route to Alaska. I have been writing, recording and touring with my two best pals for the past decade. I feel extremely grateful to be able to do what I do, especially with such a close knit support system. We’ve all been there for each other through so many different chapters of our lives.

SHEA: My name is Shea. I was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta. I’ve been a touring musician for the better part of the last 10 years.

MURRAY: Hello, my name is Murray Wood and I am a full time musician in Edmonton, Alberta. My main project is Scenic Route to Alaska but I also play in Major Love, Mallory Chipman and the Mystics, and freelance around town. I’m also into yoga, cooking (vegetarian) and renovating my old house.

What is a health or social issue you live with?

TREVOR: My biggest struggle with mental health came as the result of a suicide by my very close family friend (a father figure) back in September 2013. His name was Glenn. I felt confused, lost, angry, deeply saddened and depressed.

SHEA: Throughout my adult life I’ve struggled with my mental health. I also have neglected to acknowledge that I have any issues with my mental health.

MURRAY: My primary mental health issue that continues to be an obstacle is finding balance in my life. I am essentially an introvert but generally live a very social lifestyle between touring, recording and rehearsing. I am extremely grateful and privileged to earn a living as a professional musician but there are many aspects of the industry that I did not plan for when I was dreaming up this life as a teenager. I am not one to look to be the centre of attention but I am often on stage, I am mostly a homebody but travel constantly, and I regularly need to recharge from social situations but go on long tours where I go days on end without any time to myself. I have also struggled with insecurity from constant judgement (real or perceived) and the instability of life as an artist.

Tell us about your journey.

TREVOR: I was a complete mess and had no idea how to ask for help. I internalized my pain and confusion and tried to put on a brave face for the people around me. Ultimately, this repression of my true feelings led to years of self-destruction and depression.

SHEA: I am someone who has always felt like I had no reason to feel depressed. I am a straight white male, born into a loving middle-class family. I’ve always felt guilty for any kind of sadness, self-loathing, lack of motivation or self-destructive behaviour. There was no justification for feeling sad and because of that I kept it all to myself. Never sought professional help or support from friends and family. These feelings worsened over time, especially coupled with my touring life-style. Heavy drinking/little sleep/lack of exercise/no stability with my life or finances. All of those things carried into my life back home too.

MURRAY: I have not accessed professional help for my mental health issues and have leaned on my family and friend group to explore my issues. I have a huge respect for anyone choosing to access professional help and those that support the system.

What understanding are you at today?

TREVOR: I’ve come to the understanding that suicide is extremely prevalent and, when you start the conversation, it’s overwhelming how many people will come forward and express that they too have been affected by suicide in one way or another.

SHEA: I think the best way to describe my understanding of my mental health issues is simply that I can’t ignore it. Whether or not I have a reason to feel down, it’s something that exists daily in my life and if I’m not actively trying to work on it, I sink deeper into my thoughts and feelings. I become self-destructive, lose motivation, hide from friends/family and can struggle with simple day to day tasks. I’m feeling my best when I start to get into a rhythm of staying active, practicing my instrument, seeing friends/family, eating well and being more open when I’m having down days.

MURRAY: My main understanding is to listen to what my body is telling me and take space when I need to unwind. When I have pushed myself beyond what I feel comfortable with and I start to act in a way that I don’t want to represent myself, I have come up with ways to cope and recharge. Mostly that Trev, Shea and I feel so comfortable around each other that I can totally disconnect from them and take “alone” time even if we’re together 24 hours a day. Sometimes I need to take time off from alcohol, hide backstage longer than I normally would, put my headphones on and disconnect in the van, have a long phone call home…

How do people around you talk about mental health?

TREVOR: My family and close friends began talking about suicide more openly after Glenn took his own life. It helped to have a safe space and forum to talk about all of the resulting emotions that we each experienced.

SHEA: Conversations about my own struggles have come slowly. I’m still working to become more open about it. My friends in the music community have been very open about the toll the industry and lifestyle has taken on them. I’ve always felt scared or unsure about talking candidly about my own experience with mental health but it’s become a far more nurturing part of my life and one that is relatable with more people in my life than I ever thought.

MURRAY: A lot of my friends are artists and the issues that I am dealing with seem extremely common within the industry. I also feel like a lot of artists are an open book so talking about these kinds of things are pretty normalized but almost to the point that people can lose sight of a possible solution to these issues. Having Trev and Shea around and going through the same things has really helped me to manage my mental health.

Is it different from how you talked in the past?
What’s been the change?

TREVOR: It is. Before being personally affected by suicide, I had never fully grasped the amount of pain and misunderstanding that can be brought on as a result. I had other friends who had been affected by suicides but we were young and never used to talk about it openly and the conversation was very rarely brought up.

I never want anyone to feel alone or like they are not worthy of help. Mental health affects everyone. If you are struggling, you deserve the right to non-judgemental help and you will be amazed by how many caring and loving humans are waiting for you to reach out.

SHEA: In the past, I basically never talked about it. I ignored it and downplayed any sadness to my family and friends. Over the past decade it’s felt like the overall conversation surrounding mental health has opened up in my life. I’ve personally known 3 people who have all died by suicide in my adult life. I started hearing more and more stories of how common these feelings are and how dark they can become. These conversations with people in the music community, friends and family helped me to feel less uncomfortable or scared sharing how much I was struggling.

MURRAY: I think just getting older and maturing has made things like mental health easier to talk about within the industry.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, contact emergency services (9-1-1) now.