Kristen Scott says she was blinded by love and didn’t see the signs.
On May 27, 2018, Scott’s husband, Ira, took his own life.
Scott is originally from Timmins, Ont. but has lived in Calgary for 22 years. Ira lived in Canmore and the two met on a backpacking trip in the mountains about 10 years ago.
“It was love at first sight,” Scott says, adding they welcomed their son, Isaiah, within their first year together.
“It was a really fast, passionate love and we were just happy and content and got married. Then we had [our daughter] Aria and everything seemed to be really great.”
Scott says Ira was happy to be a father, but that she noticed a change in him after Aria was born.
Missing the signs
Ira admitted to having anxiety in certain social situations, so he went to a doctor and was put on a low-dose anxiety medication.
“He wasn’t being honest with me or his family doctor or his counsellor with how he was actually having suicidal thoughts,” Scott says, describing her late husband as gentle, patient, and quiet.
In retrospect, Scott admits she didn’t see the red flags.
Ira was an avid mountain climber but for some time before his death, Scott says he lost the desire to climb. She says he started losing weight, losing his hair, was becoming more lethargic, had trouble sleeping, and sometimes wouldn’t shower for days.
“Signs of depression, which I did not see with this man who lived with me because he was so happy and smiled all the time,” says Scott, adding that people who look happy on the outside can still be struggling.
“He was always super happy, smiling, he was the most peaceful, calm person there is. That’s why I didn’t see the signs at that time of depression because they came in pretty slowly. And pretty fast, he was gone.”
Regret and guilt
About a year before taking his life, Scott says Ira mentioned he had tried to set himself on fire, which she, regrettably, thought was attention-seeking rather than a cry for help.
“[It’s] the stigma, which I feel so guilty about all the time,” Scott says.
“I feel a lot of regret and guilt… I didn’t address it properly.”
Another instance Scott looks back on with regret occurred when Ira told her he felt nothing, which she didn’t take very well.
“I took it more personally like he didn’t love me… and I wish I saw it differently,” she says.
“That’s what always haunted me after he did this; he did tell me he felt nothing.”
Those words would eventually inspire her latest single.
Music and healing
Following Ira’s death, Scott’s music helped her healing journey. She started singing at age 11 and has been teaching singing and piano for more than two decades.
Scott wrote a lullaby called “I Love You More” for Isaiah, who had nightmares after being the one who discovered his father’s body.
The song “Little One” was written for Aria, and includes a message to be brave and never give up.
Scott says she wants to be a mental health advocate for her son and daughter—who were just 5 and 3 when Ira died—and make sure they know their dad loved them.
The idea for the single “I Feel Nothing, Nothing At All” came after Scott suffered another loss.
Just four months after Ira’s death, Scott’s mother died suddenly at the age of 66. Scott believes she died of a broken heart and grief over the loss of her son-in-law.
A coping mechanism
Scott immersed herself in teaching, and found joy in writing festive songs the following Christmas.
“It was my coping,” she says, but adds the words “I feel nothing” kept repeating in her head.
She began writing the song as if she were speaking to her late husband, including lyrics like “What have you done?” and “How could you bear so much pain?”
“I wanted to be as raw and as real life as possible,” Scott says, adding she wrote the song fairly quickly but shooting the video took more time.
“[It] took me a year and a half to complete this vision.”
During the process of making the video, Scott did a lot of research about depression and mental health, and she says the video shows her vulnerability.
“Putting myself out there and the truth about my mistakes. And the things I learned. It’s not just my mistakes, it’s so many people, not just me,” she says.
Focusing on the love
Scott wanted to be in the video, which meant she had to cast her husband and children.
She says the scenes with the actor who plays Ira pushed her out of her comfort zone and forced her to let go of her insecurities.
“I really put myself out there,” Scott says, adding it was a difficult video to shoot and that each scene took several hours because she would cry often between takes.
She told herself not to focus on the last time she saw her husband and how upset, angry, mad, sad, and traumatized she was.
“Remember his smile and his love and how he loved his kids,” she told herself, adding it helped to think of the happiness and love she shared with Ira.
“That was the healing part.”
Letting go of the anger
Scott says she was mad at Ira for so long that she only visited his gravesite for the first time about a month ago.
“It took me four years to go sit and look at a stone because I was so mad at him,” she says.
Scott credits the music video for helping her cope.
“[It] basically played out my life in the video, which people might think is crazy, but it was super healing for me to finally look back at myself,” she says, adding she directed and edited the video herself.
“In the end, when I saw it all together, I still cry when I look at it. I’m like, that’s me, it’s my life. I wasn’t accepting it before. I wasn’t seeing that reality.”
Scott wants the deeply personal video to have a positive impact.
“I want to show everybody that he was just a family man who loved his kids and loved me but he was totally empty inside and feeling numb and feeling nothing. And he was super scared and in lots of pain and didn’t know how to tell me.”
Message of kindness
Scott hopes the video for “I Feel Nothing, Nothing At All” will resonate with people going through something similar and perhaps help them recognize the signs of mental illness.
She also wants to shine a light on men’s mental health and how many men hide how they are feeling.
Scott encourages people to learn their family history regarding manic depressive disorders, bipolar disorder, and other mental health issues.
She also has a simple message: be kind and don’t judge or analyze others.
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