Critics have heralded Melody Pool as one of the best songwriters in Australia. She has been chosen as the support act for recent Australian tours by the Eagles and Rodriguez, and played alongside the Milk Carton Kids in a tour of the United Kingdom and Europe.
But the 25-year-old singer from Kurri Kurri in New South Wales struggles with demons that threaten to derail her budding stellar career.
Five years ago Melody met singer Harry Hookey at the Tamworth Country Music Festival and fell in love.
The romance ended when Melody discovered the man of her dreams had been two-timing her with an acquaintance. She fell apart.
Her parents remember Melody sobbing and banging her head against the shower. Like many young people, she didn’t know how to handle her overwhelming emotion at the inevitable break-up of her relationship.
She put her heartache on the page, writing raw songs about Harry and her feelings. Her songwriting has been compared with that of Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell.
“I’ve never worked with anybody that puts that much blood on the page. Critically I think Melody is a darling of the industry.” – Shane Nicholson, singer and music producer
“She conquers who conquers herself.” – Mexican-American singer-songwriter Rodriguez
“She knows what she’s doing artistically and she’s there to share her story, so it’s funny sometimes when people can’t handle her truth.” – Ella Hooper, singer
But despite the accolades for her music, Melody’s turmoil continued.
“I didn’t know whether I was OCD or bipolar or had autism, like I had no idea what was going on in my head. It was almost as if like I was in a glass bubble and people were talking to me and I could hear them and I could hear what they were saying but it wasn’t sinking in.” – Melody Pool
When she first sought medical help, she was told to “stop being a drama queen”.
“I did think it was more than just heartbreak.” – Harry Hookey, singer and former partner
“We felt it was our fault. We felt what have we done; what have we done wrong; why is Melody like this, why?” – Annie Pool, Melody’s mother
It was only when friends encouraged her to see their GP that Melody was finally diagnosed with clinical depression and treated with antidepressants.
According to Beyond Blue, suicide is the biggest killer of young Australians. Anxiety affects one in six young Australians and depression affects one in sixteen.
Monday night’s episode of Australian Story provides a rare insight to a disease that is at epidemic proportions.
Unchained Melody premieres on Australian Story, 8 pm Monday 20 February on ABC & ABC iview