Music has been my sanctuary as long as I can remember. When I would have an awful day, I would drown everything out once I put on my headphones. Sometimes uplifting songs and other times ones that made me feel like someone understood my pain.
Here are 7 songs that have helped me out over the years and I hope they can help you:
Note: I shared the YouTube video for each song and if you want to read the lyrics, click on the song titles.
This song gained popularity through the film Garden State, but I remember randomly finding the song years later when I was a young teen. It always stood out to me because of the symphonic quality of the music and Imogen Heap singing lyrics I needed to hear. “There’s beauty in the breakdown” is still one of my favorite lyrics of all-time.
This song got me through many panic attacks during high school. The drumming mimics the pounding of your heart when you’re stressed out and the lyrics articulated the my social anxiety and fear of making a fool of myself in front of others, “I tremble /They’re gonna eat me alive /If I stumble /They’re gonna eat me alive/ Can you hear my heart beating like a hammer…Help, I’m alive my heart keeps beating like a hammer”,
while also being a pep talk,”If my life is mine/What shouldn’t I do?” The song is just a great, modern classic rock song and the singer is a kickass woman.
For the days you need to spend decompressing, this is a chill song that’s the perfect soundtrack to that day. With lyrics like, “You feel it all around. You know it’s yours and no one else.”, the lyrics grasp the weight of mental illness while the music is summary and electronic. Also, for those who are Portlandia fans, it’s the show’s theme song. Washed Out’s music is great for those of us who over analyze when we should be sleeping because it’s slower and helps slow the racing thoughts.
Ever experience OCD or at least rapid, unwanted thoughts? Have seemingly irrational fears? This song’s for you. The lead singer shares his fears and dislikes (“…I hate the ocean, theme parks and airplanes, talking with strangers and waiting in line”), uncomfortable sides of living with mental health issues (“I’m through with these pills that make me sit still…I used to rely on self-medication. I guess I still do that from time to time”, and some positive sentiments (“But I’m getting better at fighting the future”). I found this song on Fuse when I was 12 or 13 and it has stayed with me since.
This song got me through high school. I have always felt like the “other” and that feeling was most prevalent during my teen years. To me this song’s lyrics encompasses my experiencing wearing a happy song while the emotional hurricane in my head made me feel like a monster. The music is super peppy while the chorus goes, “I change shapes just to hide in this place, but I’m still I’m still an animal…”. It also talks about some unhealthy way to “fill a hole” in your life. Seeing this song live was an equivalent of a religious experience for me. It was surreal that I finally saw it live for the first time after I overcame many of the struggles I went through when I first fell in love with the song.
This is one of those songs that stuck with me from the first listen. Not only is the singer amazing, the lyrics are relatable for those of use who live with mental illness, especially depression, but with a hopeful twist. My favorite lines are in the chorus, “All my dealings are behind me. Everything was black and white inside, but I’m seeing color.” It’s a feel good indie rock song with good lyrics. What’s not to love?
This song, while being the one I discovered last, is probably the most meaningful to me. Fun fact: I love K-pop (Korean pop), but especially BTS, a 7 member K-pop/rap group that I adore. They’re know for their amazing singing, rapping, and dancing, self-produced songs, and meaningful lyrics. Their song “Tomorrow” is a fan favorite because even though it’s not originally in English, it describes exactly what depression feels like:
“Same day, same moon. 24/7 every moment repeats…”
“Every single day is a repetition of ctrl+c, ctrl+v [Copy and Paste].”
“I have a long way to go but why am I running in place?/
I scream out of frustration but the empty air echoes/
I hope tomorrow will be different from today/
But I’m just wishing.”
I remember getting chills and having tears in my eyes because One of the rappers (and my favorite member), Suga, who composed the sop, wrote the first verse, prechorus and the chorus of the song and was inspired by his experiences with mental illness.
On two of his mixtape tracks, he elaborated on how he has had depression, a social phobia, OCD, and had seen a psychiatrist, all of which are taboo topics in Korea, which has one of the highest rates of suicide in the world.Rap Mon, one of the other rappers, has also discussed he has experienced depression. This song isn’t completely sad though, at the heart of the song are inspirational messages of why people shouldn’t give up. The verse by J-Hope, the third rapper, encompasses it:
“Tomorrow, keep walking, we’re too young to stop.
Tomorrow, open the door, we see too much to shut it.
When the dark night passes, a bright morning will come.
When tomorrow comes, the bright light will shine so don’t worry.
This isn’t a stop but just a pause in your life for a break.”
The line, “Don’t get too far away, tomorrow” is especially meaningful to me because it made me think about how I used to dread having to wake up another day. Tomorrow was like a 4 letter word to me and now it’s something I look forward to.
What are your favorite mental health songs? Feel free to tweet me @Soupernic to share your faves.
Love and light -Nic