Billy Joel's 'You're Only Human' Helps Me Through Depression


I haven’t been writing a lot recently. This is in part due to my increasing university work studying social sciences, but mostly due to a sudden attack of depression. I’ve lived with depression on and off since I was 12 years old. Although I wasn’t particularly prepared for the dark clouds’ return, it wasn’t a shock either.

I have also lived with Billy Joel’s songs playing in the background throughout my life. My mum used to dance around the house singing to him. I particularly liked the song “Honesty” and would play it over and over again until mum would pull the plug out of the wall in frustration. As I got older, I became more interested in his entire catalog and particularly a song called “You’re Only Human (Second Wind).” I liked its upbeat sound and often listened to it when I felt depressed. Only recently did I discover that this song actually was written about depression and suicide.

I don’t know why, but a few weeks ago, in the peak of my depression, I popped my Billy Joel CD (well one of them!) into the CD player and for once, really focused on the lyrics.

You probably don’t want to hear advice from someone else
But I wouldn’t be telling you if I hadn’t been there myself
It’s all right, it’s all right
Sometimes that’s all it takes
We’re only human
We’re supposed to make mistakes
But I survived all those long lonely days
When it seemed I did not have a friend
Cause all I needed was a little faith
So I could catch my breath and face the world again
Don’t forget your second wind
Sooner or later you’ll feel that momentum kick in”

Suddenly, a song which had previously been one of my favorites for its music alone, had become my go-to song for my depression. Whenever I feel the dark mist descend, I grab my CD (I have only just upgraded to MP3) and put this song on. When you feel like the world is collapsing around you, it’s lovely to hear someone who has also “been there” remind you this is not the end, you will feel better again.

I highly doubt Billy Joel will see this post, but in the off chance that he does, thank you so much for writing this song for all the depressed teenagers (and adults) in the world. Thank you for getting me through what feels like intolerable, unending pain. Hopefully my second wind will soon come and I will find my way back to my previous state of happiness and productivity. Until then, I have this song to remind me life is always worth fighting for.

If you or someone you know needs help, see our suicide prevention resources.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

The Mighty is asking the following: Describe a scene or line from a movie, song or show that’s stuck with you through your experience with disability, disease or mental illness. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Depression

Being the 'Perfect Gay Guy' Feels Impossible When You Have Depression

When you’re a gay guy there’s this stereotype you have to be happy. At all times. Always. After all, gay does translate to happy when you dig into the dictionary. It’s an expectation, an image that’s hard to keep up. From TV to movies to books and magazines, in the land of gay you’re expected to [...]

What Self-Care Looks Like on the Days My Mental Illness 'Wins'

It’s one of those days I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s one of those days I don’t want to get out of bed. I just want to cover my head and shut out the world. On days like this, I feel like my mental illness is winning. I get out of [...]

5 Ways to Describe My Depression

How do you explain depression? It’s a whole different continent people don’t understand and can’t fully relate to unless they’ve visited it themselves. In college, I had a close friend who was dating a guy who struggled with depression. She had never experienced depression, but was constantly working to grasp it the best she could. [...]
mom holding daughter

The 5 Ways I'll Explain My Depression to My Daughter

At 13 months old, my daughter is too young to understand my battle with depression. But she still picks up on a lot. She knows when I don’t feel well; when I lay on the couch most of the day she will bring me toys and books to prompt me to play with her. When I [...]