Florence and the Machine

18 Songs That Remind People With Mental Illness They Are Not Alone


While it seems like we have a hard time talking about mental illnesses in real life, music has always been a way to express what is hard to say out loud. Maybe before you realized what you were experiencing had a name, a certain song let you know that at the very last, you weren’t alone.

We asked people in our mental health community to share which song touched them as someone living with a mental illness. Here’s our list — and check out the Spotify playlist at the bottom.

1. “Fight Song” — Rachel Platten

And all those things I didn’t say / Wrecking balls inside my brain / I will scream them loud tonight / Can you hear my voice this time?

“Her lyrics always remind me of how strong I am. Anxiety can make some days a struggle, but there’s always a better day ahead. I am a fighter. I refuse to give up.” — Chelle Hayes

2. “Mad Hatter” — Melanie Martinez

Doctor, doctor please listen / My brain is scattered / You can be Alice / I’ll be the mad hatter

“It’s like taking society’s misconceptions of mental illness and rolling with it, but saying we’re really great, and that plenty of people are that way.” — Aoife Gray

3. “Home” — Meg Hutchinson

I won’t tell you what I’ve seen / Only that this world can be so mean / Brave souls shuffling up and down the halls / No one visits no one even calls / Did you wait there too?

 

“She’s a singer/songwriter with bipolar disorder who’s an open mental health advocate and panelist for Active Minds. This song is about her recovery.” —  Nicole Moreland

4. “Unwell” — Matchbox Twenty

All day staring at the ceiling/ Making friends with shadows on my wall / All night hearing voices telling me / That I should get some sleep / Because tomorrow might be good for something

“I was a teenager, alone in my depression when it was released. For the first time I felt like I wasn’t alone and realized other people knew what it was like to feel so isolated, alone and different.” — Alexandra Ellen

5. “Warrior” — Demi Lovato

All the pain and the truth / I wear like a battle wound / So ashamed, so confused / I was broken and bruised

“She’s my idol for several different reasons, the main one being we both [experience] extreme cases of mental illness and she does everything in her power to raise awareness. She lets everyone who’s going through something in their lives know it’ll be OK.” — Mackenzie Klaiber

6. “The Middle” — Jimmy Eat World

Hey / Don’t write yourself off yet / It’s only in your head you feel left out or looked down on

7. “Breathe Me” — Sia

Ouch, I have lost myself again / Lost myself and I am nowhere to be found / Yeah I think that I might break / Lost myself again, and I feel unsafe.

 

8. “About Today” — The National

Today / You were far away / And I / Didn’t ask you why / What could I say / I was far away / You just walked away / And I just watched you / What could I say

“I don’t know if it was originally intended to be this way, but I interpreted the song like a man talking to his significant other about her anxiety or depression and how he doesn’t understand but wants to. I’ve been on the other side of the sad questions he asks her in the song and have felt that desperation of not knowing how to answer them or help him understand. It’s a patient song. The singer is patient but he can’t help but feel like he’s losing her because of the emotional distance between them.” — Katie Cline

9. “Shake It Out” — Florence + The Machine

Regrets collect like old friends / Here to relive your darkest moments / I can see no way, I can see no way / And all of the ghouls come out to play

“This has always been my go-to song when I’m having a rough day. The lyrics are perfect and seem to fit my depression to a T, while still reminding me to move on and keep going.” — Jamie DeAnn

10. “Drown” — Bring Me The Horizon

What doesn’t destroy you, leaves you broken instead / Got a hole in my soul growing deeper and deeper / And I can’t take one more moment of this silence / The loneliness is haunting me / And the weight of the world’s getting harder to hold up

“Every feeling I had was described in that one song and made me realize I really wasn’t alone. It helped my husband understand what was going on with me.” — Stacey Cora-May Luscott

11. “Spirits” — The Strumbellas

I got guns in my head and they won’t go / Spirits in my head and they won’t go

“It’s like an anthem, but better.” — Beverly Jo

12. “Migrane” — Twenty One Pilots

And I know that I can fight, or I can let the lion win / I begin to assemble what weapons I can find / ‘Cause sometimes to stay alive you gotta kill your mind

“It’s such a perfect depiction of depression for me. It’s a perfect mix of sad and uplifting lyrics and when I finish listening to it, I always feel content, even for just a moment.” — Laura Findley

13. “Eet” — Regina Spektor

It’s like forgetting the words to your favorite song / You can’t believe it / You were always singing along / It was so easy and the words so sweet / You can’t remember / You try to feel the beat

14. “The Monster” — Eminem (feat. Rihanna)

I’m friends with the monster that’s under my bed / Get along with the voices inside of my head

“I’d like to get along with my mental illness and have the control — that means I’d be friends with it instead of enemies.” — Danika Sanderson

15. “They Know My Name” – Big Little Lions

“These monsters are hiding within my brain / They roar and they shout / and they know my name

16. “Gasoline” – Halsey

I think there’s a flaw in my code / These voices won’t leave me alone / Well my heart is gold and my hands are cold

17. “Hit The Switch” — Bright Eyes

I’m completely alone at a table of friends / I feel nothing for them / I feel nothing, nothing.

“Perfectly encapsulates the alienation and robbery of feelings that is characteristic of depression.” — Matthew Williams

18. “Mad World” — Gary Jules

And I find it kinda funny, I find it kinda sad / The dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had / I find it hard to tell you, I find it hard to take / When people run in circles it’s a very very / mad world mad world

Do you have a song to add? Tell us in the comment below.

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

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

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woman wearing clay face mask

9 Mental Health Items Every Student Needs on Their Back-to-School Shopping List


Now that August is officially upon us, it’s time for new and returning college students to get ready to head back to campus. And with that comes the endless back-to-school shopping trips to stock up on everything you need — textbooks, snacks, school supplies, dorm decorations and so much more.

But do you have anything on that list to help support your mental health? Take a look at these nine items, all of which have helped me better take care of my mental (and physical) health during the school year.

Sleep

It’s one of the most important (and most frequently sacrificed) aspects of mental health maintenance — especially for college students. I’m a big fan of sleep (and good sleep at that). Here are some of the products I’ve used to help myself get eight full hours of shut-eye each night:

1. A White Noise Sound Machine ($49.89)

This handy gadget is perfect for anyone who has a noisy roommate. It has a built-in fan that re-creates the sound of rushing air, creating “white noise” and effectively blocking out noise on a broad range of frequencies. Fraternity brothers chanting outside? No problem. Roommate stumbling in after a fun night out? You can’t hear them, you’re fast asleep.

2. Lavender Breathe Right Nasal Strips ($12.19 for a pack of 26)

OK, so I was first introduced to these little angels because my husband snores. He went out and bought these and at first I made fun of him — “you got lavender nasal strips?” but now I use them every night. First of all, they help me breathe better, even if I’m not that stuffy. And the lavender scent is just lovely, it totally helps lull me to sleep. Sorry for making fun of your fancy strips, Rich!

3. Melatonin tablets ($4.84 for a bottle of 60)

On nights when I feel wound up and know getting to sleep won’t be easy, I take a melatonin tablet to help make myself tired. Melatonin is a hormone your brain produces to help control your sleep and wake cycles. Doctors were able to replicate that hormone in tablet form, so you can help tell your body, “Hey, it’s time to go to sleep.” Just make sure you don’t take too much, or waking up can be really difficult!

Stress Relief & Self-Care

No matter how hard we fight it, stress is a natural part of college (and life, for that matter). But there are things we can do to reduce stress and help ourselves cope. Here are some of my favorite stress relief and self-care products:

4. A Microwavable Neck/Shoulder Heat Wrap ($20.99)

I’m one of those people who carries my stress in my neck and shoulders — I develop these big terrible knots that make hunching over a book or computer painful. My sister introduced me to these neck/shoulder heat wraps and they’re amazing — just pop one in the microwave for 30 seconds and you’ve got a lovely heating pad to help soothe muscles and decrease your stress.

5. Eucalyptus Spearmint Pillow Mist ($15.00)

OK, so this kind of also falls into the sleep category, but this pillow mist from Bath and Body Works is amazing. Just spritz a little on your pillow case before you go to sleep and it will help you unwind and de-stress. I also used to spray some on my winter scarf when I was on my way to a stressful exam or presentation; I’d take deep breaths and calm myself, instead of being anxious about the impending assignment.

6. Carbonated Bubble Clay Mask ($10.39)

I’m a huge fan of face masks for self-care purposes. I have several, but my favorite one to use when I’m stressed is the Elizavecca Milky Piggy Carbonated Bubble Clay Mask. It goes on like a normal face mask, but the oils from your skin activate the carbonation and it starts to bubble. Like, a lot. Here’s a picture of me the last time I used it. I spent most of the time laughing at myself; it’s just fun to use. And then once you rinse it off, your skin is beautifully clean and soft. Win-win!

Physical Wellness

There’s no such thing as mental health without physical health and vice versa. So here are a few products I’ve used (or, in the case of the tea kettle,wish I had used) that benefit both!

10. An Infusion Water Bottle ($12.95)

I know hydration is an important part of wellness, but I have such a hard time drinking enough water every day. One thing that’s really helped is using an infusion water bottle so the water tastes better; I actually want to drink the water, instead of feeling like I need to. Just store some lemons, limes or berries in your mini fridge and toss them into the infuser whenever you want to spruce up your water.

11. A Pill Organizer ($8.95)

Just like I’m bad at forgetting to drink enough water, I often forget to take my anti-depressant. Or, I’ll take it but then a few hours later I can’t remember if I did or not. I decided to buy a pill organizer, so I always know whether I took it that day or not. I put it in a place I’m sure to see it (right on my desk), instead of  deep at the bottom of my purse where I might see it. I haven’t missed a dose since I bought this!

12. An Electric Tea Kettle ($14.79)

I was a huge coffee drinker in college. I worked at the student newspaper until the wee hours of the night and would guzzle cups of Joe like it was nobody’s business. It took a real toll on my teeth and made it harder for me to unwind before bed. I highly recommend trying to switch to tea, or at least subbing in at least one cup of tea for coffee each day. There’s something super soothing about a nice cup of hot tea.

Did you know when you shop Amazon Smile, a portion of all your sales can go to Active Minds and our life-saving work? Pretty cool, huh? Start shopping at smile.amazon.com and help us change the world!

Educational concepts, blackboard after school

5 Ways to Be the High School Teacher a Struggling Student Needs


I have been teaching high school for eight years in the public school system. I have taught in two different states and three different schools. With each school, I experienced different socioeconomic levels and different ability levels of students. No matter what, I followed these practices because I never wanted to be the most knowledgeable, the most rigorous, or (gasp) the one with the highest test scores. I became a teacher to be the one there for students. I wanted to be the one a student could come to on his worst day and feel safe or heard. Here’s how I became that teacher year after year:

Write a letter about yourself on the first day of school. Mine was raw and true. I made it into the students’ first writing assignment, as they had to write back. It was unbelievable what many revealed and how much I learned. They saw me as a person, not just a teacher. And, for some, they had just been waiting for a chance, a place, to release some stress.

Greet your students at the door every day. This seems so simple but is the toughest because of everything else the job demands and how little time exists between classes. It also feels repetitive, but I realized I might be the only person who said “hi” or “good morning” with a smile to certain students.

Learn their names within a day or two. This was my self-imposed first-day-of-school homework. I would take a large chunk of time on the first day just calling roll. I’d have a print-out of each student’s picture, write the phonetic spelling of their name, and note one memorable attribute about them to aid in memory retention.

Have them fill out an information sheet and use it to check in. I would get basic information about their interests, if they had a job, what their family was like, etc. I would then make it a point to ask one student per class something specific about him or her. After a few weeks, it’s natural, and I was genuinely interested.

Insert anecdotes about your own life into your daily teaching. True, funny stories to the entire class that relate to the content or empathetic stories to a student who is experiencing something similar mean you’re more than the keeper of information; you are a role model and a source of guidance.

One thing many of my students struggle with is being told their problems are not real problems. We adults are caught up in our own, and it’s too easy to dismiss a high school break up, a fight between best friends, or a rejection letter from a college. We tend to accept that if we survived it all, so can they. But mental illness is present in teens and many schools do not have social workers available. Even when one is available, a teacher who has built rapport with her students is a valuable asset to teens with suicidal tendencies, anxiety, or depression.

Image via Thinkstock.

Donald Trump

What You Should Think About Before You Tweet #DiagnoseTrump


To become President of the United States, you first must:

1) be a national born citizen of the United States.

2) be at least 35 years old.

3) have lived in the United States for at least 14 years.

Then, there are other qualities people look for in their candidate: leadership experience, some set of values that match their own, a deep understanding of our economy and other issues that affect the American people every day.

So why are we now trying to diagnosis Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump with a mental illness, as if that is what would disqualify him from the job?

On Wednesday, California congresswoman Karen Bass launched a petition calling for a mental health examination of Donald Trump. To promote her efforts, she started the hashtag: #DiagnoseTrump.

Now, there’s plenty to criticize Donald Trump about. Pick your battle: his comments about women and veterans, the Muslims ban, the wall… And sure, you can even criticize his temperament. Maybe you don’t like the guy at all.

But whether or not he has a diagnosable mental illness shouldn’t be part of the conversation. Because if he did have a mental illness, that wouldn’t be a reason he shouldn’t be president. What are we trying to gain from slapping on a diagnosis?

In her petition, Rep. Ball claims Trump meets the criteria for narcissistic personality disorder. But she also says, “The American Psychiatrist Association has declared it unethical for psychiatrists and psychologists to ‘comment on an individual’s mental state without examining him personally and having the patient’s consent to make such comments.’”

So, let’s not.

As expected, the hashtag has already led to stigmatizing tweets:

 

But, some have spoken up about the problematic nature of the hashtag.

So before you #DiagnoseTrump, check out the tweets below — and think about what you’re really saying.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lead photo: Donald J. Trump

hallway in a hospital

Going to a 'Mental Hospital' Does Not Make You Weak


During the fall of 2015, I chose to admit myself to a mental health facility. It was not an easy decision, but it was one I wouldn’t trade for the world. In October, I started to have constant flashbacks from a traumatic event that occurred during my childhood. For an entire week I could not eat, sleep or function.

Thankfully, I have some amazing friends who helped me get through the worst week of my life. I thought I felt like I was going “crazy” and it would never end. My therapist gave me some great advice I still use to this day, “Take it day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute”.

By the end of the week, I was taking that advice literally. I was exhausted and still having flashbacks. Something had to give. I called my therapist at 3 a.m. and I explained how hopeless I was feeling. She told me to take it 15 minutes at a time. I would talk to my friend and watch television for 15 minutes, and she would call me back. After a few hours, she asked me what I needed to do, and I hesitantly said I needed to go to the hospital. I think I knew that’s where I was headed. She just helped me come to that conclusion on my own.

The first hospital I went to had no psychological staff, and I was treated more like an animal than a human. They threatened to commit me to a hospital that would not have been best for me. My therapist arranged for me to stay at a different hospital, one that she was familiar with. Eventually, they begrudgingly let me go.

When I arrived, there was an intake process. It was difficult for me to convince them I needed a bed. I told them I was admitting myself because I knew I would be a danger to myself if I went back home. I had to stand up for myself. You can stand up for yourself. You know what you need. What I needed was immediate care for the state I was in. I needed to be stabilized. What I didn’t realize was the hospital was going to give me so much more than I expected.

I’m not writing to say everything was great. It was miserable at times. I had to share a room with someone who was convinced I was going to kill her. I had to shower without a door. They took my blood pressure at 3:30 a.m. every morning. I met people who were constantly in and out of the hospital because they didn’t have the support they needed outside of the hospital. I missed my friends. Sometimes the staff was unfriendly. However, the bad does not outweigh the good.

Being in the hospital was like a being at boarding school. It was nothing like what I had seen in the movies. Everything is structured. We had activity time, group therapy, mealtime, outdoor time and bedtime. It was not a demeaning schedule. It helped us have structure so we could get better.

When I met with my psychiatrist, he listened to me. When I talked in group therapy, people understood me. We were all broken, and were trying to heal. We all had a story, and I had the privilege to hear stories that other people will never hear.  I grew close to people who came from different walks of life. They were the ones going through this with me. I learned coping skills I didn’t know I needed. I learned to love people better.

After five days, I left a healthier person. I was not magically cured. I’m still recovering from the flashbacks. I’m still figuring out medicines. Therapy is still hard. There are friendships that have diminished and friendships that have grown. I am constantly learning new things about myself and sometimes it is painful. It has not been easy, but it has been worth it. Getting the help you need is worth it.

Whether voluntary or involuntary, going to a mental hospital doesn’t make you weak. It doesn’t make you “crazy.” It means someone cares. It means you are strong enough to get yourself help. Don’t see it as a setback. See it as a step forward. Don’t be afraid to seek out help. Tell your therapist where you’re at, even if it means you may need to go to the hospital.

Your stay won’t be the best days of your life, but it will help you stay alive to have those days. Don’t worry about what people will think. You don’t owe them anything. You are strong. You are brave. You are mighty. Don’t suffer alone.

the author holding a book in front of her face

To the People I Need to Remeet Because of My Mental Illness


Do you remember me? We’ve met! Maybe briefly over a shared acquaintance or friends of friends. Maybe we were at a family get together when we had a brief chat? Whenever it was, know this: When we met, I wasn’t myself.

You saw me. You spoke to me. You saw my physical presence, but we didn’t really “meet.” When we met, the real me was somewhere deep, deep down inside, peeking at you from some abyss within myself. I heard you. I answered your questions and I might have even told a funny anecdote, but we didn’t really “meet.” Think back. I probably only spoke about myself, and only when directly asked. I would have given a safe story I knew went down well, and something others had likely heard a hundred times. This was because I was terrified of the impression I would make, and I knew I wasn’t quite myself at that moment. So, I’d give you very little to judge me on. The bare minimum without seeming rude.

I wouldn’t have asked you very many questions for a couple of reasons. Neither one of them being that I don’t care or didn’t want to know about your life. First, I didn’t think you’d really want to have this conversation with me. I’d probably ask some question that would go horribly wrong like, “Are you married?” to the couple going through divorce. Perhaps, I’d ask something that had just been mentioned because I’d drifted momentarily. Normally, I’d be able to laugh this kind of stuff off and navigate the situation smoothly, but not then.

Secondly, it’s exhausting to be out and socializing when you feel like this, like you’re operating some puppet with the world’s heaviest strings. You have to remember to smile at the right time or learn everyone’s names. Normally, I’d love this. I’d be the first person up and chatting. I’d be great with names, but not then.

I probably seemed like a quiet, shy girl with not much to say, nice enough but nothing of substance. I promise, you were seeing 1 percent of me. You were seeing what was left of my personality, after I’d battled with myself to get out of the house and been exhausted by the first conversation I had. You were seeing someone whose other 99 percent was busy at war with their own mind.

You were seeing “energy-saving” Amy. A grey screen had come down, minimal apps were available and further connections would hammer my battery life. Now, I’m pleased to say my battery is fully-charged. I’m back at the helm and I can’t wait for you to meet me properly.

This post originally appeared on hopetheblackdog.com.

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