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?
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.