How Twenty One Pilots Helped Me Through Depression

This isn’t your typical screaming fan-girl letter to a popular sought-out band. Although many of these statements are going to sound cliche and recurrent, they speak the truth from the heart. Twenty one pilots, a salad-bowl of musical genres, has helped me immensely through my chronic and mental illness journey.

Music is a beautiful thing. I believe if one thing could actively connect the subconscious to the soul, it would be through the harmonious melodies of music. When you put headphones in, it’s like everything around you changes. For just a few moments, everything is OK. Whether you’re jamming out to some rock hit on the radio or having a good cry to a love song after a breakup, our souls can resonate to the satisfaction that music brings. In my case, it was often locking myself in my room blasting twenty one pilots in my ears as I tried blocking out my mind.

“I’m forced to deal with what I feel, there is no distraction to mask what is real.” — “Car Radio” by twenty one pilots

I don’t remember the exact year I first discovered twenty one pilots. It was either the summer of 2014 or the summer of 2015. If I had to guess, I believe the first song I listened to by them was “Car Radio.” I actually wasn’t a fan of the duo at first because I thought Tyler was trying too hard to sing while Josh looked too overwhelming as he played the drums. At the time I was going through one of my darkest periods of depression and anxiety, and the songs I listened to on the radio made me feel exceptionally lonesome. Songs on the radio about getting high, going clubbing and one-night stands made me feel alienated despite the intriguing beats and bass that flowed through one ear and out the other.

For some reason I found myself back on twenty one pilots‘ Youtube channel quite often, listening to and watching every music video they had posted. There was something different about this band. For once in a long time, I didn’t feel so alone anymore.

“No one else is dealing with your demons meaning maybe defeating them could be the beginning of your meaning, friend.”  — “Kitchen Sink” by twenty one pilots

It didn’t take long before I had listened to all of the tracks from their four albums, and Tyler Joseph’s album, “No Phun Intended.” I fell in love with the duo and the lyrical content of their unique genre. For once, I had an interest in something. The more I listened to the songs, the more the meanings changed for me on an emotional level. My soul connected to the words Tyler expressed as Josh poured his heart out on his drums, and it was a beautiful thing. If there was any way to express my jumbled thoughts, it would be through their deep lyrics. Whenever it felt like I was drowning in suicidal thoughts, I listened to twenty one pilots. Whenever I hated the world, I listened to twenty one pilots. Whenever I broke down, I listened to twenty one pilots. Whenever I needed hope, I listened to twenty one pilots.

“Don’t forget about me, even when I doubt you, I’m no good without you.”
— “Doubt” by twenty one pilots.

Not only did these men help me emotionally and mentally, but spiritually as well. When I got sick, I thought God abandoned me. I was doubting Him and it was extremely difficult to put my trust in Him, not to mention the little faith I had left was rapidly slipping through my fingers. I was surprised to discover I could find Christian meaning underneath all the drum banging and lyric screaming. Another reason why I connected so easily.

“Because every time I think I see your face it fades away and turns to grey, then I pray you save the day. Anyhow I just pray that someone hears me now.” — “Hear Me Now” by Tyler Joseph

The message the band is always trying to get out is simple — stay alive. No matter what demons you are fighting, twenty one pilots promises that you will get through them together and that your life is worth living. In their songs they are constantly reminding us that we are not fighting our battles alone and it’s clearly expressed in the emotions they pour into the melodies. Long ago in an interview, Tyler mentioned that if just one person resonated to the music they played, then the band’s purpose would be fulfilled. Surely I am just one in millions who have resonated so easily on such an emotional and complicated level that cannot be described in words.

“Stay alive, stay alive for me. You will die, but now your life is free, take pride in what is sure to die.” — “Truce” by twenty one pilots

So to Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun, thank you. Thank you for the messages and passion you have expressed through your music. Thank you for being the best friends I’ve never met. And thank you for being there in my darkest hours. Thank you.

“We’re twenty one pilots and so are you.” — Tyler Joseph

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

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Image via the twenty one pilots Facebook page

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

Related to Depression

Inside The Mind of Someone With Depression

This is what it can be like in the mind of someone with depression. But there is hope. Created by Wentworth Miller and our community.
person walking a tightrope

Walking the Tightrope of Anxiety and Depression

I open my eyes to see it’s time to get up. My heart starts pounding, and I instantly dread the day ahead. The automatic thought of, “I can’t do this” plays over and over again in my mind. I wish  could stay in bed and not go to school. Then the internal discussion begins. If I [...]
young woman sitting outside

'Something Isn’t Wrong With You, Something Happened to You'

Going through major depression is exhausting, terrifying and debilitating. I understand how you feel, isolated, like everyone around you is out there living, and you are just “existing.” And that’s OK, because you’re still here. I’ve had major depression after a crisis of events that pushed me to the lowest point I have ever been in [...]
sad female student sitting on stairs while others move around her

When Depression Doesn't Look Like the Stock Photos

“Depression” often evokes images of someone staying in bed all day, someone who can’t leave the house, and someone who has difficulty functioning. While this can be the case for some, this is not the case for me. I’m a PhD student, and I go into the lab every day, often on weekends, too. I have a [...]