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7 Kelly Clarkson Songs That Help Me Through Periods of Depression and Anxiety

I don’t follow any musicians or bands in particular. Usually, I just browse around and listen to the music as my mood fluctuates. Kelly Clarkson, however, is something special. Kelly Clarkson has helped me through my periods of depression and anxiety through countless songs, many of which I believe are directed to communities of people struggling with what I do. Although I began appreciating the influence of her music early in high school, I gradually forgot about her until very recently, several years later. Here is the list of my favorite songs by her, and how each has impacted me.

1. “Breakaway

I’ll spread my wings, and I’ll learn how to fly.

I’ll do what it takes till I touch the sky.

I often find myself spacing out, thinking about regrets from my past or fantasizing about an overly-optimistic and often unattainable future. I’ve read people with depression often perceive their plight as a bird with a broken wing. I might not look that different at first, but as you get to know me, my spots and blemishes may begin to appear. And when I see everyone else — my friends, my loved ones — taking flight, I want to join them. But every time I try — sometimes forgetting my brokenness — I spiral to the ground. But I do my best to keep the ember of hope alive.

Trying hard to reach out…

But when I tried to speak out…

Felt like no one could hear me.

Many people find it difficult to reach out to loved ones, even if we hope they would do the same to us if they were ever troubled. But I often find it hard to take my own advice. Because in those rare times I do reach out or speak out, I am often misunderstood. Sometimes, being misunderstood is even worse than struggling in silence. Some well-intending people are quick to offer advice or “solutions.” Sometimes it feels like they can’t actually hear me.

2. “Behind These Hazel Eyes

I told you everything,

Opened up and let you in.

You made me feel alright,

For once in my life.

Now all that’s left of me,

Is what I pretend to be.

Sewn together, but so broken up inside.

Cause I can’t breathe,

No, I can’t sleep,

I’m barely hanging on.

The terrifying truth behind this song is this is the reality many of us live. We try to open up to other people, still very much scared of being misunderstood. The anxiety that accompanies this can be unbearable. And just like people with high-functioning anxiety and/or depression, I can seem “sewn together” from the outside, “but so broken up inside.” For me, it’s like being suffocated, except there is no rest afterwards. The reality for many is so much darker, and yet many won’t let you see it if they can help it, because they are afraid of rejection or judgment. “You won’t get to see the tears I cry… Behind these hazel eyes”

3. “People Like Us

And hey, yeah I know what you’re going through.

Don’t let it get the best of you, you’ll make it out alive.

Oh, people like us we’ve gotta stick together,

Keep your head up, nothing lasts forever

We are all misfits living in a world on fire.

I feel this song is self-explanatory. It summarizes the necessity of having such a close-knit community as we have here on The Mighty. We need each other to support each other, both in the grieving and the healing process.

4. “Catch My Breath

I don’t wanna be left behind.

Distance was a friend of mine.

Catching my breath, letting it go,

Turning my cheek for the sake of this show.

Now that you know, this is my life,

I won’t be told what’s supposed to be right.

I believe people with depression can really relate to this song. I don’t want to get left behind, but it seems like no matter what I try to do, it inevitably happens. Then I space out or isolate myself from the ones I love and the ones who love me, hoping they will forget me, while at the same time hoping they will come after me. This song also speaks to the persona I put on for others. It’s hard to get rid of, and even harder to confide in others when you fear you might just get lectured at. For people who don’t understand the problem, they can’t really understand the solution.

5. “Dark Side

There’s a place that I know,

It’s not pretty there and few have ever gone.

If I show it to you now,

Will it make you run away?

This whole song is a question about whether we will be accepted by those we love. Will they still love me “even when it hurts”? It’s a scary question I grapple with on a near-daily basis. But Kelly brings up a great point when she says “everybody has a dark side.” Everyone has problems, and we shouldn’t be ashamed of ours, even though there may currently be a stigma. This song is fascinating, but the music video perhaps even more so. Kelly sings in a dark, but beautiful outfit. Normal looking people are shown struggling in silence, in what appears to be isolation.

6. “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,

Stand a little taller

This is one of Kelly’s most popular songs. This song speaks to the battle, which can be years long or even lifelong. With every passing day, week, month, year, I just grow stronger. I mature through the battle, and as long as I intentionally strive for it, I can let the darkness form me into the person I want to be. Living in darkness just means when I finally see the light, the color is that much more beautiful.

7. “Heartbeat Song

I can feel it rising,

Temperature inside me,

Haven’t felt for a long time.

Lastly, my favorite song. Sometimes, we just need to pause and breathe. Kelly has reminded me of this countless times. Feel your heart – feel it pumping. Feel the life as it surges through you. Your heartbeat means purpose. Even when your mind discourages you, your body keeps moving to keep you alive to fight another day. When you feel your heart, remember that you have a purpose here on this planet and that that heart is meant to love. Don’t let it go to waste. Even when all seems hopeless, remember to love so you can feel your heartbeat again.

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Photo via Kelly Clarkson Facebook page.