How Taylor Swift's Music Helps Me Through the Bad Days of My Illness
It has never been a secret for the people that know me that I have always been a big Taylor Swift fan. While for years I have dealt with my friends and coworkers giving me a hard time about being such a die hard “Swiftie,” I have never truly put into words why her music and the way she lives her life inspires me so much.
I have loved music ever since I was old enough to sing. One of the best memories I have as a child was singing and dancing with my grandpa in the living room to country music like Alan Jackson and my personal favorite at the time, the Dixie Chicks. I was diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis when I was 18 months old and was limited from doing the normal physical activity you would expect of a kid going through elementary school and junior high. By the time my rheumatologist signed off on sports, it was too late. I played, but man, was I terrible. I always just felt extremely disconnected from other kids on the team because they have all been playing together for four years or more at that point. Music was the one thing I had and still to this day it is what helps me get through some of the worst days of my disease.
When I first heard Taylor Swift, I was actually on MySpace and she had just released a few songs like “Tim McGraw” and “Tear Drops On My Guitar.” When her full album came out I went to Target and bought it. After listening to the album on my CD player, sitting in my room alone, it was the first time I felt as though someone was putting into words how I was feeling – but I never knew how to say it.
Living with this disease my whole life has been challenging to say the least. It always used to be something where I thought, “It is what it is, you can’t change it so there is no since in being upset about it.” Continuing to tell myself that only made living everyday worse and worse. I was miserable, in pain, and I felt completely alone until I heard “Tied Together With a Smile:”
“Hold on, baby, you’re losing it
The water’s high, you’re jumping into it
And letting go
And no one knows
That you cry, but you don’t tell anyone
That you might not be the golden one
And you’re tied together with a smile
But you’re coming undone”
I remember being 13 years old and thinking, “Holy crap, I am not alone. Someone gets it.” From that day on, I have been the biggest Taylor Swift supporter I can be and she continues to help me through my worst days by putting into words things that I never could.
Some days with my disease are harder than others. Not only do I struggle with my arthritis which has touched every joint in my body, but I also have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, which attacks the nerves and leaves me feeling restless most nights. Most days I struggle to open my jaw wide enough to take a large bite of food and in the winter I have a constant limp when I walk. I also have struggled with depression, and this is part of my story that I do not openly talk about. I have always been the type of person who felt the need to make sure everyone else was happy, I strived to be loved and to be liked. The older I became the harder dealing with and understanding my disease had become. Taylor Swift and her music helped me through some of my darkest days.
The last example I will give you is from 2015. My fiance, now husband, bought us tickets to see the 1989 tour when she was visiting Columbus and I was so excited. Yes, we had nose bleed seats – but I couldn’t wait. During the 1989 set Taylor talks to the crowd in between two songs. Each stop was a little different, but she sticks with the same points and I really want to share it with you. Here is Taylor’s “Clean” speech from Columbus, on September 18th, 2015:
“You are not the opinion of somebody who doesn’t know you. You are not damaged goods if you have made mistakes in your life. And you are not going nowhere just because you haven’t gotten where you want to go yet. The way I think it works is that you are brave, and wiser, and stronger, and smarter because you took the risks that it takes to trust people, to be open, to be loving, and to make mistakes. And maybe people will hurt you, maybe people will take advantage of you, maybe you’ll get betrayed more than the cynical people. But I think your life will be so much more beautiful if you stay open and you stay loving.”
Yes, I am very aware that Taylor Swift will never know my name or my struggles. But I hope through all the negative press, snake emojis, and made-up celebrity feuds that she knows that even through all that, she has helped a lonely 13-year-old girl grow up to be a strong woman. I will always fight for her because her music has helped me become the person I am today.
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Photo courtesy of Taylor Swift’s Facebook page