The One Song That Made Me Feel Less Alone as Someone With Depression
Music has been saving my life for as long as I can remember. I have a song for every mood, every feeling, every thought. You could ask me what I think about when I hear a specific song, or a memory I associate with that song, and I wouldn’t hesitate with my answer. Most people hate taking public transportation, but it’s actually therapeutic for me. I listen to a playlist and have alone time, with either lyrics of my favorite songs or lyrics from new songs that will become one of my favorites. So it comes as no surprise that over the years, I’ve found a myriad of songs that have described who I am and what my depression is like.
Songs by the likes of Linkin Park, Good Charlotte, Fall Out Boy, Paramore, Lorde, Ed Sheeran and The Used. You’ll notice a trend that the majority of these musicians are in the pop punk genre, a genre that has never shied away from discussing hard feelings. A genre that, for a while, was commonly criticized for being whiny or too emotional. But for people who struggle with mental illnesses, this genre was a life saver. It’s a genre that kept so many of us afloat when we felt like we were sinking.
Nothing made me feel the way that “Welcome To My Life” by Simple Plan did, though. It was a little tricky to come up with which Simple Plan song I wanted to write about, there are two others that really describe how I feel any given day, but I decided to go with the one that made me feel most like I wasn’t alone. The one that made me feel like even if I was broken, that it was OK, and that I wasn’t the only one.
The exact moment I heard this song is lost in the recesses of my mind, unfortunately; but I remember every single time I’ve heard it live (which is a lot). The way everybody in the crowd screams the words — so loudly that if the singers microphone broke, it wouldn’t matter.
This song was released in 2004, and at the time, I was in the 10th grade. I had been struggling with depression and self-harm for many years prior, and not only was I struggling, I was struggling alone. I was constantly overwhelmed with emotions — emotions that I didn’t know how to handle, emotions that I simply didn’t understand. Most of the time, if I wasn’t cutting myself, I was taking excessive amounts of pills; and if I wasn’t doing that, I was sleeping or holed up in my room, ignoring everyone and everything around me. And for the longest time, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong with me. Why couldn’t I be like the other kids? Why couldn’t I be like my friends? Or my siblings? I was different and when you’re young, those differences can be confusing and impossible to reconcile.
Then my favorite band dropped a new single, called “Welcome To My Life.” And even though my depression didn’t make sense, I felt like there was someone on my side and they understood. I felt seen. I felt validated. Like my pain wasn’t an overreaction or an over-exaggeration. Not only were they in my corner, but they were stating that others didn’t know what it was like — and they were right. It was a call of solidarity and a beacon of hope for people who felt alone, misunderstood, hurt. For people who didn’t feel OK. It was a way for people like me to connect with other people who felt the same.
One of my favorite parts about the song is the lyric, “You might think I’m happy but I’m not gonna be OK.” You spend so long trying to cover up the depression. You smile but it never quite reaches your eyes — but nobody ever looks that closely. You laugh but it’s never as real as everybody thinks it is. We grow up in a society that tells us to just smile through the pain, fake it until you make it; but for most of us, that doesn’t work. To me, this song was about breaking the silence.
Even now, 14 years and a handful of traumatic experiences later, I still come back to this song. It’s a song that somehow momentarily frees me from the prison cell in my mind. Obviously, this song didn’t cure my depression, and I’d never want anybody to believe that it did. But it did give my 14-year-old self peace of mind when my thoughts were at war with each other.
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Unsplash image via Alice Moore