25 Songs That Have Helped People Living With a Mental Illness
Before I knew what to call the sadness, self-hatred and negative thoughts that consumed me, I would often sit in my room with the lights off and listen to a song on repeat. When I was really young, I’d turn to Avril Lavigne. As a 16-year-old girl, John Mayer. Now, I still have songs I turn to again and again when I’m feeling defeated, and the familiarity helps ground me, like getting a hug from a friend.
No matter what you struggle with, music is often a safe place we can turn. That’s why we asked our mental health community to share one song that helps them get through any struggle with a mental illness.
If you’re looking for more song suggestions, you can always follow The Mighty’s Spotify. You can also download our app and check out the hashtag #MightyMusicCorner to see what others in our community are listening to.
Here are some of the songs our community shared with us:
1. “One More Light” by Linkin Park
“I can’t listen to it without crying because it makes me feel like I matter.” — Isabella G.
2. “Fear Is a Liar” by Zach Williams
“This song literally got me through the most severe and long-lasting panic attack I’ve ever experienced last fall. I played it on repeat for over two hours.” — Vicki T.
3. “Migraine” by twenty one pilots
“‘Am I the only one I know/Waging my wars behind my face and above my throat/Shadows will scream that I’m alone. But I know, we’ve made it this far, kid.’ The whole song resonates with me because I have depression and anxiety. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one with a war going on in my head, where no one can see or help. It reminds me that I’m not alone and that I’ve made it this far. If I made it this far, I can keep going.” — Miranda K.
4. “Who You Are” by Jessie J.
“She reminds me that everyone is going through something, and it’s OK to be a hot mess right now. ‘It’s OK not to be OK/Sometimes it’s hard, to follow your heart/Tears don’t mean you’re losing, everybody’s bruising/Just be true to who you are.’” — Lisa M.
5. “Carry On” by Fun.
“I am driving and just mindlessly keep clicking it to restart as I focus on driving and trying to escape my thoughts. The chorus really hit. ‘If you’re lost and alone or you’re sinking like a stone/Carry on/May your past be the sound of your feet upon the ground and/Carry on.’” — Jen F.
6. “The Greatest Love of All” by Whitney Houston
“I was 16 when it came out and having a really bad time. The line ‘learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all‘ really made me realize that I didn’t even like myself at the time. It really helped me each time I needed it.” — James O.
7. “Not Gonna Die” by Skillet
“It’s a very raw reminder that even though the world is full of darkness and it sometimes feels like no one cares, I need to hold on and keep fighting because there are people in my life that need me in theirs and things will get better.” — Britt B.
8. “Fake Happy” by Paramore
“Never had a song that sums up what it feels like for me living with both generalized anxiety and depression so well until this song came out. Any time I feel like people aren’t understanding or I’m having a really tough time functioning in my daily life, I’ll listen to it and instantly feel understood.” — Kira M.
9. “Into the West” by Annie Lennox
“Makes me feel a little sad. I can get out a cathartic cry, and then I feel really calm and I love the imagery.” — Lisa P.
10. “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten
“This song has helped me through the darkest times. It reminds me that I’m still standing. I really didn’t think I would make it through the last two years, but I’m still fighting on. As hard and as impossible as it may seem, I’m still here.” — Cheryl D.
11. “This Is Me” from “The Greatest Showman”
“It gets me out of bed in the morning, which I’m sure most of y’all know is one of the hardest parts of the day. It gives me confidence. It gives me strength, purpose and power! The line, ‘I make no apologies… this is me,’ gets me over the daily doses of ‘I’m not worthy and I’m just a burden’ moments. It never fails! It’s now my ringtone.” — Brittany H.
12. “Clean” by Taylor Swift
“‘Rain came pouring down when I was drowning/That’s when I could finally breathe’And by morning, gone was any trace of you, I think I am finally clean’10 months older, I won’t give in/Now that I’m clean I’m never gonna risk it.’ I was in an abusive relationship, and I got out. Dealing with GAD [generalized anxiety disorder], depression, PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] and panic disorder is difficult in and of itself, but when you add an abusive partner to the mix, it’s extremely toxic. This song reminds me of how strong I have been. And I’m extremely proud of myself.” — Jessa P.
13. “High Hopes” by Panic! At The Disco
“I had them play it when I was inpatient during a special activity similar to this. It puts me in such a good mood and puts a smile on my face (which is not easy).” — Isabel M.
14. “Get Up” by Shinedown
“The lyrics just speak straight to my soul and remind me that every day is a new day and life is worth fighting for. My favorite part is where he sings, ‘I believe you can do much better, trust me.’ Even though I know he is just signing a song, when I’m feeling down I feel like he’s speaking to me and motivates me to keep going!” — Jaymi A.
15. “Long Way from Happiness” by Elton John
“This is a lesser known song of his, but the melody and lyrics captures depression.. like the lyric that goes: ‘I’ve seen your brightness go from blue to gray.’” — Melissa A.
16. “Level Up” by Vienna Teng
“She has some other songs that hit my feelings hard, but ‘Level Up’ always gets me out of bed and moving. Some of the lyrics serve as a reminder that everyone has things they struggle with, we’ve all been broken somewhere, etc. Plus it reminds me that the only way to fix being alone is… get up and out.” — Hilary H.
17. “When They Call My Name” by Black Veil Brides
“It so perfectly expresses how I feel when I fight depression and suicidal thoughts. I especially love the lyric, ‘It’s a violent world, but today I’m still alive.‘ It reminds me to keep fighting and living. — Jacinta M.
18. “Details in the Fabric” by Jason Mraz
“It’s a song my brother played for me when I was going through one of my deepest, longest lasting bouts of depression and anxiety. It’s been over 10 years since that day and any time I feel anxious or emotionally overwhelmed, I turn on the song, close my eyes and imagine being in the car with him. It was one of the most difficult days of my life but I find so much comfort in the memory because my brother has and will always be the one to hold me up when I can’t stand on my own.” — Libbi S.
19. “Fire Away” by Chris Stapleton
“My boyfriend shared this song with me. He felt that it was a good way to show support for someone with BPD [borderline personality disorder], and he was right. It helps me remember that no matter what I throw at him, he’s going to be there to help me through it, and that gets me through my tough moments. I also have bipolar disorder, but this song screams BPD to me.” — Cassandra D.
20. “Million Reasons” by Lady Gaga
“I’ve spent a lot of time in the psych ward, and listened to that on my headphones over and over. Whenever I’m feeling suicidal, it helps. ‘I’ve got a hundred million reasons to walk away… but baby I just need one good one to stay.‘ It may not have been her intent for the song, but that’s what I take from it, and it has literally saved me numerous times.” — Elissa M.
21. “Where the Lost Things Go” from “Mary Poppins Returns”
“There’s one line in it that really resonated with me: ‘Maybe all your missing lives inside of you.’ It may not be the original meaning the song intended, but it reminds me that I’m not ‘faulty’ or ‘broken’; I hold the power within me to hold on, heal and grow. I have the capacity to feel joy, peace and ‘presence’ again, my mind’s just playing games at the moment. But I am whole, and this too shall pass. — Charlotte H.
22. “Swim” by Jack’s Mannequin
“It reminds me that even if I feel like I’m drowning, even when the world seems to be full of hatred and misunderstanding, and even when I’m dealing with my illnesses — I gotta keep swimming. I can keep swimming. Because ‘the horizon isn’t as far’ as I think.” — Sarah S.
23. “Iris” by Goo Goo Dolls
“For me, it’s such a powerful song and in the refrain he sings: ‘I don’t want the world to see me because I don’t think that they would understand.‘ And sometimes life feels like that. You don’t think anyone will understand. But he keeps on singing: ‘When everything is made to be broken. I just want you to know who I am…‘ Like, when I’m broken I want people to know what is going on and what I’m going through, even if I don’t/can’t say it. Carolina K.
24. “Everyday” by Toby Lightman
“The first time I heard it was a little while after I’d had a breakdown and I was in a very bad way. The song was like an epiphany. I now refer to that time as my ‘pause’ and whenever I’m coming out of a depressive episode I always listen to it.” — Elle S.
25. “I’m Alive” by Sia
“She screams it and so do I. When I’m running and I feel like I’m going to collapse. When I’m in the car and I don’t want to breathe another breath. When I’m happy with my kids and my boyfriend. When I’m in the depths of my despair on my worst days. I’m alive; and there’s a reason why I’m still here.” — Connie P.