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10 Songs That Help Me Get Through a Borderline Personality Disorder Breakdown

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My borderline personality disorder (BPD) breakdowns and panic attacks go hand in hand; one either triggers the other, or they happen simultaneously. Before my diagnosis of BPD, I could never explain why I would get these panic attacks and what triggered them. It’s not any easier to explain with the diagnosis, but knowing I have this illness makes me feel less alone and less “crazy” because there are others like me.

During these panic attacks/mental breakdowns, I feel everything all at once but I also feel nothing at all. In a storm of emotions, I feel numb. Sometimes I can’t stop myself from crying; other times, I can’t make myself cry. I feel like screaming. To others, I would try to explain it as anxiety and overthinking about my past, present and future all at the same time. It feels impossible to calm down.

One time, quite recently, I was on a plane and I was having a breakdown. My family was sitting next to me and in front of me, and strangers surrounded me. It took all the energy in me to stop myself from bawling my eyes out. I focused on my breath and the music coming in from my headphones. I blocked out the world and submerged myself into a trance.

Typically, I can’t fall asleep at all on any transportation: cars, planes, trains, etc. I can’t fall asleep in general, but on short rides where I’m moving and sitting upright, surrounded by other people and surrounded by noise, it’s very difficult to get any rest when I’m tired. So I put in my earbuds, close my eyes and immerse myself into the music. If I successfully zone out, where I am still aware of my surroundings but unable to move, I will be able to open my eyes after an hour or two and feel completely rested. I call these my “trances.”

Back on the plane, I closed my eyes but couldn’t force myself to zone out. I couldn’t even concentrate on the music. My brain was going haywire, and I was panicking even more because of this. Then one particular song began playing, and I suddenly felt at ease. It didn’t cure me of my emptiness or irritability, unfortunately, but it eased the unexplainable panic I was feeling. I was able to close my eyes and take myself away from the real world and all its misery. Afterward, when I had realized the effect the song had on me, I made a mental note to listen to that song again during my next breakdown to see if it would have the same effect.

While most music takes me away from the world and helps me forget about my worries, I began noticing more and more specific songs that help me get through my dark times. So here is a list of just 10 songs, and a link to my Spotify playlist for more.

1. “Blaze On” by Phish

This is the song from my plane breakdown. Phish is a very underrated band, and they don’t have a specific genre, so there’s bound to be at least one song by them that everyone likes if you look hard enough. I consider them magical, and as one of my friends described them, as “medicine through music.” “Blaze on” is a tattoo I hope to get one day, because listening to this song has helped lift me from a dark place and has stopped me from hurting myself multiple times.
“You got your nice shades on / and the worst days are gone / so now the band plays on / you got one life, blaze on.”

2. “Petrichor” by Phish

This song is 14 minutes of beautiful and soothing melodies. “Petrichor” is the word for the smell of the earth after rain, so this song makes me think of the rain and the smell, helping me breathe easily.

3. “Let Your Hair Down” by MAGIC!

“To me you are more than just skin and bones / You are elegance and freedom and everything I know.”

4. “Hymnal” by In The Valley Below

“I wish I found you sooner / I could’ve loved you longer.”

5. “Arctic” by Sleeping At Last

This is one of Sleeping At Last’s instrumental songs, all of which are extremely soothing and great for falling asleep. His voice is also the most delicate voice I’ve ever heard.

6. “Jungle” by Tash Sultana

“But you throw me into the deep end / Expect me to know how to swim / And I put my faith inside my hands / Cause I will be just fine.”

“Welcome to the jungle / Are you gonna dance with me / Welcome to the jungle / You got to close your eyes and see.”

7. “Minimum” by Charlie Cunningham

“Go, take off a load / Letting your wings unfold / And keeping everything down to a minimum.”

8. “Sway” by Blue October

“I only wanna dance with you / Every time I try / We only get an hour or so / It’s time to get personal / We’ve got these times of our lives / Let’s take this time to let it show / these are ours.”

9. “Somewhere Only We Know” by Keane

“Oh, simple thing, where have you gone? / I’m getting old and I need something to rely on / So tell me when you’re gonna let me in / I’m getting tired and I need somewhere to begin.”

10. “To Build A Home (feat. Patrick Watson)” by The Cinematic Orchestra

A beautiful composition of gradual tempo changes, very simplistic and emotional. This one is my go-to song when I can’t cry but want to, or if I want to submerge myself in sadness, especially if I’m feeling empty and numb. Afterward, I always take a few deep breaths and try to go on with my day.

“And, I built a home / For you, for me / Until it disappeared / From me, from you”

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Photo by Morre Christophe on Unsplash

Originally published: April 14, 2023
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