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5 Songs That Get Real About Depression

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Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

Music has always been a big part of my life. Some of my earliest memories are tinkering on the family piano and my mother likes to tell people I could sing before I could talk. Throughout my adolescence, I would rather play guitar than do homework and I would drive my sisters crazy, singing through the night. Then, when I was 16, I experienced a depression that would last two years and most mornings, the only thing that got me out of bed was the thought of playing music. Music stopped being something I loved and became something I needed. I alternated between feeling everything and feeling nothing at all. It felt like I was losing myself and I began questioning my identity. I was unable to tell anyone how I was feeling, but, somehow, I was able to write song after song about the turmoil I felt inside.

Of course, sometimes I don’t have the energy to write songs. Fortunately, even at my lowest points, I have still been able to find meaning in other people’s songs. When I am experiencing depression, I find it hard to be around other people. I barely have enough energy to feed myself, let alone entertain others, and I have learned that it is important for me to retreat in order to conserve my energy. However, living in isolation means I miss the human connection that is also important for me to start feeling like myself again. That is why songs are so important to me. Songs are full of other people’s emotions and experiences. They help to remind me I am not alone in the world.

Here are five songs that almost perfectly describe how depression feels for me.

1. “Teeth” by Billie Marten

This song perfectly captures the fragility I feel when depressed. Even though I try to be honest about my mental health struggles, I am most honest in hindsight and I still feel like I need to hide my depression. I have to work hard to smile and pretend I am OK, and I always feel like I am on the verge of falling. This song is everything I wish I could say when my days are at their darkest.

Favorite lyric: “If you asked me if I’m fine, then I’d say yes / but I am lying through my teeth.”

2. “Reasons Not To Die” by Ryn Weaver

I am not a pleasant person to be around when I am depressed. Despite my best efforts to put on my “Yes, I’m fine” mask, I am selfish and sarcastic and sardonic. It always amazes me that the people I love are able to forgive me and my “ugly” ways. I first heard this song at the end of a long day of ranting and raging, just like Ryn Weaver describes, and it made me appreciate those people even more. They are my reasons not to die.

Favorite lyric: “Here’s to the ones / who hide the bullet from the gun / foot down on all my bullshit but won’t cage me in.”

3. “Funeral” by Phoebe Bridgers

I am so thankful to Phoebe Bridgers and her brutally honest songwriting. I saw her play in London last October and when she played this song, everyone fell so silent and still; the atmosphere was electric. Nobody would expect a song called “Funeral” to be a party anthem, but this song gives me chills every time I hear it because it is so relatable. Even at my happiest, there is an underlying melancholia and this song appeals to that melancholia.

Favorite lyric: “Jesus Christ, I’m so blue all the time / and that’s just how I feel / I always have and I always will.”

4. “Talking With Strangers” by Miya Folick

When my mind is in a good place, I am confident and secure in myself. When it is in a darker place, I am full of self-loathing and I constantly overthink everything I say or do. I convince myself that people think I am weird and worthless. I don’t recognize when people are trying to help me and I push them away. I have to work hard to reset my brain and remind myself I am worthy of other people’s affection.

Favorite lyric: I am learning to let myself be loved.

5. “Human Beings” by The Wind and The Wave

This is, perhaps, my favorite song. Ever. It feels like someone looked through a window into my brain and used my thoughts to write this song. It describes the guilt I feel for being sad when my life is full of good things and reminds me I am not the only person who feels this way. I call it my “depression anthem” because it allows me to forgive myself for being so hard on myself for being depressed while also giving me hope that things will get better.

Favorite lyric: “I know I’m not alone. Everyone feels like a loser.”

Bonus Anxiety Track: “You’ve Got Your Whole Life Ahead Of You Baby” by IDER

I think most people in their 20s will be able to relate to this song and the anxiety that comes from the pressure to work hard and be successful, but also have enough fun to make your Instagram followers jealous. I have always been a preacher of “Do what you love and don’t compare yourself to others,” but oh boy, do I compare myself to others on an hourly basis. I am always worrying I am not “enough” and those worries don’t go away when someone helpfully says, “Don’t worry so much. You’re still young. You’ve got your whole life ahead of you!” Deep down, I know what matters is that I follow my heart and I try my best. I know my worth is not measured by how much money I earn or where I buy my clothes from or whether or not I have a Himalayan salt lamp and a succulent collection. But that doesn’t stop me from worrying I am not meeting the expectations of my generation.

Favorite lyric: “I’m in my 20s / so I panic in every way.”

What would you add? Let us know in the comments below.

Photo via StockSnap on Pixabay

Originally published: October 18, 2018
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