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How Music Saved My Life

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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.

Jeremy Zucker. Halsey. Justin Bieber. Mokita. Selena Gomez. Kygo. Lewis Capaldi.

You may recognize some of these artists, and you may not for others. These artists have produced music I listen to every day. Their music isn’t just beautiful and enjoyable to listen to, but they’ve gotten me through some of my worst times. It seems like every time I enter a new season of life that I haven’t experienced before, one of them comes out with a new song or album that eerily relates to exactly what I am feeling and going through. It’s happened enough times that I don’t believe it to be coincidence, but I really can’t explain it.

While I was hiding my depression, self-harm behaviors and suicidal ideation from everyone, Justin Bieber’s song “Purpose” reminded me I have a reason for being. My life is worth living, and I owe it to myself to see what my purpose in life is. That song was impactful for me and did help, but it couldn’t stop my spiral downward.

When I was going through a particularly bad period of missing my friends and family back home, Jeremy Zucker released “always i’ll care.” The song helped me realize that how no matter how much time has passed or how much distance there is between me and my loved ones, I will always care about them. Even if we barely talk, nothing could stop me from caring about them. My best friend in the whole world, who has been my best friend for almost half my life, actually sent this to me.

Right before breaking off my long-term relationship with my partner, the song “Lose You to Love Me” was released by Selena Gomez. And when I say she released this right before, I mean right before. I had already decided to do it, and she released the song a day before I did. It was the encouragement I needed to leave a toxic relationship, and a reminder that I needed to end this relationship in order to start loving myself again.

After the break up, Halsey released her album “Manic” (a reminder of my love for her because we both struggle with bipolar disorder). Several songs in the album helped me through that time. “Graveyard” reassured me I had made the right choice by leaving a relationship that was dragging me down. “Still Learning” reminded me that I wasn’t, and am not, perfect. I am, and always will be, learning to love myself, and that has to come first before any other relationship, romantic or not.

When my depression had reached one of the lowest points ever, Mokita released “colorblind,” a song very explicitly about depression. What it described felt like what I was going through. Everything I saw, everything I experienced, it was like I was unable to see to the beauty around me. My depression had fogged up my vision and made everything seem pointless and made me feel worthless. But hearing this song reminded me I wasn’t alone in my struggle. Even this song’s existence reminded me that people face this same struggle every day and have the strength to keep going, and I must have that strength too.

Selena Gomez and Kygo’s song “It Ain’t Me,” a song I have loved for many years, became an important reminder for me to leave my toxic relationships in the past and to never go back. I had moved on with my life, and if my ex’s ever wanted another relationship, it wasn’t going to be me.

Lewis Capaldi took the world by storm over the last year or so. People have interpreted his song, “Before You Go,” to be applicable to a number of different seasons of life. But the music video makes it clear what the meaning is: it is a song about suicide. The song was powerful enough, but the music video really hit me. A story of a girl, happy and joyful in life outward, but clearly dealing with her own struggles inside. The whole video alludes to some kind of tragedy, but much of it was clips of this beautiful girl laughing, dancing and seemingly enjoying life with those around her. The video ends with images of a vigil for her after her death by suicide. That song, that video, reminded me if I was going to beat my past with suicide attempts and ideation, I needed to break down my walls and let others help me before I made the decision to go.

Jeremy Zucker, who I mentioned earlier, is by far my favorite artist of all time. I haven’t heard a song of his that I haven’t loved, and they always seem to come at just the right time. His songs about considering ending toxic relationships, how to take care of yourself afterwards, dealing with your own struggles and what life can look like with hope, have been a constant source of strength for me. Not only is his music perfect, but his lyrics speak to me on a deeper level.

I am of the opinion that everyone loves music. It is something so engrained in culture, yet it remains a mystery of why it is so impactful. Why do words set to certain sounds give us goosebumps? Why are the same words spoken not as impactful as when they are sung? Why is music so therapeutic?

These songs and artists, and many others, have helped me through my toughest times and battles. Listening to them have helped me overcome temptations to attempt suicide again. They have helped me resist the urge to self-harm again. They have given me strength to not go back to my addictions.

Music, like medication and therapy, is not a cure, but a treatment for my mental illnesses. But it is one of the best treatments I have found. It’s readily available, quick and easy to access and its effects kick in pretty much as soon as I hit play. It has changed my life forever. It has saved me, several times, from making the worst decision I could ever make, and it saves my life every day. Without music, honestly, I don’t know if I would be here to write this article. I owe my successes in my journey so far to my support system (family, friends, loved ones, etc.), my own strength, therapy and medication management. But I would rank music pretty high on that list. Music has saved my life before.

I don’t think it stops there. Music has helped me survive, but it has also helped me thrive. I consider music another form of “medication,” one that has immediate effects and can be taken as many times a day as I want and need. I never develop a dependency on it, and my body will never develop a resistance to its effects. While I walk and run through my journey of life, through times of light and dark, over mountains and through valleys, in sunshine and rain… no matter what, you can bet I’ll have my earbuds in.

Getty image by elenabs

Originally published: May 24, 2020
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