This very sentiment is tattooed on my skin, as a reminder of a time when I could not find my voice to explain what was going on in my head, but music could.
For someone so good at weaving words at her command and shaping them into such emotive sentences, I found myself unable to articulate my own feelings, and that was where music came to my rescue.
My experience with workplace bullying lead to a serious of mental health diagnosis that make complete sense now, as someone who has adjusted and works to live daily with her illness, but back then, due to this overwhelming sense of failure which is still a major aspect of my anxiety, I felt floored. I had lost the battle with my mind, was shell of the girl who loved life, didn't care about the thoughts of other. I lost friends, and pushed others away because I was safer that way. My anxiety lead to depression and OCD, and surprisingly, a PTSD diagnosis that left me wondering if I could add that to my list of various "Defects" because I was not some battle hardy soldier who had witness death and destruction.
I was just a young woman who was bullied and her mind began to tell her it was her fault.
When asked to speak about my love for music, I tend to ramble on for a bit, so please be patient with me!
I am a firm believer of the church of Dave Grohl and I worship at his altar. I think when I first started listening to the Foo Fighters, it was because of Dave Grohl and his backstory with Nirvana. He went from shy drummer to lead singer and often spoke about how he wanted to stop music after Kurt's death. I listen to older songs, like My Hero, Monkey Wrench, and the contrast between the fun videos and thoughtful lyrics resonated with me. My Hero is a firm favourite of mine, and I've got to hear it twice live, a dream come true for me.
The first time was this absolutely magical moment, in a muddy field in Leeds, England, darkness had just begun to descend, rain began to trickle down and the first bars of My Hero started to play. Everyone was singing back to the band, or in my case trying to sing. I'm not ashamed to say I cried. but I am going to blame the copious amounts of cider I had drunk that day!
Over the years, certain songs, like My Hero, which makes me think of my dad, Learn to Fly, Disenchanted Lullaby, The Last Song, All my Life, The pretender, Skin and Bones, February Stars, Walk and Happily Ever After are songs that have helped me through difficult times.
When I look back to when Hybrid Theory was released, 20 years ago when I was just 15, I listen to the album and realize how much this album shaped me. I think looking back, I always felt like an outsider to most of my peer's, from the books I read, the music I listened to and I did have those end of the world kind of thoughts. Hybrid Theory was the first album on a whole where I kind of went, damn, this is exactly how I feel about my life.
I instantly fell in love with Chester and his voice. I wanted tattoos like him. I wanted to get pierced like him. I thought that the lyrics had been written for me and me alone, and I clung to that like a life buoy. If someone as insanely talented as him could write and sing lyrics as dark as the thoughts in my head, then maybe I wasn't all that bad.
Meteora was another soul wrenching album, Numb a firm favourite and Somewhere I Belong close behind it.
Just like the Foo's, I was extremely lucky to get to see Linkin Park play in Manchester in 2003, I think. It was one of the last EU gigs Chester played before his death, and I feel so blessed to have seen them all together.
Chester's death hit me like a punch to the gut. It floored me and I cried for like two hours straight. Then I played Linkin Park on repeat to remind myself of the music, the strength it gave me and those memories I would never forget. I remember someone said to me why are you crying for someone you never met and didn't know, and to that I said, I may not have met him, but I knew him, for anyone who listens to the words that he sang has to know him.
Paramore was a band I fell in love with long after they released Riot! We used to have a rock music channel and Misery Business was played to death. Over the years, especially after being bullied, I went back, more as an older teen and I finally learned to appreciate the music.
I'm lucky to have a music buddy, who lets me drag her to most of the bands I want to see. Paramore is one of those bands we go to nearly every time they play the UK. She told me once, the song Misguided Ghost's from the Brand New Eyes album reminds her of me.
While later albums are more pop than alternative, the songs still have thought provoking lyrics, like Fake Happy or 26, from After Laughter, an album that the band released after a bad period in Hayley's life and the album reflects that.
My all-time favourite song from Paramore is Let The Flames Begin and I have the opening line tattooed on my arm. it simply reads: What a shame we all became, such fragile broken things. I loved how the band continued on from Let The Flames Begin with Part II on the Self-titled album and the songs starts with; What a shame we all remain, such fragile broken things.
30 Seconds to Mars
Any band that included an emo Jared Leto was gonna be fine by me, especially after I saw The Kill Video for the first time. I mean, if you don't find Jared Leto attractive by his voice alone, then listen to his cover of Lady Gaga's Bad Romance- Swoon!
A Beautiful Lie album was how I would describe my early twenties, I was lying to everyone about who I was, what I was thinking and it felt ironic to think of it like that. This is one of my all-time fave albums, because it was before politics and that got in the way. I've been wanting to get the lyrics tattooed on me since I heard the song but haven't for some reason.
I did, however, get a lyric from another 30STM song, one that I would refer to as the song that speaks for my recovery, and reminds me of what I have overcome; To find yourself just look inside the wreckage of your past.
Bring Me the Horizon
Another band that I had to learn to appreciate, it wasn't until the release of Sempiternal and I relapsed with my depression about six years ago, that I found myself connecting with the songs on the album. The opening song, Can You Feel My Heart, sucked me in from the first riff, but it was the haunting lyrics in the break in the heavy that made me listen a little closer.
To put into context, I was having daily panic attacks and very suicidal thoughts. It was one of those times where I couldn't find the words and then I heard the lyrics and it was like yes...this is what I feel.
Hospital for Souls and Sleepwalking are also some of my favourite songs from that album.
When the band released That's the Spirit, I wasn't sure what to expect but this was another exceptional album that kind of mocked their trauma a little with Happy Song, and how people tell you if you just decide to be happy, you will be and that listening to all that "Depressing" music is doing you more harm than good. Avalanche is a song that anyone with anxiety or depression can relate to, that overwhelming sense of defeat when you succumb to it.
I lost a lot of so called friends because of my diagnosis so True Friends and Drown helped me deal with that aspect of my illness.
Doomed is a song that I adore from that album.
Bring me the Horizon continued to evolve with their sound, when AMO was released it surprised everyone but Medicine, Why you gotta kick me when I'm down? and I don't know what to say stand out songs on the album. In Music to listen to et al, I love the unique songs featuring Halsey and Yonaka (a band I've even got Mel listening to.)
A new album is currently being teased, with BMTH returning to the sounds from Sempiternal with Parasite Eve and Obey, Ft YungBlud...another exceptional artist to check out.
This is going to seem like an unusual add to the list, but NF is actually one of my favourite artist's. I first heard his song Mansion, on a teen tv show and loved it, then, my tattoo artist shared some songs with me and I was a fan.
NF, real name Nate Feurstein, is an artist who speaks about his own experiences with depression, anxiety, the loss of a parent through drugs. his lyrics are thought provoking, soul wretching and carry with them a maturity you don't get from a lot of artist's his age.
Mansion, both the album and it's single, refer to the mind as a home with many rooms, some that people keep closed in other to not deal with issues. The lyric, my mind is a home I'm trapped in and it's lonely inside this mansion, for me sums up what it is like to be crippled with negative thoughts and feeling like there isn't another soul alive who feels like you do.
NF's albums are in a rare category for me that his albums don't have a song you would skip. He can go from Eminem esque skilled raps on Outcast to the immensely melodic Trauma. he blends the two aspects of himself so perfectly, sometimes you don't expect him to be able to sing like that. NF is a highly underrated talent that I wished more people listened to, especially anyone who has struggled with negative thoughts.
Stand out songs to listen to: Mansion, Paralyzed, Therapy Session, Let you Down, Wake up Trauma, Leave me Alone, My Stress, Hate Myself....I mean, just listen to all the albums and tell me what you think cause I could be listing songs for days!
Other songs of note
If you've stuck with me until now, thank you!
I have some songs that have also been part of my mental health journey, that I have listed below:
Matchbox 20 - Unwell- This is one of my all-time favourite songs, and helped me come to terms with my diagnosis because the lyrics were poignant - I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell.
This was what I wanted to shout at the people who abandoned me during my illness. I might have only been fully diagnosed six years ago, but I was living with the trauma long before that. What was quirky then, was now stigmatized because it was official.
You Me at Six -Underdog -This one is mine and one of my bestest friends songs,;our anthem. I even have the lyrics tattooed on me, alongside a Carebear with a scythe, that says Down, Down, but definitely not out, and that's kinda my mantra. I may be down but I'm not out.
Other songs of note: Stay with me, Bite my tongue and Room to Breathe
All Time Low- Therapy- I absolutely love this song because while it addresses anxiety, then it shows how people living with anxiety or depression may fool you with a smile.
Music is such an important part of my life, and my writing process. The songs in my book playlists reflect the feelings and situations that the characters find themselves in. They are as important to me as the words I type on paper.
There is this quote I have that says, “Some days I need the music and some days I need the lyrics”. And that about sums it up. Music can help you survive when you need it the most. It can make you smile with a memory and cry with a single melody.
My soul on days when the world is just a little bit too dark, or a little bit too lonely.
Thank you all for taking the time to read my little piece today, and if you have any experiences where music helped you through a difficult time, then please let me know in the comments. I’ve included a link to My Mental Health Playlist, which is a little dark like me, in case anyone wants to have a listen.
Melanie here just jumping in to say a HUGE thank you to Susan for this beautiful article that I know will resonate with so many people out there. I know the Musers will appreciate it too!