Some time ago, I started a session of challenging myself and trying to write articles I would usually not dare to attempt. I thought it would be interesting to write something more serious again but connect it to music. I had the topic of music and mental health in my head for a while but was too scared to approach it. I still am. But I think trying new things is the way to overcome this fear.
I wrote the draft for this one over a year ago and did some editing and minor tweaking to make it presentable. A different kind of music post, hope you enjoy it!
We all unavoidably collide with different challenges throughout life. Many of them reflect on various degrees of mental health issues, including anxiety, self-doubt, low self-esteem, etc.
When this happens, there is no greater support than friends and family. That, of course, doesn’t mean we should neglect therapy – no matter how much support we find in our loved ones, seeking professional help is liberating on a whole different level. Oftentimes necessary to eradicate the roots of the problem.
But seeking support is not always so easy. I am a person who considers sharing what is on my mind as “overwhelming my friends with bullshit.” I know this is not true, but I have a hard time fighting this mindset. I need an initial push and reassurance to share what is on my mind. If the mood is not right and I am not 100% comfortable opening up, I do not do so, even though I know those people will always listen.
I use music as a method of coping with this phenomenon. It inspires me to talk with others about my problems. I believe the medium holds more power than we initially imagine and provides a fundamental first step towards opening up.
Music, The Great Communicator
I have always seen music as highly important. Over the years, I have come to appreciate it more and more. I discovered that it is not only a great source of entertainment but also a way to get to know a person you haven’t even met. The beautiful artistic expression is also a creative and cathartic way to share feelings.
The history of music shows that during its development, musicians would use it for various purposes. People would use music to ease up and have fun, raise awareness for important social/political issues, or dwell deeper into their minds and share their worries with the world.
There is great power in sympathy and understanding– things easily triggered by a good song. When you hear an artist express their overthinking and various struggles accompanied by the right musical arrangement, it is hard not to get emotional. It is also a good reminder that being vocal about your problems is a way to overcome them – sharing with others and seeking support is a fundamental step towards getting better.
When immediately talking about my issues doesn’t seem to work (which is way too often), I instinctively turn to music. There are songs for every mood and situation possible, including positive ones. Listening to an artist pour out their heart and soul and sharing in your struggle is strangely comforting.
When poisonous feelings and discomfort torture you, you need to get it out. But when it is hard to do so, reversing the process and listening to someone else confess to you may feel nice. It can also give you the motivation you need to share your thoughts with someone else.
A Support System
Understanding that other people have gone through the same issues and hearing them put your feelings into words accurately is a form of reassurance. It gives a clear shape of your emotions, helping you understand them better. It also helps you feel more comfortable and gives you the push to talk about those things with others.
Music creates a support system. Communities develop around artists who, in one way or another, touch their listeners and inflict a wave of relatability.
During my life, I have found comfort in different artists and their lyrics. That led to entering circles where I would eventually meet great friends. It helps with emotional struggles – for some reason, it is way easier to open up to people you don’t know that well but you know are facing the same challenges.
It helps get encouragement by mutually supporting each other. In 2012, I experienced that for the first time after joining the Linkin Park fanclub community. I talked with many people about the music, the way it made me feel, and the problems I had at that time. Nine years later, I still keep in touch with some of them, and we have been there for each other regardless of the type of struggle we were going through.
I think the same goes for artists. When listeners create communities where they share things they are going through, the artists also find the motivation to keep being open and vulnerable in their art.
That is something we need now more than ever– defying taboos and showing that vulnerability is a normal part of life rather than something to be ashamed of. The mindset that some things should not be discussed and we need to keep our worries for ourselves is out of place and way too toxic.
We need to accept imperfections. I am happy to say that more and more artists are normalizing openness, transparency, and emotional overwhelm, thereby welcoming society to do the same.
A Friendly Reminder
I guess we have all been in the teenage stage of feeling misunderstood and angry. The best way to feel better was by the helping hand of music – blasting out the anthems of our generation meant finding comfort and understanding, sharing our frustration with a group of people we never met.
That goes way beyond the stage of teenage angst, of course. At different times of life, we all go through various issues and frustrations. Music is always there to help us get over them and remind us that talking about those things is the purest form of relief. Music is the everlasting companion providing support and showing a different perspective of diverse problems in many situations.
Until I managed to clear my head and try talking to anyone, I would use music as a therapist to help me cope. And I still do it. I think I always will. It verifies you are not alone in those messy thoughts.
By no means am I trying to say that music is a better support system than friends, family, or therapy. In fact, I think it is all a gradual process – music helps you understand and accept your feelings a bit better. It also helps you find the strength and motivation to discuss them with your loved ones.
Therapy is also a very important part of the process – no matter what forms of relief you find, professional help is always the right choice, and there is nothing wrong with seeking it. And let’s be honest, sometimes the only way to truly understand what you are feeling and why it is happening is with therapy. Music is just a good start to find the motivation to open up to others.
This type of art is even more significant in modern times. Society is begging for vulnerability, openness, and exposure to pertinent personal and global issues. The best way for this to happen is with people, be they artists or not, putting out their message– bringing attention to the mess humanity has gotten itself into or reminding us that being emotionally overwhelmed is a natural part of life.
The reassurance and support you get from music when it comes to mental health issues are extremely important. The subject is delicate, and hearing other people openly talk about their struggles and going through the same troubles as you is heartwarming.
Personally, I love the live music experience – singing together with the artist and hundreds of strangers you might never see again. At that moment, you are all united by the same feelings, you are not alone in your battle, and you feel that you are part of something bigger. These particular feelings will stay with you forever and hopefully inspire you to be more open about your feelings and overcome your challenges.
We have come a long way with vocalizing mental health and removing its status as a taboo. The music world is a good example of how much progress there is and a way to remind ourselves we need to stay open in that aspect.
Whether it is with music or something else, it is important to urge ourselves to talk about things that affect us negatively. Seeking help is not shameful, healing is not automated, and living miserably is not a good route. Friends, family, and professionals all play a role in the “getting better” process, often it is just the first step that is the hardest.
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