Three Songs Currently Helping Me Through My Depression
Written by Ashton Keys
I’ve been dealing with depression for about two years. Although, I didn’t realize I was until only a year ago. The only reason I began to evaluate my mood changes was because of music.
Ever since I was in grade school, I’ve loved making mix CDs. Even now, as music becomes increasingly digitized, I still make mix CDs. I will make them for myself, my friends, my family, my coworkers, just about everyone who would ask for one (or doesn’t ask for one), gets one.
About a year ago I made one for my mother. She asked for a mix CD of all the popular songs I liked on the radio, so that she could stay informed about what was current. I am after all, a pop-culture connoisseur. I made her a CD comprising of Ed Sheeran, Coldplay, Imagine Dragons, Twenty One Pilots, and a variety of other artist that I both enjoyed and found their music to impact me in one way or another. A week or so later I asked my mom how she liked the CD and she responded with an unexpected question, “You’re depressed, aren’t you?” The question startled me, and when I defensively pointed out that these are just popular songs on the radio, so she shouldn’t read too much into my music choice, she said, “yes, but I know how you connect to the stories of the songs, and all these songs have stories that are sad and hurting.”
I thought about what she said for a bit and realized how much I lean on music to get me through various situations in my life. When I feel rejected or unlucky in love, Adele always finds herself on my playlists. When I’m feeling confident and in charge, Justin Timberlake appears, and when I need inspiration so I can do whatever it may be that terrifies me, the Hamilton soundtrack gets put on repeat. I rely on music to get me through so much of my life, and without realizing it I was doing the same thing again. Listening to songs I related to without even knowing why, opened my eyes to the way I was handling certain situations. I realized I was depressed.
While, some of my depression can be traced to specific incidents and events that have taken place over the past couple years, a lot of what I deal with can’t be explained. Depression is weird. It takes over my mood so entirely that at times I don’t even know why. Once I walked by a garden of dying flowers and started bawling, I knew my emotions were not making any sense. I realized it was time for me to start seeing a counselor.
Therapy has been quite an experience. I am learning techniques and strategies to deal with the challenges I go through on a day-to-day basis, but I still lean heavily on music to help improve my mood. Throughout the past year, many different artists and songs have made their way onto my mix CDs for one reason or another. However, for a while now, three songs keep showing up on my mixes because when I listen to them, I feel my mood change almost instantly. It’s a temporary felling and I never know how long it will last, but these three songs have the power to make me happy, if only for a moment. Here are the three songs currently helping me through my depression:
Song 1: Runnin’ (Lose It All) by Naughty Boy featuring Beyonce
Let me start by saying, I love Beyonce. She is Queen, she can do no wrong, and I love her. That being said, I feel like I would love this song no matter who sings it because the lyrics are incredible. The fact that it is Beyonce singing makes me love her and this track even more. But let’s talk about the lyrics. I have no idea if the story I hear when I listen to this song is the one the artists intended, but this is what I hear. This song, to me, sounds like what I feel when I am depressed.
I feel as though I cannot find myself and everything I do is as if I am doing it through someone’s body. “Nothing else matters now you’re not hear, so where are you? I’ve been calling you, I’m missing you.” I relate to these words so much. I can’t find myself and I miss who I was. I see pictures of myself in times when I didn’t have this cloud over me and think, where are you? I feel like I cannot even find that person any more. “Every voice that cried inside my head forever dry…I’ve drowned in lies.” In my depression I hear my voice say things to myself that are so cruel, when I take a step back I know I’m not a failure or an idiot or a terrible friend but it’s hard to swim out when the voices in your head starts screaming things like this to you. But then the song turns and declares, “I ain’t running from myself no more, I’m ready to face it all.” It becomes everything I needed to hear, I tell myself to stop running from those that love me and from myself.
Sometimes it is easiest to run away from the person I was before this all began. It feels easier to just accept that this is who I am now, someone who is never really happy or someone who just exists to take up space in the universe. Then they speak a lyric that I’ve often thought of getting tattooed on the top of my arm so that I know I will see it every day, “If I lose myself, I lose it all.” They repeat it like six separate times throughout the song, “If I lose myself, I lose it all.” It reminds me that the person I see in that photo isn’t gone for good. If I can stop running or hiding or whatever I’m doing and allow myself to find her again, I can. I remind myself that I have to at least try because if I don’t then I’ve lost. I hate depression too much to let it get the better of me. This song reminds me that it’s not over until I win.
Song 2: Coconut by Harry Nilsson
Yeah. I know. I know I said that I often let the stories the songs tell impact me. Well sometimes, you just need a ridiculous story told to you with a great beat so you can dance it out. The story of this song is quite simply, a young woman has a bellyache, calls the doctor in the middle of the night. Consequently, he is annoyed that she woke him up so he says “put the lime in the coconut and call me in the morning.”
I’m sure it was written to have some other deeper purpose…maybe. For me though, its just a fun and stupid song that I have put on many times when I am crying over nothing that I really understand. Everyone is different but I have never been able to continue crying through this entire song. I may start a blabbering mess but I don’t end that way. It’s fun and silly and when you dance around belting out lyrics involving limes and coconuts for 3 minutes and 46 seconds, there is something undeniably cathartic about it. I don’t know how to explain this song; it’s one that you just have to listen to. You may start by hating it, but by the end I imagine you’ll be hooked. I was.
Song 3: Glorious by Macklemore featuring Skylar Grey
This song inspires me. Macklemore himself has been very open with challenges he has faced in his own life including substance abuse and depression. I imagine this song as how he feels on the other side of it all. This song talks about making a difference and impacting those in his life for the better. “I got a new attitude and a lease on life and some peace of mind…” He talks about all the things I am slowly gaining back. This song talks about finding a purpose, one that his family can be proud of and that doesn’t focus on nonessential things, but rather on how people remember you. One of my favorite sayings relates too how people may not remember what you say or what you do, but they will remember how you made them feel.
This is what I want for my life. I want to make a positive impact on my community and those in my life that I love. Depression stops me from this goal. If I cannot even be a force for good in my own life I cannot effectively be that for other people. This song reminds me it is possible. Skylar Grey and her angelic voice sing “I’ve made it through the darkest part of the night and now I see the sunrise.” I can make it through this night. I can push on through this storm that stirs up in my mind.
At times, it feels like there’s no point even trying to look for the sun again. Nonetheless, I know it’s there. I know it is possible to make it through all of this and come out glorious on the other end. I can get back to living my life and chasing after the goals I’ve made for myself. I know through therapy and music and relationships with those I care about that I am slowly but steadily coming out on the other side of this illness. It is a day-by-day challenge but one I am determined to win.
Born and raised in Orlando, Florida Ashton finds joy in a variety of music, from alternative to pop to country to show tunes. As a precaution, she keeps a toy microphone in her car in case a good song comes on the radio in need of a proper jam session.