Friday, November 2, 2018

What’s on your mental health playlist?

“I’m out of ideas Doc.”

Words you never wanna hear as a psychologist.

But the truth was, I was sort of out of ideas myself. I’d been traveling the world for a month, and suffering from a combination of postpartum travel blues, jet lag, weird sleep, and general malaise.

Think, man, think! This guy is here humbly asking for your help. You’ve gotta give him something.

I remembered he liked music, and so we started talking about that. I asked him what songs he played in his life that had meaning for him.

We made a list of all of his songs, and put them together into a playlist he could listen to when he was feeling down. And there it was, the mental health playlist was born.

I don’t flatter myself that I was the first one to think about this. I’m not the millionth person to think of this. And yet, it was a great reminder to me about the healing power of music.

In putting together my own mental health playlist, I did some somber reflection. These songs aren’t just happy songs. Sometimes you want something that mirrors the sadness you are experiencing to feel that sense of empathy and connection. Some songs are silly reminders of stupid things you’ve done with friends. Others are about new love and some are about broken hearts.

But we’ve all got some.

Here are some of mine.

1. Dancing in the dark- Bruce Springsteen  
There are a few lines in this song that reflect what loneliness, isolation and depression feel like.

I ain't nothing but tired
Man I'm just tired and bored with myself


I check my look in the mirror
I want to change my clothes, my hair, my face

But in spite of this, the narrator feels some hope and the song ends strong.

There's something happening somewhere
Baby I just know that there is
You can't start a fire
You can't start a fire without a spark
This gun's for hire
Even if we're just dancing in the dark

So sometimes when I’m feeling down, I listen to this song and try and find that spark.

There’s something happenin’ somewhere!!

I repeat that line often. Sometimes I just hop in the car until I find it.

2. Garth Brooks- The Dance-

Alright, this one might seem a little surprising, as I’m not a country
guy per se. But this song is beautifully written by Tony Arata.

'I could have missed the pain
But I'd have to miss the dance

I’ve always took it as a song about taking chances and being willing to suffer the pain of trying and failing versus never trying at all. When I am feeling sorry for myself or not happy where I am in my life, I go back to this song and remember. You’ve done a lot of cool stuff in your life. You’ve had the courage to have the dance. 
There’s more music left to play. Don’t get soft now. Get out there
and try again. 

3. Here comes the Sun- The Beatles

This song is so important to me, I wrote a whole other essay about 

it. It’s the perfect reminder for me that life has seasons, and in these seasons contain some long, cold, lonely, winters. 

And I’m not just talking about the weather.

And yet, the darkness doesn’t last forever. If you’ve ever seen what

the outdoor patios look like in Chicago on the first nice day after
a long winter, you’d know what I mean. People are laughing,
happy, lustful, wild, and generous! You can literally see it. 

4. Falling Slowly- (From the movie “Once’)

Not everyone will know this one, but if you haven’t seen the movie,
check it out. It’s about two damaged people finding love, purpose,
and meaning in creating music together. It’s even better that it’s
based on their actual story of meeting each other and starting a
band. In particular, this lyric is the one I’m drawn to.

“Take this sinking boat and point it home
We've still got time
Raise your hopeful voice you have a choice
You'll make it now”

I love that! I’ve felt like that sinking boat so many times in my life,

but it reminds me that I have the ability to choose something
different. It’s a beautiful song and a beautiful movie.
I have a lot more. Sometimes I just listen to “Walking on Sunshine”
to give my life a little kick-start. But you get the idea. Your life has
a soundtrack. Crank that shit up!

Sometimes these playlists are the only thing getting us through the day.

But in the meantime, I’ve got my ideas back. Music has a way of doing that.

ietzsche once said, “Without music, life would be a mistake.”

Nietzsche was right!