(Author’s note- trigger warning, brief references to suicide and self-harm)
Music is an anchor for me, I have it playing all the time. It helps me feel less isolated when I hear lyrics that describe what I’m feeling. Below is a list of songs I have found throughout the years that are my favorites.
Long Day by Matchbox Twenty
An oldie but a classic off their best album. That sigh at the beginning of the song is the same sigh I’ve breathed right before a panic attack. The inner circle of my support system has to sometimes deal with my ugly moments as I fall a part or spiral into an episode, and I feel that Matchbox Twenty describes that perfectly.
I’m sorry ‘bout the attitude
I need to give when I’m with you
But no one else would take this shit from me
I’m here all the time.
I won’t go away
It’s me, yeah
I can’t get myself to go away.
Oh god, I shouldn’t feel this way
I can’t tell you how many times in the confusion of bipolar I have tried to escape myself. The desperation in his voice just makes it even more relatable.
Sympathetic by Seether
Back in the good ol’ days of alternative rock, Seether released Sympathetic, an underrated song that got me through middle school and high school. You can read below the haunting lyrics of depression, addiction, and trying to hide it all. Seether, with this song, helped me understand that all the turmoil I was feeling wasn’t just me, other people felt the same inner turmoil. During the low points when I thought about killing myself, I would always put this on to remind myself I wasn’t alone in this.
And it seems I’m alone here, hollow again
As I’m flailing again against the wind
And the scars I am left with swallow again
As I’m failing again, never to change this
And I’m sympathetic
Never letting on I feel the way I do
As I’m falling apart again at the seam
The same old feelings are taking over
And I can’t seem to make them go away
And I can’t take all the pressure sober
But I can’t seem to make it go away
Another phenomenal song by Seether is one of their commercial hits, Rise Above This. The lead singer Shaun Morgan grapples with his brother’s suicide and explores the dark emotions in the aftermath of losing someone to suicide. On this same note, Mike Shinoda’s EP Post Traumatic, also explores these same emotions after losing his bandmate to suicide.
Half by PVRIS
Lead singer, Lynn Gunn overwhelmed with depression and a crazy tour schedule penned this haunting tale of depression. Her voice is haunting and lyrically it’s very powerful.
Some days I feel everything
Others are numbing
Can never find the in between
It’s all or nothing
This describes my battle to find stability in between depression and mania perfectly. I know for Gunn, it’s her way of describing her battle with mental illness and touring.
Never wanted to be here now
One foot in the grave, other on the ground
I can’t process what I’m feeling now
This skin I can do with out
Half my bones in the city streets
The other in my sheets
And I don’t think they’ll ever get
The chance to meet
I never never never never said that I wanted
In the song, she repeats that last line quite a bit, and it speaks volumes for how you didn’t ask for this depression or the suicidal thoughts. You don’t want this skin that comes with all these deep emotional problems. There I have been times I have found my arms or legs bleeding with scratch marks from where I apparently tried to get out of my skin, I always think about that when I hear, “This skin I can do with out.”
Falling Away From Me by Korn
Obviously Korn is going to show up on this list, they were one of the biggest angst lyric filled bands back in the day. They have a number of songs referencing suicide and dark thoughts, Falling Away From Me, is one of my favorites.
You flirt with suicide
Sometimes that’s ok
I grew up in a family where suicide was never talked about, I was ashamed and guilty of my thoughts. Hearing someone so boldly speak about suicide and actually saying the word was groundbreaking for me.
Beating me down
Beating me beating me
Into the ground
Screaming so sound
If anyone were to ever ask, what does it feel like to be suffocating from depression, I would give them this stanza because it captures the sensation so well. Honestly, every line in this song references the struggle and pain of depression.
Girl Anachronism by The Dresden Dolls
It’s easier to find songs that capture the feeling of depression than the sensation of mania. This probably because far more people, unfortunately, experience depression. The upbeat cacophony of sounds, frantic lyrics, and hysterics in the tone of her voice as she increasingly winds up throughout the song really captures how mania can be a bright, busy, unfocused sensation.
You can tell
From the scars on my arm
And the dents in my car
And the blisters on my lips
That I’m not the carefullest of girls
You can tell
From the glass on the floor
And the strings that’re breaking
And I keep on breaking more
And it looks like I am shaking but it’s just the temperature
I have dents in my car from manic wrecks and my lips are constantly chewed up from anxiety. The more manic I am the more dishes I break, and the less careful I become. This to me is so relatable from my own personal manic experiences.
And you can tell
From the state of my room
That they let me out too soon
And the pills I ate
Came a couple years too late
And I’ve got some issues to work through
Everyone I have ever lived with has always commented on the state of my room when I get manic, one big giant mess. I start too many hobbies and projects.
And you can tell
By the red in my eyes
And the bruises on my thighs
And the knots in my hair
And the bathtub full of flies
That I’m not right now at all
I feel called out with this stanza, it’s like observing my life for a month and then writing it. From the bloodshot eyes of no sleep to the fact that I couldn’t remember the last time I brushed my hair or that I punched my thighs in an attempt to ground myself.
Check out Manic by Coleman Hell, the whole song will speak to if you’re bipolar because he has bipolar he wrote the perfect description of life with the illness. Of course, an entire article could be written about mental illness in Linkin Park lyrics, which I’m quite fond of. Lastly, Darker Days by Dirty Heads. It’s an inspirational acoustic song of overcoming depression.
I love how with music you can interpret how it fits your life experiences. Enjoying music is one of the greatest gifts we have as humans. If you have a playlist or favorite songs that you use to cope with a mental illness please leave a comment, sharing music is fun. Plus, I really do believe that music saves lives.