Laura talks about how listening to and playing music has helped her mental health.
Music has always had a massive impact on my mental health. Whether it’s playing or listening to music, I always had a strong connection to it.
At times when I felt awful, and I was self-harming, music rescued me, it always has. It’s my distraction from the horrible world inside my head. I’ve had lots of experience of trauma, which includes abuse; and music helped me through those times. Music is my life and if it wasn’t for music, I probably wouldn’t be here today.
"Music sets me free from the prison I feel inside my head."
I could be sad, and music would/will always make me happy. When I am happy, music makes me feel even stronger. As I’m writing this, I’m listening to Evanescence’s song “My Immortal” and although it is a sad song, it’s keeping me going.
I can easily say I’ve always loved music. I remember my favourite song as a child was Britney Spears’ song “I’m Not a Girl.” I could never understand why I had such a connection to it but just listening to it made me stronger, even at a very young age.
As I grew up, I became obsessed with the band McFly. Through my journey with mental health McFly have been my heroes. If I was feeling low, listening to their songs likes, “I’ll Be Okay,” and “Not Alone” always made me find my feet again.
I didn’t feel alone, and I felt stronger because of them. The songs weren’t even aimed at mental health (this is how I interpret the lyrics anyway), but they always rescued me.
"I felt I was understood in a way I felt no one else could. That is the thing with music, it feels like music understands what you are going through."
When I lost my pet rabbit as a child, I would listen to the song, “There’s Gotta Be More to Life” by Stacie Orrico. When I find times difficult, and situations around me make me feel weak physically and mentally, I listen to Kelly Clarkson’s song “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger.” I can guarantee that song will always make me feel stronger.
I could write all day about how much music has helped my mental health. It isn’t just listening to music which in some sense saved/saves me. Playing music has also helped me in more ways than anyone can ever imagine.
I remember being maybe four or five years old, and my nan showing me how to play “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” on the piano with one finger! Even back then, I had a buzz when playing the piano. I felt happy!
It was when I was a little bit older, probably eight or nine years old, that I discovered my love for music even more. My dad taught me how to play the organ, it was the first ever proper instrument I learnt to play. I always loved playing the organ, the only issue I had was wishing I was tall enough to actually reach the pedals! Thankfully I am taller than I was over 10 years ago, even if not by much.
When I learnt how to play the organ, I learnt songs including “Every Breath You Take” by The Police, “Sing” by the Carpenters, “Blowing in the Wind” by Bob Dylan, “Edelweiss” by Richard Rogers and much more.
I even taught myself a good bit of “Yellow Submarine” by none other than the Beatles! I also knew how to play by ear, so I was always willing to learn a song I heard on CD and later on, YouTube.
"Being distracted by the music always kept me calm. I loved being able to be creative and let my feelings come out into song."
At the age of 11 going on 12, I wanted to find a new hobby; it didn’t take long to discover that I wanted to play the saxophone. I still remember my parents’ reaction when I said to them I wanted to learn it. All they had in their heads as it was an incredibly loud instrument. I even remember my Mum saying to me, “You don’t want to learn the flute or clarinet instead?”
Once again, playing the saxophone rescued me from a place I didn’t like. The negative, trapped feeling I generally had/have. If I’m finding things difficult, I play music and let my feelings out into song. It also calms my mental health a lot more than most people would anticipate.
"Playing music is my therapy, it is fun, and is something that I highly recommend trying. Music made me stronger and more confident."
Although it was scary, I managed to achieve so much because of my music. I passed two ABRSM grades (one and five), uploaded cover songs onto YouTube (which have reached over 1,300 views), joined and passed college with high grades, and performed in many shows at my college and one show at the Riverfront Theatre in Newport.
Thinking about what I have achieved, it doesn’t seem possible. The girl I was could never possibly do anything like this. However, when I had my saxophone, life just felt different - I was different. It was like it was just music and me, and nothing around me mattered. I’m glad that I’ve changed as a person because of music.
"I love the quote “Music speaks when words fail.” Music did speak to me when I couldn’t express into words how I felt."
I’m lucky that I have the ability to make my music. For anyone looking for a coping strategy, definitely keep music in mind. Music did help make me the person I wanted to be; happy, more confident, not as scared and anxious, and most importantly at peace with my mental health.
So I want to close by asking you, what helps your mental wellbeing? Please comment below and let me know!
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