We have all got something that is a simple passion that’s therapeutic. For some, its painting, or working on cars, or fishing, or maybe make-up. For me? I’d say its music. Just listening to music, and enjoying it. The thing that I’ve always loved about music is that it has feeling. Those feelings may be totally different from what the artist intended, but for most people, music carries with it emotion.
Music has always been a great communicator, its been able to transcend barriers of language, colour, age, you name it. That’s why I love music, because it is able to convey all sorts of meanings without saying a word. It doesn’t matter if you listen to death-metal, country, or classical, Music is music and its great. For me? I don’t really care what genre, if I like it, I listen to it. I love music because, for me, its therapeutic. It can keep my feet planted firmly on the ground when everything else tries to make me fly into that cold and void space above or push me down into the ever so lonely depths below. No, I’m not talking about heaven and hell. I’m talking about my bipolar disorder. But that’s an article for another day.
So where do bipolar disorder, or mental illness of any kind really, and music connect? Well for me. Music has always been an extension of my mood. When I’m happy, I like happy music, when im sad, I enjoy more sad or forlorn music. But this extension goes both ways. Have you ever been feeling a negative emotion, such as anger, sadness, jealousy, any of ‘em really? And then a song you like starts playing, and it steadily melts away the freezing loneliness of that negative emotion? I know I have. I’ve always struggled with emotions and feeling them and responding appropriately to them. I’m the guy that used to wanna die because I couldn’t handle being sad. I’m the person who used to be so happy I would think I could almost fly. When I was angry, I was downright scary, to others and myself. So what changed?
What changed was a myriad of different factors in my life ranging from my bipolar/ADHD diagnoses, getting medicated, learning how to cope through the school of hard knocks, and trying to discover who I was. All of these are stories for another time (stay tuned!), but there were a few things that remained constant that probably kept me from really pinballing my life. You know… like a pinball getting thrown around the machine with reckless abandon only to get lost down some bottomless hole? Those things were, in no particular order, were the support of my loved ones, having to face myself, and music of all things.
Music is a pillar that makes up a part of the foundation of my life. How many of us have a favorite tune? Or multiple jams? I know for me, my jam changes constantly. That is because, for me, music is a way of expressing my thoughts and feelings when I don’t have the words or ability to express it myself. And you know what? Sometimes these songs, that somebody else created, teach me about myself. It is as though music is a way of growing my emotional vocabulary, of shedding the light into the very fibre of my being and allowing me to learn about and face myself.
Music is so many things for me, story teller, therapist, friend, coach, the list could go on and on. So, let me ask you. What’s your “music”? What is it that gives you that spark in your eye? If you can’t think of anything, don’t sweat it. These things can take time to become apparent. Heck it’s taken me my whole life to clue into music and how it affects me, and that is okay. Think of it as a new opportunity for adventure, an adventure of emotions and the landscape of who you are.