When I first realized I had an eating disorder, and depression, I spent a lot of time journaling and reading. I think mostly, I was trying to escape my reality. I am still guilty of doing this. It is so much easier to live a life vicariously than to actually go out and do something. This doesn’t mean that it’s right though. I’m not saying that reading and writing isn’t healing and useful in its own way, but I do think that at some point, it can become excessive. I started to use these things as a way to escape my problems and not deal with them, instead of a way to help me heal. Another tactic I used to help ease my problems was music. I have found that when I am severely depressed, I listen to much more music than I do when I am happy and feeling like I am in a good place.
For the first part of my life, all I heard was classic rock and Christian music. The former coming from the stereo of my dad’s Chevy Blazer. The latter coming from the radio in our kitchen at home. I don’t really remember when I first realized that I could cultivate my own love of music. That I didn’t have to only listen to what my parents were listening to. I think it might have begun when my dad would listen to Christian rock bands ,and I realized I liked some of the songs. I would memorize some of the lyrics, and notice that what the artist was singing about meant something to me (sometimes).
When my brother got his own car, he would give me a ride someplace on occasion. He had started to listen to his own music, mostly hard rock or rap. I first heard Rihanna singing about letting someone stand under her umbrella, ella, ella when I was riding to church with him. I didn’t necessarily process what I was hearing at the time, but I found that I liked the sounds that met my ears. Eventually I began to listen to music on the internet, and radio stations other than the ones my parents were listening to. I got an iPod and loaded some of my favorite bands onto it, including but not limited to: Avril Lavigne, ADTR, Bring Me The Horizon, Mayday Parade and…Rihanna. This is just a sampling of what I would listen to. I couldn’t get enough. These people who were singing all of these words…they felt something, and they were conveying it to whoever would listen. Sometimes if I found a song I really liked, I would share it with a friend through Facebook, and often they would send one back, that they thought I might like. Through this, I discovered music that I never would have found otherwise.
Listening to music, and exploring all the genres became somewhat of a game to me. A hobby. When I found something that I thought was obscure and new, I would keep it for myself and listen to it over and over, until I knew it by heart. Music became a part of my life, like reading and sleeping. I would listen to my iPod when I went to sleep at night, and it often carried me through until morning. On long walks with my dog, my only other companion was Jeremy McKinnon or Regina Spektor. Sometimes if I was having a really rough time, it was Oliver Sykes. I became as attached to “my” songs as I was to anything else in my life that held any sense of importance to me.
Though I no longer listen to music like I used to, I do, on occasion, open up the Spotify app and explore some new bands I have “found”. Most of them are happier, with songs that make me smile. But they remind me of my past, and how at times, I felt like the only thing that I could really understand was a bass line and a steady beat.