Mental Health And Music

I love music. Not that it makes me special, but it’s true.

As much as I love a feel good song, I like introspective music more. You know, those songs you hear where you just know someone has poured their whole heart out, those songs that resonate so deeply they feel like they might have been written just for you?

That’s what this blog is about. I’ll preface this by saying, there will be a fair amount of rap here. It’s more lyrical than other forms of music, so it just gets me. I suppose that’s the curse of being a poet.

I’m going to share a few songs, highlight some stand-out lyrics, and pop a playlist at the end of the article for your listening pleasure.

Three Foot Tall – Classified

It’s the chorus on this one for me, which is a sample from The Muppets soundtrack, specifically Life’s a Happy Song, written by Brett Mckenzie of Flight of the Conchords

When you’re alone
Life can be a little rough
It makes you feel like you’re three foot tall
When it’s just you
Times can be tough
When there’s no one there to catch your fall


These lyrics just resonate so much. Depression makes you feel so isolated, separate from your friends and family. It makes you feel that nobody understands, that you’re a burden and nobody will catch you. Let me just say, as someone in the grips of it, that’s a lie. People will catch you, and support you, even if it feels like everything’s crumbling around you.

Just Like you – NF

NF, I only got into him over the last two years. The album this comes from, Clouds, is the first hip-hop record I bought for my record player because so many of the songs have such a profound effect on me.

The lyrics to this entire song are perfect, but the bridge has such an important lesson.

Everybody falls sometimes
Just remember that that’s alright
It’s the rainy days that give us love for the sun
And if it isn’t, I guess I’ll be fine believing it does
Everybody falls sometimes
Just remember that that’s alright
It’s the lows in life that make you cherish the highs
And if it isn’t, I guess I’ll be fine believing a lie

Again the focus is on reminding people that they aren’t alone We all stumble, we all fall (especially when we have Muscular Dystrophy) but it can help to give our pain context. Without the dark days, we don’t appreciate the light.

Lost – NF ft Hopsin

This song is also from Clouds by NF, this time a duet by another rapper I love, who often gets labelled as ‘corny’. Here we have two men, talking about their feelings of how they feel lost and hopeless despite their achievements. This first set of lyrics are spoken by NF and the second by Hopsin.

I’d love to pack arenas and all
But what I really wanna do is learn to handle my thoughts
And put the reins on ’em, show ’em I’m the one that’s the boss


Sit with this for a minute. NF has the ambition of packing arenas, a terrifying thought for most of us, to be that exposed in front of so many people, but more than this, he wants to master his own mind, to manage rampant negative thoughts and show them that they exist in his mind, and he is the one in charge. I share both ambitions.

Wow, these burdens are heavy
And I’m hopin’ it don’t bury me
I used to be joyful and skip so merrily
But now I’m too cautious and tip toe carefully


I relate to this more as my anxiety grows with age. I often worry about succumbing to the darkest of thoughts, about taking the wrong steps. I was once optimistic and carefree, now I’m cautious and frightened, losing my confidence and being afraid of disturbing the peace of others. I’m trying to master this, with varied results.

Sail – AWOLNATION

This song mentions ADD (attention deficit disorder) multiple times, as the singer and writer of the song Aaron Bruno has ADD, and is recounting his experience. Lyrically it’s minimal but there’s one line that gets me

Maybe I should cry for help
Maybe I should kill myself

I feel this could apply to many mental health conditions. Where it almost feels binary, like you have the option to seek help, or take the most serious of all actions to escape it. I’ve never been shy in talking about my experience of suicidal ideation, but the former is my preferred outcome for all of us.

I know there are often barriers to help, whether societal, familial, or cultural but there is help there for those who need it, whether that’s the Samaritans, Mind or Shout, friends, schools or medical professionals. If you find yourself in this mindset, please seek help. The world’s better for having you here.

This song was also used to amazing effect in this scene of Fleabag.

Spose – Nobody feat. Watsky

Again, another two great rappers, overlooked by the mainstream but loved by their fans.

Spose raps:

But I was supposed to curl up, I was supposed to back down
I was supposed to fade, evaporate into the background
I was supposed to never be nothing but made it to something
I knew I could do it, I will make it through it I’ll prove it
I was just another human who was supposed to be
Nobody

A far more positive message, whilst reflecting on the doubts we all have. We’re taught to fit in, confirms and do what we’re told, to comply with society’s expectation, but you know what, that doesn’t encourage contentment. You know what does, doing what we love and just being our authentic selves. We all matter, whether your day to day suggests it or not, you are never just a nobody.

Watsky raps:

I’ve seen dreams die fast and wither slow
I’ve also seen ’em blooming where they’re not supposed to grow
And I’ve seen the ones I’ve planted and watched ’em blossom in the snow


This speaks to me of the ambitions, desires and dreams we all have. Sometimes things don’t work out, sometimes we find ourselves in the most unusual of places, and sometimes, just sometimes, forgotten dreams bloom in the most unexpected of ways. See – mental health isn’t all about feeling down. We can reframe things if we try, even if it’s the most difficult thing in the world on certain days.

Twenty One Pilots – Stressed Out

I was told when I get older all my fears would shrink
But now I’m insecure and I care what people think

Echoing an earlier sentiment, there’s the expectation that we all grow and mature as we age. That somehow we’ve just ‘got this’ but if there’s one thing I’ve learned is that NOBODY KNOW’S WHAT THEY’RE DOING, we’re all just trying to get through with as little stress a possible, whether that’s the work day, or our lives in general.

It’s a great skill not to feel the stares and judgement of others, maybe one I’ll master some day.

Turbulence – Bowling for Soup

Take a look around you
Look how far you’ve come
Your whole life in front of you
You’ve only just begun
We’ve all got our problems
But they’re just bumps in the road
If you only keep on fighting
There’s no where you can’t go

Bowling for Soup are often seen a comedy band, but they really shine with this lyrical lesson.

When you’re in the darkest of places, it’s so hard to see all you’ve accomplished, and all you’ll continue to. This hits so hard as it’s a stark reminder that no matter how bad things are, there’s an end to it. I don’t condone fighting so hard to harm yourself, but I think it’s important to remember there are opportunities ahead if you can make it past often temporary obstacles.

And we’re done for now.

If you enjoyed this, please share and let me know, what songs speak to you this deeply? I’d love to hear them.



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