Music and Mental Health : Guest Post

Happy Monday guys! TodayI’m treating you to a wee break from my ramblings and I’m handing it over to my good friend, Harry at MindlessMuso. I’m just gonna hand it over to Harry, who has written about a topic that is important to us both, music. His links are all at the bottom!

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How music helps with my mental health

Music has always been a huge part of my life from being around ten years old. Growing up through my teenage years it was something I focused on so intensely, I was in a band at the time, and I wanted this to be my career. When I was sixteen I had an experience which would tear me down, but also rebuild me in a unique way. During the time all this was going on, I experienced my very first anxiety attack. I felt like I was going to die, I continued experiencing intense anxiety attacks for the following two years, and whilst I still can have them now, they happen very rarely compared to back then. Depression came along with the anxiety, I had let so many people down, people had let me down, I was lost and confused. I couldn’t get my head around what happened. The depression never really left. I have good days, don’t get me wrong. But it’s always there in the back of my mind, it really has ruined a lot for me. I’ve been in and out of therapy seven times over the past six years, each one with little effect, or if it looked like it was going somewhere, it would be cut short. I had no one to turn to, I was lost.

So I began to dive deeper into my music. Both listening and creating. Of course, music doesn’t fully cure depression. Not at all. But it can certainly help in such a huge way. I wanted to talk today about a few ways in which music helps my mental health, and if you’re struggling right now, maybe some of these things may help you too.

The emotional qualities of music

It’s pretty obvious that music is a powerful emotional tool. That’s why it’s used in films, to draw us in and help us really feel the emotion of the scene. Have you ever tried watching the same film with no audio at all? It’s a little different.

Sometimes you need to let it out. And when you’re feeling that way, I advise you to do so, bottling up emotions leads to your mental health deteriorating even more. But I get how hard it can be to actually let it out. Sometimes with depression being the bastard it is, we can’t. at all. But one way I’ve learnt how to get past that barrier and let everything out is by putting on a song that matches how you feel, or a song which you know makes you emotional. Sometimes, the best thing to do is to put this song or playlist on, and just have a good cry. Releasing, again doesn’t cure anything, but it can sometimes ease the symptoms once finished.

On the other hand, maybe you want to feel uplifted, inspired, motivated. In which case, putting on a song or playlist which is happy and you know you just can’t help but sing that song or dance to, can really help create those feelings inside you. Even when you don’t feel like dancing or singing at all, forcing yourself to move and sing, the stupider the better can help. The stupider you look, the more you’ll laugh at yourself, and the more you laugh at yourself, the more these feelings of darkness will be quietened for a while.

know that both things I’ve mentioned are quite obvious, but I know that a lot of us seem to forget it sometimes. Sometimes it’s not about having a song to make you dance or make you cry, sometimes it’s just about connecting with the same energy as a song. Once you connect with that energy, powerful things can happen. You can begin to feel comforted by its presence, just by listening to it.

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 The power of creating music

I’ve been creating music for almost ten years now, and it is such a powerful thing. Whereas in music listening, you are passively engaging with the music, by actively creating, you are physically releasing yourself into your creation, every strum of a guitar or bang of a drum or whatever instrument it maybe, whatever your feeling is being channeled directly into the music. I make different types of music depending on how I feel, sometimes it’s acoustic, sometimes I’m screaming down a microphone, it’s all about whatever I need to release at that time. The act of letting how you feel out through music can be so cathartic. There are times where after a show I feel lighter, more at ease because I’ve screamed my lungs out, or just played as hard as I could. It’s a similar feeling to watching a gig, you’re getting direct energy from the music on stage into your body, you as an audience member give off that same energy back which feeds the band or artist on stage. It’s amazing.

Anyway, I digress.

 The first thing I normally hear people say is: ‘I’m not talented enough to make music’ or ‘I haven’t got any instruments to play’ or something along those lines. But you don’t need talent or instruments to create music. The Sex Pistols didn’t necessarily have ‘talent’ and they were amazing. Sometimes the simple stuff is the best, talent is subjective. And when you’re creating for yourself, to release energy and emotion, who cares what anybody else thinks? For me when I can’t use words to describe how I’m feeling, my music speaks. Music becomes a natural extension of you, unafraid and pure. Music making is one of the rawest forms of art there is.

So if you don’t know how to play drums, bang some sort of beat on your desk and shout over the top of it, find a few notes on a keyboard and play them till your hearts content, whatever it is you feel you need to do, do it, and don’t let anything stop you. It’s just you releasing emotion. If you want something a little more melancholic, write some words down that you’re feeling and see if you can form them into lyrics, sing them to yourself in your own tune, as powerfully or quietly as you feel. It’s all about the creation.

I’ve currently been working on a project which aims to support, inspire and uplift those suffering with mental health issues, and when this blog post will be released, the first song from the EP will be out! It’s all to raise money for Mind the charity, and the amazing work that they do. I’ve recently realized that, while music can be an amazing releasing tool for me, it can also unite others and help keep them going through dark times. I really wanted to help people in the best way I could, so to match music making with this cause was a really interesting idea. I’ve focused a lot on making the lyrics and music as powerful and heartfelt as possible. I’ve used my experiences of creating music in the past to inform this project, allowing myself to be fully open with my experiences with the hope it will resonate some of you. My aim for this EP, is for you to be able to listen to this in your time of need and feel less alone, and feel like you can take on the world again, and I hope these intentions are shown in the music. All money made goes straight to Mind, so I don’t take a single penny from it. Music not only helps my mental health, but I truly believe it can help yours too.

Check out the first single from the EP!

Follow Harry on Twitter and check out his blog and YouTube channel!

Twitter: mindlessmuso

Blog: mindlessmuso.wordpress.com

YouTube: Mindlessmuso.

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