The importance of music in recovery
“Music saved my life.” I’ve heard this phrase a lot. I’ve seen versions of it on posters at concerts, written on people’s blogs, and even tattooed on bodies. It’s a beautiful sentence, often used to thank whomever wrote the song that inspired them to put down the knife or the gun or the pills.
It’s a little bit different for me. Music didn’t really save my life in the way that most people mean it. I still self-harmed, I still attempted suicide, I still did all the things that put my life in danger. Music didn’t stop me from doing anything. Its importance came in the moments after when it gave me the strength to try to change.
Recovery requires a leap of faith. It’s like taking a step forward in a pitch-black tunnel. You can’t see what’s in front of you but you have to trust that this step will take you a few inches closer to the light. And then you have to take the next step, and the next, all the while trusting that you’re going somewhere, and that the next step won’t be off a cliff. Choosing recovery is a risk, though most people will tell you it’s one worth taking.
I’ve never had that faith that you need in recovery. I’ve always been too hopeless, too scared to truly take that step forward. This is where music comes in. It gives me the strength and the hope to take that leap of faith.
I mostly listen to music made by people who have had tough times but have come out the other side. I listen to songs that perfectly describe what I’m feeling when I’m down– the loneliness, the confusion, the hopelessness. They help me feel less alone because I know that someone else has felt it too. I also listen to songs that promise that things really do get better. It’s often hard for me to believe people when they tell me that, but when it’s coming from someone I look up to, and who I know has survived difficult times it means a whole lot more.
I plug in, at least once a day, to listen to my music. I let the sound fill my brain. I let the beat of the drum make my own heart beat steadier. And as I listen to strangers (who feel more like friends) put words to what I’m feeling, I find myself growing a little bit stronger, a little bit more ready to move forward. I listen to the same songs over and over and over to keep my strength growing. And then I take that step towards recovery.
Get Better by Frank Turner
“They threw me a whirlwind,
And I spat back the sea,
I took a battering but I’ve got thicker skin and the best people I know looking out for me”