Music is in My Heartbeat

“Where do we go, nobody knows…” writes Chris Martin of Coldplay in the song, “God Put a Smile upon Your Face.” Isn’t that the truth? This is probably one of the most existential questions ever posed in human history. And now, with COVID, climate change, and the ever present worldwide political unrest, this creates a heightened sense of anxiety for many people, myself included.

There are many ways that people cope with day-to-day anxiety. Some use substances, or engage in other unhealthy behaviors such as overeating. And some, actually go head first into anxiety’s counterpart, depression. It’s not uncommon to have these two conditions co-occur. When unchecked, everyday  anxiety and depression can develop into full-blown disorders.

While I don’t live with an anxiety disorder, I have certainly experienced my fair share of acute (brief) mild anxiety episodes. Take the last month. My wife and I were in the process of preparing for a move and with all of the details related to contracts and getting our house ready to sell, there were several nights that my sleep was disrupted. Mind you, I know myself well, in terms of my mental health, so I knew that these symptoms were not going to last.I did actually reach out to my therapist once during this time due to the stress being unbearable. But it turned out well. This is the value of having a trusted guide who can serve as a resource when we need it.

And then there’s music. Music is, and has been for most of my life, my number one coping tool. I listen to music as much as I can. Even right now, as I write this post, I have a concert video on YouTube of the “shoegazing” musical duo, Beach House, playing in the background. If you’ve found your way to this blog, you may feel the same way as I do.

Sometimes, when I get all stressed out, I listen to music that settles me down. I even have a playlist on Spotify I call “Chill” that is 7 hours and 54 minutes long (and counting). Some of my favorite artists on this playlist are the aforementioned Beach House, Peter Gabriel, trip-hop duo Lamb, Radiohead, experimental and visionary artist Laurie Anderson, and D’Angelo, among others. 

I even have a playlist called “Lullabies” that I listen to to help me fall asleep. I have fallen asleep to music ever since I was a young boy listening to late night AM radio in the early 70s.

Music is one of the best ways for me to manage my stress-related anxiety. I can never overdose on it. It doesn’t keep me from completing my daily tasks (if anything it helps). And, because of the wonders of technology, I have a virtually unlimited catalog of artists to choose from. So, there’s a musical genre for whatever mood I’m in. 

The photo I’ve chosen for this post is of a tattoo that I have on my right bicep. I had it done a number of years ago. I especially like it because of the “pulse” that goes through the treble clef. I guess you could say that music is in my heartbeat.

Published by Mental Health Verses

I'm a mental health advocate, educator, and TEDx speaker. I also am a featured columnist for BP magazine, I have lived with bipolar disorder since 1981 and I'm in long-term recovery from addiction. I host the program, Mental Health Verses on the SUNY Buffalo State radio station, WBNY 91.3 FM

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