For me, nothing has been more soothing, more comforting than music to help me through my bleak times. Not just any music though ~ I'm talking about good music... music with substance... music with meaning. If you think I'm talking about 80's hair metal bands, or perhaps the latest teen singing "sensations" ala Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber you would be very, very wrong.
No - I would in fact be talking about (as if you didn't already know) The Beatles ~ my favorite group of all time (with U2 coming in a close second). In fact, my very first cassette tape I bought with my hard-earned allowance money was "The Beatles 1962-1966" (aka "The Red Album"). I remember gathering up my earnings and walking to our nearby shopping center which included a grocery store, liquor store, laundromat, hair salon, used book store, and this little dive of a music store. I remember looking at all the tapes and being overwhelmed by the choices. Finally, after much thought and deliberation, I choose "The Red Album". After all, it had the most amount of Beatles songs on it. I wanted the most bang for my buck! Years back while going through my parents records, I came across a number of Beatles albums. I couldn't believe it when my Dad said I could have them! Among them was The Beatles very first American album "Introducing the Beatles". My Dad stopped liking them once their hair starting getting longer, but (for me) that's actually when they starting getting better. Growing up I had posters of The Beatles hanging up all over my room... The White Album poster was my favorite... especially because every time my Dad came into my room he would grunt and say "I didn't like them when they started to get all weird!" To which I would sigh and reply "I know Dad, you tell me that every time you come into my room." He's notorious for repeating his opinions over and over and over...
The Beatles White Album
<-- Said poster which always annoyed my Dad. Well... that one and the one with Bob Marley smoking a joint. Being the straight-laced guy that my Dad is, I honestly didn't think he would know what it was. I was both impressed and shocked when I found out he did in fact know!
The idea for this post came to me last night as I got into bed humming "The Fool on the Hill", a song off of The Beatles album "Magical Mystery Tour". This song - "The Fool on the Hill" - has special meaning to me. Every time I listen to that song or find myself mindlessly humming the tune it brings me back to a very difficult time I went through. The song, however, was what got me through that difficult time.
A number of years back I had been working at a place I didn't enjoy at all. I didn't enjoy the work I did, and I certainly didn't like the negative and unbelievably stressful environment that I entered into every day, five days a week (sometimes six). It all came to a boiling point and I ended up having what was to be my first nervous breakdown. A person can survive in such settings for only so long before it takes its toll - especially if the person doesn't know how to cope in such a horrible and toxic atmosphere. At the time I wasn't seeing my therapist AND I stopped taking my antidepressants. I know, I know - smart move.
In a previous job, a woman I worked with had a nervous breakdown. I didn't quite fully understand what that meant, but I felt bad for her. Once she came back to work I remember the other employees whispering and staring at her like she was some sort of freak. It ticked me off how insensitive they were being. Now I was considered the freak. I was the one that people were whispering about and I hated it.
One of my co-workers would call me at home and ask me what the heck she was supposed to tell people about me (she knew I was depressed yet she didn't understand how serious depression can be). She only made matters worse by yelling at me - yes - yelling at me. I couldn't believe the way she was treating me. Every time she called I ended up in tears. At one point my husband (then boyfriend) wanted to yank the phone away from me and yell at her but I knew that would only make it worse for me. She would tell me what people were saying - as if that's supposed to help me feel better?!? I lost twenty pounds in two weeks! I was a complete wreck! Needless to say, there was no support from anyone I worked with (well, except for a one person who I considered to be like a brother to me - all I can say is - thank god for him!)
It took me a long time to recover from that breakdown... it included time off from work - then reduced work hours. I went back on my meds, started seeing my therapist again, and did lots and lots of work on myself at home. It was definitely a scary point in my life. Quitting my job wasn't an option - I had bills to pay - but I did have a plan to work my way out of there. Eventually, through therapy, I was able to find ways to cope with the negative energy that surrounded me. In a future post I plan on sharing more about this and how to cope in toxic environments. I've just gotten terribly off point with this current post!!
I've always been a believer in mantras. In short it's a statement or slogan repeated frequently (many use mantras while meditating). An example would be something like "This too shall pass" or "I am surrounded by love", etc... However, it was during this breakdown that my mantra was the song "The Fool on the Hill". I don't know how or why that song - at that time - had come to me, yet it was just what I needed.
The meaning behind the song fit perfectly though - essentially it's about a man everyone looks upon as being "crazy" or foolish when in reality his foolishness is a sign of his wisdom and that everyone else is the fool. For me, I related that song to myself and the people I was surrounded by at my job. I'm not saying I'm this wise guru by any means... what I amsaying is that I'm not the fool they are making me out to be. I'm an individual who is dealing with a serious illness the best way I know how and I deserve to give myself credit for it. Just because these people don't understand mental health issues doesn't make me the fool - they are the fools for being so close-minded and ignorant. This song empowered me and inspired me. I sang it every single day while in the shower getting ready for work... I listened to it in the car on the way to work... and I hummed it while at work... It was a constant reminder to myself to be brave and to hold my head high for I have nothing to be ashamed of. To this day I often find myself humming or singing the song... but I often find that I end up doing it when I'm in need of guidance and support (and it's NOT deliberate at all!) Crazy how the universe works, isn't it?
Life would be absolutely miserable without music in the world... For music has the power to inspire... to make you cry... to comfort... to motivate... to energize... to make you feel like you're not alone... or to just make you happy! Do you have a song that's your mantra? If not, why not come up with one? It definitely couldn't hurt!