10 March 2015 – At Home Music Therapy

When I am at home and my mood is disturbed, I often turn to music to stimulate my senses and alter my mood.  I can’t always do it, but when I can it really helps.  I also use music when my mood is positive, to ensure it stays that way.  When I am well, I take the time to create play lists in ITunes for each of my different mood states.  I will break it down into the different mood states for you to show you how I manipulate my mood.

Music for when you are depressed

When I am depressed, I find it very difficult to get music to infiltrate my mood.  It is only a very small selection of songs that can actually break through the barrier of my depression.  What I mean by that is that I don’t feel the music in my soul the way I do when I am well.  But there are a select few songs that can reach me on an emotional level when I am depressed and I play them not necessarily to cheer me up, but rather to make me feel some emotion, to wake up my senses and give me the feeling of being alive, that I so desperately need when I am in a depressed state. So they might be sad songs, angry songs or happy songs but whatever they are they are ones that I have a deep connection with.

Music for when you are manic

When I am manic my senses are working in overdrive and I am over-stimulated.  For this reason the music I choose when I am manic is calming, subdued music that will flatten my mood somewhat and bring me down a peg or two.  This can be meditation music, or easy listening songs, but either way they are not particularly happy or sad tunes, they are truly middle ground and they help me to ground myself by listening to them.

Music for when you are emotionally numb

Often when I am in a mixed state, I find myself emotionally numb.  In order to combat this I will choose a playlist that is full of strong emotional content.  Extremely funny, or angry or love filled songs, songs that have strong emotional meaning to me, for example my wedding songs and songs that were emotionally charged for me in the past, like a song that my best friend and I really love and relate to.  In any case it doesn’t matter what emotion in particular the song stimulates for you as long as it has you singing at the top of your voice and really feeling it.

Music for when you are agitated

Particularly when my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is playing up (often at the same time as I am feeling the beginnings of depression or mania coming on) I often experience irrational agitation.  In order to avoid taking this out on other people unfairly, I take it out on my music.  I find a playlist of angry songs to start with and I sing along to them and really allow myself to feel the emotion and express it through singing.  After I have done this for ten or so songs I find myself starting to feel that I have released some of the pressure built up inside me.  I then switch over to sad songs.  This may sound strange but my irrational agitation is usually, in my opinion, caused by an underlying sadness that I don’t want to verbalise or act upon because my ego doesn’t like me behaving like a weak person.   So changing over to sad songs stimulates that sadness inside and I end up crying along to the songs for a good half hour or so until I have let it all out.  I feel a thousand times better when it is all sung and done and my agitation has subsided.

Music for when you are happy

This one is easy, when I am happy I listen to all of my favourite songs regardless of their emotional content.  As long as they are sung by my favourite bands and are songs that I know all the lyrics to, I couldn’t be more content.  The reason I include this category though is because I find that if I listen to my favourite music regularly when I am mentally well (happy) I am less likely to slide into a depression or manic phase.  Music therapy as I call it, keeps me on the happy path and away from the dreaded depression and mania.

So that is the rundown of my relationship with music and how closely related it is to my mental health journey.  This will also explain why it is that I upload so many songs to my blog, it is because I hold music in high regard when it comes to treating my bipolar symptoms.  I hope you too can build a strong relationship with your music and use it as a tool to keep you well.