Hardship Series #3: Using Music as Therapy To Cope

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MY CHILDHOOD SOUNDTRACK

Listening to music is proven to have an impact on our moods because it causes the brain to release dopamine, which increases happiness and decreases stress. Music therapy is used worldwide to help patients dealing with pain, anxiety, and depression. It can transport us to another time and place, fire us up to do something daring, or show us how to be calm in the storm.

My childhood soundtrack was 98.7 WMZQ – 90’s country. I lived in a suburb of DC, but my soundtrack told me I was a country girl bound to marry a high school sweetheart. As a teenager, my soundtrack changed as I rebelled from country girl to Gwen Stefani to rap artist.

MY ADULT SOUNDTRACK

In college, friends introduced me to punk rock and the underground music scene. They helped me explore my creativity and desire to be unique. It didn’t, however, produce much maturity on my end…Not exactly underground, I listened to The White Stripes and fell in love with the simplicity of a two man band. They led me to their inspirations: the rock and roll of Led Zeppelin and the blues of Son House.

I married young at 21 and my music became more of a tapestry of genres rather than one specific type. I had discovered Wes Anderson and the Coen Brothers and listened to their movie soundtracks. They introduced me to old bands like The Rolling Stones, The Velvet Underground, The Kinks, Ramones, and Bob Dylan.

MY FAITH SOUNDTRACK

After having kids, I had to monitor what came through the speakers for these new tiny ears to hear. I began to really listen to the words of these songs. It’s amazing how different the world looks once you have children.

When I got sick with Lyme disease and my mental state deteriorated, I began to cling to another genre of music, also from my childhood: Contemporary Christian. I spent a year of my life listening to Lauren Daigle, Amanda Cook, NEEDTOBREATHE, Rend Collective and Hillsong UNITED during the quiet hours of the night. God was letting me go through this–and for what?! I had no desire to open up my Bible. But these songs spoke to me in the dead of the night. While my family was sleeping, I would listen to these songs on repeat. I would fall asleep to them, and wake up to them.

I bought a Bluetooth speaker and belted them out in the shower. Sunday mornings, tremors and all, I would get ready to go to church where there was a possibility I could hear a live version of “So Will I” or “Reckless Love“. These songs poured life into my spirit like no other songs could at the time. They taught me it’s ok to be confused and angry, but it’s hope that holds us together after we fall apart. This music became my therapy.

MY LIFE’S SOUNDTRACK

The day I was back on my feet and allowed to drive my car completely alone, I plugged in my iPhone and pushed play on the only song I felt fit my mood. I spent a year of my life being watched and taken care of by someone else, living in fear of death and mental instability. I cranked up the volume as Aerosmith sang “I’m BACK! I’m Back in the Saddle Again!“, my husband laughing at me as I drove off, a huge grin on my face.

My soundtrack today is a mix of every song I’ve ever loved, from Jack White and Imagine Dragons and The Lumineers and all of those amazing bands I discovered years ago. Sometimes I even go back and laugh at old rap songs. But when I listen to the songs from those lonely nights, I’m not holding onto hope by a thread anymore. I’m standing on the mountain shouting it out that I’m back. No longer paralyzed by what-ifs but instead choosing to live in the moment.

Eventually, I sorted through my playlists, organizing them by my needs. Songs for anxiety, celebration, productivity, hyper kids… you name it. I’m investing the time in finding what songs bring me joy so that I can be living days that are meaningful and not mindless.

So what is your soundtrack telling you?

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE…

Going through something hard in your life? Read the rest of the posts in my Hardship Series here:

Want to listen to my worship soundtrack? Listen for free on Spotify here:

You’ve got this!

3 comments

  1. Music feeds the soul – without a doubt! Personally, I love songs that tell a story, that transport and take the listener along on a journey. Jim Croce was a master of this and I still listen to his words from time to time.

  2. Music does have such a powerful impact. Needtobreathe and Shane and Shane have been with me through some of my darkest times. I love how music can help us express what are heart is feeling when we don’t have the strength to do it. Worship music is especially powerful for me in this way. Love this post!

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