The Five Stages: How Music Can be a Shoulder to Lean on When Suffering with Mental Illness


By Jada Moore

Since the age of 12, I began to deal with chronic health issues. Along with those came my fight with mental illness. While I don’t want to get into the specifics, I have been diagnosed with severe anxiety and severe depression. The road has been a long one for me, and to be honest, it’s been extremely tough as of late. I’ve been on a medicine a while now for my diagnoses, but unfortunately, the medicine doesn’t really work as it should. In the midst of this, I found that music was an outlet that allowed me to calm my frustrations and struggles.

I’ve created a playlist of five songs. These are some of the songs I listen to when I’m having a really rough time. With these songs, I keep in mind a list of five stages I can go through to help me find a release and calm. There’s been lots of moments in my life where I’ve struggled, and these stages really have helped me through them. If you suffer from mental illness or have hit a rough patch, I hope these stages (along with your own songs) are able to help you the same way as they have for me.

Stage 1: Cry Out The Pain
Song: “Sleep Sleep Sleep” by Spookyghostboy

“And if I ask you one last question, please don’t hesitate
Are you happy?
How do you get here?
I am sorry
For what I think I’ve done”

Crying, crying is one of the releases I’m engineered towards when it’s gotten tough. Tears are automatic when I’m feeling sad and frustrated. Pair that with the somber tone and lyrics from this song, and the tears are always immediately there.

Stage 2: A Bit More Crying
Song: “Time Flies” by Lykke Li

“And I get weak, I get weary
I miss sleep, I get moody
I’m in thoughts, I write songs
I’m in love, I walk on”

At this point, there’s a bit more tears, but not as much as at the initial start. I think Lykke’s raw voice is so beautiful here and you can just feel her strong emotions of pain and heartache. When she says she gets “weak and weary,” I can fully relate to that because at that moment I am just that. Just that relation paired with her raw voice are what makes the lyrics so powerful. The heartache and pain she feels is exactly what I feel.

Stage 3: Attempt To Calm Down The Initial Pain And Stress
Song: “Sloom” by Of Monsters and Men

“That I drew up from a little dream of mine, a little nightmare of yours
To be us to take this plunge, to forgive and forget
And be the better man, to be a better man, to be a better man

So love me mother, and love me father, and love my sister as well”

This is usually around the time where I start trying to calm down the stress and worry. Now that the tears are slowly beginning to fade, so does the initial storm of pain and upset. This song is so beautiful and calming all at once. The lyrics are so personal and I relate to them. I do push my family away when it’s gotten hard. At the same time, I just want my family to understand it’s not personal and I still love them.

Stage 4:Try To Stay Calm
Song: “Breathe Me” by Sia

“Help, I have done it againI have been here many times beforeHurt myself again todayAnd, the worst part is there’s no-one else to blame”

This song has always been a favorite of mine. Sia’s raw tone and lyrics have always struck a chord within me, and even when I’m happy, this song makes me reminiscent of happier times. (Which is weird, I know, because the song is a bit sad.) When I was younger, I would always listen to this song during happier times, which is the imagery I get in my head that always helps to keep me calm. I just think the lyrics are really what resonate inside of me and make me able to think. The lyrics are what help to bring me to acknowledge and accept what could be the main issue – though often I may not always know the issue.When you struggle with depression, it can hit you when you’re perfectly happy. Moments like this make me sometimes wish for someone to be there for me at that exact moment. To hold my hand through it all – but at the same time, sometimes that person is just going to have to be myself.

Stage 5: Try To Understand And Acknowledge It’s Going To Be Alright
Song: “Hoppípolla” by Sigur Rós

“Og ég fæ blóðnasir
En ég stend alltaf upp”

English translation:

and i get a nosebleedbut i’ll always stand up again

Choosing to end my playlist with this song was meaningful to me. I just think there’s something so special about “Hoppípolla,” as it’s always been such a beautiful song. This is another song that makes me think of happier times. There are lyrics that mention “and I get a nosebleed, but I’ll always stand up again.” Those lyrics have so much of an impact on me. I know, many times, I and many other people in this world that suffer from mental illness feel kicked down and lost -lost and misunderstood, which makes you want to give up. From this song, I’m able to just feel hope; that feeling of hope I carry over for myself. I know it may be tough, tougher than ever, but I can and will stand again like the song states.