The Amazing Power of Music

I read an article recently about the psychological effects of music, and how it affects your mood, and it occured to me how important music really is.

I listen to a lot of really, really depressing music, and I think that it’s starting to affect how I think. Part of me, deep down, loves it. I love sitting in my room listening to “u” and drinking whiskey in the dark. Now, seeing that written down, it seems kind of fucked up.

Maybe if I listen to “Happy” a million times a day, or start my mornings with “The Dreamer”, eventually I won’t be so angry at the world. I’m going to try that; only listening to upbeat, positive music for a month or two, and see if it does anything for me.

I don’t know why sad people love sad music so much. On paper, it doesn’t sound like it should help, but it does. I’m sure there’s some music psychologist who can show me case studies and peer-reviewed papers, but I’m not a scientist, I don’t know if I’d understand all that technical jargon and obscure psychology terms.

“Music is the new religion.” I read that in a Pitchfork interview, and it makes me think. I’ve definitely learned more about being a decent, well-rounded person from music than I have from church. Jay-Z taught me that financial freedom is our only hope, and that a loss ain’t a loss, it’s a lesson. Kendrick Lamar taught me that it’s okay to be afraid, it’s okay to think you don’t deserve what you’ve been given. Mac Miller taught me that it’s okay to feel things, and it’s okay to need help. What’s Jesus taught me?

In Search of Isolation

I don’t like people. I used to, but years of customer service have ruined whatever interest I had in meeting new people, and that’s a problem.

Maybe it’s just me, but I think people are getting worse. Maybe I’m biased, but I’ve dealt with way too many assholes lately for it to be a coincidence. Either that, or I’m slowly dying inside.

Whenever the world gets to be too much for me, I like to sit in my room and listen to my records. I know that being by yourself all the time isn’t the best for your mental health, but it’s much better for me than going outside.

I don’t know if my love of isolation will come back to bite me, I’m sure that it’s definitely strained my relationship with my friends and family, and it’s not exactly great for my dating life, but it’s something I desperately need to keep functioning.

Why is that? Why do I feel out of place, floating from one place to another like an errant cloud? Is there something wrong with me, and I just can’t see it? I used to love meeting new people and experiencing new things, but now it’s just a pain in the ass, and I’d rather spin up Malibu and write articles about nothing.

This post is getting heavy, so here’s a baby giraffe.

Mental Quicksand

Fear is quick sand. It’s a pair of cement shoes weighing you down. It pulls you down and envelopes you until there is no light, no escape, and no forward progress. You can fight as much as you want, but it will only drown you quicker. You see the world pass you by as you suffer in silence. You wish you could do something, but no matter what you do, no matter how close you get to the surface, you still drown. The only way to escape it is to accept it and let it take you.

There’s a Pixar movie called “Inside Out” that really made me think. Essentially, your emotions are anthropomorphized beings who work in your head, effecting how you perceive the world, with one emotion holding the wheel. Ever since I saw that movie, I’ve wondered which emotion of mine holds the proverbial wheel, is it anger, fear, sadness, joy? I’m torn between anger and fear. I’m angry because I have ridiculously high expectations of myself and everyone around me, and get upset when they don’t live up to my expectations. I’m angry because I’m an emotional punching bag for hundreds of assholes at my bullshit minimum-wage job. I’m angry because I could’ve been better and achieved everything I wanted. But I’m also scared of everything, which is probably why I’m miserable.

It shouldn’t be this hard. Why can’t I overcome my fear when so many others can? Do you think that a Russian Infantryman in Stalingrad wasn’t terrified? No, but he muscled through his fear and achieved his goal, or died trying. What the fuck is my excuse? I want to be better, but there is this mental brick wall that I keep running into preventing me from advancing, and nothing I do can penetrate it. I wonder what the future holds, if this is just a temporary setback, or if it’s the battle of a lifetime.

Staring at the Abyss

Depression is a vile beast. I’ve been fighting it off for months now, but I can feel it starting to sink its claws into me, looking for any opening to fuck my life up. I like to call my depression “mind herpes” because it’s permanent, and flares up when you least expect it. The odd thing about it is that I’m probably less depressed than most people, which leads me to think that I’m overestimating how depressed I am, and that I don’t deserve to feel bad about it. It’s 3:23am now, and I’m on my 4th glass of Evan Williams Single Barrel (I can’t recommend this bourbon enough, try it now) and I’m trying to get to sleep, but I’m facing the familiar problem of having too much on my mind, so I don’t think I’ll be sleeping tonight. Good thing I have tomorrow off.

I don’t know how this happened to me, I have a life that most people would kill for, and I’m wasting it writing self-deprecating articles that 15 people will read. I think that I vastly overestimate my value to the world; when I was in high school I had these stupid dreams of being a Creative Director by 35. I’m 25 now, and the idea that I’ll gain enough advertising knowledge in the next decade to confidently direct people more creative than I am is laughable. Part of me thinks that all the time I’ve spent writing campaigns and taglines on the backs of receipt paper will be worth it, but the more realistic part of me knows that this is probably one of those fixations that comes with ADHD, and that it’ll pass. I’ve had so many potential careers: I was going to be a history teacher, that didn’t last. I was going to be a Wall Street analyst, that didn’t last. I was going to be an A&R for a music label, that didn’t last. How do you know what’s best for you when you can’t even trust your own brain?

I have made some progress in my battle with brain herpes, I don’t impulsively destroy things because I can anymore, and I can determine my level of depression now. I don’t know about anyone else, but whenever I feel the fog rolling in, I step back and assess it, what’s got my panties in a knot, how do I do what I need to do in order to keep going? My advice, unsolicited as it might be, is to make a scale between 1-10 and decide where you are on that scale. For me, a 1 is my usual baseline depression, nothing too harmful, nothing too helpful, just the usual emptiness that comes with being unhappy. I really don’t care too much until it gets to around a 5, where I start to get stuck in my head thinking about things I’ve done and the people I’ve hurt. This usually passes after a beer or two and some social interaction, but it’s unsettling how often I feel this way. If I’ve had an actual shitty day, I can get as high as a 7, where I’ll think about swerving into traffic, or an 8, where I’ll pick up a bottle at the store and listen to Mac Miller albums until I feel like I’m going to die the same way he did: fucked up and alone. Therapy doesn’t help, I’ve been to 5 different therapists, and not one has helped, so I have to try and get my shit together myself. I want to feel like I’ve done the best with what I’ve been given, but I know that’s not true.

My parents have been asking me when I’ll find a girl to settle down with and start a family with, and I don’t have the heart to tell them I’m terrified to have kids. How can I possibly teach someone how to be a person when I can barely be one myself? My parents are the best people I know, they both came from nothing, worked their way up from the bottom, and earned everything they have. All I’ve got is their last name. It sucks really, they’re such amazing people, their kid should’ve been president, or cured cancer, or invented something Earth-shattering, and all I’m doing is writing WordPress articles at my shitty minimum wage job. I don’t know why I’m even writing this post, it’s not going to be popular, nobody wants to hear some privileged asshole complain, I just hope that some other privileged asshole reads this and sees that they’re not alone, that their pain is just as real as everyone else’s.

OK, I’m starting to lose focus a bit now. We need to talk more about depression, it’s taking over our culture, killing our creatives, and influencing our legacy. I’m starting to lose track of my thoughts, so I’ll end with some wholesome shit. You can beat this, you are valuable, you are loved, fuck everyone else, do what you need to do.