The last few weeks have been particularly difficult for me. Every day has been a battle with my mind and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight for this war. Music has been my one saving grace, it seems to be the only thing to pierce the dark veil. I know I’m not the only one who finds solace in music. So today I’m bringing you a playlist that will hopefully inspire you to continue fighting.
I filled this playlist with music that makes me feel strong and defiant in the face of mental illness. Hopefully, it inspires you to keep fighting too.
You can listen to the playlist on Spotify here.
I had a one-way ticket to a place where all the demons go
Where the wind don’t change
And nothing in the ground can ever grow
No hope, just lies
And you’re taught to cry into your pillow
But I survived
When I was creating this playlist, this song seemed like the best way to start the list. This powerful song gives me strength no matter how many times I’ve been knocked down. When I sing along, belting out the words “I’m alive,” I am reminded that as long I draw breath I have not lost to mental illness.
And April don’t you give up now
Crying on account
Of the skin that binds you
I feel summer’s coming soon
When the moths and trees and heart entwine
Thoushaltnot has a way with lyrics that makes my inner wordsmith squeal with joy. I know that the lyrics probably don’t refer to anything related to mental health. But somehow these lyrics remind me that there are people around me that care. It also reminds me that the bad times won’t last forever.
If you are afraid
If you are alive
Give more now|
Everybody here has seams and scars
So what? Level up!
So, I’m just going to get this out of the way: I love Vienna Teng. She is my fave 2k5ever. She also has lyrics that reach something deep within me. This upbeat song always makes me feel energized – it renews my will to keep going.
And I am done with my graceless heart
So tonight I’m gonna cut it out and then restart
‘Cause I like to keep my issues drawn
It’s always darkest before the dawn
This song simultaneously reaches out to the pain within me and the strength. It reminds me of the times when I’m lost in my mind, laying down and unable to do much more than breath. I know the journey is not going to be easy, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to give up. There’s always that small sliver of hope buried amongst my terrible thoughts.
Sing with me, sing for the year
Sing for the laughter, sing for the tear
Sing with me if it’s just for today
Maybe tomorrow the good Lord will take you away
On the good days, I know I need take advantage of them. It’s during these times I need to work on the things that matter to me. I need to enjoy the good times with the people in my life. I need to create good memories that I can hold onto when my mood inevitably takes a nosedive again. It’s those memories that give me hope that I will make more just like them in the future.
Stand my ground, I won’t give in
No more denying, I’ve got to face it
Won’t close my eyes and hide the truth inside
If I don’t make it, someone else will
Stand my ground
Anyone else go through phases where you think you’ll never experience depression again despite years of living with it? I do. I don’t know if it’s hypomania blinding me or unrealistic optimism, but it happens.
So when depression comes creeping back, I spend the first few days pretending like it’s not there. But eventually I know that sweeping it under the rug, so to speak, isn’t going to fix anything. It’s better for me to face the Sadness Monster head on and stand my ground.
But I won’t run
I’m not ashamed
It’s gonna take more than this for me to break
I feel like this song encapsulates the idea of owning your illness despite stigma. Yes, we are not our illnesses, but they are a part of our lives. We shouldn’t have to hide our illnesses and we definitely shouldn’t be ashamed of them.
Rising up, straight to the top
Had the guts, got the glory
Went the distance, now I’m not gonna stop
Just a man and his will to survive
How could I not include Eye of the Tiger? It’s my go-to song for karaoke, working out, and pushing myself to keep going even when life gets tough as hell. Depression likes to fill my mind with crushing self-doubt and self-loathing. But if I blast this song, it overpowers that voice in my head. It helps me to not give up on the things that are important to me.
I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter, dancing through the fire
‘Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear my roar
Louder, louder than a lion
‘Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar
After Eye of the Tiger I have to put Roar – it’s right there in the lyrics! This peppy tune has such a cheerful melody that it’s hard to be stuck in melancholy-mode when I hear it. It’s a fun song that always gets me singing and depression doesn’t like sticking around when I’m having fun despite its presence.
This is my fight song
Take back my life song
Prove I’m alright song
My power’s turned on
Starting right now I’ll be strong
I’ll play my fight song
And I don’t really care if nobody else believes
‘Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me
If this ain’t a kick-butt anthem for telling depression to take a hike, then I don’t know what is. Any day that I have this chorus stuck in my head, I know that I can handle the day ahead. Remember: words are powerful. And these ones pack a punch.
We are the misfits,
We are the bad kids,
We ain’t perfect but that’s alright
Love us or hate us
Nothin’ can break us
Better believe us
Times, they are a-changing tonight
This song makes me think about the stigma surrounding mental illness. All of us mental health advocates are warriors. It’s a hell of a problem to tackle, especially when we’re already dealing with just living with a mental illness, but as the lyrics say, “We were born to break the doors down, fight until the end.”
I’ve found the strength and now I know where I can confide
I’ve found a way to tame my own monster inside
I’ve made my way and now I see it, I can reach it now
Hold on to me, be sure you’ve got it memorized
Yeah, we’ll survive the night
It was particularly difficult to choose one section of this song to show here, because all the lyrics are great. The whole thing pretty much describes what it’s like living with mental illness. We have to fight ourselves and stigma that makes us feel like we need to hide at the same time. But we can be our own heroes because in the end we have to be the ones that choose to keep fighting.
God, I want to dream again
Take me where I’ve never been
I want to go there
This time I’m not scared
Now I am unbreakable, it’s unmistakable
No one can touch me
Nothing can stop me
Holy poop, I love this song so much. The song itself is fantastic and the lyrics are so empowering. Yes, we live with mental illness and living the day-to-day reality of that sucks. But every time we make progress in our recovery journey or make the choice to live another day, we are getting stronger.
P.S. If you’re feeling a little less aggressive and less rock-y, there is also an acoustic version of this song.
Oh how I wish
For soothing rain
All I wish is to dream again
My loving heart
Lost in the dark
For hope I’d give my everything
I’ll admit this song is less “heck yeah fight that depression” and focuses more how it feels to live with it. But I think the chorus is important in this case: amidst all the sorrow there is always hope. No matter how small that light, it’s so important to hang onto it.
I don’t belong here, we gotta move on dear, escape from this afterlife
‘Cause this time I’m right to move on and on, far away from here
Maybe this is a weird song to have on this list, I don’t know. But this song helped me SO MUCH when I had my first major depressive episode. It lasted for about a full year, and at the time my life objectively was not that bad. I had a decent job, I was living in a pretty good apartment, and I felt that I should’ve been happy. But as well all know, none of that crap matters much to depression
Anyway, in this song, I equate the idea of “afterlife” with that life and my yearning to escape it. I wanted so much to break free of it and experience something more. I wanted to live the life I wanted, not the one that was “good enough.” So I guess this song reminds me to strive to stay true to my desires and live in a way that makes me happy.
Don’t you die on me
You haven’t made your peace
Live life, breathe, breathe
This little section of the song always seems to find me at the right time. I know it seems silly, but I feel like these words command me to obey them. It gives that tiny spark of light within me a little more power and the light gets a little bigger.
The time will come when you’ll have to rise
Above the best, improve yourself
Your spirit never dies
The journey towards recovery is a difficult one. It takes inexhaustible tenacity and a dedication to yourself that is ingrained so deep that it keeps you going for one more day, one more hour, one more minute.
But we keep going because we know it’s worth it.
I want to witness the beauty of your repair
The shape you’ve grown
For you are made of nebulas and novas and night sky
You’re made of memories you bury or live by
Yup, another Vienna Teng song because she’s kick-butt awesome. I don’t know how to describe the feeling of this song other than magic. Maybe it’s the words, but it makes me think of the Northern Lights. This song is beauty and wonder and optimism in the middle of a dark night.
Whatever tomorrow brings, I’ll be there
With open arms and open eyes, yeah
Whatever tomorrow brings, I’ll be there, I’ll be there
This is how I’ve been feeling lately. I just keep telling myself to live one more day so I can see tomorrow. It could be an amazing day or another terrible 24 hours or completely neutral. But I won’t know unless I’m alive to see it. So I’ll be there.
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
And I say it’s all right
Gotta finish strong with a classic, right? This song is nothing but pure optimism. As Victor Hugo once wrote, “Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.” Believe that the sun will find you again. It’ll be all right.
So that wraps up this playlist. I’ll make more of them in the future. But for now, please share in the comments what songs inspire you to continue on the road of recovery. I’d love to discover new music and add more songs that’ll keep me going when I need them.
Don’t forget to share this post on social media! Music is like medicine and one of these songs could help someone a lot right now.