Music and Therapy

I’ve wanted to write more about music for quite some time, but it just feels like such a monumental task. Music means so much to me. I believe it is one of the most powerful forces on the planet. I love this quote by Victor Hugo – “Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” Music is a language that speaks to the very core of my soul. Music is therapy.

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I’ve always loved music, but it was in high school that I first started to truly understand the power it has. I started listening to classic rock from the sixties and seventies. Here were these artists/musicians who had lived decades before I had, but who sang songs that I understood and could relate to. They sang songs about . . . me. The music was there for me in a way no one or nothing else could be. Not just rock, but classical, new age, world. The words, the music, spoke to my soul.

I think most of the time I take music for granted, it is such a part of my life. I have it playing all the time, especially in the car. I’m that crazy person you see totally rocking out as I drive—the one you point and laugh at! It’s okay, I’ll take it! Then, I’m reminded again. This one day, a couple of weeks ago, Pink Floyd’s Eclipse came on as I was driving home from a therapy appointment. I must have heard that song and the whole Dark Side of the Moon album at least a hundred times, probably more, in the last twenty years, and yet I was still amazed at what an incredible song it was. It gave me chills. The same thing happens every time I listen to Stairway to Heaven. I know it probably sounds incredibly cheesy, but that song, and Led Zeppelin, changed my life. It’s my favorite song in the world. Sometimes, when I hear it, I wonder if I’ll still love it as much as the first few times I heard it. It couldn’t possibly still be as powerful now, right? And yet, it is. I still get this . . . feeling inside when I hear it. A feeling of who I truly am and who I want to be. It’s amazing.

Music definitely has the power to affect how we feel—our mood. There are times when I’m feeling down, depressed, sad, and I’ll throw on music that only enhances those feelings. Bad, I know, but sometimes I want something that can relate. Other times, I put on something I know will put me in a better mood. Often, my rock ‘n’ roll can do that! I also have a “reminisce” playlist on my ipod. I call it that because it is music my friends and I listened to in junior high and high school. No Doubt, Alanis Morisette, Sheryl Crow, Third Eye Blind, Smash Mouth, Collective Soul and even Metallica’s No Leaf Clover. These songs remind me of better, or at least simpler, days and always manage to make me happy, no matter how down I’m feeling.

Of course, music can’t be on all the time, but it is a great supplement to my mental health. I highly suggest checking out the benefits of music therapy. According to the American Music Therapy Association, “Music Therapy is an established health profession in which music is used within a therapeutic relationship to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals.” For anyone who has found traditional forms of “help” or therapy ineffective, give music therapy a try. I really do believe in the power of music.

A Personal Post

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This is a personal post, just something I feel I’ve learned in my thirty-four years of life. Attempting to force or push people into believing what you believe by any tactics – shouting, screaming, constant debate, name-calling or even passive-aggressive behavior – really only pushes them away and actually does more to solidify their own beliefs than change them. I’ve found that quiet example, loving and respecting everyone, is far more effective. It may not always change someone, but at least it produces a relationship of mutual love, respect and peace. And those kinds of effects can be incredibly far-reaching.

One of Those Days

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It’s been one of those days. Yep, kitchen table is a mess, that’s a load of popcorn and who knows what else all over the floor and the counter is stacked with dirty dishes. It seems as though every time I think I finally have my life figured out, things are back on track, a hurricane comes and rips everything apart, leaving me in the middle of another mess I don’t know how to sort through, like I have no control over anything anymore. I sort of feel like a marionette—my strings being pulled and yanked by some other force. Is this normal? Does everyone feel this way? Or do other people actually have control over their lives? Do things go the way you planned or do they constantly fall apart? Is it me? Is it the mental illness? Or is it just the way life works? Right now, I’m stumped.

Beating My SAD

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I live in a desert. It’s a high desert, there are mountains, we do get snow, but it’s still an arid region. Because of this, winter snow and snowpack are very important. I know how important it is to our water situation come summer, yet I can’t help but be grateful for the mild winter we have had. I can only think of two major snowstorms this winter. There was a brief period of time where it got pretty cold, but for the most part it hasn’t been a bad winter at all. This is great new for my seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which hasn’t been nearly as bad as previous winters. It hasn’t abandoned me completely, unfortunately, but just like this winter, it has been mild. I think part of it has been my consistent light/heat therapy, but the warmer temps and overall nice weather have definitely played in as well. Rather than being holed up in my house, escaping the cold, but getting antsy and claustrophobic, I have been able to get outside, enjoy the sun, the warmth, birds, water, the sky, nature. It’s had an amazing effect! Yesterday morning I planned on hiking around this trail near my house, but got caught up taking pictures of all these great blue herons and white-crowned sparrows—which was just as much fun as hiking!

I know the warmer-than-usual, lack-of-snowfall winter has many people concerned, but I am going to remain grateful for how it has helped my health this season!

Seeing the Stars

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“When It’s Darkest, Men See the Stars.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

A friend recently shared this quote with me, and I loved it so much I wanted to share it here. It’s a good reminder that even in our darkest moments, there is still light. We may not see it at first, but it’s there. Sometimes it just requires looking for it.

Stronger Than You Think

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Yesterday was a rough day—or more like an accumulation of several rough days that finally just exploded in a blinding flash of lightning and deafening clap of thunder. It’s easy to want to give up when you feel like you’re making no real progress in life. But as I was chatting with a friend a bit about what was going on I realized I have made progress. I realized that I’m stronger than I once was. It used to be that when I’d get really depressed like that I would lock myself in my room or storm off in my car and force my then-husband to take care of everything. But I can’t do that anymore. I suppose I could, but I won’t, I don’t. As much as I wanted to curl up on my bed and spend the night crying, I didn’t. I got up, dusted myself off, got my kids some dinner, made cookies with them and we read scriptures together like we do every night. I have made it, I am stronger, and I am still going.

Sometimes it takes bottoming out to realize that the bottom isn’t really as low as it was last time. That means there is a point in continuing on. That means you are progressing, even if you don’t see it at first. And that makes it all worth it.

Is There a Point?

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Sometimes I wonder if there’s a point in continuing to do this – to do anything, really, I guess. What’s the point of any of it? I try so hard, yet I never seem to be able to move forward in life. This road I’m on is full of speed bumps of disappointment, u-turns of mistakes and crashes of hurt. How do you keep going when you see nothing but fog and darkness ahead?