The Second Most Useful Self-Help

For me, singing sad songs often has a way of healing a situation. It gets the hurt out in the open into the light, out of the darkness.

Reba McEntire

Exercise is the very best thing to help me, but next to that, music and movies(and TV shows) are my second best way to get through rough times. The music doesn’t have to be depressing. However, it typically is very depressing, touching on themes like loneliness, heartbreak, and yes, even suicide.

The more depressed and lonely I am, the more I listen to particular songs and much more often. If I am doing well. I can go days without music, but I eventually miss it. Ever since I was a small child, music has been a huge part of my life. I have more than a few songs that remind me of a specific event or feeling. I know a lot feel that way, but the sheer number of songs that elicit memories and feelings is not normal, from what I can tell. There are even songs that can trigger depression or seizures, just based on the emotion and memories that I relate to the songs. They aren’t metal or otherwise wild or violent songs, either. For example, I have to be careful listening to Automatic for the People by REM, lest it causes seizures based on memories that lead to dreams. I still listen to it, but I am cautious. Music is a very powerful force in my life.

I recently wrote an essay with some warning signs. A personal warning sign that I am massively depressed and teetering on the edge is when I listen to my sad playlists over and over and just stop for a day or two. No one has picked up on that warning sign, but I typically don’t hurt myself physically or worse during this time, but it sure would be nice for someone to notice and just talk to me. I usually try to become more talkative during these episodes while trying to hide my issues. I am currently in such a mood, but no one will talk to me, so I decided to write this, which is helpful, but it is just not the same. Adding silence to silence is painful.

It upsets me when music or movies are blamed for people’s suicides. I would bet a lot that the vast majority of them lived longer because they had music to lean on. The fact that they might have been listening to something while they killed themselves probably gave that person a small measure of solace in the end. Of course, people being angry, sad, and lashing out, lose any perspective about the event. They look to blame the nearest thing that the public has been brainwashed into believing is a fact.

It has been debunked1 time2 and time3 again. Pseudoscientists4 with a pet theory continue to push this nonsense. Why? Who knows, but I would bet a lot that it is not for benevolent purposes. Sometimes it is genuinely misguided people - usually tricked by the pseudoscientists - or people devastated by tragedy who will look anywhere to find blame. The best they can muster is anecdotes, at best.

It is unhelpful and dangerous. As a rule, pushing falsehoods always leads to more tragedy and more control.

We can throw video games into the pile of things misused5 to shift blame. I could write a million pages just on this topic and not cover everything.

As was pointed out in the excellent documentary “Bowling for Columbine,” it was shown that there were initial rumors that the two shooters went to bowling class that morning.

Yet bowling was not blamed. It turned out that the rumor was quickly debunked following the shooting. That is irrelevant.

Music was blamed. Even though there is just as much evidence that bowling causes violence as exists for music - none at all. I guess expecting rationality and reason to prevail is a fool’s errand. I am getting a little far-afield here.

Sometimes, happier music or at least more neutral mixed into my massively depressed playlist is helpful. Some music I like does nothing for me when I am down. Bands such as Butthole Surfers, Megadeth, The Replacements, Obituary, The Ramones, Slayer, and many more just don’t pull me out of my funk. Yet, some metal and punk can.

I think it is just a specific style, tone, vocals, specific keys, or key changes, or perhaps even time signatures. I don’t know.

Blatantly happy music can be upsetting at the worst of times and annoying to various levels.

I am a huge REM fan, but I can barely tolerate that in the best of times.

Oddly enough, Kate Pierson of the B-52’s who sang in the above song is always acceptable in any state.

How dreadfully and drearily sunny. The above song is never acceptable. Not ever.

Here is an example, and there are many, of a REM song that is great 24/7.

I do play video games from time to time but they aren’t therapeutic for me. They do help some people. Another reason I like music is that I can be active while listening. Which gives me the two best forms of help at once.

Like I said in a previous essay, movies help a lot. But they are much more sedentary. It is hard to walk or ride a bike while watching a movie. I should try someday.

Like I wrote before, funny movies help a lot. “Better off Dead,” “Ace Ventura,” “Dumb and Dumber,” “The Pest,” among others, make me happy. Don’t judge me.

Action movies can be helpful as well. So can depressingly sad movies. They probably make me feel happiest when I am very depressed. “Less than Zero” and “Requiem for a Dream” are good examples. They just make me feel at peace. I have never had a drug problem, but for some reason, they resonate with me.

A movie that I have seen recently, but is not a recent movie, is “You are Alone.”

It’s a movie about two very broken people simply talking. The ending threw me for a loop. It almost exclusively takes place in a single room. I could not relate to Brittney. Her choices, given her potential, are confusing to me. I could relate to Buddy. I am basically his inverse. He is in pain over what he has lost. I have learned these last few weeks that my pain comes from what I have never had, and never will. He is hurting so much that he can not move forward. My fear of never recapturing the best two weeks of my life has paralyzed me. Worse, I am not sure if it was even real. The big difference is that I would not have hired Brittney, and I could not have asked what he did in the end. I could never put that on someone. I guess it is not good that I could relate so much to him and that the movie still affects me after watching it almost three months ago.

The movie doesn’t make me happy, but it does bring a strange sense of peace. This is something I desperately need right now and can not find.

The main point here is that music and movies can increase happiness. They can also make you happy-ish when you are wallowing in a pit of despair.

Regardless of the subject matter, music lifts the soul, except for Country. Blech!

I have always liked this song, but I really understand it now.

I don’t have much more to write on the topic, but I will add a few videos of various bands that have helped me over the years. Maybe it will help you also. Here are some other great examples in a playlist.

There is another world
There is a better world
There must be
Well, there must be
Well, there must be
Well, there must be
Bye bye
Bye bye

Morrissey - The Smiths

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