Trigger warning: This article contains mention of self-harm ideation.
Music is like a thread which weaves the meaning of our lives. It connects people from across cultures and corners of the world. When there’s no way to communicate with people, you can always fall back on music as a form of communication to build relationships. It brings people together and creates a safe haven for those who share similar tastes. It is the poetry of the universe: the chirping of morning birds, the sound of the afternoon breeze and the stridulation of crickets at night.
When I was in high school, I used music as a medium to create my identity. I have always had a hard time mingling with my classmates, but I have found music to be an easy way to slip through the cracks. Music helped me make friends and step out of my cocoon. It made be more outspoken and extroverted.
Music to me was like a lodestar for a sailor lost in the middle of an ocean.
Music helped me then. Music helps me now.
I grew up with the words and tunes of Eminem, Linkin Park, Fall Out Boy, Blink-182, Green Day, Nickelback, K-Dot, and the like. We’ve all lip-synced to their songs and banged our heads to their music. Almost every one of us can relate to the rush we felt whenever songs by our favourite artist or band played on the television.
High school was not easy, I was bullied a fair bit. However, I found a way find a way around it through music – by sharing it with the people around or listening to the music they liked in order to find common ground. It sometimes worked and sometimes did not – and sometimes gave people more reason to push me around.
Without music, my life would’ve been like a silent black-and-white film – just passing from one moment to another. There are days when life actually feels like a film shot in monotone starring me as a ragdoll.
There was a time in my life when I was going through a really dark period and spent days just lying in my bed, doing absolutely nothing. I would spend nights and days, either sleeping or staring at the wall. The thoughts in my head were too loud and too crowded. I had no idea how to articulate my feelings to the world around me.
I come from an orthodox Muslim family where we never really talk about mental health. My family chooses to overlook a person’s mental condition and focuses more on surface-level emotions. I’d always been considered a happy and joyful child by my parents and extended family. My mental health has always been overlooked and I have always been left to navigate such issues myself.
Music, therefore, has played an essential role – so much so that I always need it to be playing in the background. I cannot study, write or read without music being played in the background. I need music even when I go to sleep.
The two songs that have played a major role in getting me through my darkest days are ‘Truce’ and ‘Trees’ (by twentyonepilots). These two songs have been like the light at the end of a dark tunnel, saving me from my thoughts. Whenever I have felt like doing self-harm, I have turned to these two songs and have allowed them to take me into their arms and hold me until the moment passes.
To all those who are hurt and are finding ways to help themselves, I would say turn to music. Till then, I leave you with the words of Tyler Joseph:
‘Stay alive, stay alive for me.’
Yusuf Aziz is an undergraduate student of English literature at Jamia Millia Islamia, and is an aspiring writer from Delhi. He writes poetry and articles in his spare time.