Music, Memory and Emotion

Music has always been that one thing that carries me through tough times.

For as long as I can remember, music comforted me in ways that no person I knew could. I still remember each and every song I listened to during the times where I was really struggling. Even now, if I go back and listen to those songs, memories will resurface. They may be unwanted memories or memories that get me to feel something I hadn’t felt in a long while.

Many of us are aware that music reactivates that part of our brain where memories live and emotions surface. Even songs we haven’t heard in a very long time can bring back old memories that we thought we had forgotten.

However, music not only retrieves old memories but helps us to create new ones.

I discovered that in 2019, when I was beyond exhausted. I had been trying so hard for so long to overcome depression, anxiety and vaginismus but I was getting no results. Everything seemed like a chore. Living was a chore. I lost what little happiness I had left and I’m still trying to uncover ways to bring that back. But one thing my therapist recommended was listening to a song that I had been listening to during a happy moment in my life. That sounded like a great idea! The only problem was that I couldn’t think of a true happy moment in my life that was associated with any song. In fact, I couldn’t even recall a happy memory.

Saddened by the fact that I didn’t have even a song to make me feel better, I felt defeated. Music had let me down for the first time in my life. I always used it as a source of comfort during the hard times, but I never listened to it when I was truly happy.

Then I fell down a rabbit hole of new music. This genre of music became my new self-intervention and a way to find happiness. While it did bring me some sense of relief from the distress, it was also tied to a cruel irony.

One band that had gotten me through my struggles throughout my entire life had already lost a member to suicide and now, a new band that I was drawn to and immediately fell in love with, also lost a member to suicide. Ironically, both took their own lives in the same year.

Go figure that the two individuals I related to the most took their own life. However, just like the previous band, this new group, particularly the one individual, provided me with new songs about depression. Those songs became my new source of comfort.

At this point, many of you are probably thinking that I really didn’t get anywhere with my self-intervention. However, in a weird way, I did. The group as a whole has many songs that are fun and happy, and even the one band member had songs that radiated light.

Following the group also gave me a distraction.

Even if some of the things I uncovered made me feel melancholy, they almost always made me feel like I wasn’t alone. Many times I’d read a quote he said and think to myself, “Hey, I said that!” Many times I’d read a quote and think, “Wow, that’s exactly true. They eloquently put into words what I have been feeling.”

It’s funny how one individual that you’ve never met can impact your life significantly.

So many of you will probably think I’m crazy, but I’m okay with that. I’m okay with that because I know how impactful these songs and this person have been in my life.

Do you have a song or person that has helped you get through hard times? If you do, let me know below!

6 thoughts on “Music, Memory and Emotion

  1. I’ve definitely have had songs get me through difficult times. Some I can’t listen to anymore because it triggered overwhelmingly difficult memories. But there’s quite a number I still listen to for comfort and hope. One of them has been “Rise Against” by Seether, written by the vocalist bring his brother out of a depression. Unfortunately his brother did die by suicide.

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    • Same. I can’t listen to a bunch of songs I love because it’s too triggering, which is quite a shame. For instance, “It’ll all work out” by Tom Petty and “Crash into me” by Dave Matthews band. Even thinking about them hurts a bit and brings back memories. “Rise against” is a good song! I haven’t listened to it in awhile but I should!
      I honestly had no idea that’s what the song is about. That’s horrible though that his brother did die.
      See, it’s stuff like that that fascinates me! I love learning about the background BEHIND the song! It just gives it so much more emotion and depth. When it has significant meaning to the musician as well, you can hear the passion in their voice. That’s what I really love about the two I mentioned above. The passion and pain in their voice is palpable and the lyrics are always breathtaking.

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      • I do hope some day I can listen to those triggering songs again, but in the meantime, it’s more important that I focus on stability. I really like learning about the backgrounds behind songs as well! And yes! When their passion and pain is palpable, it’s really powerful.

        Another song about suicide prevention that’s been really powerful for me has been “Self-Conclusion” by “The Spill Canvss”. It’s gotten me through some really painful times and I find it’s ultimately hopeful in a gritty way, compared to unicorns and rainbows. Do Google the lyrics 1st though, some people find it hits too hard if they jump right into the song.

        Those 2 songs you shared above are moving ❀❀❀

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      • Thanks for the song recommendation! I’m going to listen to it as it sounds like something I would really enjoy. I wish I could listen to the ones I mentioned above because they are so pretty. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to yet. I tried, but it didn’t go well.

        If you are up for trying something completely new and YouTube a video where you can read lyrics, I highly recommend “Before Our Spring” and “Diphylleia Grayi” by Jonghyun. He has a really unique voice that exudes a lot of passion when singing and wrote and composed all of his own songs. He really had a way with deepening the meaning of the words he wrote. When you first hear them, you might think they are love songs but they aren’t. I think it’s worse to know he killed himself right before the spring season. Then listening to “Our Page” by SHINee is extremely sorrowful because they released it right after he died in remembrance of him.

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