I can throw numbers at you, but in all honesty, it really doesn’t illuminate much. “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows,” is what Dylan said, right? These are historic, scary times; of course people are depressed. Me telling you that the National Institute for Mental Health estimated 8.4% of adults and 17% of adolescents in the United States experienced a major depressive episode in the year 2020 almost has the same ring to it as “Welp, the SCOTUS took yet another liberty from those most marginalized in our country.” We’re year 2.5 into a global pandemic, our country is in political turmoil and we’re experiencing firsthand the precursors to the movie “Waterworld”; I think we’ve earned the right to be just a little depressed–you know, as a treat.
Thankfully we have music, though. Sweet music. Music that speaks to us on a molecular level, music that has the ability to fire synapses that make it impossible to sit still, music that saves us from any depth of sadness thrown our way.
April 30th, 2015. The Observatory, San Diego. I stand some 20 feet away from Jess and Holly, the singers of the band Lucius, as they belt out “Dusty trails can lead you to a golden road, I’ve been told.”
October 15th, 2021. Ace Theatre, Los Angeles. I sit in a crowded theatre of people you could physically feel fighting back tears as Toh Kay softly sings “And when you wake up, everything is gonna be fine… I guarantee that you’ll wake in a better place, in a better time.”
April 3rd, 2022. House of Blues Voodoo Room, San Diego. Reade Walcott thanks a crowd for allowing herself to sing “Surfing on the Waves of Depression.”
Each of these moments are personal experiences of mine that greatly affected me at the time and only embarrassment kept me from bursting out in tears and grabbing the nearest person for a hug.
Yet, I refuse to leave out the wonderful beacon of light that has helped me along the way, namely the wonderful Ska community. It is no secret that I love and fully support my online Ska community. There are at least two Ska-related Discord groups that I am a part of that have text channels aptly named “Self-care” where anyone is welcome to vent their frustrations, sorrows or woes to a group of wonderfully supportive and helpful people that are always willing to at least lend an ear. And as scary and daunting of a place that the internet can be, I’ve found that places like these are very comforting and reassuring in these just absolutely bonkers of a time we live in. Remarkably, depression thrives on the individual; therefore, in tough times, never be afraid to reach out to others that you trust and make you feel safe.
Living in this world with depression is harrowing at times: everything is a chore, nothing feels good and you might as well be wearing a fur coat in July the way it can physically weigh on you. And I cannot speak scientifically or factually or for everyone (only something I greatly feel) but those of us who do not just listen to music but experience it go about this world differently than others. Those living with depression go about this world in their own unique way too. And again, I cannot speak for everyone, but I can speak on behalf of myself when I say that music is one of the healthiest (as long as you’re not blasting your hearing away) medicines out there.
Is it the only medicine out there? Absolutely not. I am an advocate for therapy and in some cases medication that can help those who are struggling beyond the means of simple one-on-one therapy. I can tell you from experience that talking to a licensed therapist can do absolute wonders for those struggling through hard times. With the amount of online therapists that are now available getting help has (thankfully) gotten easier for those of us with either busy schedules or have insurance that, for some strange reason, doesn’t think it’s a good idea to make getting a therapist an easy task. A simple Google search of “Find a therapist near me” proved fruitful for me and there are websites available to assist you in finding a therapist in your location that takes your insurance.
If you are reading this and are struggling with depression, anxiety, or anything of that nature, I want you to hear this: you are not alone. There are more of us out there struggling to get out of bed, to fake a smile to customers, or to conquer difficult tasks that have been overshadowing us for months than you think. Start small, then work your way to bigger things. Drink water. Celebrate your accomplishments big and small. You are a world among worlds in a world of worlds. And what would this world be without music?
[Songs referred to:
Lucius- Dusty Trails
Streetlight Manifesto (Toh Kay)- Better Place, Better Time
We Are The Union- Surfing on the Waves of Depression]