Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Breathe. Believe. Shine. A Lyrical Guide.

Music is a big part of most people’s lives, and can be a wholly healing thing. Some people find the noise of it comforting, others the melodies, but personally I prefer lyrics, particularly the ones that grab me and inspire me – especially those that inspire me to keep on fighting.

I’ve made a list of songs, and have taken the lyrics I feel are the most inspiring from each, the ones that remind me how and why I need to keep on fighting against all the anxiety and depression that surrounds me, others are ones that simply make me feel like I’m not alone in the fight.

Some are cheesy, some are deep, and some are just a pure prescription back to the path you want to be travelling to find your shine again.

I've made YouTube and Spotify playlist to go with this post if you'd like to listen to the songs I've mentioned: 

Youtube: Breathe. Believe. Shine.
Spotify: Breathe. Believe. Shine.

1.   I Have Confidence – The Sound of Music

What will this day be like? I wonder.
What will my future be? I wonder.
It could be so exciting,
To be out in the world, to be free!
My heart should be wildly rejoicing.
Oh, what's the matter with me?

I've always longed for adventure,
To do the things I've never dared.
Now here I'm facing adventure
Then why am I so scared?
Oh, I must stop these doubts, all these worries.
If I don't I just know I'll turn back!
I must dream of the things I am seeking.
I am seeking the courage I lack.

Maria’s determination to have courage and to get past the obstacles in her life led to one of the best, well known, and romantic musicals and storylines, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t envy it! Be inspired by her and follow your dreams too!

2.    For the First Time in Forever - Frozen

Don't let them in, don't let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don't feel, put on a show
Make one wrong move and everyone will know

This one’s not so much about overcoming anxiety, but more exactly how it feels. Anyone that has ever suffered even an iota of [social] anxiety will understand this one. Elsa got over the fears and anxiety she had about her powers, with the help and support of her family and ultimately the people around her. Take note and prove to yourself that you don’t always have to do what everyone else thinks you should be doing.

3.   I See The Light – Tangled

All those days watching from the windows
All those years outside looking in
All that time never even knowing
Just how blind I've been
Now I'm here blinking in the starlight
Now I'm here suddenly I see
Standing here it's all so clear
I'm where I'm meant to be

And at last I see the light
And it's like the fog has lifted
And at last I see the light
And it's like the sky is new
And it's warm and real and bright
And the world has somehow shifted
All at once everything looks different

The way I see this song, is that it starts off describing how it feels to suffer from anxiety, and how you always feel like you’re out of life in some way, but then proceeds onto how it feels when you get comfortable and feel safe, how it feels to not be in the shroud of your anxiety and/or afflictions. Follow the things that make you feel safe and comfortable, remember them, remember the feelings and keep them close, use them as happy places for times when you can’t find what you need in the moment.

4.    Breathe (2am) – Anna Nalick

'Cause you can't jump the track, we're like cars on a cable
And life's like an hourglass, glued to the table
No one can find the rewind button, girl.
So cradle your head in your hands
And breathe... just breathe…

This song is an all-time favourite of mine. I first heard it on an episode of Grey’s Anatomy and fell in love with it immediately. We all feel like we’re struggling sometimes, but the thing we have to remember above all is just to breathe, and to keep breathing. It doesn’t matter if you’re falling apart and a complete mess, or just throwing a wobbly and having a funny five minutes – breathe.

5.   Keep Breathing – Ingrid Michaelson

I want to change the world, instead I sleep.
I want to believe in more than you and me.
But all that I know is I'm breathing.
All I can do is keep breathing.
All we can do is keep breathing, now.

Going along the same lines as the previous song, this is another one I discovered on Grey’s Anatomy, and another one about breathing. Even if the whole world around you seems to be crumbling, and everything is going to shit, all you can do is keep breathing, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of, sometimes a few deep breaths and focussing on your breathing will do you the world of good in any situation. Don’t try and take on too much, if you need to stop and breathe and regroup then let yourself, don’t keep pushing just because others around you don’t understand.

6.   Because of You – Kelly Clarkson

Because of you
I never stray too far from the sidewalk
Because of you
I learned to play on the safe side so I don't get hurt
Because of you
I find it hard to trust not only me, but everyone around me
Because of you
I am afraid

A lot of songs you’ll find on this list are to do with love, lost love, heartbreak or other such feelings, but I’ve found that if you substitute the meaning behind the lyrics when they were written, they can hold a whole new meaning for you. This track for example, if the ‘you’ that is mentioned is deemed as anxiety, it makes a whole lot of sense to anyone who suffers. This is one that makes me feel like I’m not alone in my suffering.

I read a quote recently that said “In order to fight panic attacks, you’ve got to look your symptoms in the eye” – while I don’t find it totally accurate, I feel that there is something in it. Your anxiety is making you scared, making you afraid, and if you look it in the eye it is possible to make some headway into beating it. Stray from the sidewalk, start trusting, even if it is only yourself in small bites at a time, the more trust and faith you have in yourself, the more likely you are to be able to fight against the darkness inside of you.

7.   Uprising – Muse

They will not force us
They will stop degrading us
They will not control us
We will be victorious

A bit of change to the style and genre of music here, and again one that works with whatever afflictions you have. The anxiety will not force us. The depression will stop degrading us. The fear will not control us. WE WILL be victorious!

8.    Desperado – The Eagles

It's hard to tell the night time from the day
You're losin' all your highs and lows
Ain't it funny how the feeling goes away?

Desperado, why don't you come to your senses?
Come down from your fences, open the gate
It may be rainin', but there's a rainbow above you

Now, this is a funny one. It’s generally a rather depressing song, and not one to be listening to if you’re in a state, as some of the lyrics may have an adverse effect on you; but I do like the lyrics towards the end of the song.

It may be raining darling, it may be pouring, but there’s a rainbow, and the feeling goes away – even if only for a moment. Grab that moment and cling to it for dear life, and every other one that comes your way, you’ll get there!

9.    Tubthumping – Chumbawumba

I get knocked down
But I get up again
You're never gonna keep me down
I get knocked down
But I get up again
You're never gonna keep me down

This is quite possibly the best pick-me-up song ever written. Not only is it bright and cheery (and about alcohol) but it is literally repetition of a mantra that should always be repeated. You will get knocked down; you will fall backwards in your fight, but get up again. Sit on the floor for 5 minutes, cry out the fact you’ve fallen, but get back up again. Nothing can keep you down but yourself.

10.        Unwritten – Natasha Bedingfield

Release your inhibitions
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten

Well there’s some good advice! Each day is a new day, a new page in your book, it’s not all written there for you all decided by the fears and feelings that control you. Only you can go forth and live your life – feel those raindrops, say those words – no one else sees the world through your eyes, so go and see it!

11.         We are the Champions – Queen

I've paid my dues
Time after time.
I've done my sentence
But committed no crime.
And bad mistakes ‒
I've made a few.
I've had my share of sand kicked in my face
But I've come through.

(And I need just go on and on, and on, and on)

We are the champions, my friends,
And we'll keep on fighting 'til the end.
We are the champions.
We are the champions.

Freddie said it, so it must be true (along with the fact the Fat Bottomed Girls making the rockin’ world go round!) 

He fought to the end, the very end in his case. He never let his AIDs destroy him, he went on, and on and on and on, and just look at the legacy he left behind. In my books, he’s an idol to be looked up to, if he can do it so can I!

If we keep on fighting, we will become champions – champions of our own personal demons at the very least, which is not an achievement to stick your nose up at!

12.        Bring it On – Nick Cave (& the Bad Seeds)

So bring it on
Bring it on
Every little tear
Bring it on
Every useless fear
Bring it on
All your shattered dreams
And I'll scatter them into the sea
Into the sea

The lyric that gets me here is ‘useless fear’ we all know that most of our fears and anxieties are useless and a bit pointless (obviously there are exceptions to every rule!) but we all need someone who is willing to take on our burdens and help defeat them, whether that’s scattering them into the sea, or helping us conquer them and make us wonder what we were scared of in the first place! For some people that could be a parent/friend/partner/colleague/therapist, but for others it’s the non-scared, non-anxiety riddled parts of our personas that we take hold of and make the dominant feature pushing aside all our tribulations.

13.        Hit Me With Your Best Shot – Pat Benatar

You don't fight fair
But that's OK, see if I care
Knock me down, it's all in vain
I'll get right back on my feet again

Hit me with your best shot
Why don't you hit me
With your best shot
Hit me with your best shot

Another dancy popular tune! Getting back up again and carrying on going forward (even if it is only baby steps or crawling – it’s still forward momentum!) is the most important thing to do when you’ve had a setback or have been knocked down. Remember to keep on fighting! You will always be hit with its best shot; you just have to remember that you CAN overcome it.

14.         Fighter – Christina Aguilera

'Cause if it wasn't for all that you tried to do, I wouldn't know
Just how capable I am to pull through
So I wanna say thank you
'Cause it

Makes me that much stronger
Makes me work a little bit harder
It makes me that much wiser
So thanks for making me a fighter
Made me learn a little bit faster
Made my skin a little bit thicker
Makes me that much smarter
So thanks for making me a fighter

Possibly not a song you imagined would ever be on this list, but again the lyrics are too strong and poignant to a sufferer not to be mentioned. This song is about an (ex)boyfriend cheating on her, but again, if you substitute the ‘you’ for anxiety it fits so well. The more you fight it the stronger you get, the better you get at it, and you’ll get to the point that you’ll thank the things it has done to you in the past for making you the person you are today – a fighter!

15.         Breathe – U2

Every day I die again, and again I'm reborn
Every day I have to find the courage
To walk out into the street

Aside from a few songs, I’m not a U2 fan – and I think Bono is a bit of a dick; but the lyrics to this song touched me. Every day is a new day, you never know what you’re gonna be waking up to. You don’t know if it’s a good day, a bad day, a curl up and want to die day, a day you need someone (even if it’s your little sister) to hold your hand for the courage to be able to do anything – even walking out of your front door, or a day you feel on top of the world and nothing bothers you.

16.        Beautiful – Christina Aguilera

Every day is so wonderful
Then suddenly
It's hard to breathe
Now and then I get insecure
From all the pain
I'm so ashamed

I am beautiful
No matter what they say
Words can't bring me down
I am beautiful
In every single way
Yes words can't bring me down
Oh no
So don't you bring me down today

This song needs no introduction, I’m sure everyone knows it, loves it and that it touches them in some way. I’ve found that a lot of people who suffer from various afflictions are ashamed about it, don’t like people to know, but you really shouldn’t be. The more people who know, the more people get educated, and the more people there are around you who could help if needed. What you might be ashamed of or hate about yourself, others may find intriguing, adorable, or as the song says beautiful.

No matter what anyone says, including yourself, and the little devil that sits on your shoulder or hums away at the back of your head, you are a beautiful person. You just need to believe it.

You may find yourself and your issues annoying, but that doesn’t mean your friends do. That also doesn’t mean that everyone or anyone else does either. You may see yourself as dark and twisty, scary and damaged but that’s not all you are. Your anxiety/depression/fears are not all that there is to you. Believe it, and let those bits shine through your darkness. Trust me.

17.        I Still Believe – The Call

But I still believe, I still believe
Through the pain and through the grief
Through the lives, through the storms
Through the cries and through the wars
Oh, I still believe

Another one on believing. To quote Cinderella, “No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true” if you believe you can get better, can conquer your fears, can become the person you want to be and find your shine [again] then it’s more likely to happen. Believe in yourself; believe in the power of healing, the power of music, the power of speech, the power of overcoming your demons. BELIEVE.

18.        Heroes – David Bowie

We can be heroes
Just for one day

Many of you know this song, whether it’s because you’re a David Bowie fan, or because you like Moulin Rouge – either way it’s sung the lyrics ring true. Sometimes all you need to be is a hero for a day – because you went to the doctors on your own, or went to Tesco, or anything else that terrifies you. If you’ve done it, you’re a hero. Maybe not a hero to anyone in particular, but you are to me, and you are to yourself – you’ve proven to yourself you can do it. And if you take it one day at a time, baby steps, you can be a hero every day and who wouldn’t want that?

19.        Breaking Free – High School Musical

We're soarin', flying
There's not a star in heaven
That we can't reach
If we're trying
So we're breaking free
You know the world can see us
In a way that's different than who we are

I did say there was gonna be some cheese. High School Musical – the definition of cheese, and probably a guilty pleasure to a lot of 20 somethings out there. Yes, I’m one of them, but lyrics cannot be denied. The world sees you differently to who are you, and who you think you are, but if you try, there’s no reason why you can’t reach the stars, climb every mountain, follow your heart’s desire, all you have to do is fight to break free of the chains you have imposed on you.

20.        Roar – Katy Perry

I used to bite my tongue and hold my breath
Scared to rock the boat and make a mess
So I sat quietly, agreed politely
I guess that I forgot I had a choice
You held me down, but I got up
Already brushing off the dust
You held me down, but I got up
Get ready 'cause I've had enough
I see it all, I see it now

Anxiety makes you quiet, makes you unable to say what you want to, to stand up for yourself, to make you be heard, but sometimes you’ve had enough and need to do something about it. So ROAR. It’s a feel good song, and if you can do it, if you can brush off the dust that’s accumulated in your strife then it makes you feel good.

21.        Imagine Dragons – Demons

Your eyes, they shine so bright
I wanna save that light
I can't escape this now
Unless you show me how

When you feel my heat
Look into my eyes
It’s where my demons hide

We all have demons, and we try to hide them deep inside, some peoples are less well hidden, others are extremely prevalent, but we all have them, and we all fight them unless we are shown how to get rid of them. They don’t have to be the be all and end all of your life; they can just be the chapter that you’re suffering through.

22.        Alas, I Cannot Swim – Laura Marling

There’s a life across the river
That was meant for me
Instead I live my life in constant misery

If you think a life was meant for you – fight for it. Don’t let yourself succumb to the darkness and misery; no one’s life should be led that way. Most of the time you’ll be fighting yourself, but you’ll be fighting for what you deserve, for what you need, for what you want. That’s not a fight that should ever be backed down from.

And don’t add the fear of failure to your list of fears, if you think you’ll fail, you will.

23.        Magic Works – Jarvis Cocker (Weird Sisters – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)

It's hard
You must be brave
Don't let this moment slip the way

Believe that magic works
Don't be afraid
Afraid of bein' hurt
No, don't let this magic die
Ooh, the answer's there

I’m a tremendous Harry Potter fan, and when I heard this (it’s briefly in the film at the Yule Ball, but is played at the end credits) I fell in love. It’s slow, it’s soppy, but sometimes believing in magic can do you the world of good. Don’t be afraid of failing, of being hurt, of trying – if you don’t try, you’ll be stuck where you are, and you are worth so much more. If there’s anything that you can learn from the Harry Potter books/films is that everyone matters, everyone has a purpose in this world, and everyone and everything in life is worth fighting for – especially [y]ourselves.

24.        Hurt – Johnny Cash (or Nine Inch Nails if you so prefer)

I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
The only thing that's real
Full of broken thoughts
I cannot repair
Beneath the stains of time
The feelings disappear
If I could start again
A million miles away
I would keep myself
I would find a way

Another song you might be surprised is on this list, due to its immense sadness, but it’s so lyrically superb. Many sufferers, we self-harm, and we do it not for the attention, but for the need to feel – or feel something else, a different kind of pain. I’d be a hypocrite if I told anyone off for doing this. The moral you need to find in this song though, is that the feelings disappear, that time heals your wounds – both physical and emotional - you just have to let them and believe in yourself. You can repair yourself if you try, if you believe, if you fight. Try (if your impositions allow) to start again, start from scratch, build yourself into the person you want to be – whether that’s a done a million miles from where you are, or simply in the next room. Keep true to yourself, but don’t let the darkness take you.

25.        Osker - Strangled

I feel strangled, I feel torn in two
Insufficient amounts of two
Is this a sign of what I'm made of
Or how I allow myself?

Grab the wrists, pull away
I don't want to die today and so I won't
Can't believe this is me
Well, you're drowning me
With my own hate so I won't

An important note to end on.
Anxiety etc. can drown you in self-hatred – don’t let it. If you want to live then don’t let it kill you. “I don’t wanna die, but I ain’t keen on living either” – change something, anything no matter how small, to make you more keen on living. Don’t allow yourself to be treated in a way you don’t believe you deserve – and that includes (and most importantly) yourself!

I feel like a bit of a hypocrite for some of the things I’ve said in this post, because as the song from the original Alice in Wonderland says “I give myself very good advice, but very seldom follow it” – but then I reminded myself that as far as I’ve come; I’m still a sufferer, I’m still fighting, I still need to be reminded to get up after I fall, I still need to remember to carry on and reach my shine!

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