Sometimes life hits you harder than you are fully prepared to handle. Everything can be going perfectly, and out of the blue things seem to implode. You are left alone, frantically looking for answers in the chaos, questioning how you can move forward. I think we are all familiar with that feeling. Where you don't even really feel emotions, you just pause and dissociate. The first things you notice are the physical sensations – nausea, sweaty palms, maybe even distorted vision.
The brain is working double time to process new developments as well as create a survival response that makes any sort of sense. I found myself in this position this last week. Staring into the abyss, questioning what the next move should be. What was my situation about? Not super important…everything would all fall into place within a few hours. But looking back on the initial shock and traumatic response, I noticed something peculiar, if not entirely beautiful.
I sat in my car, head on the steering wheel, eyes closed, on the verge of passing out. What am I supposed to do? Not ready to talk about it with anyone, but surely seconds away from going permanently insane if I continued to do nothing. I went back to what I had learned years ago in therapy. Take deep breaths. I then turned the key and triggered the ignition. The cool rush of air from the A/C centered me for a second. Then my phone synced to my car's Bluetooth. Music. While the first song that played wasn't exactly dance music, it immediately centered me. It was Milky Chance's overplayed megahit ‘Stolen Dance'. Yeah turns out I like hipster folk music when I need a break from four on the floor EDM.
Just hearing the first few notes of the intro of the song snapped me back into reality. Immediately emotions hit like a tidal wave. I started to cry, which was the most crucial physical response at that moment. The tears made everything I was trying to process real. Laying my head back against the seat rest, I stopped and listened to the song. The melancholy but strangely upbeat chord progression of the song helped me come back to reality. I sat there alone in a parking lot, listening, feeling. Then the song changed.
The next song that came on the rotation was ‘Body' by Loud Luxury. A smile cracked on my face – it was like this song haunted me. I think I heard it every 20 minutes when I was in Miami for Ultra, and I was freaking sick of it. I laughed, simultaneously continuing to cry. I started to think of the memories that I made a few weeks ago. My brain was working again. The situation, while overwhelming was suddenly manageable. I shook my head and wiped the tears away and started to take logical steps. I called people. I talked about what was going on and began to process, while simultaneously plan. Then the song changed again.
‘Eyes' by Kaskade came on. Nope. Absolutely not. Sometimes you need to just know your limits. At that point, that was mine, I pressed next. ‘Bloom' by Odesza…okay I can work with this, I thought. I put my hands on the wheel and put the car into drive. Just get home. That was next.
I laid in bed. Thoughts were still racing but everything started to make sense. I opened my computer, and Spotify clicked on once again. ‘Spiritualize' by Lotus begins playing, triggering past memories, bringing a smile to my face. Over the next few hours, things started to fall into place. More or less all because of music in some capacity.
There is a lot of research as to why we crave music when we are in either physical or emotional pain. Listening to music triggers a complex series of mental processes. This, in turn, can distract the brain from the pain, while simultaneously triggering the release of endorphins. Ever feel the need to listen to sad music when you are down in the dumps? Well, that is because listening to the melancholy songs will release a specific neurotransmitter that helps in dealing with grief. When no actual grief is present, the result of the sad song leaves you with a flood of natural opiates and dopamine, making you feel just a touch better. At least enough to start to handle the problem, and process the emotions.
At the end of the day, we can only live life on life's terms. But when you are going to hell, put on a good playlist and keep going. It'll all start to make sense soon.
This article is an opinion editorial and in no way offers medical advice or recommends going against the advice of medical professionals