Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Depression and Music

In April 2015 I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. I've been tackling this fairly heavily over the past several months and it's largely the reason why I've been absent from the blog. I thought, as well as my other posts i'll be back to making, I should dedicate some time to talk about it. So i'll be doing a few posts about it, like today's, which looks at depression and music, specifically how music helps me cope when I get particularly worked up.

When I was first diagnosed it was because I'd noticed I wasn't eating very much, was very unmotivated and found things hard to enjoy. At first I went to the doctors, was given medication and I just coasted along, not really improving. In January of this year I switched jobs and that largely solved my anxiety (more on that in a later post me thinks) but it wasn't until the summer I started any form of therapy.

During this time I became a lot less cynical about emotional things. I stopped snorting at people who said certain albums or artists had saved their lives and I realised meditation wasn't just a bunch of idiots humming - again there may be a post on that at some stage.

So, in case you hadn't guessed by now, one of the big things I use to help stay on top of my depression is music. Specifically the music of Peter Gabriel.

Peter Gabriel and his music hold a special place in my heart. Me and my dad have a hefty amount of things we disagree on but the opinion that Peter Gabriel is one of the finest musical minds of all time is something we both agree on very strongly. When I was young my dad bought the Secret World - Live and Growing Up - Live concert films on DVD. They both feature Gabriel's greatest songs, great musicians and great stage shows. I love both (Secret World is my favourite though) and have loved Gabriel ever since.

Gabriel's songs, from his first album, up to his last album and even his newest song The Veil all have a timeless quality to them. They are emotional and catchy and inventive. They are utterly unique to him and are a true work of art, written and performed as a form of expression, not as a commercial product. Combine this with the nostalgia I have for his music and what you get is a powerful mood enhancer. If i'm feeling down I can put on some headphones and listen to a concert or album of Gabriel's and, after a few songs, I'll find my foot tapping, my ear's attuned to the amazing work of the individual musicians and my spirits will lift.

There is something inherently calming and joyous about these songs. Even the saddest moments of his ballads are amazingly life affirming. They are powerful, heartfelt, interesting. His up beat songs can be danced to, his introspective ballads are powerful songs for times of reflection and all of it can make you feel like life is worth living and is an amazing thing.

So (no pun intended) if you are looking for an album that can silence your darkest thoughts, raise you out of your lowest mood and make you realise that life is worth living and that things can be ok again, put on So. From the awe inspiring lyrics of Red Rain and Mercy Street, to the amazing rhythms of Sledgehammer and Big Time, to the awesome melodies of Don't Give Up and In Your Eyes, So is one of the finest albums of all time and the peak of Gabriel's amazing writing prowess. 

Have any of you got songs or artists who are this important to you? Have any of you used music to help with mental health, or just to help see you through hard times in your life? Let me know in the comments, also, if you're a fan of Gabriel, let me know your favourite concert or song.