Hello, my name is Islin and I've been managing bipolar mania, depression, and anxiety since adolesence but I am not a mental health professional. If you need help finding a mental health care provider, visit emdria.org or visit Talkspace on flexoffers to talk to a certified therapist online at an affordable price.
I love listening to music. It can make me feel sad or feel better about life. These are my top 10 songs about mental health. Please comment below if you agree or if you have other song suggestions!
1. True Colors, Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick
I love "True Colors" because it lets me know that it’s OK to be me. I don’t have to be anyone else in order to really embrace who I am.
Sometimes it is hard to be comfortable with the fact that I’m bipolar, but it is a huge part of who I am. I can’t take away from being bipolar or else I would be negating a huge part of myself.
I feel a sense of wholeness and safety as I listen to this song. The wholeness comes from accepting myself as I am. The safety comes from the fact that the song is about finding someone who is safe for me (my husband!).
2. Adele, Rolling in the Deep
We could have had it all is what she keeps on repeating. Sometimes, this makes me think of my job as a petroleum engineer, and I had to leave the industry. At least for now.
I tried so hard, and I still had to leave. I played the game the best I could, and the game played me. I gave as much as I could to the industry and still had to go.
I feel anger and regret as I listen to this song. Sometimes, I regret getting the degree I did, because I thought it would provide me with a job for my entire working life. That in itself, is immature thinking.
The anger comes from listening to trusted friends and mentors who counseled me to take the major that I did in college. The good thing is that I’ve paid off my degree. I just had different expectations that what the oil and gas price actually did to what I expected.
3. Pink, Raise Your Glass
Sometimes you just need a celebration song. It’s been hard on this healing journey but there’s been a lot of gems I found on the journey through healing my internal traumas.
So you need to “raise your glass” and celebrate the little and big wins along the way. I would have never found comfort in my ability to mother myself had I not worked through my own childhood trauma.
I feel a sense of unleashed joy as I listen to this song. I may be a freak, but I enjoy it about myself. I’ve traveled the path on this healing journey (and still am traveling) and it’s something to be celebrated. It takes a lot of courage to decide to have trauma therapy and heal the pains of the past.
4. Elvis Presley, Can't Help Falling in Love
This was one of my favorite songs growing up. It comforts my younger parts when I listen to it. Sometimes I put this song on before I go to bed. It’s in learning to love myself that I can’t stop falling in love.
I feel a deep sense of comfort as I listen to this song. It’s because my dad used to play this song on cassette (imagine that!) in the 1990s on our drives in the Colorado country side. But I have to admit, there is something soothing about the voice of Elvis that just makes want to relax and go to sleep.
5. Rammstein, Du Hast
Du hast is a German song about love. The English version talks about hate instead. It’s interesting what gets lost in translation. Here’s a Wikipedia article that talks about the two verbs du hasst (you hate) and the original song in German, du hast (you have). I love this song because of its simple tune.
I feel a sense of sadness as I listen to the song. The song asks whether the man will be faithful to the woman he is going to marry, and he says “No!” at the end of the video. I feel sad that he will not be with her forever. It goes back to my engineering career, and I didn’t have that job for a long time.
6. The Fray, How to Save a Life
Sometimes I try so hard to save myself, and I just can’t. I stay depressed. I can’t find my level and stay resourced in the early days after my breakdown in 2017.
I could eat, sleep, take a shower, and go to the bathroom, but that’s all I could do. I couldn’t play with the kids. I couldn’t cook, which I loved to do. It’s gotten a lot better since then, but How to Save a Life describes my lowest points.
When I listen to this song, I feel both despair and a sense of hope. I feel despair because it talks about my saddest moments. But there are times when I feel some hope with the song’s upbeat tune.
7. Dido, White Flag
I won’t surrender to my mental illness. I’m going down with this ship. I still love myself, and though I will have moments, I will always love myself.
This is the hardest lesson of all—to still love myself even when I am riddled with all these faults and things I don’t like about myself.
I feel serene listening to this song. At the end of the day, it’s okay to be me and have mental illness. I am on the journey to getting better, but it’s okay to be where I am on this journey.
8. Bruno Mars, Just the Way You Are
“You’re amazing just the way you are,” Bruno Mars sings. It talks about the deep self-acceptance that I am developing on the healing journey.
My kids also love listening to it on the way to school, and gives them a nice, positive pep up before the rest of the day begins. I really enjoy singing along with the kids.
When I listen to this song, I feel excited and energetic because of its R&B beat. I feel nothing short of perfect in my own skin. I also feel peaceful and safe too, “just the way” I am.
Disturbed, The Sound of Silence
For me, the song is about “People talking without speaking. People hearing without listening. People writing songs that voices never shared.” Along the journey to healing my bipolar, there are some concepts and feelings that can’t just be articulated through words. They are beyond words.
It’s similar to the feeling of learning to be deeply nurtured by myself. I feel truly at home. But there are no words to completely articulate the feeling. I can only describe it to a certain point.
Destiny's Child, Survivor
“I’m a survivor (what?)
I'm gonna make it (what?)
I will survive (what?)
Keep on survivin'(what?)”
Struggling with mental health truly makes me a survivor. There is an added layer of resilience that normal people don’t always develop, because there is additional struggle in trying to maintain emotional regulation.
This is one of the songs I love from the early 2000s because it embodies the spirit I have to have to keep on fighting bipolar and depression.
“Survivor” makes me feel proud for how far I have come on this journey to fighting bipolar and depression. It also makes me feel proud for the career and family successes I’ve had despite having bipolar disorder.