Month: September 2022

Sobering Thoughts Volume Twenty-One No More Sad Songs

Music can play a big part in your mood. I have always listened to sadder songs when I have been feeling low. With hindsight this is not the best practise, so I don’t recommend it one bit. A couple of weeks ago when Lizzie passed away, I went into the office on the day after the tragic event and had to leave earlier than usual due to the depressing songs that every radio station was churning out that day. I am a big fan off Jeff Buckley’s Hallelujah, but I am not sure if I will ever listen to it again following its multiple plays that day. It was as if the media had wanted us all to feel this immense sense of loss for an old lady who had never impacted our lives in any way. Now, I know this may alienate some readers of the blog, so I apologise to you right now if you’re offended by those comments about someone you never met and who didn’t care about you. I think I felt more loss towards the death of Marisa Cooper on The O.C – see earlier Jeff Buckley reference which quite frankly, is an incredible link.

Controversial start….

The charity Key Changes have said, “Music can play a valuable role in recovery from mental illness. It can stimulate emotional and aesthetic responses, develop creative, technical, social and vocational skills, improve expression, communication, confidence and self-esteem, and facilitate positive changes in behaviour and wellbeing,” which from researching their charity is clearly yielding very positive results. The charity is designed to help promote positive mental health for musicians and music enthusiasts suffering from any mental health conditions. They help the least represented communities affected by the mental health system looking to dispel the discrimination that still exists around this subject. I will post a link to the website at the bottom of this blog for anyone that might be interested in finding out more.

The power of music is quite remarkable. According to the University of Central Florida, listening to your favourite tracks can; improve your immune system, evoke better memories, make you a better communicator, assist in repairing brain damage plus much more. Studies were carried out with sufferers of dementia. The results of these tests found that patients respond better to the music they grew up listening to. Memories associated with music are emotional memories which don’t disappear even amongst patients with Alzheimer’s.  

So why have I listened to sad music when I have been feeling sad? It doesn’t make any sense to me now writing this blog. It is obviously not conducive to feeling better. I think from my own experiences there is a sense that wallowing in the current position can be the right thing to do when it clearly isn’t. I am fairly certain I can recall an evening of self-reflection involved a bottle of white wine and Lewis Capaldi’s first album. Fucking hell that isn’t good, it is? You can jump onto Spotify right now and find many different playlists that are titled ‘sad songs’ for you to listen to. Are they going to improve your mood if you are feeling low? For many people (including myself) wallowing in a bad situation can be the default reaction. One of the things I am hoping to learn from the last few months is to try and combat this reaction and not let myself be drawn into the default position. This is something I must work on. In the past it was easy to say to myself oh you have had a bad day, grab a bottle of wine from the shop, stick on some sad music and that will make you feel ‘better’. Then I would get into the cycles of having more bad days because of the amount I was drinking the nights and days before which could only be offset by, you guessed it more booze.

Now, I am going to flip this on its head and look at it from the other viewpoint. There are professionals who tell us that listening to sad music can be cathartic experience. I read an interesting article in the build up to writing this blog on the ‘psychology today’ website which explains that listening to gloomier songs can induce feelings of nostalgia and develop vicarious emotions or help to regulate a mood. By disconnecting the brain from reality and being lost within the music this can help the person listening. That last one interested me when I was reading. According to Shahram Heshmat, “Sad music produces psychological benefits via mood regulation,” and “lyrics that resonate with the listener’s personal experience can give voice to feelings or experiences that one might not be able to express oneself,” it is definitely an interesting hypothesis but not one I am totally sure I agree with. I am potentially looking at this only from the way in which I have experienced sad music in the past. Possibly, now looking at this from a different perspective I can use it in a more beneficial way. Maybe. However, at the moment I still have the belief that listening to sad tracks will not be the best remedy in a negative situation, but this has certainly made me question that notion a little.

Thanks for the lovely comments received on last week’s blog. The feedback and messages were very kind and I appreciate them all.

Thanks for reading this one, bit of a different tone this week but I hope you still enjoy.

Nick Denton

Sobering Thoughts

Sobering Thoughts Volume Twenty – Bad Life

Well, it has been a while since I have written a blog on Sobering Thoughts. For all the die-hard supporters out there, I apologise for the silence. I have not felt able to write anything with any clarity and needed the time to work on a few things. From the title of this piece, you may think this is going to be a depressive blog. But stay with me I think it’s going to be a good one. If you actually listen to this song by Sigrid and Bring Me The Horizon – Bad Life you will understand the ‘vibe’ I am going for. The lyrics sum up perfectly the lesson I have been learning over the last couple of months. The song, (which I have listened to probably around five hundred times now) encapsulates why it is important to tackle emotions head on and work through them as best you can, through any method possible that works for you.

A few weeks ago, I was in a depressive cycle and struggling to get my brain functioning for the easiest of tasks. I stopped taking care of myself – going to the gym, eating properly and application to my work suffered. I also didn’t write any blogs or undertake any therapy (she was on holiday so maybe that’s not my fault) and subsequently I was not tackling how I was feeling in the correct manner. I have stated (some might say preached) so many times on these blogs – speak to your support networks, professionals, or anyone you are comfortable with. In some respects, I was doing that. But I was also keeping some of my emotions and feelings to myself. Folks, this is not the way forward when you are feeling depressive or low. I am hoping that as this was the first real episode of poor mental health since I was poorly last year, I will learn from the experience and move forward a stronger person. In fact, I know I will.  

As part of this minor collapse in well-being I unfortunately had a slip. I am ashamed to admit it, but it happened, and I need to address it. I have spoken with family and friends about what happened, but I need to write it down to move past the moment. I went out for a walk in the local area, feeling down and the demons from the past were circling like sharks around a bloody carcass. I gave into temptation and entered one of the public houses I used to frequent. I bought a drink and sat there for a good fifteen minutes looking at it, contemplating what I should do. Eventually I drank, and in the moment yes it felt good. I knew what I was doing, there is no excuse for it. But it is done, and I have to get on and move forward. Reflecting back on it, in some ways I am glad it happened because it was one night in over two hundred in which I hadn’t touched a drop of booze. I have not wanted to drink since and have no desire to go down that avenue again. The experience has taught me that when things get tough, turning to that old source of escapism isn’t the right road to take. I am now stronger for the experience and feel I need to embrace it. Some people who may read this will think, wow weak guy. Going got a little bit tough and he slid back to the old tried and tested method of drinking. That is fine, it’s potentially a correct viewpoint to have. However, I am not interested in that opinion. The level of support I received from friends and family in the short moment of darkness was amazing. As I have stated before I am very fortunate to have an amazing network of people around me. I appreciate not everyone has that. I was really touched that a lot of the people that had come to me for advice or that had got in touch regarding Sobering Thoughts were there for me as well. Thank you to everyone for your kind messages and support, it is honestly really appreciated.

The main take-away I wanted to get across in this piece was advice that my mum and various other people drilled into me during this time. How you are feeling now is temporary. Better days are ahead. When you are locked in that moment that single bit of wisdom sounds like bollocks and in some ways you don’t want to hear it. But honestly, it is true. One of the key lessons I want to take forward from this is to remember where I was all those weeks ago and where I am now. I feel great and content with myself once again. Keeping busy and getting back to the methods I was using to feel better beforehand have returned and I am ready to move on in my life.

Of course, there is much to work on, but this is a long process (can’t bare to say journey) which is still in its infancy. There were always going to be bumps in the road and minor blips like this. But it is how we come back from them that we should be judged. I know that diving for a drink the first sign of hard times is no longer something I wish to do. It really doesn’t help, as I have stated before.

So if you are feeling low right now or in a cycle of depression you can’t break then please reach out to someone who you feel comfortable talking to. It may not fully evaporate the feelings you have inside, but through discussion and listening to the advice of those who have infinitely more experience than you, will help. I promise.

Thanks for reading.

Nick Denton