According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 40 million adults in the United States suffer from depression, and I am one of those.
I learned about depression and anxiety when I was just 15 years old. I grew up in a broken home and had a naturally rebellious demeanor. It was a struggle to try and understand why I was sad all the time, why my friendships were continuing to dwindle and why I was losing interest in once-loved hobbies.
As I came to understand more about anxiety, a fear of medication and what it would do to “control” me grew like a parasite in my mind. The only thing I had left to what had never let me down: music.
I always had a deep love for music, starting when I went to my first hardcore punk show at 13 and picked up my first guitar. As I continued to look for music that would be my best friend and my medication, I found increasing relief and hope.
At 16, I found the band that would forever change my life, The Dangerous Summer.
The first time I heard AJ Perdomo, lead singer and bassist of The Dangerous Summer, passionately yell his lyrics to their song, “Good Things,” I was struck in tears. For the first time, I knew someone else felt how I felt.
“Till the day when I stop making big mistakes and the clouds, they roll out of this whole … state,” Perdomo sang. I believe in a place and I wanna go. Honesty will leave me feeling livable, once I change. Now that I’ve found some time, all the pain won’t bother me. I’ve wanted to find what my head keeps filtering.”
From that moment, I knew I had found the “medication” that worked for me. I began listening to more of their music and similar artists. Bands like The Early November, Silent Planet and The Hotelier became regulars on my playlists and my everyday pick-me-up that reminded me it’s OK not to be OK.
Many professional institutions are beginning to embrace the idea of active music therapy. Studies from top-tier universities like Harvard are digging deeper into the idea and are studying the effects of music on those with depression and anxiety.
In 2011, the British Journal of Psychiatry published a study on the effects music has on depression and anxiety. The study took 79 randomly selected individuals with depression and exposed half to regular care and the other half to regular care and music. The study found that “participants receiving music therapy plus standard care showed greater improvement than those receiving standard care only in depression symptoms.”
My love for music continues today and has led me to other hobbies and “medication,” such as poetry. I now find myself writing poetry on a daily basis and reading the works of Levi the Poet, Dan Smith and Charles Bukowski whenever I can.
The idea of unrestricted creation, that I can create whatever I want, whenever I want, with no rules or restrictions, excites me and allows me to learn more about myself every day.
While I was a missionary in Seoul, South Korea, I realized something incredible. God’s greatest talent and gift to mankind is creation. God is a painter, musician and writer. The earth is his canvas and it is the most beautiful work of art we have the privilege of being a part of.
How amazing is it that we have the chance to create on our own and express our emotions and feelings to those around us?
It’s been almost eight years since I began my fight with depression and anxiety. Over the years, I’ve learned I am not alone, and I am understood. My struggle is not taboo.
I may have depression and anxiety from time to time, but it will never break me.
AJ Perdomo, in The Dangerous Summer’s song, “Good Things,” exclaims loudly and with all manner of honesty, “Good things will come my way.” I’m proud to say that as one of 40 million, I believe that.