Music & Mental Health: A Path to Recovery

It was the spring of 2021 when I was first introduced to Oliver Daldry‘s music via a U.K. 2015 film titled Departure. At the time, I had quit my job a couple months prior and I was in a low point mentally, struggling with anxiety, depression, and was experiencing suicidal thoughts. For a few months, every day was a battle.

When I went on YouTube to see if I could find more of his music I found a song titled Bookcase, and when this song played for the first time it was late at night, my whole apartment was cast in darkness except for the glow from my laptop screen. The intro of the song stunned me, like suddenly having tunnel vision except for my ears, and as the song played I felt as though I was falling or perhaps being swallowed into a dream, somehow transported outside of time and space.

Every lyric of the song reached out and into me like fingertips touching my heart. It simultaneously hurt and felt loving, like washing away the blood from a wound that has not yet healed, like a harsh truth I needed to hear if I had ever hoped to recover.

I sat there on my apartment floor crying quietly as the song played out, it was like some kind of spiritual experience for me.

Needless to say, I bought the song and I’ve probably heard it a million times since then. It’s not as potent as it was the first time I heard it, but songs are always like that, it can never be like the first time you heard it. It still reminds me of that hard time in my life, but it also reminds me of how I recovered after and right now I need that.

Like I said it’s been over a year now and I am once again unemployed, having quit my job a month ago after situations there interfered with my mental health. I come back to Oliver’s music when I need to hurt and heal, because you can’t have one without the other.

I’ve bought every song I can find of his. Catch the Wind, Diamond Sky, Howling Wind, are some of my other favorites, but every song has a meaning and a message, it’s up to the listener to decipher it for themselves.

The songs are personal to Oliver, and they are personal to me the listener, but that doesn’t require the meaning to be the same. That’s what’s great about songwriters, they help us understand our own emotions without even knowing what our emotions are and yet somehow we have this shared experience and it’s extraordinary.

Oliver is incredible, not perfect, but incredible. His songs are like the mortar for bricks, they are not the thing itself but the stuff that holds the thing together.

His songs are like his scars, remnants of something that was, things with meaning and history, and when he releases a song it’s like he’s revealing a scar to us and while we may not know the story behind the scar we can still relate to it because we have scars too.

He is not merely an artist to listen to, he is an experience to be had. I am grateful to be alive in a time graced with the music of Oliver Daldry.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health or substance use crisis, please access my immediate assistance resource page.  A comprehensive listing of online and phone resources and services is also available.

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