My life is often accompanied by music. Either from a speaker or in my head. It’s amazing how the collective effort of instruments and words can heal and rejuvenate..
I love that. Love how you can tell right away what kind of vibe you’re curating just by the tone of the tunes you’re experiencing.
When I was in graduate school, I stayed up working to insane hours of the night (or was it morning?) I had mountains of books and articles to read, papers to write, etc. So, around midnight, no matter what I was doing or where I was at in my work I would stop.
This was way before the days of bluetooth so I had one of those aux cords connected to my little 32 inch tv in the living room of my tiny one bedroom apartment. I’d plug my ipod up to it and start my playlist. And no, it wasn’t something soothing like Sade or Usher (that was the most random pairing you’ve ever seen right) but it went more along the lines of TI, bone crusher, or the Ying Yang Twins (throwbacks!).
I’d blast it as loud as I dared and started my show. I lived by myself and on the third floor so between that and the surprisingly thick wall I wasn’t bothering anyone besides maybe my immediate neighbors below when I thought a couple of jumps were need for the dance sequence.
Yes, dance sequence.
(and no, I can not dance, but I do)
This is what I liked to call my “midnight getdown.” Lamest name ever, I know, but that’s where I was at the time. I sang and danced all over my place for at least 15 to 20 mins (sometimes more, depending on the groove). Don’t let it be a Xscape, SVW, Envogue kind of night… could be a good hour.
But the point of it all was to relieve stress, build endorphins, and give myself a reward. I was alone and really able to let go and be free.
When that alarm on my phone went off at midnight it was truly my time. When I look back, I realize these breakouts helped get me through a tough time in my life. Not only was I struggling with concentrating at school, but I was also stressed about keeping my grant contingent job and was a long way from home.
It was actually the longest distance from home I’ve ever been at that point in my life. And it was also the longest amount of time I had been away from everyone I had ever known. They were hundreds of miles away in both physical space and abstract. I knew a small circle of people that I called friends, who had come into my life just over a year before, but I was essentially alone.
I was stressed, struggling in life, and not sleeping much. I was failing at love, and not finding much happiness in the journey I was taking academically. I was partying with friends just about every other day.
And I was drinking… a lot.
This was depression.
When some people hear “mental health” thoughts automatically go to a specific diagnosis… anxiety, depression, bipolar disease, etc. And this is unfortunate because what they’re now talking about is mental illness.. the mismanagement of mental health.
It’s safe to say I was mismanaging my health to a point that was really harmful to myself and those who loved and cared for me. And as someone with an undergraduate degree in psychology, and who was currently working on a master’s degree in the same field, you can see how ironic my struggle was.
I’ve learned throughout my years that self care isn’t always about being soft and reflective.. it’s also about fighting for yourself and advocating for your health and wellness.
I’ve only just recently gotten a good hold on the things that put me at peace. And these things include yoga and meditation, cooking (and eating 🙂 ), but most importantly, music.
The Taya in her 20s and the Taya in her 30s are similar in the way that cell phones are, same structure with slightly different technological upgrades. The “insides” are different… more complex and advanced.
I think about this when I see the distinct changes that I’ve consciously and subconsciously made in myself.
My acceptance of life as it comes..
My greater appreciation for life and people..
My openness to newness..
All indications of positive changes and growth from the dark place that I used to be in.
However, some things haven’t changed. For example, I still find solace in giving full on concerts in my car on the way home from work or during road trips. And I still make time to have an imaginary dance off with Beyonce in the privacy of my home at least once a week.
Before I began to be aware of the coping skills that worked for me in extreme times of stress, I knew that music could help me stop feeling overwhelmed. I can sing and dance, and everything would be decidedly better. I’ve therefore made space to include it in every day life.
Have you ever just stopped and thought about the progress you’ve made and the methods you’ve used to get there? How about the things that help sustain your sanity and promote growth? If not, I urge you to do so.
P.S. The song I’m currently jammin to at all hours of the day and night (and whose lyric is the title of this post) is below. When I tell you it speaks to me in a way that I truly appreciate.. It’s still not saying enough. As a newly inducted fluffy girl who loves to dance her heart out, I feel this in my soul.