How music saves us: a look at The National’s ‘High Violet’


We all deal with our shades of pain and experiences. Our memories and thoughts of the future. Musings on where we are now.

It seems to me that a lot of people, such as myself, express their feelings of pain by listening to their favorite music. I certainly do that with The National’s High Violet.

I feel ashamed sometimes of my pain. A lot of people who deal with issues with mental health have this similar guilt, as if our problems aren’t real. However, when you look in the eyes of someone who cares about you as they witness you break down, it starts to become a little more real.

I am thinking about everything in my life all of the time and I can start to feel my mind fray a little bit. It’s refreshing to know I can go to people who care about me and talk to them about it, but back in college, I used some of those people as a crutch. It was a constant barrage of expressing my neurotic thoughts, and I shared this with people I had just met. It wasn’t fair – they also have their set of problems. But I was clawing for some sort of sanctuary.

I still go to my family and some select friends about my problems, but sometimes I get exhausted from being myself. I can tell when they are getting tired of hearing my obsessive mental patterns. Then I get tired of getting worried that they are getting tired of hearing about my worrying.

My last semester of college I went to yoga and it did hep a little bit, but it was so brief that I still fall into my normal thinking patterns. The cycle of negative self-thoughts didn’t cease. My shaking didn’t cease.

I am seeking to feel better about myself because I think I am the hardest on myself.

It’s nice to write and draw and explore, activities that draw me away from the obsessive social media checking, a vice that has me on lockdown. I seek people out to keep myself from self-isolation, but sometimes it’s hard to be alone for that reason.

I don’t like the days where I feel like I am carrying rocks on my back and every breath feels like I’m gulping for air. I don’t like the days where everything feels like needles and my mouth tastes like cotton. I don’t like the days where I feel my arm tingle and I think I’m going to have a heart attack when I should be celebrating my good health. I don’t like the days where I think I don’t deserve the love I have. I don’t like the days where I all can do is lay in bed and stare straight ahead at the wall. I don’t like this experience I have been in for a long, long time.

I am so grateful for everything in my wonderful life – I really do have amazing people and do amazing things. Instead of being boundlessly happy for this, I let guilt me draw me into my anxious tendencies.

In my moments where I feel like sludge, I’ll turn to this album and I’ll feel relaxed. This album for about a year was the album I would listen to as I fell asleep. While I don’t do that anymore, the lullaby qualities still affect me. I can feel the pace of my heartbeat slowing. Instead of thinking of my ineptitude, I think about how much I love the piano part in ‘England.’ My love for this song, this album, for music, pushes out the downward-spiral-thoughts that clot my mind.

It revitalizes me, refreshes me. After I feel better, I can meet my friend for coffee and laugh at something they say. Or I can look at a building that reminds me of an Edward Hopper painting and smile because, gee, do I love art.

And I love again. I care again. And for awhile, I am not afraid to do so. The music and the art brings me back to caring, and I allow myself to believe that I am good at that.