It’s like someone flicks a switch and turns all the lights off, plunging my brain into a murky blackness. When I am depressed it triggers a dark cycle. Something negative will happen which sparks a spiral of bleak thoughts as my mind swirls with emotion. My thoughts get stuck in a rut as these negative ideas take hold of my mind. The longer I dwell on them, the more their roots dig deep, embedding themselves in my consciousness. The key to defeating these thoughts is by disrupting them, breaking their hold with something positive. For me, that is usually music. But it can’t just be any music; some music works better than others.
When I was at my really low point, before my medication was regulated, I had been listening non-stop (no pun intended) to the musical Hamilton. If you haven’t heard it, you’re missing out on one of the most magnificent pieces of art ever created. The music is inspiring as every note tells the story of struggling to overcome life’s challenges.
When I am using music to disrupt the mental spiral, it helps to listen to something with positive or inspiring messages and Hamilton has more inspiring lines than a series of cat posters. You could find inspiration when Alexander Hamilton declares that there are a million things he hasn’t done yet, or that he is not going to throw away his shot, and I enjoy listening to those songs. But there is one song I always return to when depression begins to seep into my brain and that is “Wait for It.”
I remember one particularly difficult night when I sat on my bathroom floor crying. This was becoming a habit as I fought against this crushing pain that wouldn’t go away. My mind was spiraling out of control. Like a bird that had been pierced by an arrow, I was tumbling down fast and unable to pull up. I reached for my phone and began playing my favorite songs from Hamilton to try and break the descent. Then “Wait for It” began to play.
“Wait for It” is the theme for Aaron Burr, Hamilton’s friend turned enemy who ends up (spoiler alert) shooting Hamilton. In the musical, Burr’s patience is sharply contrasted with Hamilton’s non-stop pace and the idea of waiting is ridiculed by the musical’s protagonist.
I could spend a long time analyzing the themes of the musical to determine whether or not Burr’s philosophy is better than Hamilton’s. But it’s not really relevant to this post and you also probably don’t care. What does matter is that the song was my saving grace at a time where I was contemplating taking my life.
In the song, one of the choruses goes:
“Death doesn’t discriminate
Between the sinners
And the saints
It takes and it takes and it takes
And we keep living anyway
We rise and we fall
And we break
And we make our mistakes
And if there’s a reason I’m still alive
When everyone who loves me has died
I’m willing to wait for it
I’m willing to wait for it”
The idea of being alive for a reason gave me hope to continue. I am on this earth for a purpose and I was willing to wait for this storm to pass to find what it is.
Of course, I don’t exist for a singular purpose. Most things don’t. When Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote Hamilton, he probably didn’t think much about its purpose beyond entertainment and exploring history. I doubt it occurred to him that his music would give strength to a girl in Omaha, NE, struggling not to end her life. But that’s the beauty of life. Every action we take is part if our purpose and we may never know the ripples our lives can cause. All we can do is continue to step forward and wait to see what life presents us next.