I often find it hard to get out of bed in the morning. It’s more than the fact that I’m not a morning person. My depression and anxiety factor in there as well.
Sometimes, I have to use tricks, like music. Last night, I watched the Kennedy Center Honors. Carole King was one of the honorees. Aretha Franklin came to salute her. As soon as Aretha walked on stage and started singing “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman,” I knew this was a performance for the ages. I also knew that I would soon find it on my Facebook feed. When I woke this morning, it was the anticipation of seeing this performance again that got me up.
Sure enough, Aretha was there to greet me this morning. I think I played this video about five times already. And I think I’ll be playing it a lot more.
This is a gorgeous new song that I can’t get out of my head. Only, it’s not really a new song. Elvis Costello, Roseanne Cash, and Kris Kristofferson recorded it several years ago, but it was never officially released. Elvis recently included it on his new CD, and now the song is finally getting attention.
It’s a song about having fears and wanting things, but not having what it takes to get those things. Yet it’s also about human connection and understanding. As someone managing depression and anxiety, I can relate to every word of this, especially the bridge of the song:
I’m not afraid
And I refuse to be
I can’t fall
There’s nothing to stop me
Take a listen.
Honestly, I never heard Everything is Awesome before the Oscars last week. But when I woke up this morning, this was the song I had in my head. I even sang it out loud, and in my mind, I had a Lego Oscar just like Oprah’s. Me? With depression and anxiety? Singing Everything is Awesome??? It just goes to show that I do have my good days. And I need to acknowledge them.
I’m glad nobody was around to hear me sing, though. I have a terrible voice that is anything but awesome. (There. I wouldn’t be me without just a little self-depreciation, right?)
I’ve always loved Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors. But it wasn’t until this morning, when I saw this video of John Legend performing the song, that I realized how meaningful the lyrics were to me as someone who manages depression and anxiety.
You with the sad eyes
Don’t be discouraged. Oh I realize
It’s hard to take courage
In a world full of people,
You can lose sight of it all
And the darkness inside you
Can make you feel so small
But I see your true colors
I see your true colors
And that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful,
Like a rainbow.
Wow. There are so many times when it’s hard for me to let my True Colors shine through–unless I fake it, which really doesn’t count. My depression and anxiety both lie to me. They show me false colors, and I believe them. But with work–and hope–I can see my True Colors. I am grateful for that. And though I still have to explain myself to too many people, I am grateful for friends and family who know my True Colors–and can so often see them better than I can.
This morning, I scoured my iTunes playlist, searching for just the right “mood music.” Looking at my catalogue alphabetically, I suddenly discovered that Let It Be and Let It Go are right next to each other.
Let It Be.
Let It Go.
Talk about a Zen combination!
Now, if only I could learn when to Let It Be, and when to Let It Go…
At this time of year, everyone comes out with their year in review stories. On one of the music sites I visited, I couldn’t help but notice that three of the year’s biggest hits all had to deal feeling happy–or at least trying to feel happy.
In fact, one of the tunes is even called Happy. Put that in rotation with Let It Go and Shake It Off, and you get nothing short of a big musical therapy session. I have a special recovery song list on my iPhone, and Happy and Let It Go are on it. I’m not a huge Taylor Swift fan, so that keeps me from adding Shake It Off. But God knows, that song is EVERYWHERE. I can’t avoid it even if I wanted to.
I wonder if there’s a trend here. Maybe a lot of people need their spirits lifted right now, and they latch on to tunes that help them do that. To me, these songs represent an ideal that’s worth striving for, even if I can’t always reach it. For those of us with a mental illness, it’s not easy to Let It Go or Shake It Off, and it’s not easy to be Happy.
But I’m glad these songs are out there. When I need a lift, they’re there for me if I want them. I’m happy about that.
The lyrics of this Tracy Chapman song mean so much to me. They’re even posted on my refrigerator door, and I read them every day. I’m not sure if this is the song’s official video, but I love it. The key to being “not afraid?” It’s taking things one small step at a time. Sometimes, even that’s a challenge. But it’s an ideal. I hope you find this song as inspiring as I do.