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Music Therapy: I am a playlist hoarder!

It isn't just movies, tv shows and books that can tell a story, any form of art can. From your favourite photograph or piece of art, to the music we listen to on a daily basis. Individual songs have a way of telling a story, not just with their lyrics, but also in the way we associate certain songs with particular moments in our lives.

I mean, how many times have you been listening to the radio with someone older than you; and a song they used to listen to when they were younger comes on and they have to tell you all about it. They can still tell you all about a particular moment because of the song and of course they still know all the lyrics too. Even going back centuries, whenever we hear the song Green Sleeves we think of Henry VIII and his love for Anne Boleyn. Music is transformative, even those songs without lyrics are able to help tell a story.

I have been using Spotify since I was still in secondary school studying my GCSE's, which was over a decade ago now (gasps in existential crisis). Since then I have not deleted a single playlist. Before I had Spotify, I had my mp3 player and before that I would burn songs onto CDs; I also haven't gotten rid of either of those, they still live in storage boxes somewhere. Each playlist, CD or mp3 player, acts as a time capsule to me. The CD's document my early teen years when I was still creating dance routines in my bedroom with friends. My mp3 player documents my mid teens, walking to and from school, hanging out with friends but most importantly reflects my obsession with 2010's YouTube song covers and comedy shows. Then there are my Spotify playlists. The earlier ones reflect some of the similar vibes to my mp3 player, just remove the comedy and add in a couple songs from movie soundtracks. They reflect my years at college; but then post college it is a chaos of playlists for writing projects, feelings and moods, birthday parties, my yearly playlists that I started in 2016, and so many more.

I have battled feelings of anxiety and depression since I was 15 years old, the worst of which affected me at the very tail end of my teens into my early 20s; and because of those states of brain panic, I am unable to recall many things from that time in my life. However having a musical documentation of that time really helps to take me back to certain moments now I am older and more mentally healed. When I listen back to certain songs on those playlists now, I can associated them with certain moments; to reconnect with myself in those times when I felt so disconnected. These playlists have allowed me to tap back into younger versions of myself and allow them to feel safe and valid in my life.

Over the last couple years of my healing journey, I have been able to make peace with a lot of things from my childhood and teen years because of these playlists; and because of the musical association. I can use my adult brain, with all of it's spiritual knowledge, to look back at certain songs and use them to explain the feelings I was having to my younger self. I have even created new playlists that incorporate songs from even younger days in my life, the pop songs of my youth that I would dance around my bedroom, living room or grandparent's kitchen to, so that she too can come back out at times and dance around and feel safe and heard.

I have songs that remind me of old break ups with boyfriends and friends. I have songs that remind me of family holidays or gatherings. All these things I can use to tap back into certain times in my life; and make peace with the negative feelings I may have been struggling with at the time.

I can't even begin to describe how much of a useful tool this has been to help me on my healing journey. As I go through this blog, I'll be talking more about how we fully learn to understand and regulate our emotions, but what's the use of having that knowledge if you don't have a way to implement it. Do you already have a mass hoard of playlists like me? If not why not make a conscious effort to start now? And maybe, if you're up to it, you can try to tap into your younger selves and create safe space playlists for them too.

Music really is an invaluable tool and just as important in the grand scheme of telling stories and documenting our lives. Whether you make music, write lyrics or just listen to it, it has a purpose for all of us and allows us to tell our stories.

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