Music As a Coping Skill and Why It’s Okay If It Doesn’t Work For You

Music, in my opinion, is probably the most widely used coping skills. My experience in the mental health field thus far has had me meet a lot of teenage and young children. I’d say with confidence that about 90% of them used music as a coping skill. Hell, I’ve definitely used music to get through a shitty day. Music can not only improve your mood on a gloomy day or soothe your soul in a time of grief. I’ve seen its effectiveness in action on countless occasions. Check this out…Music-Therapy-Graphic

When people say music is powerful…they mean it. However, that doesn’t guarantee it’s the solution for everyone. Every person’s mind and body are different and thus need different things to keep them together.

I gathered up the courage to leave my emotionally and verbally abusive ex the day after this past Christmas. Christmas night, my mom and I had a conversation about making a plan for me to leave in the near future. Unfortunately, the following day escalated to the point where I couldn’t even function at work and I knew it had to be right then. My mom drove up that night. My mom wasn’t going to get to Massachusetts until very early morning, so I went home to pack a bag, get Albus, and went to stay at a close friend’s apartment. That was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. He was there and was not happy because I had stopped responding to his verbally abusive text messages earlier that day. At first he acted confused, saying that he didn’t know why I was leaving. I told him that if he didn’t know why, then that was part of the problem. Then he did what he always did. He got angry. In came the name calling and the insults. That, in my mind, just reassured why I needed to leave. I needed to leave while I could before things continued to get worse.

On the ride back to Pennsylvania a few days later, I had a panic attack in my car going 75 down the highway. I managed to call my mom and pull over. That was the first time my mom told me to turn on some music and it will get better. So I got in my car and turned on the radio. You know what I heard when I turned to my go-to stations? A shit-ton of love songs. Songs about new love, past love, lost love, and true love. The exact opposite of what I wanted to hear. I couldn’t listen to hip hop because that’s all my ex ever listened to. So turning on the radio only made me think more about everything…made me cry even more than I already was.

For the first month after leaving, I didn’t listen to any music at all. In the car, I would listen to Harry Potter audiobooks. After that, the only music I could stand listening to was Disney music. I love singing to Disney songs in the shower. I think it was easier for me to listen to Disney, even though they are quite a few love songs, was because my ex would always put me down and tell me how childish I was being when I sang to it and that I needed to grow the fuck up.  And let me just say that I have a wide variety of music that I listen to…pretty much anything except country music. Not exactly sure why but I just can not stand country. But when I want to sing in the shower to de-stress after a long day, I turn to Disney. And I have absolutely no shame in that.

That’s pretty much still where I’m at with music. However, I’ve stopped getting uncomfortable when music is playing while I’m in other people’s cars. I am confident I will get back to jamming out to whatever suits my fancy on my way home from a hellish day of work because audiobooks just don’t cut it some nights and I end up going to sleep stressed out and anxious. At first I would get upset and mostly angry when someone would tell me to just put on some music. I’ve pretty much gotten over that, too because it happens much less frequently. My mom said it to me several times in the beginning, but I expressed to her my feelings towards the topic and she hasn’t since. It wasn’t just my mom who had done it, just the most frequent so unfortunately my frustration come out on her a little bit. She and I have had an up and down relationship since I came home, but we’ve patched it all up and are doing very well.

So right now, music just doesn’t work for me as a coping skill. And that is perfectly okay. Even if for some reason I never listen to music the same way again, that would be okay too. Maybe a little frustrating, but okay if I need to avoid it best I can in order to have a healthy mind. I still and will always continue to encourage the use of music as a coping skill if that is what works for the person. I’ve seen it work wonders with some of the kids I’ve worked with and could never doubt it’s ability. But not everything is going to work for everyone and that is perfectly okay.

Until next time.

Love always,



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