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A Depressing Playlist (to help you get better)

content warning: this article discusses topics surrounding suicide and depression

February 14, 2023

As someone who has struggled with depression and is obsessed with music – listening to sad songs has probably done more harm than good. But the feeling of listening to raw vocals singing heart-wrenching lyrics is a feeling that almost brings comfort to the sadness. But this playlist is not about the best songs to listen to – it is about the best songs that are about depression. Because I feel that having a playlist that provides comfort or at least acknowledgment of depression can be therapeutic (but not an excuse to not go to therapy). So while not all of these songs directly mention it, I find they help me deal with my depression. 

“Please Stay” – Lucy Dacus 

Lucy Dacus knows how to write about depression and has done so beautifully in several songs. Choosing to have very little instrumentals and noise in the background of this song forces you to hear the raw vocals she sings. This is a depression song about a friend wanting you to stay alive. Focusing on watching someone struggle with simple daily tasks. With the lyrics “Your hair on the shower wall / Your toothbrush is too much” highlight that. Being a reminder that when you are so preoccupied with staying alive other tasks seem impossible to perform. Ending the song by repeating “Please Stay” is a perfect end to a perfect song. 

“The 30th” – Billie Eilish 

To me – this is the saddest song on this already very sad playlist. A song that is all about someone surviving an accident. Which to me sounds a lot like a suicide attempt. The song slowly builds up to Billie Eilish screaming “What if it happened to you on a different day?” Followed by a series of lyrics talking about everything that happened to be just right for you to have survived. With the final one being “You’re alive, you’re alive, you’re alive”. This is a beautiful tribute to everyone who has survived their depression. 

“Medicine” – Daughter 

The process of starting medication can be awful for a lot of reasons. I remember how long it took me to admit that I needed to go on antidepressants. And even now I still struggle to walk into CVS to pick up my little orange bottle. I know they help but it is still a very hard thing to do. This is an eerie song that I internalize as taking antidepressants. While that might not actually be what the song is about, I like to feel that it is. Because at the end of the day “It’s just medicine” and you shouldn’t be afraid to take it. 

“Forever Winter (Taylor’s Version)” – Taylor Swift 

I interpret this song as a story of a friend checking in on someone who has depression. Through a sweet melody, it tells the hardship of someone having to watch a close friend struggle with themself. With mental health oftentimes feeling like a burden it is comforting to hear lines such as these. It serves as a reminder that you aren’t a burden even if at times you feel that you are. Lines like “Too young to know it gets better / I’ll be summer sun for you forever” reassure you that the people in your life want to see you get better. 

“Growing Sideways” – Noah Kahan 

I was surprised to be putting a song from the upbeat Stomp and Holler album that is Stick Season on this playlist. But that is just part of the wonder and creative genius that is Noah Kahan. This song is dedicated to comparing yourself to people who have never had to go through depression. And how hard it is to see people “Cause everyone’s growing and everyone’s healthy”. This song is a perfect reminder that comparing yourself to others will cause nothing but harm. 

I hope that this playlist provides at least a little comfort to anyone struggling with depression. Because while it can be very hard to talk about I find listening to be a lot easier.

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