By Caroline Meister
1. “Addict With A Pen” by Twenty One Pilots
Twenty One Pilots are well-known for their very direct approach to discussing mental illnesses in their songs. That’s one of the reasons why they’re so popular: they’re honest. For me, this song really portrays depression in one of the most realistic ways. Its lyrics discuss how someone has been distant and trapped in their mind. On the first listen, the word’s connotations are not obvious, but after listening more than once, they become clear.
2. “Weightless” by All Time Low
Although this song is upbeat, very unlike “Addict With A Pen,” it doesn’t necessarily have the most upbeat lyrics. Discussing topics like “being stuck in a rut” and just wanting to feel “weightless” (or nothing), it’s clear that there are some undertones of anxiety, especially social anxiety. Presumably, the person who the song is about is very self-critical, always mourning the personality traits they don’t have. My favorite part of this song is that there’s such a positive refrain: “Maybe it’s not my weekend, but it’s gonna be my year.”
3. “My Oceans Were Lakes” by As It Is
For me, this song perfectly illustrates overcoming a mental illness, or at least being able to manage it better. The chorus, “I’m starting to see my oceans were lakes,” indicates that once someone is on the brighter side of the tunnel, they really realize how much their brain spirals out of control. As a classic over-thinker, I have to agree with this.
4. “Adam’s Song” by blink-182
I’m not sure how under the radar this song is, as it’s quite old and many people know its meaning. Regardless, it’s incredibly important. It’s one of the few songs that discusses suicide and depression that was actually played on the radio. In essence, it’s a suicide note, just put to a beat.
5. “Be Like You” by Ed Sheeran
This one might be the most surprising, because it’s by Ed Sheeran. Although known for tackling difficult subjects like prostitution and drug addiction, Ed Sheeran is mainly known for writing love songs. And that’s what this song basically is, except for a few lines that have always stuck out to me. The lines “I’ll stop eating food, and I’ll squeeze into a dress, so I can be like you” hint at a possible eating disorder, a mental illness that perhaps gets the least amount of attention in the mainstream media.
6. “Two Years” by Have Mercy
This song deals with crippling loneliness and certain aspects of self-hatred. Although mainly a love song, it does discuss the loss of friends, which often hurts more than a break-up. I think this song describes the effects of depression related to loneliness all too well, especially in the lines “I had a life and I had friends, and I miss all of them.”
7. “Untitled” by Knuckle Puck
Instead of focusing on the immediate feelings of depression, this song focuses on the treatment. Mental illnesses do not go away. In most cases, they are there for life. This song talks about how progress is not always immediate, that sometimes the smallest steps have the biggest impact.
8. “Cry Baby” by Melanie Martinez
A very popular, mainstream song in the indie circuits, this song (like most songs) can be interpreted in many different ways. However, for me, it discusses the stigma behind mental illnesses. The use of the term “cry baby” reflects how some people view mental illnesses. Often times, the general population view people who have a mental illness as “weak.” I think this is perhaps the most daring attempt to expose the stigma of mental illness in the mainstream music scene.
9. “Fine, Great” by Modern Baseball
First of all, I just love this song, it’s so well done. It perfectly describes how certain people with depression feel. For me, the line, “I hate worrying about my future because all I want to do is worry about everyone but me” really speaks to my personality. I’d rather help everyone else before I take a look at myself. This song definitely makes me feel like I’m less alone.
10. “Mess” by Real Friends
This song is similar to the Knuckle Puck song, which makes sense, seeing as the bands are in the same genre and even have the same general hometown. “Mess” is all about recovery, and how setbacks don’t necessarily mean that you aren’t getting better. The line “Last year I was a train wreck, now I’m just a mess” is, ironically, inspirational. Progress is progress.