The Pandemic, Music, and Mental Health by Lindsay Marcelli

Photo by @annaparade

Imagine this, you’re in an escape room and you’ve used all of your options before realizing there’s no way out—that is what it feels like to be in a constant battle with your mind. This pandemic has taken such a toll on my already struggling mental health, and I have decided to share my experiences during this apocalyptic-esque time period.

There are days when I would feel okay with myself and feel motivated enough to do my tasks, but there are also instances when something would trigger me—whether I saw it online or just spontaneously recall that would make me revisit the things from the past that I don’t want to remember. It would lead me to dark places in my head for days or even weeks. To me, my mind is the scariest place I could ever be. Anxiety, intrusive thoughts, overthinking, they all come hand in hand, and, sometimes, it gets so hard to deal with, especially when I’m alone. Whenever I overthink a situation, my mind creates these fictitious scenarios, and I’m not sure whether it’s all in my head or whether it’s actually happening. That is the thing that worries me the most. Some days I couldn’t get out of bed and everything feels heavy I had no choice but to fight that feeling and get on with life because the world wouldn’t stop for anyone. It is an exhausting cycle.

Even before the pandemic, I had been dealing with mental health problems for years and I didn’t understand what was wrong with me, and I still don’t. I have personal issues that I believe need therapy, but do not have access to a therapist or a psychologist. I was such an expressive and cheerful person throughout my junior years and didn’t care what people thought of me, but I was too naive to believe that society was all rainbows. But then, in high school, I wasn’t well liked because I didn’t fit in. I tried reminding myself that I should love myself for being different and that it’s a good thing, but I was put in situations countless of times that make me ask questions like “am I too different for their liking?” or “what exactly is their definition of normal?” That was the time I started getting too conscious of everything I do, every word I utter, in an attempt to live up to their expectations. But I’ve noticed that the more that I try, the more it got worse. I lost friends, and I neglected myself; my life went downhill. I then understood that when society says “be different,” they mean the “cute” and “acceptable” kind of different, but shame other forms of “different,” which I think is such a messed-up reality.

But this quarantine, I’ve done a lot of self-reflecting and I believe that my childhood experiences have everything to do with my mental health issues, but I put in the effort to try to overcome it every day. I also learned that I should be kinder to myself.

On a lighter note, some of the things that helped me cope with the pandemic were singing, dancing, drawing, listening to music, and writing. As a kid, I was a huge fan of the arts, literature, and everything musical. I remember singing while my sister played the piano when I was younger because I passionately wanted to be a musician. Alongside that, I grew up listening to so many amazing female artists like Taylor Swift, Little Mix, Miley Cyrus, Nicki Minaj, etc. These women inspired me to follow my heart and to love myself even when things get difficult.

I’ve recently been obsessed with FLETCHER—I admire her authenticity and her identity as a whole. In fact, her music has helped me get through several difficult times this year. I just listened to Clark Moore’s Soul Balm podcast where she was featured, and it’s actually insane how much I relate to her. I have been openly queer since 8th grade. But despite having a sense of self identity, I had a lot of battles to face as a young queer person finding my own path in the world. This is why I’m really grateful to her for being vocal about her struggles because growing up, I didn’t really know someone who’s going through the same struggles as mine, which made me believe that I was alone. But now, I feel seen and heard hearing about her experiences, and her struggles with mental health, which are so similar to mine.

The music industry should be more open and more accepting of a variety of musicians, to allow them more opportunities to share their craft and story with the world. In connection to that, talking about mental health is so important because by doing so, we can break the stigma that are often associated with it. To be honest, I myself haven’t been on my best in terms of my mental wellbeing but I can say that I’ve improved a lot. I don’t know who needs to hear this but mental health is a learning process of growth; you shouldn’t be too harsh on yourself. Just strive to make progress every day—whether big or small. And, I hope that you don’t forget to celebrate these victories.

Lindsay Marcelli (she/they) is a Filipino-Chinese dancer, artist, aspiring writer and musician. She does graphic design and remixes songs for fun. Here’s a link to her personal Spotify playlist:

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