Yes, that’s what I said. Eminem. Marshall Mathers. Slim Shady. A rapper who I never paid too much attention to in the past because well, my choice in music growing up was a bit different. 😉
Fast forward 10+ years (can’t believe Eminem’s been around so long) and my life gets a little messy in my twenties, then comes recovery from trauma time. Enter antidepressants and therapist. Enter uninvited stigma. Then wholehearted acceptance.
I am a Christian and have been one almost all my life. My faith has shaped a lot of who I am, and has been a source of comfort and strength at the most needed times.
I still hold strongly to my faith today, but when my mental health began to go downhill to the point where medical help was necessary, there were some very practical lessons I had to learn.
This post is not about anything religious or spiritual, but I mention my Christian background to help make my point more clear. The point of this blog post is to share with you what has helped me immensely in the process of restoring my mental health, and if you’re a devout Christian, my sharing of this post is with the hope of rendering practical help for health’s sake, which some may think is in opposition to their faith-based values.
So how in the world is Eminem related to all of this? First off, many of his songs have a significant amount of bad language, which I was bothered by at first. But last week as I was listening to some music on SoundCloud, I somehow stumbled across Eminem’s music and found that there was something about his music that struck a chord within me.
I couldn’t stop listening to his songs for a good while despite all the curse words. It wasn’t just that his lyrics were genius, but his delivery of the songs with all the emotions – the anger and attitude – had an almost calming or relieving effect on my inward state of being.
Then I went to see my therapist today, just as I always see her on Mondays after work, and through our conversation it was evident to both of us that I had a whole lot of burdensome junk suppressed in me, accumulated over a long period of time, just waiting to be released!
My therapist is a devout Christian as well, with some professional mental health training. Without getting into all the details of my personal life for all to see on my blog, I’ll just say that my therapist really emphasized my need for an inward release. Release of a lot of anger and rebellious feelings and whatever else that needs to GET OUT.
So we talked about possible healthy, or nondestructive ways to get these unhealthily suppressed feelings out of me. One idea was for me to take a kickboxing class. Another was to journal.. a lot. She even said I could get in my car, blast some music, and scream at the top of my lungs.
Then I mentioned to her that I started listening to Eminem songs. And she was so happy.
Turns out that in my particular case, these emotional and angry sounding rap songs were somehow helping to relieve a lot of tension in me. She encouraged me to keep listening to Eminem whenever these pent up feelings in me start acting up.
Funny how none of these suggestions are “spiritual” at all. She didn’t say to pray or read the Bible. Instead, this Christian was talking about screaming, hitting or kicking things, and listening to rap by Eminem.
In terms of real life application, my therapist suggested that if these feelings of strong anger, frustration, or even irritability begin to bother me when I’m at work, I can set a specific amount of time to listen to Eminem songs to take care of getting rid of the pent up negative energy.
Once that designated time is over, I could then focus on my work without thinking about how much I just want to throw something – anything – on the floor or on my desk with all my might.
I’m not saying that I’m a violent person, but what I am saying is that I have benefited very much from often counter intuitive ways to improve my mental health, which in turn improves my overall health, both physically and spiritually.
In case you’re curious, the songs that I’ve been using the most as part of my mental health treatment are “Not Afraid,” “Lose Yourself,” and “Airplanes II feat. Eminem.”
Please don’t get me wrong though – if all you remember from this post is that there is bad language in some songs I listen to, then you’ve completely missed the whole point of this post. But I think you’re smarter than that. 😉