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Music Therapy

Turn your darkness into light
Turn your silence into sound
Josh Groban

Music is a way that I identify my thoughts and feelings

My whole life, I’ve turned to music to express the things I couldn’t. Whether it was enthusiasm or devastation, compassion or anger, fear or celebration, I have spent hours searching for the right song lyrics to reflect my mood. As a teenager, I remember posting these to my AOL Instant Message statuses, hoping that I was finding eloquent or relatable ways to express the complicated moments in my life. Today, those song lyrics are instead shared to Facebook or Instagram, the Spotify song link texted to friends or added to email responses, but still an integral part of my communication and the way I identify with the world around me.

Several years ago, I shared the lyrics above from Josh Groban’s song “False Alarms” over and over again as I found them echoing in my heart during some really difficult times with my IBD. I was stuck in a tough headspace, wishing so much that I could change something, anything. That I could feel differently and look at the world around me differently, and I really struggled to adequately express this to the people in my life.

Can I change my life with IBD?

While this song begs the question “Is this Love or is this a False Alarm?” I found myself wondering if the situation I was stuck in was really my life, all that I had and all that I was going to be, or if I could do something to shift my perspective and re-write my narrative. It wasn’t a simple question, but it was the most important one I’d ever considered. In fact, I’d argue that at several points, my mental health depended fully on it.

Turn your darkness into light

During that chapter of my life, I felt like I was living underground, or in a hole. Every moment of every day was filled with the unpleasant symptoms of Crohn’s disease, although it had not yet been diagnosed and I was not on any reasonable methods of treatment.

There was so much uncertainty. So much anger. More frustration than I’ll ever be able to express. So many limitations. But this song, it begged me to do something. To try something. To look at the situation with new eyes. It begged me to remember that I was more than my illness, my circumstances, or the endless days of misery I was living in. It definitely did not happen overnight, and I’d even be willing to argue that it took a few years time. But this mantra echoed in my ears and my heart until I could feel something different and until I could feel remotely alive again.

Turn your silence into sound

Burrowing into myself was a coping mechanism that while “easy” was completely ineffective, and I wish it hadn’t taken me so long to realize how unhelpful it was. After being ill for several years, I began to share my story, not just with my family and my doctors but with a trained therapist, other patients, and in IBD communities. When I started to use my words, to find my voice, I began to feel so much less alone. I heard a chorus of “Me too’s” along with the things that had helped others survive, and my world started to get a little brighter. This, too, was a lengthy process, but one that never stopped once it took flight.

I have connected to several other patients and friends who have utilized music in their illness journeys, who have used anthems or lyrics or beats in different ways, and I’d love to hear how music therapy has been a part of your IBD story.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.