A Chronic Illness Playlist

Last week, I wrote a blog post about the power of music and its ability to connect with us on a personal level.  The ability of music and its melody or lyrics to express and convey emotions that we are experiencing at a particular time.  In the post, I also shared the lyrics that I have been able to relate to from the perspective of someone living with a neurological condition.

But music has the power not only to express such emotions that we may be feeling but can also help change our mood.

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If we are feeling sad for example, then listening to an upbeat song can help lift our mood.  In fact, there is music for every mood imaginable – songs to help calm an anxious or overwhelmed mind, music to uplift you, music to pump you up or just to fill a silence.  They also have the power to take us back to happier memories – for example, whenever I hear the song ‘Brave’ by Sara Bareilles (which coincidentally almost made it into this list) it transforms me back to the amazing cruise I took with my parents around the Canary Islands, and therefore I cannot help feel happy and nostalgic whenever I hear the upbeat tempo of it’s opening bars.

Living with a neurological condition has many ups and downs, and when in the midst of a flare, for example, it can be very trying.  When pain and other symptoms increase, my mood often dips, and I can become quite depressed.  For these times, I have a toolbox that I rely on to help decrease the effect that these symptoms have on my well-being.

And one of these tools is music!

A playlist of positive and uplifting songs that help lift my mood, and remind me of all that is right with the world, and that good times are waiting beyond the current storm.

So, following on from last week’s blog post, I thought I would share my uplifting and encouraging playlist with you all:

‘Fight Song’ by Rachel Platten

This is my fight song
Take back my life song
Prove I’m alright song
My power’s turned on
Starting right now I’ll be strong
I’ll play my fight song
And I don’t really care if nobody else believes
‘Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me

This song has become somewhat anthemic for those facing adversity, especially those within the chronic illness community.  It’s upbeat melody, and inspiring lyrics helps keep us fighting through the darkest days of living with health problems.  It’s a song that can motivate anyone to continue fighting through any obstacles or challenges they may be experiencing, and not give up.  It’s a song, I think you’d agree is hard not to join in with when it’s playing on the radio!

 ‘Hold On’ by Wilson Phillips 

Don’t you know?
Don’t you know things can change
Things’ll go your way
If you hold on for one more day
Can you hold on for one more day
Things’ll go your way
Hold on for one more day

Not one I would have chosen, but have heard this so many times on the radio station that I listen to, that it was hard not to add this to this playlist! It’s an incredibly catchy song that can give hope on a day where you are feeling a little hopeless and lost because of debilitating and never-ending symptoms. Many times have I been in my carer’s car on a bad day, and this song has played, and I have felt a little better and more hopeful for better days.

‘Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself’ by Jess Glynne

Let’s go back to simplicity
I feel like I’ve been missing me
Was not who I’m supposed to be
I felt this darkness over me
We all get there eventually
I never knew where I belonged
But I was right and you were wrong
Been telling myself all along
Don’t be so hard on yourself, no
Learn to forgive, learn to let go
Everyone trips, everyone falls
So don’t be so hard on yourself, no
‘Cause I’m just tired of marching on my own
Kind of frail, I feel it in my bones
Oh let my heart, my heart turn into stone
So don’t be so hard on yourself, no

I love Jess Glynne and her amazing voice, and this is one of my favourite songs of hers.  Living with chronic illness is difficult, and it’s so easy to get caught up with beating ourselves up over what we are unable to do or things we haven’t done because of chronic illness.  This song is such a beautiful reminder that everyone experiences bad times and we shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves.

‘I Don’t Want To Be’ by Gavin DeGraw

I don’t want to be
Anything other than what I’ve been trying to be lately
All I have to do
Is think of me and I have peace of mind
I’m tired of looking ’round rooms
Wondering what I’ve got to do
Or who I’m supposed to be
I don’t want to be anything other than me
There are times that I feel ashamed of the person I am, and the limitations and restrictions that exist because of my neurological condition.  Because of my condition and after being bullied for many years, I often feel that I am not beautiful or good enough, but this song is a reminder that we should not be ashamed of who we are and instead to be proud of the person we have become.
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‘The Story’ 
All of these lines across my face
Tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I’ve been
And how I got to where I am
Perhaps not the most upbeat melody of the songs listed on my playlist but is nevertheless a beautiful song with lyrics that make you listen and reflect, allowing yourself to relate them to your own story.  The lyrics above, when listening to them, allows me to appreciate how illness is merely just one story that makes up the overall ‘novel’ of my life.  Chronic illness is a part of our journey and our lives, but is not one that defines us.  There are so many other parts and many other stories that are more interesting for others’ to discover.
Well, there are just five songs that I would add to a playlist of songs to uplift, motivate and inspire during the darkest days of living with chronic illness.
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What other songs would you add to this playlist? Would love to hear your suggestions! Hit the comment box below!
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The Soundtrack of a Chronic Life

There’s not much in this life, especially in this modern age, which connects us all, but the music is one of them.  After all, it has been used as a means of expression and entertainment in all times and cultures.  Music, it is said is a powerful tool as a means of expressing emotions such as love, hope, joy and regret as well as being a device for sharing our individual stories.

Everyone may not share the same taste in genres of music – some may prefer classical, whereas others enjoy hip-hop or rap for example.  However, whatever the preference of music, there are certain songs and melodies within the world of music that we can identify with and that conveys the emotional state that we are in, in that exact moment in time.

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Melodies and the rhythms of pieces of music, for example, can inspire us to move our bodies in which words cannot.  However, as a writer and a person that loves words, I often find myself listening to the words of songs, and the story that it’s sharing with the world.  Sometimes, I even relate to the lyrics; feeling that my story and emotions are being shared through the words of the song.  By sharing with others, our favourite songs or pieces of music that affect us in some capacity is giving a glimpse into who we are as individuals.

So, I was thinking of those songs, that has resonated with me over the years, and especially those that I can relate to as someone living with a neurological condition.  And so I thought I would share them in a blog post, so here is the soundtrack of a life with chronic illness…

‘Chains’ by Tina Arena 

I pretend I can always leave
Free to go whenever I please
But then the sound of my desperate calls
Echo off these dungeon walls

This hit song from the early 90s tell the story of someone trapped inside a loveless relationship, but in my opinion, it also eerily describes the isolation and vulnerability that comes from living with a chronic condition.

 

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Living with a long-term condition can feel like we are encased in chains from which we cannot break free from 

 

Not only are we physically trapped within our fragile and uncooperative bodies but we are also a prisoner to the same surroundings for the majority of our time; the longest of our time away from home is very often the number of appointments that we have to attend. It often feels that I am at the mercy of my symptoms, especially since given the severity of the dizziness and the weakness in my legs, I am unable to leave the house by myself, resulting in being isolated within the same four walls for days on end.  It may not be an actual dungeon or prison, but if very often feels that I am kept a prisoner by a neurological condition and perhaps why I relate to this song and specifically these lyrics as much as I do.

‘Hurt’ by Johnny Cash

I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
The only thing that’s real
The needle tears a hole
The old familiar sting
Try to kill it all away
But I remember everything
What have I become
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know goes away
In the end

Anyone living with chronic pain is no stranger to the word hurt.  Chronic pain has unfortunately become a constant in my daily life, and all my legs seem to do is indeed hurt.  Chronic pain often becomes all-encompassing; the only reality at that particular moment we can focus on and which is the only thing that feels real (“I focus on the pain/The only thing that’s real”).

But the song does not only delve into the realities of living with chronic pain, but we can relate to its lyrics that discusses one such consequence of living with a chronic illness which is the breakdown of relationships, such as friendships.  Another repercussion of life dealing with severe symptoms is we very often need to cancel plans, often at short notice.  Although those friends at the time are understanding and concerned, when we cancel plans more and more, those friends stop their invitations and seemingly walk out of our lives leaving us more isolated and lonely than ever.

The consequence of living with chronic pain is not only physical hurt but can also lead to emotional hurt also.

‘The Climb’ by Miley Cyrus 

Every move I make feels
Lost with no direction
My faith is shaking but I
Gotta keep trying
Gotta keep my head held high
There’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be a uphill battle
Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose
Ain’t about how fast I get there,
Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side
It’s the climb
Chronic illness seems to take everything away from us – our independence, dreams, friendships, mobility to name but a few.  It’s a never-ending battle; with some victories that we can claim, and others we lose. Chronic illness often comes back stronger and more tenacious than ever and once again we are knocked to the ground once more.
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Our dreams and ambitions sometimes have to be forgotten, or alternatively, we have to think of creative ways to achieve them.  But above all else, we never give up; never give in our surrender to our symptoms.  We pick ourselves up and attempt the climb once again.  This is what the songs ascribe to – the struggles that we face, whether it be from illness or other problems in life, and the resilience and strength we possess to carry on regardless.
‘Demons’ by Imagine Dragons 
I want to hide the truth
I want to shelter you
But with the beast inside
There’s nowhere we can hide
No matter what we breed
We still are made of greed
This is my kingdom come
This is my kingdom come
When you feel my heat
Look into my eyes
It’s where my demons hide
The lyrics of ‘Demons’ really resonates with me during the dark times of living with chronic illness.  The depression and hopelessness that infiltrates my thoughts when the pain and other symptoms become too much to live with.
We hide these darkest and thoughts away from those closest to us; sheltering them from the beast that is depression and anxiety.  They come from nowhere and from which we cannot escape.  They are our demons and which seem to come with life with chronic illness.
Well, those are some of the songs whose lyrics I have found I can relate to from living with a neurological condition for all these years.  But what about?  What are the songs which you would add to a soundtrack to describe a life with chronic illness?  Add your suggestions and stories below:

Get knocked down…but I get up again

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Welcome to the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge brought together by WEGO Health – a social network for all health activists.  Again, I am participating in the annual Writer’s Month Challenge in which I will be writing about my health activism and health condition based upon prompts given.

Today’s prompt reads as follows:

Theme Song…Imagine your health focus or blog is getting its own theme song.  Think “Eye of the Tiger” for Rocky Balboa.  What would the lyrics be?  What type of music would it be played to?

 

This is a tough question…how do you find a theme song for a condition, which is for one unusual and rare, and secondly one in which you do not entirely understand yourself?

Then, I though that I would base my choice of theme song on the experience of living with my particular condition.  For example, the weakness in my leg; this is one of my main symptoms and one which causes the greatest burden in my life.  The burden that it places, is largely due to the severe weakness and trembling in the legs – for example, I am unable to stand for very long and are known for giving way on me without any warning and at the most inconvenient times.  This has led to many falls in public; as well as falls down the stairs and even whilst walking up the stairs!  These falls have been increasing in number recently, you can read a previous post entitled ‘Falling Down a Vortex‘ which describes my experience of my condition as it is currently, as well as describing a recent fall down the stairs I had in which my Kindle bared the brunt of the damage as it is beyond repair as a result.

The majority of the time after a fall, I am left unable to get straight back up because of the fatigue and weakness in my body, that the condition has left me with.  However, no matter how long it takes me to recover from a fall, I do eventually rise and get back up.  And so, that is the reason why I selected the one-hit wonder ‘Tubthumping (I Get Knocked Down) by Chumbawamba) as the theme song for my condition.  Perhaps not the entire song, mind you (especially as it is a song about drinking and getting drunk! Honestly my falls are because of a medical condition and not because I am inebriated), but just the following lyrics taken from the song:

I get knocked down
But I get up again
You’re never going to keep me down

 

These lyrics, in my opinion, reflects life with any chronic illness.  Chronic illness, forces us to be knocked down a lot of the time  by worsening symptoms, as well as being knocked down emotionally.  But just as the song suggests, we eventually get up again.  We are all  fighters.  We are all survivors.  And as fighters and survivors we never allow our illnesses beat us and keep us down for long.

The song is also extremely catchy, and just like any catchy song, it is one you cannot get out of your head – just like chronic illnesses.  We are unable to forget about it; and it is in our heads constantly, just like an upbeat unforgettable pop song!

Here is a video of the said song for you to enjoy!:

 

As a note, I would like the opportunity to publicly thank Amazon UK who after hearing about my accident and my broken Kindle, very kindly offered a replacement one free of charge!  It was so lovely of them and cannot thank them enough for their amazing generosity!

Top 3 Tuesdays: Music to lift the spirits

 

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Welcome to the twelfth day of the National Health Blog Post Month Challenge hosted by WEGO Health.  Every day during the month of November I will be writing a new blog post related to health and living with a chronic illness based on given prompts provided by WEGO Health.

Today’s prompt reads:

Top Three Tuesdays: Name three songs that you can listen to that gets you out of a low point or lift your spirits 

 

The Overtones: 'Saturday Night at the Movies'
The Overtones: ‘Saturday Night at the Movies’

The first for my top 3 of songs to lift my spirits when living with chronic illness gets me down or my symptoms are particularly is not actually a song but, have instead chosen an entire album.  Last week, was a very tough week as my dizziness was extremely severe and was left unable to function but it was also the week that the new album by the group ‘The Overtones’ was out.  The album is entitled ‘Saturday Night at the Movies’ and as the title suggests it is an album composed of popular songs from films such as ‘The Blues Brothers’, ‘Dirty Dancing’, ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ and ‘Pretty Woman’.  I instantly fell in love with listening to the album and despite the severity of the dizziness and how miserable it was making me feel, I found however that listening to the upbeat songs instantly lifted by spirits and my mood.  My particular favourite songs on the album to listen to, for lifting my spirits and making me feel happy are ‘Shake a Tail Feather’ ‘Do You Love Me?’, ‘The Bare Necessities/I Wanna Be Like You’ and ‘Don’t Worry Be Happy’.  An album that has out a smile on my face even through the darkest of hours.

What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger) by Kelly Clarkson 

Again this is another uptempo track, which instantly lifts my mood anyway.  But in my opinion, this song makes a great soundtrack on an album designed especially for ‘spoonies’ as it is a reminder that although it may not always feel like it, especially when our chronic illnesses are bad we are still strong for living through all of it.  Although, it’s a song about a break-up after the end of relationship, it still applies in many different areas of life, including rising back up after a knock from living with a chronic illness.

Born This Way by Lady Gaga

This is by far my favourite Lady Gaga song.  It’s upbeat, fun and most of all the lyrics remind us that whatever makes us different from others, whether it’s sexuality, skin colour or in spoonies case living with a chronic illness then we should not be ashamed of who we are, and instead celebrate our uniqueness, because after all “we were born this way”.  In the past, perhaps long before I was diagnosed I was ashamed of my health problems, and the symptoms that I constantly had to live with, and this song just reminds me not to be, and just love myself for the person I am instead of the person that I wished I could be.

 

So, there are my Top 3 Music Playlist to lift my spirits on a bad day with chronic illness.  What are your go-to songs when you are going through a low point or need to listen to something that lifts your mood?  As ever would love to hear your comments and views so please comment below….

NHBPM Day Seventeen: Health Playlist! My Condition in Song!

Welcome to the 17th Post for the annual ‘National Health Blog Post Month’ – and the prompt I have chosen for today is a really fun post!  We have been asked to make a playlist for our health community!  I thought I would include some songs which tie in with the symptoms I experience (as I will find none relating to the condition itself!), or lyrics that I am able to relate to.

1. Tommy Roe – ‘Dizzy’

This is quite obvious why I chose thing song, as it’s plainly obvious by the blog and previous posts, that dizziness is the main symptom that I experience on a daily basis, and can really relate to the lyrics “I am so dizzy, my head is spinning, like a whirlpool it never ends…”  None of the other lyrics really apply to my life, but those lyrics really describes my daily life!!

2. Tenth Avenue North – ‘Worn’

I found this on another fantastic blog, I read, and when I listened to the song, I immediately fell in love with song and its beautiful lyrics and downloaded it straight away!  It can really apply to any illness or condition, and can really relate to the lyrics, which include “I know I need, to lift my eyes up, but I’m just too weak…”.  Great song!

3. Katy Perry – ‘Part of Me’

Although, many pop lyrics pertain to relationships and love, if you look beneath the lyrics, they can really be applied to any situation.  In the song, Katy sings “This is the part of me that you’re never going to take away from me”, and this really applies to all of us battling chronic illness, no matter what form that takes.  We may wish that it could be taken away, but with a condition, like me, it is a part of me, something that cannot be removed…

3.  Les Miserables – ‘I Dreamed a Dream’

I watched the musical from its 25th year Anniversary at the O2 Arena in London about a week ago, and found it to be the most beautiful and breath-taking musical, most of us are familiar with the song ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ thanks to Susan Boyle after she famously sang it at her audition on Britain’s Got Talent.  I instantly fell in love with the musical and its songs, and ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ can be one in which chronic illness sufferers can relate – well kind of!  All of us battling illness everyday, am sure is a million miles away from the ambitions and life they had imagined; dreams which because of illness hasn’t been able to come to any fruition.

4. Kelly Clarkson – ‘Because of You’

I mentioned this song in a previous post about the song; how I related the lyrics to the dizziness and how it males me feel.  You can read that particular post here.

A Little Playlist to remind all chronic illness sufferers how special they are and to encourage them to keep strong!

1. Bruno Mars – ‘Just the Way You Are’

2. Kelly Clarkson – ‘Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)’

3. Avril Lavigne – ‘Keep Holding On’

4. Christina Aguilera – ‘Beautiful’

5. Gavin DeGraw – ‘I Don’t Want To Be’

6. Lady Gaga – ‘Born This Way’