How Music Helps Me Cope With Psoriatic Arthritis
I cannot emphasize enough how much I love music. Not just listening to it, but also playing music and reading about musicians too. It just fascinates me and has been my liferaft in some of the worst times.
My interest in music is the one thing I can do consistently. Pain and fatigue may make it hard to do much but lie down, but I can always play some tunes.
There's a method to my madness.
The Beatles were there for me while going through my psoriatic arthritis (PsA) diagnosis, and watching film adaptations of musicals got me through flares that left me bed-ridden.
There was also a point when my remission ended that I exclusively listened to Christain rock, needing messages of hope. All these random genres of music have been highly therapeutic for me in various ways.
I think I boggle my fiancé on how my music taste switches day-to-day. But the music I play is directly influenced by how I'm feeling or what's going on. Most of my playlists revolve around what I need to get out of it.
I need to remember a better time.
I recently had an evening when I locked myself in my sewing room and blared some 90's throwbacks, which isn't something I usually listen to. But I was feeling down about myself and craving the nostalgia of a time when PsA wasn't an overwhelming part of my life yet.
It can make you feel happy, sad, or a mix of both, but there's no doubt that songs have the power to bring you back to another time.
I need a laugh.
Sometimes, the world is too much to bear. Stress will trigger a flare, flares will cause anxiety, and the cycle repeats. When things feel a little too serious, I'll gladly put on some of my favorite comedy musicians like Weird Al or listen to the soundtrack of a humorous musical.
This light, funny music helps put a smile on my face, even if it's just for a moment.
I need inspiration.
It is hard to feel inspired to get up and move when you live in a body that drags. Whether I need to pump myself up to exercise or even just get out of bed in the morning, it helps to listen to upbeat tunes that make me happy and want to move to the beat.
"Fight Song" by Rachel Platten is one in particular that inspires me to keep trying, even when it hurts.
I need calmness.
There are times that I need help finding some peace and even hope. I've made playlists consisting of classic songs like George Harrison's "All Things Must Pass," some indie-folk bands, and praise and worship songs. Those songs help me relax and often bring encouraging, peaceful messages.
When I find lyrics too overwhelming, I usually listen to movie soundtracks such as the Lord of the Rings or even ambiance music from the Disney parks (especially Epcot). I find the instrumentals soothing and even uplifting.
I need a good cry.
Every so often, I need to let it all out. Sometimes, it happens while watching a movie (especially My Girl), but music also can evoke those feelings. Rob Thomas's song "Her Diamonds" was inspired by his wife's chronic illness, but it could've been about my own experience.
That song makes me feel less alone. And we all need opportunities to have a good cry after putting on a brave face for so long.
It's something that can't be taken away.
Above all, I value music because it's something that is accessible to me. I'm always quick to recommend songs, soundtracks, and musicals because listening to music is something PsA hasn't taken away.
It might be too hard to play guitar or make it through a concert, but just listening is manageable. It might seem like a small thing, but music has been a therapeutic option for me through the years.
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