Music expresses a wide range of emotions and ideas, including those felt inside people with BPD. Most musicians don’t necessarily write songs about mental health issues, although some songs end up resonating with certain populations of people more than others.
The songs that speak to me are usually relationship-obsessed and rejection-oriented. The music itself tends to be brooding, angry, depressed, sad, or dejected at times. For people familiar with music theory, most are in a minor key, opposed to a bright and bubbly boy-band pop song.
I like to listen to certain songs when my mood changes or I feel down. Music itself is timeless: once recorded, it is the same forever in whichever form the artist wants it to be. As a result, I find myself listening to songs that remind me of intense feelings I felt many months or years ago. For example, hearing a song that came out when I was intensely in love with someone sometimes acts as a nice escape, although I have to quickly reinsert myself into reality once the song finishes.
Without further adieu, here is a partial list of songs that speak to my Borderline Personality, with a brief comment/explanation.
1. The Police (Sting) – “I’ll Be Watching You” – I find myself listening to this song in the wake of romantic rejection. People with BPD are highly sensitive to perceived or actual rejection. One way to regain control of the situation is to stalk the other person: physically, electronically, or otherwise. Obviously this type of behavior isn’t tolerated in society, so listening to “I’ll Be Watching You” soothes my soul a bit and is a good substitution for the real thing. For what it’s worth, if I can’t be with a specific person, I can at least remember that I was part of their past and recall the intense rush I felt when the attraction began.
2. Chris Isaak – “Wicked Game” – Another song about an intense attraction and feeling incapable of controlling one’s emotions. It’s desperate, ruminating, soulful, and heartfelt. The lyrics can be interpreted in different ways, but the “mood” and feeling of Isaak’s voice resonates with me: our emotions can get the better of us despite the reality that having a relationship with a particular person wouldn’t be healthy.
3. Cyndi Lauper – “Time After Time” – This song is more upbeat compared to the first two I listed, and suggestive of fully committing oneself to another person in a positive way. I actually find myself listening to this one after I’m done with “I’ll Be Watching You” because it re-frames the feeling of always caring about someone in a more productive vain. It’s also a song I listen to when I realize I’m head over heals for someone, and ready to commit myself to them (even if they don’t feel the same way about me yet). Like most people with BPD, I always let my emotions and dreams run FAR ahead of where the relationship actually is, ie. thinking about marrying someone after one date. In reality, you’ve only spent 2 hours together at Starbucks having a coffee. 🙂
4. Jennifer Paige – “Crush” – OK, some people will find this almost-forgotten relic of the late 1990s cheesy, but it has greater meaning to me. The first time I heard this song, I was desperately in love with someone. “Crush” fantasies about a future with someone that hasn’t happened yet. Still, the crush is such a powerful feeling that one can’t help but daydream about the possibilities of a new romantic interest. The tone of the music is slightly dark, slightly desperate, slightly crazy, and it’s in a minor key. I keep it in my playlist because it’s not quite “bubblegum” pop annoying; just a straightforward exploration of a common emotional experience.
5. Fleetwood Mac – “The Chain” – Fleetwood Mac is easily one of rock’s greatest and contentious all-time bands. “The Chain” is one of their more popular songs. It’s brooding, obsessive, and dark. It speaks about unrequited love: a one-sided attraction that persists despite the fact the other person isn’t interested. The symbolic “chain” suggests the feeling will last forever. Again, it can be interpreted in different ways, but the music and format of the song speak to my obsessive-deep-crazy-love-dark feelings.
6. Lenny Kravitz – “Heaven Help” – This song is from his 1990s album “Are You Gonna Go My Way”. It’s a hopeful declaration about preparing oneself to fall deeply in love. I find it self-assuring. It allows me to feel “normal” about feeling deeply in love, even though I know that my emotions might be overwhelming to the other person. Still, “Heaven Help” makes it OK for me to want to be loved – and give love – knowing that the ultimate goal is a happy, productive relationship.
7. Alanis Morissette – “You Ought To Know” – First off, I realize this song is from a female point of view, but I think Morissette touches on the universal feelings of anger, despair, and envy people feel when the person they loved has happily moved on to someone else. It also speaks to me about falling head-over-heels for someone and then sadly realizing they are already taken (and not likely to accept my romantic overtures). The anger and envy I feel comes from the fantasies I had about being with the other person. People with BPD will sometimes live in a fantasy world where they are essentially involved with someone else, only to later conclude that la-la land is not a productive place to live. “You Ought To Know” expresses the emotional withdrawal from what seemed like a perfect relationship.
8. The Thrillseekers – “The Last Time Featuring Fisher – Original Mix” – This is a nice trance song that is one of the The Thrillseekers’ biggest hits. I like it’s quiet, melodramatic manner and soft spoken vocals. The format is standard trance: it begins with smaller pieces that eventually build to a larger whole. The climax is a nice release of all the emotional tensions built up, reinforcing the despair of being ignored by a lover. For me, the song also expresses the feelings of someone whose love is unrequited, a mindset I frequently find myself falling into. “The Last Time” quite literally means the last time someone I liked looked at me, talked to me, or flirted with me.
There are many more in addition to those eight I listed, but they represent the overall themes of music that speaks to my Borderline Personality Disorder.
What music speaks to you, soothes you, or temporarily transports you to a happier moment from the past?