Musings About Music In Film

Film Scores and Depression: My Coping Mechanism

Warning: There may be possible triggers in here that may affect some people "What are you listening to?"

That's a surprisingly loaded question. I'm never sure what to say when I'm asked that, and generally I jokingly lie and say it's some girl band and be a bit self-deprecating, because I feel uncomfortable telling the truth in these situations, partially because I'm depressed.

I mean, yeah - we're all depressed. But what I mean is, I suffer from chronic depression and anxiety. Of course I'm not the only one, but just providing some context. So when someone says "what are you listening to?" my brain turns into Wile E Coyote and the Roadrunner, chasing each other for answers at 200mph but also thinking in slow-motion about the consequences. Take now - I'm listening to a score from a couple of years ago, The Legend of Hercules. I adore it and it makes me happy, but I would never tell the average person that I was listening to it, not just because film scores that aren't Hans Zimmer are still seen as a dorky thing by most, and that knowing that lets them into my world, and I'm not sure I really want that.

I am not a good depressive. I've been through all kinds of SSRI's and 'prams and 'tines and what have you and I'm stil struggling through the bedding-in phase of some new ones. And a lot of the time it hurts. Real fucking bad. And as many will know, meds are not a solution, so you need to develop other coping mechanisms. Punching things doesn't work, take it from me. Razor blades sometimes do, but for something so self-destructive that this illness can turn into, that's not a path to take.

But film scores help.

I guess one thing about film scores I've always loved is that they're like doorways to new worlds. The instrumental nature allows imagination to blossom, and it can lead down many different roads, not just the one that is connected to the film the score is from. Perhaps that's what is so inviting; there are many scores that I either haven't heard in the context of the film or are so terrible I don't feel so bad about ignoring (I'm looking at you, Mr. Goldsmith). Again, The Legend of Hercules. The film is apparently terrible and I've never seen it, so I'm free to imagine what I want, in this case beautiful ancient cities and oceans and freedom, sometime which is not necessarily out of my league but a bit tricky due to my anxiety, which means very little travelling or even being outside for periods.

Looking from the outside, this probably sounds a bit nuts. Nerd stuck in a fantasy world type-deal. But it's not something I do all the time, but again, a coping mechanism, which is why I'm rarely if ever without my headphones. People stop panic attacks in different ways; some using measured breathing exercises (some of which certainly help me), others centre themselves. I find it hard to do the latter, but I do know that if I put on my headphones and close my eyes, most of the time I can find my calm spot.

Again, it's not a solution. But it helps. So this is why, if I find myself being asked what I'm listening to, I'm probably not telling the truth. Because more often than not, I need my space. And film scores are one of the few places where I'm guaranteed to get it.-CB

OP-EDCharlie BrigdenCB