Along with books music is a huge love of mine, and many of the most significant moments in my life have their own special soundtrack. This has its downside when it comes to the end of a relationship as some of our favourite songs can become tainted by the pain of association with happier times. Fortunately this hasn’t been an issue for me in dealing with my latest break-up – she hated my music and would often turn it off. Small mercies and all that….
Despite not having any special songs from our relationship there is a particular song that has become stuck on a loop in my mind despite not having heard it for a long time: ‘Everything Reminds Me of Her’ by the late Elliott Smith.
Places that have been familiar to me throughout my life are suddenly associated exclusively with memories from a period of only 10 months. It seems to be a particularly perverse trick that our minds play on us but I guess it’s part of the process in helping us to accept and deal with what we have lost and move on.
Music has a significant place in my mind right now for another reason. One of my favourite bands, The Libertines, sang,
“If you’ve lost your faith in love and music, the end won’t be long.”
One of the challenges of life post-depression is in knowing when how you are feeling is a normal response to challenging times, and when it is a signifier of something bigger, something darker.
It can be hard to know.
Thoughts and behaviours that in hindsight can be seen to have precipitated a major depression can seem minor, insignificant and almost unnoticeable at the time. It’s important to maintain a healthy balance between not being complacent about depression’s ability to strike, and not interpreting the inevitable dark days as signs of an impending storm.
One of the characteristics of depressive illness is rumination, endless negative thoughts playing in a constant loop in your head. And yes, everything reminds me of her. But I have learned that one of the signs that I need to be vigilant about is losing my love of music – on both occasions that I have been ill this was an early warning sign.
But I haven’t lost it. I enjoy singing along with my children to our favourite playlist in the car. And I will still put something on to listen to as I drop off to sleep. Admittedly, there is probably a little more Damien Rice than is emotionally healthy but to quote John Lennon, whatever gets you through the night.
Divorce is devastating and its aftershocks ripple through your life and relationships for a long time. But despite my own experiences, my faith in love and music remain strong.