COLUMN: If you're struggling, music may heal


Let’s go back to March 11, 2020. I saw my barber for a haircut, met my brother and one of our best friends for dinner as a restaurant in Lansing. We walked around Meijer hiding random rolls of toilet paper throughout the store.

I returned home for an evening with my dad and brother, we watched the Dallas Mavericks host the Denver Nuggets. The biggest highlight of the night wasn’t anything Luka Doncic did on the floor, but how two games were cancelled because of COVID-19.

Little did I know that this would be the tip of the iceberg. An iceberg that’s still very much in our way today. Nothing would be the same.

Classes rapidly shifted to online. Sports, my biggest passion in life, were put on hold for the foreseeable future. My life was flipped upside down. I was terrified of the unknown.

For the first time in my life, I realized that I was lost.

While millions of people were laid off or furloughed from their jobs, I continued to work as a delivery driver for Papa John’s. My income was steady, but it came with a guilty feeling that my job was deemed essential while families across the world were uncertain of what the next day would bring as they were stuck in their homes.

I’m not going to lie; my mental health was in rough shape before the pandemic. It got worse throughout the pandemic. I stayed in my apartment watching old games on YouTube just to feel some sense of normalcy. 

I was a wreck. I had no desire to do anything productive and had to talk myself out of doing serious self-harm on multiple occasions. I was one bad decision away from becoming a tragic statistic.

In June 2020 my good friend Zach Nabozny introduced me to a band called Dance Gavin Dance. I instantly gravitated to the band that I describe as "an emo Red Hot Chili Peppers on steroids." 

Everything about the band clicked with me. Will Swan’s guitar riffs and solos still give me goosebumps, I immediately found my new favorite drummer in Matt Mingus and the tandem of Tillian Pearson and John Mess on vocals was a perfect marriage. 

I struggle to come up with the reason, but the band’s music spoke to me in a way that I will never comprehend. It’s like I now understand this unknown language, but by learning it I’ve unlocked something inside of me that gave me the strength to slowly become who I’m meant to be. 

The rest of the summer was spent playing the band’s catalog non-stop, acting as a soundtrack to what would be my grand return to journalism. Track’s like Young Robot, Stroke God Millionaire, Lyrics Lie and Death of the Robot with Human Hair helped me break out of my deep-rooted mental issues and take back control of my life. 

I quit my job delivering pizzas to return to Central Michigan Life, and within my first few weeks back I reached heights I thought were unattainable. I took my life back, and it’s in large part thanks to a quintet from Sacramento, California.

We all have those moments where music has been our doctors, therapists and/or shoulder to cry on. To those who are struggling to find a reason to get out of bed in the morning or to see another sunrise, don't forget about those moments. 

It's no replacement for a trained mental health professional, be sure to consider the CMU Counseling Center or plenty of other resources on or off-campus to get the help you need. 

But in those really dark times where nothing makes sense, a moving song may be exactly what you need.

If I can come out of this pandemic a better human being because of music, I can’t even begin to imagine what it can do for you.