Written by Ben, who isn’t the same Ben as the disturbed story BTW:
I am a mental health professional, twice over actually. I am a qualified mental health nurse and am currently studying to be a cognitive behavioural therapist. Currently I am off sick with low mood and some nasty ass thoughts.
The reason I wanted to write was that I have a genuine belief that music can be a powerful tool in healing from mental health difficulties. Currently I am listening to ‘Burn my Eyes’ by Machine head and got my ass motivated to have a shower at lunchtime to ‘Mono’ by Fightstar (fuck you I like Fightstar).
When I was a young man I was angry as fuck. I really hurt another kid at school and that scared me so I just bottled up all this anger. By the time I hit teens I was self-harming so bad I still have huge scars and drinking heavily. I functioned okay and did well at school, but teachers were worried I was a bit of a time bomb, especially as this was around the time of the Columbine shootings. I got into a few fights and started to put myself in some pretty stupid situations. I once got hit so hard the guy had to catch me, and pick me up so he could hit me again! When I got drunk I would often come out with all the shit I was bottling up but I struggled to socialise unless I was drunk.
Then the metal happened.
See I grew up on AC/DC and associated it with less than great times, but I always loved the music. I was working at a garden centre in ’98 and looking pissed off. My buddy Matt lent me his headphones and let me listen to ‘Wait and Bleed’ by Slipknot and fuck me it blew me away. I felt all the rage rise then seep out of me. I felt the energy and the hate and the strength and I felt… better.
We would start to go to rock clubs such as Alcatraz and Fan Club together and form our little crew of misfits. Now Leicester in the late 90’s was a bit of a warzone and we would often end up with drunk lads starting on us cos we looked different. It didn’t matter because the entire club was its own tribe. Once time a guy pushed someone over and kicked them outside the club. He was chased by twenty plus long haired metal heads jacked up on mosh pit and whisky.
Oh and Mosh pits fuuuuck. If there ever was an amazing way to deal with pain and angst it’s to flail around bouncing off other crazy bastards. Mosh pits were more violent than they are now, in my experience at least. It was however consensual, rarely resulted in anything worse than a bruised rib and bloody great fun.
I met guys and girls like me and found I wasn’t alone, shit I was possibly one of the saner ones!
I continued to attend metal and rock clubs across the country. I settled in Sheffield for years and Corporation became my second home. As metal and rock became more mainstream again the tribe grew and grew. I had some amazing nights with friends, strangers and freaks. It got to the point that I didn’t really need to drink to socialise because I felt so comfortable. I even used to go to Corporation by myself sometimes knowing I would bump into people I knew, or meet interesting people in the smoking area.
The people made me feel accepted and gave me agency, both tenants of the Recovery model. The music itself focuses you on the moment, hey that’s Mindfullness! I swear you can’t worry about anything in a mosh pit, other than an elbow to the ribs!
Metal is an immensely social and accepting music scene. Metal itself is an amazing way to release some of the pressure that builds up. Part of my stress release at work is to listen to Black Metal while I write up notes. I concentrate better when listening to music in other languages. Scares the shit out of my workmates sometimes!
I suffer from major depressive disorder and have bounced up the severity specifiers during relapses. Sometimes my thoughts get so scary I have to take anti-psychotics. It’s always a sweeter dose if I spend some time listening to something loud and badass.
I talk at length with people about metal and they tell me they are worried about the content in the songs. A few bars of Black Sabbath Korn or Linkin Park are usually enough to convince people that metal promotes challenging adversity and normalises a lot of the symptoms that come with mental health problems.
“I built these walls around me and I can break them all away I’ll focus all the strength I call Into unstoppable energy. So hold on to the edge”. Machine Head – The Blood, The Sweat, The Tears.