Lately I have been battling another episode of depression. To compensate for the pitfalls of bipolar disorder, I take meticulous care of myself. I run, eat healthy, sleep well, frequent the mountains, meditate, read, and relax. These practices really help mitigate the intensity of all episodes– whether manic, depressive, or mixed. However, they are not panaceas for mental illness. I am still tormented by nightmares every night. Some days I feel terrible for no good reason at all. I find myself wishing to die and put an end to everything. Then I begin to helplessly scrummage my mind to rationalize and justify my mood–did someone die? did I lose an arm? In a society that preaches happiness with the sort of sickening fundamentalism akin to religious martyrdom, depression that doesn’t happen for a justified reason is stigmatized. But of course, these futile attempts to rationalize my depression only make me feel worse. There is no rational explanation for my mood, except for this illness that sends me cycling through extreme episodes.
Last night, a friend linked me to a few of his favorite Erik Satie pieces. I laid down on my bed, closed my eyes, and listened to Gnossiennes and Gymnopédies pieces. What I felt was indescribable. It was a sensation that was beyond words. In my normal and hypomanic states, classical music has never had this type of effect on me. I had no clue what was happening. I felt like I was undergoing a transformation, entering a new realm, a multiverse–a metamorphosis of the mind. Tears were trickling down my face, but they were tears of joy. I was in ecstasy.
In Twilight of the Idols, Nietzsche writes:
Without music, life would be a mistake.
In context of the book, I believe that Nietzsche meant to suggest that life without music would be a mistake because music offers a type of metaphysical solace that cannot be found in linguistics or symbolism. But I believe that music, particularly in Nietzsche’s case, couldn’t have just been a metaphysical solace. It served something grander than that. For many who are tormented by mental illness, music is not just a solace, is a sanctuary.