Editorials Music

A Personal Story: My Bittersweet Feelings Towards “Happier”

Can I be honest with you all here for a minute? As some of you who follow me know I am suffering from a number of mental disabilities including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Bipolar 2, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Severe Major Depressive Disorder. Now I’m not looking for sympathy here, I am just stating what kind of mindset I find myself in most of the time. A lot of the times, I find myself getting lost within my own thoughts; thoughts that overwhelm and scare me. They leave me tired and afraid and susceptible to catastrophizing most of the aspects of my life. A lot of times, my depression often leaves me feeling as though I am not worthy of being loved and being an insufficient husband and father. So much so that I have often contemplated ending my own life… and in a couple of occasions over the past two years I have actually acted on those thoughts. Since then, my wife Dezi and my three kids have gone through great lengths to reassure me that I am indeed loved and wanted, and I will forever apologize to them for having to constantly remind me of something I should know for a certainty deep down within my soul. But when you get trapped in your thoughts the way I do, it’s really hard to break away from some of those feelings no matter how much people tell you otherwise. And sometimes even the smallest triggers can set those feelings off – even something as simple as a song.

That’s why one of the best songs out there right now is a bit bittersweet for me. “Happier”, by American music producer Marshmello and British band Bastille, is a song about a love story that is seemingly ending before one of the parties involved is ready to accept it. At least that’s what I take away from the song – but songs can be personal in that way. Even if a song is meant to signify one thing by the artist or composer, the listener will attach themselves to the song on an interpersonal level and have their own interpretations of the music and lyrics that is relatable to their own lives. That is the beauty and power of music – and that is what happened to me the first time I heard this song back in September 2018. Admittedly, the first time I heard “Happier”, I wasn’t in the best of places mentally. I was hurting and afraid and I felt as though I was failing the people closest to me. In truth, I felt that my wife deserved to have someone better, someone more able to meet her needs and provide for her, in her life. I felt like a burden and a strain on her life; and I wanted her to be happier. And that’s when I heard the song as I was scrolling across the YouTube music channels listening for new music. As I was a fan of Marshmello, his songs would constantly appear as “suggested videos” for me to view, and that’s when I first heard “Happier” when the “lyrics” video came on.

Since it was the lyrics video, I was fully able to understand what the lyrics and meaning of the song was, and I immediately started identifying with the song. Unfortunately, I personalized with the song so much that one set of lyrics in particular really stuck out in my mind.

“When the morning comes
When we see what we’ve become
In the cold light of day we’re a flame in the wind
Not the fire that we’ve begun
Every argument, every word we can’t take back
‘Cause with the all that has happened
I think that we both know the way that the story ends

Then only for a minute
I want to change my mind
‘Cause this just don’t feel right to me
I want to raise your spirits
I want to see you smile but
Know that means I’ll have to leave

Know that means I’ll have to leave
Lately, I’ve been, I’ve been thinking
I want you to be happier, I want you to be happier”

I’m not a big believer in fate, nor do I put much stock into coincidences, but the timing of me hearing this song at a time where I felt that the person I love the most would be happier without me in their life was unusually well-timed. And because I was in such a vulnerable state, my mind started falling into a deeper depression than I was already in. It didn’t help my situation that I immediately attached myself to the song and began to fantasize that these were words coming out of my mouth, that these were my thoughts being sung aloud, that I started watching the video over and over again. And the more I watched the video for “Happier” the easier it became for me to accept that leaving my wife’s side was the best thing for her. And since I knew she would never leave me voluntarily, the only way I saw that happening was by me taking my own life. I know, it’s kind of silly looking back on it now, but when you are in the kind mindset that I was in at that time, logic doesn’t really apply a lot of times. That the nasty little quirk about depression – that you don’t quite think straight and through when you are feeling at your lowest.

Needless to say, I didn’t carry out my suicidal thoughts that night, but I came really close to doing so. That was one of the times that I had to turn to calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-TALK / 800-273-8255) to talk to someone about the way I was feeling and to kind of bring me back to reality – to pull me out of the depths that my mind had sunken to. I’m not embarrassed to admit that I needed help that night in dealing with my feelings; I’m still here after all, and if that is the end result of having to cry out for help like that, then I will gladly do it again. I am just disappointed in myself for letting it go that far. Especially because of such a beautiful song like “Happier”. That’s why I kind of have this bittersweet relationship with the song. On the one hand, it is a beautiful poignant song about loss and needing to let go for the sake of someone you love. It’s beautifully composed and the lyrics are melodically sung by Bastille lead singer Dan Smith to the point that I can feel his emotion and the song’s tune deep within my heart. But on the other hand, because the first time I was exposed to the song, I let my mind travel to such a dark place, whenever I hear “Happier” I am forever reminded of what almost happened that night. Every time I have heard the song since then, no matter how much better I feel at that moment, there is a bit of hurt and sadness that creeps across my heart.

“Happier” really is a beautiful and wonderful song, but it’s tied to a memory that I wish I could just let go of. Then again, maybe not. Because for as low as I felt that night, I still was strong enough to reach out and admit that I needed help getting through it all. It’s an odd memory that is painful as well as strengthening. It’s all a bit confusing, to be honest, but I guess in the end I wouldn’t change anything about the memory tied to it. I wish it hadn’t come to what it did, but at the end of the day it was another example of being strong enough to deal with my emotions and learn from the whole experience. Even still, even if I can look back at that night and come away with a positive out of the whole negative experience, there is this duality in feelings that I will forever attach to the song when I hear it. And I guess, in a way, that personalizes “Happier” to me even more so than other songs I have heard recently. It’s funny how powerful music is to us, isn’t it?

And please, if you ever find yourself in a place where you are thinking about suicide, please reach out to someone, anyone. But if you feel that you can’t reach out to a family member or friend, then call or text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK / 800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741. You can also go to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website (https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/) and use their CHAT feature to connect to someone online. You’re not as alone as you think you are, and there are people who care even if you feel otherwise. So, please reach out for help – it’s way better than the alternative. Believe me, I’ve been there too.

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