Music saved my semester


Photo illustration by Ash Hallas

In my youth, I struggled with mental health; frequently being left on the outside looking in. This semester, however, I’m coming to terms with who I am.

Morning alarms go off all the same, and “Phenomenal” by Eminem plays while my eyes are just beginning to open; the sun shines on my face, and I sigh, knowing every day gets tougher.

Two years after the COVID-19 lockdowns, its lingering effects are still felt. But I’ve changed since then.

The current semester has been a welcome back to normalcy. But it’s also been a slap to the face.

This semester was different from previous ones. Being hired as a cashier at a grocery store and returning to in-person classes has tested me.

Dealing with the pressures of a behind-the-wheel driver’s test and transfer applications is just a recipe for catastrophe.

Did I mention I’m going through all of this alone?

In tough times, I had friends to turn to when I felt like quitting, however, most of them have either left Los Angeles or never lived there through no fault of their own.

As a result, I’ve had to readjust and rediscover my previous passions because of the added strain of being left out.

Writing has always been my sanctuary, but as the semester progressed, for whatever reason, my enthusiasm for it waned. What was once my excitement for my work to be published changed to self-denial.

The number of times that I have lost sleep because I was not happy with my submitted work is too high to count. Those restless nights quickly evolved into anger as I started to dread deadlines.

Even though my look suggests otherwise, I would not describe myself as angry; instead, I would describe myself as a wanderer.

In the past, I avoided making mistakes by using my imagination. I used to be a daydreamer who creates scripts for movies in my head.

To get rid of the negativity in my mind, I have tried many times to be like that 15-year-old boy.

I felt alone.

I have considered quitting school numerous times this semester to find myself again, however, one person gave me the drive I needed to keep going. That person was Eminem.

I’ve always been a fan of Eminem, so knowing about his history of being bullied and staying true to himself spoke to me.

At work, I’m often the one doodling alone during my free time while others socialize and laugh. Therefore, it is no surprise that Slim Shady’s music allowed me to escape a lonesome reality.

In fact, according to Evolve Treatment, a study in 2017 found that five percent of the population has some form of clinical depression. However, the researchers found the symptoms of depression were reduced by 43% with music.

In addition, music can contain therapeutic properties that can decrease anxiety and allow a strong level of engagement with the brain, according to Harvard Health Publishing. They recorded improvements in their health and well-being through the use of active and receptive music therapies.

My phone is always playing the albums “Relapse” and “Recovery” to protect me from losing my composure. Not many people understand the mental abuse I put myself through. I did not grow up popular, so when songs like “Not Afraid” play, there’s a sense of comfort.

As the semester comes to an end, I passed my driving test, applied to my chosen university and—most importantly—rediscovered my love for writing.

I’m likely to never be the most popular person in the room. But in the end, I must put my mother, brother and myself first, and everything will fall into place. And I owe Slim Shady a debt of gratitude for that finding.


Editor’s Note: Set featured photos on Dec. 11, 2022, at 10:02 p.m.