#25 - Music is my life, and my refuge. What is your refuge?
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Any mental health blog will tell you that having a creative outlet is good for the mind. Whether they are trying to sell you a gratitude journal in their store, or want you to fit their model of how someone should live their life, there is still truth in their words: having a creative outlet is great for mental health. But, having a creative outlet isn’t the focus of today’s episode.
Today’s episode focuses on refuge. In my case, my creative outlet happens to be my refuge. But you can find fulfillment and joy in anything that captures your attention. For some people it is hiking. For others, it is fixing cars. For others, it is programming computer games.
Why is it important to have a refuge? It is important to have a safe haven for your mind to allow yourself a place to regroup in times of trouble. In this case, since this blog focuses on real stories of hope and survival, I will use music as an example of the lifeline that kept me hanging on when the delusions of my mania overcame me as an adolescent.
As a child, I was heavily involved in music. I suppose you could call it musical training, but really music was, and still is, just another part of me, like another arm that can pull me in different directions and grasp things that are intangible. I didn’t really train in becoming a musician; rather, music reached out to me and raised me as its own.
I’m not saying I’m super talented; I just have an instinct in music that makes me realize that music and I are one. And so, when my mania started attacking me and deluding my mind in high school, and when my depression made me suicidal in college, the one consistent thing in my life outside of my family was music. And that was the only refuge I had that I could retreat to that was inside of myself. When everything else in my head was either a huge mess or completely obliterated by mood swings and medication adjustments, I knew I always had music to pull me through.
And that’s what I mean by a refuge. You will always hear music at the beginning and ends of these episodes, I imagine sometimes for a little too long for some listeners’ tastes. While I cannot please everyone’s musical preferences at the same time, this music is composed and produced by me entirely, and it is one form of the essence of who I am. And, since this is such a personally-oriented podcast, where I discuss personal struggles that we all go through and invite guests who experience deep, powerful illness, it is important to me that music--my one constant source of strength throughout my entire life--be at the beginning and end of each show.
So, music is not filler material. It is rather the fabric of my universe. It is not my passion; I am a part of it and I cannot begin to call it something other than who I am, and therefore it cannot be a passion I hold, because I cannot really hold myself.
But I think I’m getting a bit too metaphysical with this. The point of this is that you can find your refuge. Whether it is cooking, working with animals, or spending time with your elders, you can find a refuge that allows you peace and comfort. In my case it is a bit extreme, where I am not separate from my refuge. And maybe that can be the same for you, and maybe not.
A refuge is oftentimes a passion, even though it doesn’t have to be. As a note on passions, we are taught that if we find our passion, we can invest ourselves in it fully, become a master at it, and make a living off of it. I urge you to not do that. Instead, once you find your passion, invest yourself fully into it, but not to become a master or to make a living off of it. The thing about passions and refuges are that you will do them because you love them. In Buddhism, we use the phrase “the path is the goal”. In other words, walking towards a destination is the same thing as arriving at the destination. Pursuing your passion is the same thing as realizing your ultimate potential in your passion. They are one in the same. So, a refuge can be a passion. And for the purposes of the episode at hand, I have focused on passions because my refuge is my passion.
But, a refuge can be something as simple as a cup of coffee each morning. It can be a daily walk to the mailbox. And in the case of some, it can be the reassurance that “this is temporary” in times of trouble. Because in the end, despite my rambling episode of this podcast, “this is temporary” is the story of everyone’s life. And having a refuge like my passion for music allows me to get from point A to point B, knowing that I can find refuge in music until things pass from point A and move to point B.
Let your refuge help you weather times of trouble, doubt, despair, and suffering. Remember that this is temporary--and everything is. Find your refuge and make yourself a part of it. Find shelter in it. And enjoy life in the good times too, with the help of your refuge. Whether you have bipolar or not, this is a universal truth.
I hope you were able to get something out of this. I can’t fully express many things, but I hope I got to the gist of my message in a way that most listeners can digest.
If you like these episodes, please share them with others. I am grateful that more and more people keep listening, and I look forward to any feedback you may have. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you ever have any questions, concerns, or feedback. As always, keep on surviving.
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