On Music and the Middle of the Night

What is it about the middle of the night and music? For me they seem to be triggers.

I always seem to be most awake around midnight. It seems to be when I am most creative and most able to focus. I have worked from home till the early hours on many occasions and I seem to do my best thinking and writing when I should be in bed.

The music trigger is linked with lost love. When I am broken-hearted anything sad sets me off. But in the last 18 months it has gone way beyond feeling a little sad at a beautiful melody or poignant words. And another recent discovery is that the music I love is sometimes unbearable to listen to. I seem to be extra sensitive to noise.

Tuesday 30th January was the first anniversary of my mother’s death. I got through the day without feeling sad, it was just a normal day. Then late at night I decided it was too quiet and put some music on. I have different playlists for different moods. I have a “Calm” playlist for my sensitive moments, a “Romantic” playlist for the songs that make me cry, and an “Upbeat” playlist with happy and up tempo music. On the night in question I put the Calm playlist on shuffle. A couple of songs in I started to feel sad. It was when the tears and the strange feeling in the pit of my stomach started that I turned the music off. I think I might have been listening to this:

Whatever it was, it was too much for me. But turning the music off was just the start. I tried to compose myself, but the feeling inside grew and the tears flowed. And then I realised what was happening. The last time I had spoken to my ex boyfriend was a couple of days before my mum’s funeral. I was having a meltdown moment and knowing that it was a bad idea to phone him didn’t make any difference. That particular meltdown resulted in me self harming.

So this time, once I had made the connection I started to get scared. I didn’t feel the urge to DO anything, but experience has taught me that this feeling is one that is so overwhelming that my usual “I don’t like this feeling” remedies (distraction or sleep) don’t work.

The only other option was to talk to someone. This is the hardest thing for me to do. I have a “truth” which says that other people don’t want to know about my problems. I know this to be a lie, yet I still believe it. It was the middle of the night so the only thing I could think of was to write a post in an online support group. I agonised over whether it was the right thing to do and did it need a trigger warning, the reasons not to do it were piling up. But I wrote it. I clearly stated that I wasn’t going to self harm but the immediate response was “don’t do it!”

After I had assured everyone that I wasn’t in danger, just scared, the advice was to phone a help line. My response to that was “but I don’t know what to say!”. Eventually everyone convinced me to make the call so I phoned the Samaritans. And I’m so glad I did. The man on the other end of the phone talked me through what was happening, it was virtually a free therapy session. He kept me talking until he could hear that I had calmed down.  I was able to sleep.

It’s taken me a few days to get over my meltdown. The following day involved a lot of time in bed and it took a while for my brain to fire on all cylinders. This is what happens. Meltdowns are exhausting.

But next time I feel scared I know what to do.


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