Today, the words ‘bipolar disorder’ roll out effortlessly from my lips by way of personal description. For over ten years, however, I have struggled to first discover and then come to terms with this part of my existence – part quirk, part nightmare, all illness and all me. We all know music as a force that heals; this is no different for me. So far, I have jammed alone at five concerts – Simple Plan in Mumbai, 2012; David Guetta in Bangalore, 2013, NH7 Weekender in 2015 and Karsh Kale in Bangalore, 2016. How did this help me embrace rather than shy away from the permanent trip that is bipolar?
1. Nothing but the music, music and music
As anyone with bipolar can tell you, we are an easily distracted lot because we pay equal attention to too many elements simultaneously. Packed in a stadium in Mumbai, surrounded by thousands of people all competing for space and attention, I learned to pause. Listening to Simple Plan, I felt the vibrations of the bass and the voice of the vocalist and allowed it to wash over me. It reminded me why I was happy to stay alive. With the volume thundering over a racing heartbeat and lights shining through shut eyes, you learn to focus on what really matters- the music.
2. Coming to terms with proximity anxiety
Social anxiety is a hideous thing. It makes me want to curl up into little ball and hide away from the universe while repeatedly stressing over the lack of human presence in my life. So when all you want to do is rejuvenate your soul with your favorite music, but are being trampled over by a rowdy bunch instead, you learn to stand your ground. You learn to reclaim your own space with a smile or a stamp; whatever it takes to befriend the evening and go back home all the happier for having experienced a night of magic, and not frustration.
3. Concert mode trumps overthinking mode
When A R Rahman began the opening strings to my favorite Tamil song, Naan Yen (also a Coke Studio special), something magical happened. My usually overwrought mind, forever in the fast lane, perennially overthinking – suddenly slipped into a gentle symphony. Words and worries turned to color and flew on the wings of Rahman’s melodies. The melody had turned even the rowdiest concert attendee into an ardent music lover and soon, everyone was swaying on their feet, or in the arms of a loved one. As for me, I spent the night romancing music – and it was the best decision I’d ever made. Now, when I tend to overthink and have the luxury of an alone space, it is AR Rahman’s tunes I flood my ears with.
Music is no medicine, but it truly heals if you allow it to. The next time you’re having a bad day, recovering from an illness or dealing with a chronic health issue – gift yourself some alone time at a solo concert. I promise you will not be disappointed.