I’m Good Because of the Healing Power in Music & Songwriting

Kathryn Rose Wood - Im Good Post

Kathryn Rose Wood is a New Orleans-based songwriter, musician and board-certified music therapist by way of Oahu’s shores and Pennsylvania’s hills. For more details, go to her website, http://www.kathrynrosewood.com, or check out her music on Soundcloud (https://soundcloud.com/kathrynrosewoodwww.kathrynrosewood.com) and YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/kathrynrosewood)

On March 26, 2015, my 19-year-old brother, Preston, died by suicide.  His death seemed to come out of nowhere, and the storm of emotions in trying to process Preston’s death were wide-ranging and profound. Shock, anger and sadness weaved in and out with confusion, guilt, helplessness and so many other emotions I hadn’t experienced in such an intense way before. Though I initially “held it together well,” continuing with my natural productivity, active in my work, creative, and social communities, it was mere months before the hurt, confusion, sadness, anger and trauma sweltering subconsciously took over my being.

Most know that it’s not easy to navigate mental health issues, much less speak about them. Around the time of Preston’s passing, I had spent several years working as a music therapist in mental health settings, constantly reiterating advocacy for one’s mental health needs. I knew the importance of self-care, therapy, emotional intelligence and awareness…and yet, when I started experiencing my own feelings of post-traumatic stress disorder and suicidal depression, I faltered in voicing my massive need for help. I continued shouldering the intense pain and darkness, allowing it to take all the life out of me, for far too long, unwilling to admit that this state of turmoil was not just a passing phase. I was self-sabotaging, losing some of the most important relationships and opportunities I’d ever had.

Ultimately, it was returning to songwriting – my first love and primary mode of self-expression – that motivated me to finally reach out and seek help. I was reminded that music is a powerful vehicle to express and unite, without judgement.

For example, writing my song “Big Steel Wings” was the first time I admitted on paper, to the universe, that I was not okay… but that maybe there was still hope. As I wrote, I knew that someone, somewhere, felt exactly as I did, if not worse, and maybe they were even writing the same song. I have held on to this thought in the darkest and brightest of times since, rushing to songwriting in a variety of emotional states to healthily express my inner narrative.

It is music, the emotional connection and stimulation from playing and listening, the social connection from collaboration, the unfiltered expression from writing, that has helped me to find resiliency in mental health challenges and make the intentional journey to stability and recovery. It is my hope that though writing your own songs may not be your preferred expressive outlet, that perhaps hearing songs that share stories of struggle and courage will provide relief in your mental health journey, too.

Check out Kathryn Rose Woods’ song, “Big Steel Wings” here:

For more information information on Woods’ and her musical journey, go to www.kathrynrosewood.com or her Facebook fan page.

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