January: Wait - NoMBe View this video on YouTube youtube.com This was a weird month. I knew it was a fresh start to the year, but I felt out of place. I think everyone has felt this before. Where you just feel like you're coasting on the edge daily, not really feeling like part of what's happening around you. This was a song I had on repeat, even with the guy I was dating at the time. It was probably just on repeat because he hated my taste in music, and I noticed that it was the one song he actually took the liberty of looking up while I played it in my car. We were really different, and even at a few months of dating, I still couldn't tell if I was happy or not. Trying to figure out how I felt was a real waiting game. But with the new year came a lot of celebrations and this was a song that could put me in a more lively, party mood, while also keeping the mellow tones I already loved. February: Silk - Wolf Alice View this video on YouTube youtube.com My birthday was this month. And I think it's the month where I really decided I wasn't happy. I had to do a lot of thinking. I woke up at three a.m. at his house with an anxiety attack, and it was his response to it that made me realize I needed to make a decision. "Just chill out, you're just making a big deal out of it and it's making you freak out," he told me. I drove home at four a.m. and called my sister on the drive crying. I took a bubble bath, and I slept alone. We also had our first big fight on a weekend we went to New York for my birthday, where he drank so much that he forgot about me and threw a fit when I stood up for myself for once. I was trying so hard to make everything work, putting too much effort into not letting every day with him become explosive. I cried so much, and he hated when I cried. Every day was spent plastering a smile on my face, trying to convince myself that it was just a hard patch, and that I could get through it.There's a line in this song that really stood out to me. "Read the news, pass the time, drink the juice, feeling fine." I had this song on repeat so much, that I would say this line to myself often, because I knew I was just passing the time by being with him, being unhappy, but never leaving. This song was a huge reflection on how sad I was, and how I would just go to sleep unhappy. It was powerful, and I think it was the song that I had to listen to over and over to start figuring out what I was going to do with myself, with my relationship. It still took so much time, but this is still a song I can play on repeat now, and really get the message. March: Oceans Away - A R I Z O N A View this video on YouTube youtube.com We all get that feeling where we feel like we just need to get away. Whether it's just taking a day to not leave the house, or going halfway around the world to run away. I was going to therapy every week. I knew I wasn't happy. My therapist knew. My friends knew. But I kept trying to convince myself that I could be. There were more arguments. More days gone by without contacting each other at all. More of me crying alone, feeling like there was something wrong with me. And I felt like I needed an escape. This was the last month. I finally did it, I finally got out of something toxic. It was hard, but I did it. My escape.I found A R I Z O N A's music earlier in the year. And the sound was so refreshing. It was new, mellow, still had that pop-feel, and the lyrics meant so much. And this song made me feel like everything would really be okay if I took action. I gave it all one last shot, and when I knew it wasn't working, I knew that I had to be strong. March was hard. March had me crying more tears than I knew my body could produce. But March was the beginning of me realizing that my emotions didn't make me weak. April: Sleep on the Floor - The Lumineers View this video on YouTube youtube.com No break up is easy. And this one was hard. I couldn't help thinking I had made a mistake, and I kept hoping that maybe he would contact me. But I kept pushing forward. I kept myself so busy that sometimes I didn't even give myself time to think. I was at work, I was at the gym, filling my weekends with going out with friends to drink and forget. But these were all just fillers to try to distract myself from how unhealthy my mental health had really become. There was a conversation with my mom that really stood out to me this month. My mom called me and asked if I was okay, and my voice broke when I finally answered, "no." And everything I had been talking to my therapist about suddenly rang true. It was okay to admit that I wasn't okay! When I heard this song when the music video was first released November of last year, I could only think, "Wow." This was breathtaking. It was so full of life, and just plain beautiful. And it's the song I played on repeat to try to find that person I was who was once so full of life and spontaneity and love for everything around me. I texted my mom at one point in the month to tell her what a hard day, hard week I was having mentally. I was emotionally exhausted. And she texted me back this:"You need to remember you are doing well. You are actually doing better than well. You really have your whole life ahead of you, slow down and enjoy it. Instead of being critical of everything. Enjoy being you and enjoy being yourself. You need to love yourself.So this was the month I decided to find life again. I had spent so much of my life in a state of depression and anxiety. I was coasting through therapy, only talking, not doing much else to help myself. I started taking my mental health more seriously, to figure out who I could be after everything. May: Song For Zula - Phosphorescent View this video on YouTube youtube.com You need to give yourself time to be sad and let everything out. It's important to really let the emotions flow. Sometimes you can listen to music that gets you really pumped up, and sometimes you just need something slow and sad. It gives you the moments where you can really be with yourself. It lets you think, and it lets you get that release that your mind craves. With how strong I was trying to keep myself, I still needed to have those days where I let myself go to be alone. I started more clinical treatment for depression this month. I went on Zoloft, and the effects hadn't really kicked in yet. I had the initial side effects of nausea and such, but nothing on my mental state yet. I was serious about getting better. Medication was something I wanted to stay away from, but with how low my state had gotten, it was worth a try.This song is stunning in every way. From the vivid lyrics to the overall beat and feel of the entire five minute and 47-song. This was my song for my moments alone, whether I was laying in my room with the blinds closed and lights off, or driving home alone from work every day. My thinking song. I went to the beach this month, I hiked, and I made sure to do the things I loved. June: Don't Take The Money - Bleachers View this video on YouTube youtube.com The Zoloft really kicked in this month. Yes, it worked. I didn't feel depressed. I was still a little anxious, but not as much as before. But I also didn't feel much of anything. I just became numb. Not laughing at things I would typically find funny, not crying in movie scenes, and I always cried watching any movie. It wasn't normal, but it meant the medicine was working right? It was working, but I knew I wasn't myself. I knew my mental health as a part of me, and it reflected me. It wasn't all of me, but it had become an important part. My emotions were a big part of who I was, and feeling numb and not feeling anything at all felt strange, unfamiliar, and it didn't belong. I didn't feel alive, I felt like a zombie.So what did I do? I tried to make myself feel alive again. We all have those go to songs that we love to sing at the tops of our lungs. In our car, in the shower, while cleaning the house, etc. This song was so catchy, and it's what I used to try to feel that liveliness. I memorized the lyrics by how many times I played it, and I would sing it as much as I could, as loud as I could. I loved it. And I decided to stop the medication at the end of this month. It worked, but I decided that I'd rather be able to feel everything than nothing at all, even the bad parts. July: 4th of July - Wild Pink View this video on YouTube youtube.com July was a beautiful month. It was also a hard month. My grandfather passed away the day after my mother's birthday. He was my only grandfather who was truly mine, and he was gone. We had grown up with the most beautiful life together. He would take me to watch airplanes after picking me up from school, he'd take me to ballet lessons and watch me while clapping. He'd sing Andrea Bocelli in his minivan to me, in fluent Italian, with his velvety voice. He smelled of cigarettes and 7-11 coffee. I was heartbroken that he was gone. But my family truly came together this month too. I think that his death made us realize how much we really needed each other, even if my sisters were in New York, even if I didn't live with my parents anymore. July was my favorite. We laid on the beach on the 4th and watched fireworks, and we did cartwheels in the low tide of the beach. I ate so much eggs benedict, and spent so much time outside in the water that I even got sunburnt for the first time. I felt truly happy. The dark days had faded into the past months, and I was smiling so much that my face hurt. My grandpa would live on forever, through my family and the true liveliness we enjoyed in memory of him. I realized how much I had lost myself, and how much I was able to gain back. We all experience those really beautiful moments in life that we'll vividly remember. And if you're like me, sometimes you apply songs to those memories so that it's cinematic. This is the song that does it for me. July's fireworks over the beach, feeling carefree and loved, and full of life. August: Sleepy Eyes - Elohim View this video on YouTube youtube.com In August I really started to genuinely have fun. I reconnected with an old friend and made a lot of new ones. I was truly in the summer-feel, and I was getting back to being myself. People always describe me as "eclectic, free-spirited, carefree, silly," and I think this was the month I truly got back to this in the most natural way. I was at the beach often, traveling to New York more, and just taking myself on adventures because I felt like it. Because I truly felt better. Sleepy Eyes has the feel of such a carefree summer that really reflected the spontaneity and fun of the summer. Summer became a blur that went by too quickly. It was full of late nights, early mornings just because, sand still in my sneakers after coming home from the beach, and a sunburn on my shoulders that felt like it lasted forever. September: I Would Do Anything For You - Foster The People View this video on YouTube youtube.com Labor Day weekend I met a cute guy at the beach. He was from New York City, and I excitedly expressed to him that I was up in the city almost every weekend. So we made plans for the next weekend to meet at a bar in the Upper East Side, and I spent the entire next week planning out what to wear, making a playlist to listen to on the ride up.At the bar Saturday night, we drank beers from Boston, his hometown, and we held hands and sang along to the modern rock hits that were playing. We started talking about our favorite bands, and we found out that Foster the People is one of our mutual favorites. I told him that my favorite song is Helena Beat. His was this one. After the bar, we walked around the city, holding hands, with him sometimes picking me up and carrying me a few more blocks down Lexington while he kept singing this song as loud as he could at one a.m. as we laughed. We snuck into Central Park and got caught by the police, and got fined 50 dollars each. We walked more and sat in front of the Met and talked more. We went back to his apartment and cuddled until he fell asleep. And I left and went back to my family's apartment. And September came to an end, and so did the small night we had. October: K. - Cigarettes After Sex View this video on YouTube youtube.com Another month of feeling alive. But another loss also. My only grandmother passed away this month. I made sure to be there as much as I could for my mom, because now both of her parents had passed. It made me so sad. I couldn't imagine how I would feel without my mom in my life. I was really shitty growing up. A kid from hell. But she stuck with me through everything and continued to love me the way a mother always will, so I made sure to be there for her as her rock. It was just me and my mom from the beginning, and it was us again. But this was also another month, just like July, where we learned to stick together and love each other unconditionally. It was Halloween for my little brothers, taking my mom to get pampered, sending her random "I love you" text messages whenever I could. I saw Cigarettes After Sex in D.C. this month, and it was a magical show. It was haunting, dark, beautiful, and almost like a dream. And one weekend in this month, I hung out with some friends and met a new one through them. He took one look at me and told me I looked like a Cigarettes After Sex song, all without knowing it was one of my favorite bands. November: Wind & Anchor - The National Parks View this video on YouTube youtube.com November is like the climax of autumn. And something about Autumn always gets me into a very acoustic, folk music mood. Mid-October, I saw The National Parks live at a small cafe in Virginia. And it was hands-down one of the best shows I had ever seen. It was a tiny venue, with maybe just 30-40 people watching. But it was mystical and phenomenal. This band has so much life. And they had us in the entire audience swaying together, singing along, and clapping and stomping to each song. Soon, I realized I had almost every song memorized by November. And this one just never seems to get old. The lyrics are simple but have so much soul behind them. November was a fun month. I made new connections with people, strengthened some, while some faded. But something about the leaves changing and falling, the love I felt during Thanksgiving, and the change in the air had me feeling brand new. I felt refreshed. I felt happy. December: Better Than This - Reagan James View this video on YouTube youtube.com Something about December finally coming around always makes me feel very antsy and unable to stay still. Maybe it's the excitement that I've made it to the end of the year finally. Or it could be that the holidays are coming up. But I'm feeling very excited and just satisfied with where I am. I watched a really cute wedding video (hyperlinked here so that you all can cry at the video too) at the beginning of the month that featured this song. The video had me crying at how beautiful it was, but this song also had me really hyped up for some unknown reason. And ever since seeing that video, I've been playing this song on repeat. As a reflection over this entire year, I can't believe how far I've come. I got out of an emotionally abusive relationship, I found a better place in my mental health, and bonded so much with my family and friends. I have surrounded myself with so much love and spirit. I am so excited for what the rest of December has for me. I'll be back in New York City in a few weeks, I'm going to my first New Years Eve party every where I get to dress bougie and fancy. And I get to finish 2017 with a huge smile that hurts my face with the people and music I love. 2018, I'm ready for you.