How A Band From Manchester Changed My Life

I must confess that I've never been the definition of a fangirl. Sure, I enjoyed music as much as the next person, but not to the extent where I'd be stalking a celebrity's Instagram account (sorry, Harry Styles) or staying up until one in the morning to buy concert tickets. While my friends spent their weekends at their favorite bands' shows, I was more content to watch Netflix and eat the equivalent of my body weight in pizza. I had school, and that was what enveloped most of my energy. However, in my senior year, I discovered a band from Manchester, England, that utterly changed my life in the most wonderful way. Here's how.

I grew up with a sense of depression lingering behind every smile. I was always more pensive and introverted than everyone else, and for that, was judged more harshly among my peers. After being singled-out long enough, I had begun to feel like there was something inevitably wrong with me: my glasses, my not-skinny-enough legs, my blond hair that never seemed to fit completely into a ponytail. I grew into a monstrous depression, and tested my own mortality when given the opportunity. Things were not looking up for Miss Julia Darling, yet I concealed all the pain I felt with a smile, a happy face emoji, and grandiose posts on Instagram where I seemingly had the best life imaginable.

But I wasn't happy. I hated every little aspect of myself, and wanted there to be an end to the existence I could no longer stand. However, it wasn't the depression that was the worst part, or the cycling thoughts of inferiority that ran through my mind. What was killing me alive, often without my realization, was the lack of people I had in my life I could speak to about this issue. It was like trying to walk for the first time, but having nobody around to hoist me up. All my efforts were noble, but it ended up in my face hitting the cold, hard ground every time.

In reality, who could have I spoken to about my issue? In my depressed mindset, I didn't want to cause more worries for my family than the struggles we already faced. I didn't want my friends to think I was a freak, and there's no way I had the courage to speak to a guidance counselor. I tried to convince myself that I was fine, that I didn't need anyone, and that my troubles were about as visible as Khloe Kardashian's Invisalign.

There was a part of me that always naturally related to music, so I began to use the thoughts of others as a method of distracting me from my own. After enough YouTube browsing, I came across a band composed of four lads from Manchester, England sing a song called "Chocolate." I was intrigued, mainly because their thick accents caused me to not be able to understand what they were saying the first five hundred times I listened to the song.

While I liked their style and their musical talent, it wasn't until I discovered the song "Me" that I had fallen head over heels with this group and what they stand for. I remember coming home from school one day, feeling so fatigued from struggling to be free from the mental labyrinth my insecurity caused. I put my bag down, and raced to my room so I could cry without my parents seeing me like that. Completely desperate for a sliver of hope, I grabbed my Mac and spent three hours lying in my bed, listening to The 1975's self-titled album, where I discovered this simple yet powerful song.

"Me" is a song that follows lead singer Matty Healy's personal struggles with depression, heartbreak, and broken relationships. It was as if someone was putting an arm around me and saying, "I'm here too." Nothing was sugar-coated in the song, as it's his honest stream of consciousness from someone going through something as serious as the disillusionment that loss of love brings. The lyrics became a direct reflection of the words I wish I had the courage to say, and became my voice throughout my struggles. I didn't have anyone from my tiny town to talk to, but I had these four guys who don't even know I exist there for me. In that moment, I began to realize that the pain I faced could be the catalyst for creating something wonderful with the life I have.

I'm not going to end this post with a blast of sunny optimism that you'd expect at the end of a Sunday School lesson, but I am going to tell you that I'm alive. I got out of bed this morning and got dressed, and mustered the courage to go on with my day. I'm also not going to tell you that this band saved my life, because they didn't. What Matty Healy, George Daniel, Adam Hann, Ross MacDonald, and John Waugh did in a four minute and thirty five second song is remind me that I'm not alone. I'm not the only one dealing with depression, and I'm not the only one feeling a little bit lost in this itty bitty blue dot I call home. Their refusal to be anything but transparent inspired me to do the same, and get the help I needed from my family and friends, and later share my story with you - whether I know you or not.

Billy Joel, one of my personal favorite artists, once said these beautiful words, "Musicians want to be the loud voice for so many quiet hearts." From one grateful teen, thank you. You don't know who I am, let alone the fact that I exist, but should you ever come across this, I'd like to thank you for how much meaning your lyrics have given me in the last twelve months. You gave me a voice, and I hope I can use it as well as you have to dictate my experiences for the next teen. I'm not a fangirl, but I'm willing to begin with a group as honest as you, The 1975.

With gratitude,
Julia