DI Voices | Anxiety is loud: Tune it out

By Lily Fosco, Columnist

I was homeschooled until seventh grade, when my family moved for the first time. Prior to this, my life was fairly predictable. Moving made me realize how much I rely on stability in order to feel safe.

Making new friends was a frightening task. I became hyper aware of how others would perceive me, considering the many misconceptions about homeschoolers. Spoiler alert: We’re just like everyone else; aside from being able to wear our PJs to school.

I’ve always been an introvert. This, and my unique background, made me an easy target to my peers. It’s impressive how cruel kids can be at that age. As a result, I became preoccupied with intense feelings of rejection.

To say this took a toll on my confidence would be an understatement. I developed a seemingly inescapable battle against anxiety. Needless to say, most memories of the experience are negative.

Then came my diagnosis of Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Countless panic attacks later, I discovered managing them would require an extensive amount of effort. Regardless of my hesitation, there were no meaningful alternatives than to seek treatment.

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Therapy and medication are an exhausting combination, especially for a child. Despite noticeable improvements, I struggled to find effective coping mechanisms. Anxiety symptoms worsened when I was alone, as I found silence triggering.

One day, a light bulb went off.

To offset my intrusive thoughts, I began listening to music. Whenever I’m tempted to let the disorder win, I merely press ‘play’ and regain control. With the presence of background noise, I no longer feel such an extreme sense of isolation.

There are many benefits that come with listening to music, other than enjoyment.

As someone who lacks a healthy amount of “happy chemicals,” I consider music as an antidepressant. It causes your brain to produce dopamine, evoking feelings of joy: something we could all use more of.

Relief exists at your fingertips.

I’m an avid user of Spotify. Sorry Apple Music lovers, but it can’t quite compare. Every Monday, Spotify curates a playlist for users called Discover Weekly based on their recent listening. The app also provides endless recommended songs to your already made playlists, according to its overall vibe.

Being homeschooled taught me the importance of having a creative outlet. Expressing myself in various ways has had a tremendous positive impact on my mental health. For example, I take pleasure in making playlists based on different moods, colors, genres and settings.

In preparation to cope with future panic attacks, I’ve created a combination of over 200 upbeat songs, titled “remember to breathe.” Listening to it has saved me many times, to say the least.

The art of music goes so much deeper than representation of sound. Not only is there room for creativity, but it’s also a wonderful tool for improving quality of life. After all, without it, what would we dance to?


Lily is a sophomore in LAS.

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