Beating Mania by Making Beats

Finding something to distract me during a manic episode is pretty difficult. Namely, because I am unable to stay focused on one thing at a time because my brain is going at lightning speed. In fact, calming down, in general, is near impossible and that only makes things worse because exhaustion sets in at the same time, and everything becomes a hazy blur of fast movement, rapid thoughts and crushing tiredness.


Over the last few months, I have become surrounded by many musical people and seen lots of music get made. In my manic state, I decided that I am clearly a musical prodigy and should be able to write a song in no time at all, record and produce it and then release it as a top hit. This didn’t go to plan, because I didn’t know the difference between a minor and major chord. So, I decided to start slightly smaller and try to cover a song that already exists. This idea started as a (falsely) grandiose idea of my own ability but swiftly morphed into much more than that.


For those who aren’t familiar with GarageBand, it is Apple’s free software which is used to write music. Upon opening the software, I realised that I was perhaps not going to be famous overnight as expected; it was pretty complicated. Luckily, mania drove me to try and understand it as fast as humanly possible. This is where the magical cure to my never-slowing mind was found. Using the below screenshot, I can explain how GarageBand is the most successful cure for my mania and anxiety that I have found in seven years.

1. Mixing senses:

Watching the different keys light up as the notes or sounds are played is a way of connecting my senses that may otherwise feel disjointed. Not only this, but to play the notes, I have to make use of an on-screen keyboard, where the different letters on my laptop keyboard correlate to musical notes. This means that not only am I mixing sound and colour, but also using my brain to combine letters and notes. This all comes together in a synesthesia dream.


2. Puzzle:

Hearing all of the different sounds come together harmoniously gives me an immediate sense of satisfaction; I did that, I made this work out all by myself. What is better at making someone feel better than a huge sense of achievement?

3. Focus

All of those little green bars and squares correlate to a different note - or in this case, drum sound. Arranging them so precisely and meticulously sucked me in completely, and made the manic obsession with getting things right a good thing. Somehow, organising those green bars helped to organise my thoughts, and slow things down.


My first song is far from finished and it probably will be far from the masterpiece I first envisioned, but it will be a masterpiece for me. I committed to something in a time that means commitment is near impossible, I created something despite my state and I’m really proud of myself, to be honest. I have no experience with music, but I could not recommend anything more as a coping strategy for a manic episode than giving it a go.