PTSD Soundtrack

I went through some phases with my music after my attack. One of the things that brought me out of panic attacks was singing. I tried relaxation techniques and grounding techniques, but what really stopped my hyperventilating was singing.

I was so sad that someone hated me enough to try to kill me. And I was mourning the loss of everything I was before–cheerful, adventurous caver, avid reader, calmer person. Most music was too cheerful for me. I couldn’t take the love songs or even the normal songs. So, I have two lists for you: the sad songs and the song that brought me out of my dark, sad closet.

The one I think is most important now is “Swim” by Jack’s Mannequin. I listened to it on repeat for days when I found it. I was suicidal and hanging on by a thread, tormented by PTSD symptoms. It was written by a man fighting leukemia, but it speaks to anyone fighting a battle. I still listen to it when I don’t feel like I have the energy to make it through a day. I remember that I have to “swim and swim when it hurts/ The whole world is watching/ You haven’t come this far to fall off the Earth”. This song and kind friends were the push I needed to apply to go back to school, and I did the week I found it.

I think sad songs have their place, as long as you don’t stay in the sadness. I found solace in them because those songs made me believe there were people out there just as shredded as I was. And we were all singing with our tattered souls. Here are the songs that made me believe other people existed who might understand trauma:

1. Demi Lovato “Anyone”

2. Kesha “Praying”

3. Taylor Swift “All Too Well”

4. Taylor Swift “Peace”. I honestly didn’t think I could give anyone peace after my attack.

5. Birdie “Skinny Love”

6. Halsey “Trouble” (Stripped)

7. Halsey “I’m Not Mad”

8. Alessia Cara “River of Tears”

9. Christina Perri “Jar of Hearts”

10. Bishop Briggs’s Church of Scars album

I hope my list sings you through your struggle and maybe brings you out of it.

Iron Tunes

While I was writing Iron Shards, I often sought peace at local coffee shops to collect my thoughts and put words on the page. Being a stay-at-home mom and a caver means that my house is constant chaos. School forms, cave maps, official letters, dirty hockey clothes, muddy packs. You get the picture. If I tried to write at home, those messes drove my inner OCD person crazy.

However, when I went to local shops, I often found that there were obnoxiously loud folks guffawing or talking over each other. Music was my solution. I love when other writers post their playlists, the soundtracks to my favorite books. I hope that you enjoy mine.

During my first draft, I listened to these songs incessantly, sometimes just one on repeat until even I didn’t want to hear it anymore.

Ed Sheeran “I See Fire”

Hozier “Take Me to Church”

Ed Sheeran “I’m a Mess”

Rachel Platten “Fight Song”

Muse “Mercy”

Shinedown “Sound of Madness”

Tove Lo “Scream My Name”

Lorde “Yellow Flicker Beat”

Coldplay “Viva la Vida”

Imagine Dragons “Demons”

Hozier “Someone New”

During the editing process, I was only obsessed with one band—Shinedown. I have listened to all of their albums until my family and friends are helping with my quest to find a new obsession. I found their latest work Threat to Survival particularly inspiring as I worked up the nerve to put the finishing touches on the novel and get it out to friends and the public. It’s tough to pick favorites because I love the whole album, but if I had to choose three songs from it, they’d be “How Did You Love”, “State of My Head” and “It All Adds Up”.

I hope you find my playlist inspiring. Now get out there. Create.


–Jessi Kallison