Candlelight and Sad Songs

I used to not be able to be in a candlelit room. Something about the light level and the quality of the light made me sad. Not a little bit nostalgic and weepy, but despairingly sad. now, from a different perspective, I find it a little bit fascinating that the human brain is so strongly affected by so many different factors. At the time, though, I just learned to be afraid of low light levels.

One time my college roommates wanted to have a fun candlelight dinner. The ugly table was set beautifully and someone had found candlesticks and candles. She turned off the lights and lit the candles and I ran to my bedroom and sobbed. I don’t know if I’ll ever know why, but the candlelight broke something inside of me.

There was a type of music that did that to me too. Any sort of sad-sounding or even just quiet and slow female singer could set off the depression that was barely under the surface. Nina Simone, Jewel, Natalie Cole, Norah Jones, and a whole slew of unremarkable and surprisingly similar female artists would trigger me. (Nina Simone is neither unremarkable nor similar to anyone, just for the record. She’s amazing.) Again, not just a feeling of nostalgia, but more like despair. Falling into a black hole, and always thinking that this time there might not be a way out.

I still prefer bright lights. I will always turn on all the lights in a room and turn them up as high as possible. There’s still something inside me that feels wary, like if the light dims, my guard goes down and the horrible monster that is depression can sneak up on me. But it hasn’t lately. And mostly I’ve just gotten annoyed by Norah Jones and the like. But there’s that sort of muscle memory that doesn’t go away. It’s similar to the fall weather – it’s putting me on edge, just a little, reminding me of how bad things can get.


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