My friend and I once wasted ten dollars worth of adderall on creating an epic series of playlists entitled ‘The Story of a Breakdown’. Yes, we were supposed to be starting and finishing essays due the very next day (this is not an uncommon situation for me to get myself into) and, yes, we had been warned about the dangers of glancing away from our essays even once after popping the pills, in case we became more engrossed in that task than in our work. But, like all good advice, it went ignored.
That night I spent five hours trawling Spotify and googling phrases such as ‘fun songs for times of trauma and distress’ (we’ve all been there, right?) and didn’t get around to writing coherent sentences until the hours after 4am. Stay in the library until 6 am and the realisation that some people actually wake up at this time will not make you feel any better about your life choices. As I left the library just before seven am, looking incredulously around me at all the bright-eyed, freshly showered individuals just arriving, I had to ask myself if the joy of creating the Breakdown Playlists had been worth the hours of suffering which followed it.
The short answer? Yes. Fuck yes. That night, I may not have written a stellar essay which represented my full academic potential, and I may have spent the rest of the day wallowing in the torture that is drug-induced sleep deprivation, but I would not give up the Breakdown Playlists for anything. Now, when I am faced with yet another all-nighter in the library (I will never learn) I have this crutch to help me through the dark night and my deteriorating mental state. It contains the perfect mix for every mood.
You know that feeling when you’re in the eye of the storm that is a full-on meltdown, when your cheeks have become raw from clawing at your own face while moaning incoherently? Only a playlist entitled ‘True Despair’ will be able to reach you where you lie, shaking, at the bottom of the emotional equivalent of a k-hole. And for when you have procrastinated and cried your way dangerously close to the deadline, there’s ‘Sobbing Songs You Can Work To’ (so you can shed tears for your wasted potential but actually finish the essay you’ve been staring at all night). See also: ‘Manic Motivation’ and the one that started it all, ‘Break-downing’.
My point is not to leave you all in awe of my baffling dedication to making playlists or to terrify you into dropping out of uni, but to forewarn you of the emotional rollercoaster that is attempting to produce semi-acceptable coursework after one too many skipped lectures and nights of fancy dress and Jagerbombs. Maybe you will be one of those superhero-like students who juggle an amazing social life with meeting deadlines early and always showing up to exams fully prepared – but unless you are actually living in an teen drama set in Beverly Hills or the Upper East Side, I’m gonna bet you’ll be slogging your way through all-nighters and weighing up the pros and cons of different ADHD medication along with the best of us. In which case, get your iPod/Spotify/Walkman ready, because its time you had a Breakdown Playlist of your very own. Think of the precious few hours you will have between when you finally start your 3,000 word essay and when it is due. Do you want to be wasting them trying to throw together a bunch of songs that will help you through your imminent meltdown? You wouldn’t go into battle without a gun, so don’t embark on an all-nighter without a playlist. Or snacks. Never forget the snacks.
Happy listening, kids!