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Chiptunes: The Anxiety Reliever

8 bit hearts

NOTE: The following piece is from the writer's personal experience and perspective. It is not meant as legitimate medical advice. If you, or anyone you know, is undergoing some kind of mental disruption, please call 911 and/or contact your caretaker(s) immediately. This article is meant to inform and was published as a means of encouragement. No one deserves to struggle, so go out and ask for help.

How's your first half of 2022? Much better than mine, that's for sure. When a health condition triggered a mental instability with it, the only thing you can do is hold onto Hope. Staying positive in a negative world is hard to do, but here I am with a story to tell. Okay, so why is this being posted on the Music section? While we don't have a section dedicated to health and medicine, something in relation to it includes the kind of music that eased things off for me: chiptunes.

It all started in the month of March when my worries began building up. I kept drinking nothing but high-sugar cranberry juice as a lazy way to lose weight, and because I was fully focused on work especially with this website. Over a month later, I acquired a 9-to-5 but began to feel some uneasiness in my body. What I thought was food allergies became something worse: dehydration topped with anxiety. As the month of May approached, I didn't think this mishap affected my ability to work, write and publish on this website, as well as mundane rountines like getting up in the morning. Having been diagnosed twice, with both hospital visits concluding it was anxiety, I found myself in a rut that I've never experienced. Given that I have recovered from dehydration before, this one was from a juice drink you'd find at most grocery stores—ones that include high fructose and artificial flavors. That gave me such a bodily wreckage that I thought I'd be on the disabled list for the rest of my life (it was that bad). I drank so much, I barely used the bathroom more than ten times in the month of April. Looking back, it felt like I was in hot water. Anyway, push came to shove and I realized that because my anxiety gave me a huge destruction in both my body and my mind, it was only me whom I could save. With simple advice from friends and family, I knew music would be the most accessible "bandaid" available. As May came to a close, I was able to log onto to my computer again, went on YouTube and found some inspiration.

I caught up with my favorite programmer who does live streams on Twitch named George Hotz. Rekindling my love for computer science and mathematics again, a video was posted from Hotz' YouTube channel where he wanted to find royalty-free music to go with his programming. He found a playlist titled Random Chiptune Mix 45, and upon playing the songs on that list, I instantly fell in love with the songs, as I watched. Of course, George Hotz discussing thought-provoking topics to go with his programming is always a fun treat, but him finding a neat mix involving chiptunes? I'm in love.

George Hotz browsing and playing a chiptune playlist track on his live stream. Thank you, George!
(Click image above to view video. Opens new window/tab/YouTube [app].)
George finding some music to play while coding. Thank you, George! Great stream! And thank you to Krelez for uploading this playlist!

I've taken the liberty to find that very video, and to this day, I couldn't stop listening to it. This also enabled me to appreciate these rare, upcoming, and/or underrated artists who specialize in producing chiptune music. Thank you George Hotz for your music search. What looked like just another live stream involved action that gave me a dot of light at the tunnel to which I feared was heading towards the end. Thank you...for you, man. More proof that a person's harmless actions could make or break someone..

That's cool, Kris. But bro, was that it?

Along with encouraging myself to get hydrated with glasses of water, along with eating small but balanced meals every day, rebounding from anxiety caused by dehydration took A LOT of work. Coming from a pandemic where I've lost touch with many people was a difficult way to manage and mend any pains I was feeling. Granted, I do have a few whom I consider close, like my girlfriend, along with family as well. However, I wanted to fight the battles myself and prove my worth. Despite my "amazing" courage, it's a fight I couldn't do alone. I constantly thanked those who gave advice and helped me throughout during my struggling times. As I began feeling a difference and getting back to 100%, I kept listening to more chiptune music and felt my happy side come through. My head and my body felt lighter and lighter as I focused on enjoying the tunes from these soundtracks, making me feel both nostaglic and giddy. Felt like I was playing a video game, while enjoying the thrill and pace of the soundtracks themselves. (As a new listener of classical music, namely KUSC 91.5FM, I would love it if they created a sub-station dedicated to chiptune music. Granted, it may not be considered "classical," but chiptunes have a very retro feel to them. What do you think, KUSC?)

In addition, one of my all-time favorite video gamer on YouTube is no other than DashieGames. From one of his live streams, Dashie drank a cup of apple cider vinegar while playing Bully back in 2019. It didn't ring as much as me laughing as always, given how hilarious he is, but when I look back, I learned how apple cider vinegar has some healing benefits.

Dashie drinking apple cider vinegar while playing 'Bully' on YouTube.
Dashie drinking apple cider vinegar while playing Bully. Click image above to watch this video (opens new window/tab).


Along with his hilarious reactions to games he plays and live streams, this is one of those instances where you take Dashie's advice and give it a shot. After a modest amount of research, I followed suit and felt a difference (the dehydration also caused some sort of acid reflux). Again, what does this have to do with music? Depending on the video game's soundtrack, Dashie often throws down some freestyle rapping in his videos. If you don't believe me, check this video out with him playing Wii Sports Resort in 2019. Thank you for being funny and awesome, Dashie! (Laughter truly is the best medicine.)

I can't deny that the pain I experienced is something I hope no one else goes through. This is a huge learning lesson for me, and it wasn't the best method to lose this weight. While I'm not much of a coffee drinker, this wasn't as harsh as someone who indulges in the popular caffeinated drink (physicians, nurses and my doctor constantly asked me if I drink coffee). Still, however, while everyone is free to make the decisions they want, I'm one to say that after what we went through since 2020, I feel it's time to prioritize our health. Sounds like a "duh!" statement, but now it's official. Mentally stressed? Stop watching the news. Anxiety triggered at work? Talk it out with your boss/manager, or find another job. Never feel any shame asking for help. Mental, physical and social recovery takes time but that doesn't mean you remain hopeless. There IS Hope, you just have to get up and search for it. Given all the anguish I pulled myself from, it's fair to say that chiptune music tapped into my optimistic mindset, thus opening and finding a new tunnel where there guarantees shining light. It got me feeling inspired to work through what little pains I was having.

How do I feel so far? Much better than before, bar none. While my eating habits and daily routines have changed, I've also integrated meditation—something that has calmed my chaotic, overthinking mind down. Having to do it almost everyday has given me a sense of peace—better organized my thinking—and because of the pains I went through, it has helped me be more empathetic and kind. Like I said, it feels like a life lesson I'm being taught, given that I never ever thought I'd go through something like this. You learn something new everyday—how your body functions, your mindset, how you react to certain things and things like that.

In addition to chiptune music, here are the few soundtracks that also tapped into my optimistic side helping me rebound from a rough April and May:

"Barbara Ann" by The Beach Boys
"Everybody Wants to Rule The World" (Acoustic Mix) by Curt Smith
"Windy" by The Association
"Do the Locomotion" by Kylie Minogue
"Jailhouse Rock" by Elvis Presley
"Again" by Lenny Kravitz

To add to this, it may not be particularly "music" but I'd occasionally enjoy keyboard-typing ASMRs. Once again, for me personally, these activated my good side that encouraged me to look toward a better tomorrow. Yes, I need to drink water frequently; Yes, I need to eat a balanced meal daily; Yes, I need to go outside and enjoy frequent walks. However, as someone who maintains this massive network of a website, it's so easy to get caught up on work that you forget what your body is trying to tell you and warn you about, let alone treating and feeding it properly. I have no one to blame but myself, and I never thought it would change my mindset and my well-being completely, almost as if I was reincarnated into someone else. That's right: I felt this was some sort of punishment I undergone to get me to where I'm meant to be. And where is that? I'm not sure yet, so I'll have to judge it from here.

After some professional medical advices, along with adjusting to a new normal for myself, it's fair to say that chiptunes ignited the giddy feeling in me—a reminder of how I'm able to be happy again. I never thought it was inspired from a programmer, who's also a business owner, live streaming his programming both for educational and entertainment purposes. While we don't have an official Twitch account, we're happily subscribed to Hotz' YouTube channel. Once again, thank you so much, George. You're the man. And thank you so much, Dashie. Your freestyles are awesome and hilarious, dude. (Plus, thank you to everyone, both close friends, family, my girlfriend, coworkers and former coworkers, including the caretakers, nurses, doctors, physicians and therapists who have helped me through the latter part of the first half of this year. You all remind me how much we're in this together and looking out for each other. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!)

Do/Did you suffer from anxiety? How do you manage? What kind of music helped you through your mental pains? Let's talk about it in the comments below!


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