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July 31, 2014 by Kara Nichols

Warning: Could be triggering.

Eminem’s album Recovery was my jam in the summer of 2011. I knew the words, I danced to it, I took the lyrics to heart, I felt unstoppable because of it. I would cruise up and down Wards Rd. with Recovery blasting, thinking every plane that circled overhead was Eminem coming to save me. I parked at a gas station and took a seat in the outdoor eating area and whipped out my lap top, played music and wrote to him, getting more anxious for his arrival. Since everyone knew me (no one knew me) I thought I could do whatever I wanted and I’d be safe. So instead of packing everything up and taking it with me when I had to go to the restroom, I asked these two random guys to watch my laptop while I go inside. Surprisingly when I came back out my lap top was still there.

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As I dove deeper into my psychosis Eminem was right there by my side. In the hospital I drew “M&M” on my face with markers so that if his sidekicks came to rescue me from the mental ward they would know who I was. I had many conversations with Eminem in the bathroom because I thought the mental ward was wired and he could hear me. I wrote to him constantly, mostly in code. I thought the hospital was just an elaborate plot for him to swoop come in and connect with me in person without the paparazzi.

When my doctor asked me if I had been on my way to meet Eminem, I told him no, “that’s crazy!” but I really felt like I was on the way to meet him. Every time a new patient was admitted I thought it would be him. And during visiting hours I was sure he was coming. I know this sounds like a some sort of celebrity crush but it wasn’t. I really believed I knew him. I was experiencing psychosis.

A few days later I was released from the hospital but was still sick. I would take long walks in the middle of the night, playing his songs over and over again. At one point I got the message from one song that someone close to me wanted to kill me. So that night I fled the house and was eventually picked up by the police and taken back to the hospital. I’ve felt the fear of being hunted. It doesn’t really matter that it was all in my mind, the feelings were real and powerful.

Once I was starting to get better I was shocked at how rooted I had let Eminem become in my mind. I was obsessed, he was my broken record. The moral of my story is not “avoid going crazy” although I can’t say I recommend it. The moral of the story is be careful what you listen to because it matters. I ask myself now: what if I had been listening to Christian music, or just songs that weren’t about drug abuse, loose women, and full of hateful words? How would that manic episode have played out?

I get the chills listening to Eminem now. The bad chills not the good kind. I can stand maybe 60 seconds before I have to change the station. Last year I bought the clean version of Recovery but I couldn’t handle it. The music took me back to that place where I had to run barefoot from my house in the middle of the night because I thought someone was trying to kill me. The only reason I was even thinking about this was because I still have an Eminem album on my ipod that I keep forgetting to delete and a song came on this afternoon. I’ve been meaning to write his post for a long time.

I don’t blame my episode on Eminem or anything like that. I actually think he is an incredibly talented artist. But because I fed on his lyrics over and over again when I was sick, I can’t handle his music or his lyrics. It matters what I listen to, it matters what I fill my mind with, because that’s what comes out when I’m sick. Without trying to sound too preachy – let me ask. Do the songs you listen to make you feel good or feel angry or depressed? What about your kids? I think the best guide to compare what you listen/watch/read is Philippians 4:8 which says:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 

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