Probably a surprise to many people that my music ranges from heavy metal to pop, but I literally love all music besides country, lol. My first love was music. I started to play guitar around 6, I think I played for a few years and took lessons, and then I quit until middle school. Around this time, Taylor Swift started her journey as a musician. She put out Debut when I was 15, and then fearless came out not too long after. Her lyrical skills definitely have grown and her ability to story tell is quite unmatched.

However, at the same time of discovering Taylor, I was listening to August Burns Red. Their music, although too heavy for some, has always had the most incredible lyrics I’ve ever read. Their recent album, Death Below, has a lot of words about society and mental health. After this year, this album really spoke to me.

So I have decided to do visual representations and lyrical breakdowns to August Burns Red. I will focus on their more recent album first, and then a few of my favorites beyond that, which may be challenging since they have been playing for 20 years and every song means something to me.

Tightrope is a song I identify with. The first time I was listening to this I was running and reading the lyrics [I run often for mental health]. These lyrics struck me to my core the first time through and I was hooked. So this is the song I am going to start off with first.

Tightrope – Lyrical Interpretation

I could feel (I could feel)
My heart sink
I had been pushed (I had been pushed)
To the brink

This first set of lines sets the scene for me – the moment of physical feeling of something bad. Shame, guilt, fear, anger, depression. When I was in therapy a few weeks ago my therapist had asked me about feelings and emotions. He asked me to describe physical things I had felt for specific emotions. I could list the stomach drops when I felt fear, I could describe the nausea that arrived when I was anxious, I explained the headache and face warmth I got when I was angry, but I couldn’t list Joy. I could recognize when things would make me ‘happy’ or should, but I hadn’t felt the emotion in a few years. So this opening to the song, really sets me in this situation of an overwhelmingness that comes over you when ‘too much’ finally hits you.

Losing this conflict was all I could handle
I thought my world was ending
But it was only expanding
It wasn’t the emotion I thought I’d expect
“This won’t happen” was engrained in my head

Losing this conflict was all I could handle – this was the final straw. Everything was crashing down around me and I thought ‘this is it.’
The line, but it was only expanding makes me think about the opportunities that come with devastation. Devastation and reform. For me, personally, when I hit my mental break I wanted out of this world. I made it through and my world opened up in all new ways. My marriage got better, my self awareness grew, I got double help from doctors who actually were trying to figure out my brain.
The last two lines could be taken a few ways – It wasn’t the emotion I thought I’d expect: I read this as, ‘since this wont happen’ was engrained in my head. Like, previously to this break ‘this wont happen’ was what was told to ‘yourself.’ I’d never do that, is something we say until we are faced with something that is too much.

So I read this part as kind of an eye opening to what is happening. The emotion that was stirred up was something new, the worst case scenarios had never been considered.

My absence was always my escape


The absence of presence. Running away from confrontation that makes us uncomfortable. Disassociation.

Or this could be a discussion of actual physical travel and distance. Not being there and not confronting things in person or missing big events due to lack of presence. I take this as a very serious mental discussion because that’s how I can relate.

I wasn’t in the best place (Best place)
You’re owed memories, I can’t restore
Not stories of wayfare and folklore

Man do these lines hit.
My mind wasn’t in the best place for this time, you are owed memories that I have forgotten, or wasn’t there for [mentally or physically]. You are owed so much more than discussions of journey, travel, and ‘stories,’ or what ifs.

Reading this in the lens of a band would make sense of the memories missed during touring.
Reading this in a lens of someone in the everyday feels very much aimed at mental ability and lack of presence due to a mental illness.

My undivided attention was served in seconds
For you I had to mend them
The best parts of me were beckoning

Confrontation of feelings. The attention I didn’t give you [someone I love] all came to my face within one sentence you said to me. Because I could see your pain, hurting, I had to make it better –
The best parts of me were coming out – were being invited to show their face. I could no longer hide.

I swallowed my fears
I’m so grateful you’re here
The last two years
Would have been unbearable
Without you there (Without you there)

Everything that I had feared came to light, and I faced my truth. I’m thankful for you, I told you how I needed you, and the last two years without you would have been unbearable.

This set of lines smacks me in the face because for 2 years I was disassociating hard. Literally 2 years. I have had clinical depression for longer than this, but specifically the last 2 years I haven’t been able to really feel my emotions. I can recognize when things make me sad or happy but I can’t feel it. For instance, we were traveling down the west coast for a trip. I thought to myself “this is everything I want, but why don’t I feel anything at all.” No joy, just anxiety for when I could go back home. Without my family and husband, specifically in the last 5 months, I wouldn’t be alive.

I thought I bided my time too long
It turns out the timing was perfect
In the end the weight was all worth it

I thought I waited too long to make this better – that the moment had past to make this better, but it turned out that I was wrong and the timing was perfect –

In the end the weight was all worth it.

The burden, the weight on my shoulders, the regret, shame, guilt, fear, all ended up being ok. I came out better, stronger, with the help of those I love and the ability to face and confront my own built walls.

The brightness guided me through the fog
A constant beam of light that set my course right

The brightness [whatever that is to you] guided me through the distance I couldn’t see, but I could see the light that helped me set my course in the direction it needed to go.
You don’t know joy unless you know pain.

I had taken on too much
It took over me
Longing for what I had when I was young
I had taken on too much
My responsibilities are choking me

full stop. If you have been following any of my mental health blogs, you know that I have been constantly working 70-80 hours a week since I was about 19. Taking 40-50 weddings a year, teaching at a minimum of 2 colleges per semester, or going to graduate school and taking 18 credits while running a business, and attempting to have a home life too – I ran myself into the ground.

I always take on too much – but it is how I escaped. Doing, Working, are ways I can feel worthwhile. I never have thought I was good enough. I always want to be doing more. It does take over you. It makes you not pay attention to the people around you.

As you get older you do get wiser. I find myself really focusing on balance now. Seeing what will serve me and what will take away. I found myself telling that to some students the other day. Definitely do the ‘grind’ to get where you need to, but keep in mind people are not forever. Cherish them. Don’t put your occupation first and foremost. If you do, give yourself time to breathe, or at one point – the shoe absolutely will drop.

Longing for the dreams I had when I was young, the ability to do so much, the lack of sleep – but it built up and after years and year, I had taken on too much – those things I sought out for began to leave me unable to breathe.

Setting boundaries for myself
I’m the one who keeps walking all over them
Creating limits for abuse
I’m the one leaving myself battered and bruised

Again, damn Jake why you gotta say this to me. So many boundaries crossed. So many rules set and not followed. But it isn’t any one else’s fault but my own. I cross them, I abuse myself without thought. I am the one that has put myself in this state… even with others warnings of doing so.

Where is my incentive (My incentive)
To find my healing?

THIS LINE. My incentive to over work is high, but where is that same incentive to find my own peace, healing, ability to enjoy life for what it is?

I let misery be my motivator
I could sense myself slip into this crater

I let the things that made me miserable guide my sense to overwork and pursue. I thought I wasn’t good enough. I wanted to be more. I felt myself falling into this sense of overworked, disassociation, lack of presence for myself and others around me, but I couldn’t stop it. The foreshadowing was there, but I didn’t listen because I was fixated on what I wanted to become.

I’ll only be one thing forever
I’ll slide the scales back to the center
The agony and anguish were just all part of the endeavor

I’m not really sure what I’ll only be one thing forever, but I read this as a human that makes mistakes. I’ll only be imperfect, but I can learn. I can find my way back to reset the course I set myself on. The pain and heartache were part of my story and I can start again with these lessons in mind.

Image Representation

The brightness guided me through the fog
A constant beam of light that set my course right

A song I had written:

I wrote this song Car Crash awhile back about my recent mental crash I had. It’s similar in idea to this song if you read this song from a more mental health standpoint. Wounding those around me without intention. Finding myself lost in my brain and inability to feel anything around me.


It took a car crash
It took running into a wall
at the fastest speed
Ive ever driven before

It took bleeding
It took planning how to close my eyes
for the final and last time

and I gotta say, one thing
so you know that this wasn’t just you

I was underwater grasping for the light
unable to reach it
unable to breathe right
i sank down to the bottom of the ocean floor
bricks on my feet
unable to reach for

help, help

A masked behavior
Planting of weeds in the brain
That took over the roots and soil I’d been layin’ in

An alive burial
of me in a grave
That I had built and covered in shame and

I gotta say, a few things
so you know this was my doing

I was underwater grasping for the light
unable to reach it
unable to breathe right
i sank down to the bottom of the ocean floor
bricks on my feet
unable to reach for

your hands
your body
I began to sink
Im sorry I didn’t yell
and I didn’t scream
I let myself sink to the bottom of the unknown
you didn’t deserve me pulling you down
by the same damn weight that dragged me down
but you managed to pull me out

And I gotta say, the last thing
that I love you

Even underwater grasping for the light
unable to reach it, unable to breathe right
If I sink down to the bottom of the ocean floor
you are the voice that I cry for, I can reach for

your help, help, help

and I gotta say, the last thing
I love you

Tightrope: ABR

2 Replies to “Tightrope”

  1. I love ABR! ❤ Like you, I enjoy various types of music.


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