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Humans of CSU: Healing through song

Humans of CSU

Editor’s note: Like Humans of New York’s “daily glimpses into the lives of strangers on the streets,” Humans of CSU tells the stories of the people who populate our campus. Written by Collegian staff and told in first person from the subject’s point of view, this series aims to make each individual on campus relatable.


I’m in an opera chorus. It’s “Hansel and Gretel,” and as a freshman, I was put in chorus, which is really cool. It’s great — we get to be gingerbread children and animals. 

Hayley Voss sits in the Corbett courtyard. (Photo credit: Julia Rentsch)
(Photo Credit: Julia Rentsch.)

Coming from Texas, it was kind of hard to come into the school because there were a lot of people that are from Colorado already, who already have, you know, their friend groups, and I was trying to find ways to get more involved.

Actually, in my junior year of high school, I had already had ADHD and anxiety, I was diagnosed with major depression, and so I didn’t really know how to get around that. I had a hard time getting out of bed in the morning, and my parents were the greatest. They were my cheerleaders, and they’d come to the end of the bed and they’d, like, pull my feet and be like, “C’mon. Gotta get that dopamine running.”

I had a treatment called TMS — transcranial magnetic stimulation. That’s a mouthful. And they put the magnet on the right side of my head, and it just kind of felt like pulses knocking on your head. It’s insane. It’s supposed to stimulate the neuron pathways to kind of clear up the whole system, because when you’re depressed, there’s a lot of cell death that occurs. It’s really helped me a lot. It was for six weeks and I had to go five days a week. 

But it was great. I think for me it was just being with the people that understood what I was going through, and being able to kind of help me in a way that … didn’t, like, bring me down more. And the people that did it, they were very supportive, and they had done it themselves.

It was weird because all of my friends seemed to be in their groups, and they’d try to bring me in, but I felt there was just this wall between me and the entire world. You expect a lot more from yourself than you do from other people.

It’s kind of sad, because I think the hospitals are definitely underfunded for this sector of illness. People just don’t talk about it. Like, it’s one of those taboos that people don’t think they can talk about. It’s upsetting — you go in and you feel like you can’t tell anybody about all these things that have happened. 

I was on a triathlon team before then, and I really loved that, but I had to drop out because of everything that was going on. It was a really great experience and my coach still contacts me all the time, just asking how I am.

In high school, I would walk into the choir room, and I could go in and I really had to push myself and completely dive into the music and do what I needed to do there, and just kind of forget.


My parents and a lot of my friends say that when I go out on stage, it’s just a completely different person that they see, like I have more confidence and I can just go and kind of do what I know how to do.

I’m hoping this can show people that (mental illness) happens all the time, and I think that people need to know that they’re not stupid, they’re not an idiot, they’re not dumb if they have something like this wrong with them, because chances are, they’re working harder than most people.

It’s time for people to stand up for (mental illness). I mean, I try — that’s why I share my story, because I think it’s so important for people to know it can affect anyone, any age.

In the future, I’d love to work in maybe psych, have a private practice, and I’m even looking into doing TMS. I would love to do that. I would love to be a spokesperson for that because it’s been awesome. And it’s funny because not a lot of people know about it, and it’s an amazing program. Most insurances cover it, so I think it’s really cool.

Right now, I’m exploring (majors) more so than anything. I love the idea of (music therapy) — I think it’s an amazing program. And I want to get people to understand how much music impacts your life. I don’t think I could fully embody the meaning of (music), to me, in just talking, because it’s so important.

And I think for me, being involved is the key, the number one, because I’ve noticed a decrease in symptoms ever since I’ve been involved here. The first two weeks were hard for me. And if I have to go through more years of school because I was involved a lot, it doesn’t matter to me very much, because I just want to be involved with everything. And I think it helps with grades, too.

I’m not really sure what I want to do with my life, but (singing) really helped me to get through the hard times.

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