“Do you ever get a little bit tired of life?” The song “Numb Little Bug” by Em Beihold rose to fame in early 2022 by asking listeners this very question, and the overwhelming answer was “yes.” According to Billboard, the song climbed to No. 1 on the Emerging Artists Chart, and as of April, the song had received 7.3 million streams in the U.S. alone. The song is upbeat, peppy and easy to catch yourself singing along to at the end of a long day. But what makes this song so relatable to so many people? “Numb Little Bug” discusses the feeling of depression and the artist’s experience with antidepressants, making the conversations surrounding mental health and medication that much more comfortable.
In “Numb Little Bug,” Beihold describes the daily effects of depression by using a series of contemplative comparisons meant to relate to those who may feel as stuck as she does. She sings about feeling dissociated, tired, frustrated and numb, which are all common symptoms of depression. In an interview with Genius, Beihold explained that the song is actually her own account of her experience with depression. She stated: “My life was changing very quickly, but at the same time, I had also started on antidepressants, and I think the combination of just being overwhelmed by everything at once, a lot of transition and antidepressants just made me feel literally nothing.”
She went on to further explain how she felt numb and disconnected, even while on medication. She expressed, “I was barely in touch with myself at the time, so it was impossible to be in touch with other people, so I felt like I was very much just going through the motions of, like, saying the right things but not feeling anything in association or truly being the best version of myself.”
“Numb Little Bug” does indeed discuss antidepressants. In the first verse, Beihold explains how numb she feels, and she poses the question: “Have the pills done too much?” She also refers to these pills as “quick repairs,” implying that the medication worked for her but not in the way that she had hoped.
In her Genius interview, she explained her experience with antidepressants as rendering her life lackluster. She explained: “I think, with antidepressants, the question for me was kind of would I rather feel the lows as well as the highs or feel nothing at all … And I eventually decided I do want to feel those, because the highs are so important, and when you’re on those pills it takes all the sparkle and joy away, at least for me.” This is not an uncommon feeling to have while on antidepressants, as many people simply do not receive the promised results after starting medication. The simple reason for this is that antidepressants are not for everyone.
The Mayo Clinic describes depression as a mood disorder that can affect a person’s emotional and physical well-being. People who struggle with depression can experience increased anxiety, lack of motivation and an overall feeling of sadness or numbness accompanied by a change in sleep patterns, eating habits and activity levels. Depression does not affect everyone the same, and neither do antidepressants.
According to The Mayo Clinic, antidepressants are largely effective in treating depression, but other options exist for those who may respond badly to medication. Some examples of non-medication treatment include finding coping mechanisms, engaging in talk therapy and making simple lifestyle changes. These lifestyle changes can be as simple as making small goals, eating healthy foods or just being more mindful of the present. Talk therapy is also very effective. This involves sitting down and talking to a professional therapist about your problems. The therapist will then give you tips on how to cope with your symptoms, but just talking to someone about your problems is a relief in and of itself. While none of these are guaranteed to cure your depression, they are alternatives to the “quick fixes” that may not work out for you.
However, Beihold is not saying that antidepressants are bad; she is simply stating that they do not work for her. In the second verse, Beihold sings, “’Cause I just wanna see if this could make me happy,” revealing her faith that the medication would work for her since it has for others. If you are struggling with depression and are thinking about taking antidepressants, talk to your doctor to review which option(s) would be best for you.
“Numb Little Bug” also discusses the importance of talking about your struggles. Beihold uses a conversational tone, making the song feel more like a back-and-forth discussion about her feelings, similar to how she may talk to a therapist. This style helps to promote the idea of talking to someone about mental illness. Vertava Health explains that talking about your mental health helps to eliminate the stigma around mental illnesses and creates a healthy environment in which you can feel comfortable and confident. You should always have at least one person you can talk to, for no one will ever truly understand your pain until you let them in. Communicating your pain to someone helps them to understand you better and gives them the opportunity to help you when you are in need. You will also feel heard and validated if you have someone whom you can trust and confidently talk to about your issues.
If you feel like you have no one to talk to, there are hotlines available to help you in an emergency. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 1-800-273-8255, and a new number is set to be added on July 16, which will shorten it to 988.
“Numb Little Bug” is a fun, catchy song, but it also brings light to a serious topic that is too often shoved under the rug. By sharing her story, Beihold gives a voice to so many others who may be struggling with mental illness. As mental health awareness becomes more normalized, it is important to create a safe space — free of stigma and ridicule — in which those who are struggling with depression can discuss its effects. And, as Beihold recognizes, simply talking about it is the first step toward making that a reality.