A couple of days ago, Hayley Williams from Paramore shared through an op-ed her experiences on writing an album while struggling and dealing with her stress and mental health.
Musically upbeat, lyrically upsetting and real
For those who have listened to Paramore’s last album After Laughter, you may have noticed not only the band’s sound change but that the lyrical content is different to what they’ve written before.
Musically upbeat, lyrically upsetting, and real. It’s no lie we all have had our ups and downs, and it’s tough to confront what’s happening in our lives and our heads. Williams’ way was writing, both lyrics and now her essay.
“Imagine a little girl, dancing and twirling on a sidewalk in a loud, colorful dress. Eyes closed, laughing. 100 feet above her, someone’s pushing a piano (just go with me, here) out of their apartment window and it’s got nowhere to go but straight down. Well, I was the little girl.”, She explains how she was supposed to be happy when life itself crushed her. Hayley talks a bit about when she divorced New Found Glory’s Chad Gilbert and mentioned the departure of bandmate Jeremy Davis.
“A lot happened within a short time. But then I didn’t eat; I didn’t sleep, I didn’t laugh… for a long time. I’m still hesitant to call it depression. Mostly out of fear people will put it in a headline, as if depression is unique and interesting and deserves a click. Psychology is interesting. Depression is torment.”.
How our issues can make us feel like we don’t know ourselves any more, or at least that piece of ourselves, the one that doesn’t smile, the one that comes out when things are wrong, the one that feels alone or sad. That part of ourselves that we never want to let out.
“How could the same lips that said, ‘I do,’ sing the words, ‘You want forgiveness, but I can’t give you that.’ Or the same person who once tried to be so bubbly write lyrics like, ‘I don’t need no help, I can sabotage me by myself.’”
But as she keeps writing, Williams explains how writing kept her going and helped her get better without having to ignore her past anymore. “Now every night on tour, I turn around, and there’s my brother back on the drums again. No more denial. No more walking across traffic like the old lady in the cartoon who doesn’t even notice the wreckage behind her when she’s barely made it to the other side”. Now discussing how drummer Zac Farro “bolted” back into her life after he left the band in 2010.
“Expression is survival.”
She finishes her essay with a loud: “Expression is survival” -and continues- “You can do it however you please. Write, draw, create something with your hands. Tell somebody you love them. Take a drive, roll down your windows and yell something like, ‘MY LIFE IS SO SHIT RIGHT NOW!’ Or, ‘WHAT DO YOU KNOW? I’M ACTUALLY FINE TODAY!’ These are just things to try if the crying and dancing don’t work.”
It’s okay to feel sad; it’s okay to cry, it’s okay to let everything out, it’s okay not to be okay. Things can work out as long as we want them to, without pressuring ourselves into “having to feel fine” or shaming ourselves for being sad. Just talk about it, speak up, look for help, and you’ll be heard.