Paramore's Hayley Williams Is Inspiring Fans With An Essay About Mental Health

"I'm still hesitant to call it depression."

Paramore's lead singer Hayley Williams is getting honest about her struggles with mental health, which she documented on the band's 2017 album After Laughter. In a new essay for Paper magazine, the musician shares her experience with depression and how writing the album helped her cope.

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Williams starts by describing her life in the summer of 2015, having won a Grammy and gotten engaged to her ex-husband, Chad Gilbert of New Found Glory. "Everything was finally going to be perfect," she recalls, before acknowledging the difficulties she had with the band (including the departure of bassist Jeremy Davis), as well as her relationship troubles.

"A lot happened within a short time," Williams writes. "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."

Williams describes the difficulty she had writing music for the band during this time. "But writing kept me alive. Forced me to be honest," she writes. "Made me have empathy for [bandmate Taylor York] in his struggles with mental health. It helped me understand that emotional wellness and physical health are actually related."

She goes on to share the "significant turning point" marked by the band's latest album. "I'm alive to both pain and joy now," she writes. "I have my old laugh back, as my mom says. The one that takes over my body and sends me out of myself for a few seconds. And only a couple years ago, I had hoped I'd die."

Williams ends her essay by advising those reading to try expressing themselves if they're experiencing their own struggles. "Expression is survival. You can do it however you please," she shares. "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!'"

Fans on Twitter praised the musician for being honest about her experience, and for starting a conversation about mental health. Considering May is Mental Health Awareness Month, it's the perfect time.

Earlier this month, Paramore shared the meaning behind their single "Rose-Colored Boy" with fans on Twitter. They described the song as being "about feeling pressured to look at the world with blind optimism when you actually feel very hopeless about the world & your part in it."

They added that "there is so much social pressure to be (or appear to be) 'happy' that we can actually feel shame when we aren't," and shared their hope that "someone was made to feel less alone" by listening to the song. Thanks to Williams' new essay, that's hopefully true of even more people.

(H/T: NME)

Cover image: Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock.com

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