Paramore’s Hayley Williams Pens Powerful Mental Health Essay

By Victoria Kim 06/01/18

“Writing kept me alive. Forced me to be honest. It helped me understand that emotional wellness and physical health are actually related.”

Hayley Williams

Paramore’s lead singer Hayley Williams is taking the shame out of sadness.

In the band’s most recent single “Rose-Colored Boy,” Williams sings, “Just let me cry a little bit longer/ I ain’t gon’ smile if I don’t want to.”

The chorus is a perfect summation of Williams’ current incarnation, as she’s emerged from difficult times and is (at least a little bit) comfortable enough to talk about it.

In a new essay for Paper magazine, Williams recalled when a lot came crashing down on her at the same time in both her personal life and her career.

I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t laugh… for a long time,” she wrote. However, she added, “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.”

But she said she managed to keep it together through writing. “Writing kept me alive. Forced me to be honest. 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 wrote.

Lately, she said she has felt a shift, as well as in the people around her. Paramore had not released new work since 2013, until they came out with After Laughter in the spring of 2017. The music and the timing of the album were significant for the band.

“[After Laughter] helps me mark this time as a significant turning point in my life,” said Williams. “I’m noticing similar movement in my friends’ lives too. More presence and awareness. More tenderness. I’m alive to both pain and joy now. I have my old laugh back, as my mom says… And only a couple years ago, I had hoped I’d die.”

Williams discussed her struggles with mental health in a summer 2017 interview with Fader, as well. She described a feeling of hopelessness that crept up on her in the “past couple of years.”

“I don’t feel as hopeful as I did as a teenager. For the first time in my life, there wasn’t a pinhole of light at the end of the tunnel,” she said at the time. “I thought, I just wish everything would stop. It wasn’t in the sense of, I’m going to take my life. It was just hopelessness. Like, what’s the point? I don’t think I understood how dangerous hopelessness is. Everything hurts.”

Paramore is currently on tour, which is set to wrap up in late August.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr