In 2018, there is a prevalent stigma in the media surrounding mental illnesses.
Despite this stigma, society has made strides in mental health awareness, adding initiatives like Mental Illness Awareness Week and World Mental Health Day, which allow people to share their experiences with mental health issues and learn from each other.
With the creation of charities such as Project Semicolon, To Write Love On Her Arms and the Trevor Project, those suffering have new outlets for coping with mental illness symptoms and have helped them find solidarity with others going through similar experiences.
This being said, conversations regarding mental health were once only socially acceptable behind closed doors.
There is still a reluctance to have more open forums for such important dialogues.
Up until two years ago, my own conversations regarding my dealings with mental health were conducted without much public knowledge.
But as society has become more open and accepting of such vulnerable matters, and more articles were published about mental health and more positive initiatives regarding counseling, I have become more comfortable with talking about what I have experienced both in the past and currently.
This change of pace is much needed.
Young children should grow up knowing that it is okay to feel any emotion, whether that emotion is positive or negative.
Thankfully, we are getting to a place where schools at all levels offer lessons, workshops and activities addressing mental health issues.
Many universities, including Lehigh, provide free counseling services that are publicly advertised. Students are able to speak with counselors, participate in group sessions, refer a friend and attend workshops that teach people how to cope with stress and increase overall well-being.
When I was younger, I would have appreciated more support in the form of media and opportunities to help assuage my feelings.
Having celebrities like Demi Lovato, who openly share their experiences with mental illness, would have been so comforting and helpful for me.
I would have learned sooner that wearing your heart on your sleeve and reaching out for help when feeling down are not signs of weakness.
I would have learned sooner that it is OK to cry in front of others, and it is definitely OK to lean on those near and dear to you for support.
But I am grateful that many stories of mental health recovery are being more publically shared.
I am most grateful for music, because I have the opportunity to find an individualized meaning within each song.
One of my favorite bands, Paramore, has employed rawness and heart despite changing its sound. Paramore has helped me get through good and bad days.
“Last Hope” is a song off of Paramore’s self-titled album, released after two of the original band members left.
While the feel of this album as a whole is experimental, with more electronic and pop sounds compared to the previous albums’ pop-punk sounds, the band’s affinity for lyrics that discuss genuine human emotions in a raw manner still remains.
This vulnerability is very much exhibited in “Last Hope.”
Hayley Williams, the lead singer of the band, is delicate with her voice throughout the song.
“I don’t even know myself at all/ I thought I would be happy by now/ The more I try to push it I realize/ Gotta let go of control,” Williams sings. She lets the fervor within her stay hidden during this lyric, adding to the emotion of vulnerability that listeners can connect to.
The pre-chorus and the chorus itself are lyrically so simple. This simplicity is calming and comforting, with Williams crooning, “And when it’s dark out, no one’s around/ It keeps glowing.”
As the synth keyboard kicks in after the first pre-chorus and chorus combination, the singer’s spirits are rising — she is gaining momentum. She realizes there is something to keep her going, despite her frequent low points. She is suggesting that even though it may not be obvious at first, there is light and hope for her to find happiness.
The song builds and then gets quiet at the bridge, but she maintains passion and strength within both the instrumental and lyrics.
“And the salt in my wounds isn’t burning any more than it used to/ It’s not that I don’t feel the pain/ it’s just I’m not afraid of hurting anymore,” she sings.
These are perhaps the most powerful lines of the song because they are sung with urgency. She says the pain that has felt is not any worse and that while she recognizes how uncomfortable she is, she accepts she is going to hurt.
Although Williams is still feeling her mood and spirit dip low, she knows from experience that her pain does not have to hold power over her ability to live a fulfilling life.
She knows the pain she is feeling isn’t a forever type of deal, and although she feels and has felt broken, she is still the person she is when she does not experience sadness.
With notable figures who are willing to be transparent regarding their mental health, it is easier to feel as though I am not alone on my difficult days.
We need more of this vulnerability, transparency and courage in the media so people will feel like they are not experiencing such detrimental feelings alone.
I have found pieces of myself within emotional lyrics such as “Last Hope.”
This, to me, is valuable.
Em Thampoe, ’21, is an assistant news editor and columnist for The Brown and White. She can be reached [email protected]