Paramore's Hayley Williams Opens Up About the Hopelessness of Depression

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Paramore lead singer Hayley Williams has been a punk rock idol for over a decade. Off the release of her band’s latest album “After Laughter,” Williams opened up in an intimate interview with The FADER, where she discusses the intensity of her mental health issues and the painfulness of a symptom far too many have experienced: hopelessness.

While Williams, now 28, would relate to and write songs about teenage angst in Paramore’s early years, “After Laughter” tackles darker issues like depression and marital problems. Williams told FADER, “I don’t feel as hopeful as I did as a teenager.”

The singer went on to reveal she’s been living with depression for the past several years. The dark feelings and fixations on death got so intense, she began seeing a therapist:

For the first time in my life, there wasn’t a pinhole of light at the end of the tunnel. 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.

Williams also said she briefly quit the band in 2015 but was drawn back in when her songwriting partner, Taylor York — who also has a history with depression — started sending her unfinished tracks she would riff off. Still, when “After Laughter” was released in May, Williams said she was overcome with sadness and struggled to keep positive at a fan meet-and-greet. “It was a heavy day because we were letting go of this thing that we felt kept us alive,” she told FADER. “And I do think it kept me alive.”

Williams still maintains friendliness and warmth toward everyone she meets, even strangers. When asked about it, she told FADER:

Man, I was just taught to be nice. I’m going to be gone one day, and I have to accept that tomorrow isn’t promised. Am I OK with how I’m living today? It’s the only thing I can help. If I didn’t have another one, what have I done with all my todays? Am I doing a good job?

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Fans on Twitter were quick to offer Williams love and support:

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

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What My Stay in a Mental Hospital Taught Me About Life

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Editor’s note: If you struggle with self-harm or suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

When people hear, “I’ve been admitted to the mental hospital,” their automatic response is usually to stutter, change the subject or frown apologetically. It isn’t exactly typical water cooler conversation. The problem with this response is that it would usually trigger shame in someone. I’ll let you in on a little secret.

I am not ashamed of having been in the mental hospital.

When I entered the mental hospital, I expected to fight the monsters inside my mind, but I didn’t expect to fight alongside the bravest and most genuine people I’ve ever met.

I awake to the sounds of chattering nurses, high-pitched beeping machinery and rolling aluminum wheels against the grainy carpeting.
“Time for vitals!” I hear as I will my eyes to open to the nightmare that is my reality.

Another day. I survived another day. I wrestle with whether I am grateful or disappointed about this fact.

My sleepy eyes try to adjust as I sit up, offering up my arm to the nurse who shows no empathy for awakening me in such a manner. When she finishes, I drag myself from the bed and quickly examine my attire for the day. The same sweatpants from yesterday meet my baby blue hospital socks. I wear an old shirt and my only jacket (with the strings cut out) due to the icebox that is the day room. No makeup. Disheveled messy bun. My inhibitions were left at the door. I routinely walk out to the day room and sit until we are called for breakfast.

My mind returns to the day I admitted myself to the mental hospital.

It was a beautiful day outside. Fitting, as I would not see the outside for quite some time after that. The sun was shining. Birds were chirping. Inside, I was dying. How could the outside world look so deceivingly beautiful while my world stung with contrasting darkness?

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As I changed my clothes into baggy, scratchy, maroon-colored paper scrubs, I tried pretending I didn’t care that someone else had to be in the bathroom with me, watching to make sure I didn’t have anything dangerous on me. As I willed myself to say goodbye to my best friend and was taken back to the observation room, I tried pretending like this wasn’t a big deal. I was fine. Everything was fine.

I ate my first meal in the darkened room with only a recliner to my name and the fluorescent light that beamed down on me. I stared at my tray of food. The meatloaf, potatoes and asparagus looked back at me, taunting. I peeled my eyes off of my food long enough to take in my surroundings. A rumbling, noisy TV hung on the wall. Rows of recliners lined the room with bodies in them, sleeping or blankly staring. White, sterile blankets laid on my lap. The public phone sat on a table to my right.

Tears welled hot in my eyes and refused to obey as they fell, lonely and afraid.

Everything was not fine. What was I doing here? How did I get here? What was going to happen? I was alone.

The next 48 hours were a blur of nurses, fluorescent lights, TV noise, hospital food, drugs and fear of the unknown. I tried to predict what exactly they were looking to observe in this “observation” room.

When I discovered they did not want to admit me, my muddled mind became frantic. The psychiatrist’s words echoed in my mind. “I don’t think you are sick enough to be here.” Those words stung me at my core and would play over and over again in my head throughout the coming weeks.

The social worker took me aside to talk about options, while my eyes filled once again with hot tears that I tried to choke back. But then a remarkable thing happened.

She listened.

And the next day, I found myself being admitted to the inpatient behavioral health center.

And now, here I sat with 15 other strangers at my side every hour of every day — each one of us with a different story. Different chains bound around our hearts, but everyone showing their cards to each other. Showing up to life honestly and more bravely than ever before. I quickly learned in my first group therapy session that we were expected to be blatantly transparent here. Before I had even met anyone, we sat in a circle and were prompted to state our name, what brought us here to the hospital and our goal for the day.

“Goal for the day? I could barely get out of bed today. Wasn’t it enough that I was here? How could I bear my soul to these strangers?”

I stopped caring fairly quickly, after realizing that everyone here was at rock bottom.

“My name is Amanda. I am here for depressionanxietyself-harm and suicidal thoughts.”

Ironically, this would become the easiest part of the routine during group every day. Depending on my mood, I would leave it at “I’m here for depression.”

Sometimes it takes too much energy. Sometimes people aren’t really asking to hear the answer.

Life in the hospital was simpler than expected. My accomplishments every day consisted of completing puzzles, coloring pages, making it out of bed and taking my medications. If I hadn’t isolated at all that day and had stayed out in the day room surrounded by other patients, I was especially proud of myself. If I had managed to have a conversation with someone who was in front of my face instead of at the other end of the phone, I had achieved a great victory. And if I had been so bold as to tell the nurses when I felt like harming myself, I had achieved so much that I might as well be set free to go home. My work here was done.

If only it were that simple.

I had expected to stay a few days in the hospital. Assess the damage, prescribe some meds and send me on my way. But a couple days turned into a couple more. And a couple more days turned into a week. A week turned into two weeks, which in the confines of the white hospital walls felt like an eternity. By the second week, I was convinced that the sheer fact I had been there for so long was contributing to my depression more than it was helping.

I had watched people come and go through those doors, and by my last day, I only knew one other person who had been there longer than I had. This was not what I had expected. This was not what I had signed up for.

Long nights were made longer when I had no visitors. Days were stripped of joy once my friends had gone home. Motivation was lacking and hope was dwindling. On the day of my discharge, I looked into the faces of those who sat across from me. I looked into their eyes, I opened my ears and I heard their stories. Some people told stories on their arms. Some told stories with drugs. Some told stories with their eyes. Some even told stories in their silence. Stories are always there; we just have to pay attention enough to know how to listen. It turns out that everyone just wants to be known, and loved anyways.

While I struggled with my time in the hospital, there was something I will never forget: The hospital is where people defrosted.

They would limp inside, wounded and cold and shut off. They would look for the exits, hide in their rooms, wrestle with running to and from the life they had created for themselves. And when they realized none of those things were working, they would slowly but surely crawl out into the light. Their hearts would flicker.

Maybe it was the camaraderie as they talked and colored outside the lines of their coloring books. Maybe it was hearing a key on the piano or a string on a guitar that made their eyes dart and souls perk up a little. Maybe it was their favorite song they hadn’t heard in years or memories of doing puzzles with their grandparents as they concentrated hard on putting the pieces together. Maybe it was seeing a show on TV or being able to have a conversation about something they genuinely enjoyed.

Each person slowly received a spark — a sliver of hope — that brought them back to life, if only for a moment. That is the most beautiful and honorable thing in the world to watch.

As the days passed, my medications were changed and things began to look up. Talk of discharge carried my hope through the days, yet there is a fear that comes with being released. It is the fear that though you have changed, the world has not, and it will be sure to envelop you again in its snare of impending doom. It is the fear you will never be strong enough to stand on your own two feet outside of those four walls. That is the moment when you pull out that sliver of hope. Whatever got your heart beating, whatever made your eyes light up, whatever moment made you realize you are still alive and not going down without a fight — that is what will save you from yourself. That is the hope that will tell you that you can do hard things, and there is a purpose for you in this world.

That is what the mental hospital teaches you.

That we are all human, we all matter and we are all fighting for our lives. We show up — trembling and fighting — and we win, because we are all worth the fight.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you struggle with self-harm and you need support right now, call the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Pixabay image via Free-Photos

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The One Small Victory I Celebrate Over Depression

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Today, I brushed my hair.

To some people, this may seem like no big deal. To some people, this may be an everyday practice. But to someone struggling with depression who might not be able to get out of bed in the morning to get something to eat — this is a huge accomplishment. I feel lucky when I can bring myself to shower when an episode hits, even though the longer I procrastinate, the harder it gets.

Today, for the first time in a few weeks, I brushed my hair and managed to flat iron it. I honestly forgot what my hair looked like down and straight. I am a hairstylist, and depression took a big toll on me at work. I can’t help but notice the other stylists’ hair. My boss has even told me not to put my hair back into a messy bun when we work events. Some days or weeks, I just can’t find the motivation to do my own hair. I can’t even find the motivation to take appointments, support myself, eat or stay at work.

Times like this make me grateful for the small victories.

So today, I brushed my hair — and that is enough.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via George Doyle

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17 Things People With Depression Need From Their Significant Other

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Depression can be incredibly isolating. It might tell you to shut the rest of the world out. It might tell you that you aren’t worthy or deserving. And it often tries to keep you to itself, leaving you confused about where to turn for relief from its debilitating grasp.

That’s why it can be so hard to tell your significant other what you need — because sometimes you’re not even sure yourself. This can be frustrating for even the most well-intentioned partner, who may not know what to do or say when depression strikes the person they love.

 That is why we asked people in our Mighty mental health community who struggle with depression to tell us one thing they need from their significant other.

Here is what they had to say:

1. “Understanding. Understanding that sometimes I’m going to have a bad day for no real reason and that I don’t know why. Most times there isn’t even a cause, its just my mental health. On those days just remind me you care. Don’t force me to explain what’s going on, don’t try to fix a problem that isn’t there — just be there for me if and when I want to talk. If I don’t, don’t make me feel guilty about it.” — Amanda C.

2. “Unconditional love. I might stay in bed all day because it’s impossible to get up. Please still love me on those days. I might need to be left alone or I might need you by my side at all times to feel safe. Please still love me on those days. Please don’t take offense when I get angry for no reason or cry uncontrollably. I need you to still love me. And no matter how many times I ask you, please still answer that you still love me. I need to be validated — especially when I feel so vulnerable.” — Jenna Mae S.

3. “To be left to my own devices when I need space, and support and cups of tea when I can’t help myself.” — Trish L.

4. “Patience. Understanding… When you’re dealing with a constant storm in your head, the last thing you need is to hear trivial nonsense yammered on about, at nauseam, for hours.” — Dave A.

5. “To know I struggle. And it’s a real illness that I battle chronically. Some days I’m awesome. Other days I am really low. It’s a chronic wave that I surf throughout life.” — Bobbie M.

6. “Supportive comments and lots of hugs and patience.” — Vicky B.

7. “Affection and understanding. Just them being there holding me can keep me together better than any words ever could. If I tell them I’m having a ‘bad me day’ and all they do is come up to me, wrap me in my blanket and hold me for hours while we watch a movie — that can do wonders.” — Katherine B.

8. “To take care of the kids when I can’t.” — Nyssa M.

9. “My wife is awesome. She understands that she cannot fix me, she cannot heal me. I know it’s hard for her but she gives me my space. She doesn’t smother me, but lets me know that she’s there for me. She stays calm so that I don’t have a negative reaction to her. Most of all, she prays for me. She loves me unconditionally with support and mercy.” — David S.

10. “Reassurance. I need to be told it’s going to be OK and you aren’t going to leave me. I need to be told that you aren’t going to find someone better — someone who doesn’t have depression. Because I know there are ‘better’ people out there and I don’t want to lose him.” — Devon B.

11. “To know it isn’t their fault.” — Kyra B.

12. “Lots of help. Because of my lack of energy, there are so many things I don’t get done. And patience and understanding that I didn’t choose this, and that I’m doing the best I can.” — Lillie S.

13. “Understand that you can’t fix me, you can’t make it go away. And don’t get​ angry when you can’t fix it or make it go away. This is just how I am and I can’t help it. Just love me through it.” — Elizabeth C.

14. “Validation. For them to thank me when I do something around the house. It’s hard for me to do things like clean. A simple thank you would make it all worth it.” — Elizabeth C.

15. “Definitely a hug. Lots and lots of hugs. Sometimes I just want to curl up in a ball in bed and not move, and I just need someone to hold me during those times.” — Jessica B.

16. “Just don’t give up on me please. There are days, if not weeks, when I’ve given up on myself. I just need to know that you care. I may push you away in my own attempt to help myself in that moment, but please don’t leave. I need to know you’ll come back. I need to know I’m worth coming back to. I just need you to love me when I can’t love myself.” — Jaden S.

17. “Listen to my rants about how depressed I am even if it’s silly. And hug me when I’m sad.” — Selina M.

What do you need?

Thinkstock photo via Grandfailure.

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Today Mommy Was Depressed

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Today mommy had a bad day. She was anxious and irritable, short tempered and unfair. Mommy snapped at you. Ignored you and yelled. Mommy had no motivation, no ounce of compassion or care for your needs and wants.

Today mommy had anxiety, debilitating and unwavering. It felt as though the world was crumbling around her for no reason at all. The pressure in mommy’s chest felt suffocating, making everyday decisions obstacles to be tackled, obstacles she felt couldn’t be overcome. Today mommy was depressed. It took everything in her to get out of bed this morning and try to function throughout the day. It took every ounce of mommy’s will to get you ready and out the door in time for school. Feeding you felt like a chore. Getting you bathed and dressed felt near impossible. I know you saw it, the sadness in mommy’s eyes. I know this because you asked what was wrong with mommy, in your concerned sweet 4-year-old voice.

Today mommy doubted everything. Her ability to overcome the sadness, her resolve in surviving the day. Each and every moment felt heavy, and full of pain.

Today mommy failed at being kind and compassionate, loving and patient. She knows the calm, loving, understanding mother you usually have was replaced today by an angry, heartbroken woman who looked like your mommy, but didn’t act like her. Mommy was less than perfect, and for that I am sorry.

Today mommy cried, alone after you had gone to school. She cried for you. For the look in your eyes when she snapped at you over a few toys left on the floor. She cried for you, for yelling over the accident you had as we were walking out the door. Today mommy cried, alone, after you had gone to school for the look of hurt on your face, the quiver in your voice. Today mommy cried, for all her shortcomings.

But today Mommy faced the day. Today mommy was brave beyond measure. Today mommy stayed in a world she couldn’t bear to be part of. Today mommy raised her head, not so high, and pushed forward trying her best to make it through each second of every minute, every minute of every hour. Today mommy tried her hardest. It wasn’t nearly enough but it was all she could do. Today mommy tried to be patient though she failed many times. Today mommy tried to be the mommy you need, the mommy you deserve.

Today mommy loved you, as much as she had yesterday and as much as she will tomorrow. While it was hard for her to show, she felt it, pushing back against the sadness in her heart.

Today mommy had a bad day, a day that made her feel like breaking. But she didn’t. Tonight as mommy tucked you into bed she felt proud. Proud of making it through the day, proud of surviving. Tonight, as mommy kissed you goodnight, she thanked the moon and stars for you and your unconditional love. Today mommy made it through, and she has you to thank for that.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Photo via contributor.

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What It Means When You Say You're There for Me

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Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

Dear Friend,

When I tell someone I have depression and anxiety, there is a cacophony of fear within. What if they pity me? What if they think less of me, that I am weak when in actuality I am strong for fighting a silent war every day with every breath? What if they brush me off, tell me to get over it? What if?

You see, my greatest fear is not getting enough help.

At first, it’s great — I tell you about this silent war, I show you my scars and you don’t cower away in fear. You stay. You care. The relief I feel is instantaneous and overwhelming. I allow myself to hope a little. Could I have found an ally?

But I fear that you won’t persevere in showing you care.

This is the cycle: I wear my mask perfectly, too perfectly. It cracks and I have no other choice but to let someone in until I am strong enough to hide myself away again. I often compare this to a covered, boiling pot of water — eventually, the water comes bursting out, demanding to be set free, because the lid has been left on too long. So I talk, I bubble over. And you listen. I cry. And you listen. What you don’t know is that I’ve only allowed myself to show you a small fraction of my pain because it is crushing, all-consuming and it has often been too much for others to handle. I shed a few tears, but I don’t “ugly cry” until I am alone again. I tell you I’ve been “a little low lately” when I am actually numb, empty and hopeless. I try my best to keep you safe — from me, from the enormity of my pain.

Because you’re there for me… until you’ve had to talk me down from the ledge for the hundredth time.

You’re there for me… until I can’t take off my armor no matter how many times you keep checking in on me. I push you away when all I want is for you to ask again. Ask louder. Just ask again.“

You’re there for me… until it’s too much.

You’re there for me… until I’m too much.

So when you say those words, “I’m here for you,” I panic. I desperately try to choke down the hope I feel rising in me, desperate to believe those words. You see, I’ve heard them before and I know they have an expiry date. So I am conflicted. On one hand, I want to bask in the warmth of those words that despite all logic, I still long to be told. But on the other, I wish you hadn’t spoken them at all. I wish you hadn’t started digging me out if you couldn’t finish, destroying the neat patch of land I was safely buried in. I wish you hadn’t knocked down my walls, leaving me bare and unprotected, without ever bringing me to safety. I wish you hadn’t started walking me across my bridge to recovery, only to leave me stranded halfway. Because then I wouldn’t feel like all I’m worthy of is a halfway try. That I am impossible to understand. That there is only so much help I am deserving of and capable of benefiting from. That this pain can never fade.

So yes, I fear not getting enough help when you say you’re there for me. I know you are sincere and probably believe it when you tell me that, but I need help. A lot. And it’s often too much for those around me. So if you are truly there for me, I will need convincing. Don’t just tell me — show me. Keep showing me and keep showing others. I believe we can all make a difference this way. Actions speak louder than words. It’s cliché because it’s true. Because the words, those words, mean nothing to me anymore. They are too easy to say, but hard to really mean. All I ask is that you stand beside me and be my friend — no promises needed. Simply listen, care, and I will do my best to do the same for you.

I hope you will truly stay.

Chrissy

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If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via sanjagrujic

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