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New Imagine Dragons Song Captures What It’s Like to Have 'High-Functioning' Depression


If you’re headed to see Disney’s new animated feature “Ralph Breaks the Internet” on Nov. 21, prepare to hear the brand new Imagine Dragons song, “Zero.” The song sets lyrics about feeling empty to an upbeat pop track that captures what it’s like to have “high-functioning” depression — struggling on the inside but putting on a happy face.

“‘Zero’ is a song about somebody who feels empty, who feels like nothing, but continues on and puts a smile on their face,” Imagine Dragons lead singer Dan Reynolds told The New York Post. “That’s kind of the theme of my life: a constant battle to find positivity in living and feeling a little empty at times. I’m trying to fill that void.”

In the track’s chorus, Reynolds sings, “Let me tell you what it’s like to be a zero, zero/Let me show you what it’s like to never feel, feel/Like I’m good enough for anything that’s real, real/I’m looking for a way out.” Meanwhile, the backbeat bounces along happily, so much so a casual listener might miss the song’s more difficult reality.

For those who live with high-functioning depression, this disconnect between their internal and external worlds can be quite painful. “On the outside, people see the happy, bubbly, carefree woman. But in reality, they have no idea,” Mighty contributor Laura Snelling wrote in her article “What It’s Like to Be a ‘Happy’ and ‘High-Functioning’ Depressed Person.” She continued:

I have those few genuine moments in which my laugh or smile is real. But for the most part, even when I’m smiling or laughing, I’m breaking on the inside. Even when I try to have those moments of happiness and pureness, depression still lingers; reminding me that the sadness is greater. I wish I could just tell people that. I wish I didn’t have to pretend. In all honesty, it’s the most exhausting thing I have ever done. I’m so tired when I get home each day and it’s not because of lack of sleep or working all day. It’s from pretending to be happy and bubbly all day long.

Reynolds has been open about living with anxiety and depression as well as the chronic illnesses ankylosing spondylitis and ulcerative colitis. As of late, however, the singer said his health has been on an upswing.

“This year has been very healing for me,” Reynolds said. “I would say I’ve dealt with a much lower level of depression this year than I have in the past decade, and I think that comes from living my truth.”

Imagine Dragons premiered “Zero” during an episode of “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and the song appears on the band’s latest album, “Origins,” which was released Friday.

Header image via Imagine Dragons’ Facebook page.