Escaping the After Laughter: Our Battle Against Mental Illness

For the pop-punk niche, this title may strike a chord. Yes, it is a reference to the most recent Paramore album. However, this is not a criticism of it. Rather, it is a reference to an article published by Paper Magazine, which I believe provides a refreshing take on mental health.

On May 30th, 2018 Paramore’s lead vocalist Hayley Williams published an op-ed in Paper Magazine. In this piece, she discussed her life story and her struggle with mental illness. She uses the metaphor of a jovial, unwitting little girl being hit by a piano falling from stories above to describe her experience, and it couldn’t be more accurate. What should have been the happiest time of Hayley’s life wasn’t at all. She was engaged and marrying the love of her life in a matter of months, going home after years away and in the process of writing for a new album. She struggled with unprecedented sadness, frustration and anger that became so destructive, it nearly tore her band apart.

She labelled this period in her life the “After Laughter” because she could no longer be the laughing, bubbly, happy person she expected to be. The band’s album project at this time also adopted this name because it was through the writing of that album that she was forced to examine and care for herself. That is the article in short.

I suppose you’re wondering why I chose to write about the musings of what some may consider a minor celebrity, and a relic of their angsty teenage years. The answer is simple. This piece offers new perspective on mental health and illness, one that is genuinely relatable and one that I understand. It’s me, and it could be you too.

Mental health is slowly becoming less stigmatized, with an increase in celebrities speaking out about their struggles. Many of their accounts start at the lowest points of their lives. Many experience something traumatic and spiral into drug use, or something of the sort. Most of us don’t have that experience, however.

For me, it began two years ago. I was set to begin my first year at my top university pick. I had a solid group of good friends. I had begun a healthy, loving, committed relationship with the most amazing man. From the outside, everything was perfect. But I was struggling with unexplained anger, sadness and a lack of desire to do anything that mattered to me. I didn’t feel like I was enough. Like Hayley, I ignored it until I was forced to address it. I struggled to keep up with school, work and social outings. I was later diagnosed with anxiety and depression. At the time, I looked for resources and celebrity inspiration. Two years later, and after reading Hayley’s story, I’m finally learning to cope.

Sometimes I still look to celebrities to provide validation for my struggle, and that’s why Hayley’s piece struck me. I finally found someone whose experience mirrored my own. It was a new reminder that mental illness can affect anyone, and that each person’s journey with any form of it is unique, valid and a show of strength. We are all just trying to figure out our “After Laughter,” and that is okay.

We will make it through. You will make it through.

To read the article, click here.

Williams, H. (2018, May 30). Hayley Williams on Mental Health: ‘I Didn’t Laugh For a Long Time’ [Editorial]. Paper Magazine.

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