I’ve always loved music for its power to evoke emotional responses from its listeners. The lyrics to some of my favorite songs have been able to penetrate deeper in my brain than normal words have been able to. They’ve touched my heart. More than that, they’ve touched my soul and helped me through my mental illness.
This is especially true with Demi Lovato’s new song, “Anyone,” which she so beautifully debuted at the Grammys this year.
“I think I cried too many times.”
As someone who has struggled with mental illness my whole life, most of the time in secret, this song hit me hard. I’ve spent nights upon nights sobbing my bed, praying that I wouldn’t wake up the next morning.
“I talk to shooting stars but they always get it wrong. I feel stupid when I pray, so why am I praying anyway? If nobody’s listening…”
My prayers were left unanswered, and I woke up every single time. My next prayer was that someone, anyone would finally see me. I hoped that they’d see the hurt that I felt and the pain behind my eyes. Additionally, I wore bracelets and long sleeves to cover up the self-harm scars on my forearms but deep down, I hoped that someone would notice them and rescue me.
“I tried and tried and tried some more.”
A couple of years later, I switched my method of self-destruction. I no longer self-harmed by cutting but instead by starving my body. I was slowly killing myself – and waiting. Waiting for someone to notice that I needed help. Eventually, I had no choice but to use my words, since no one seemed to understand the messages I tried to convey.
“Tired of empty conversation, ‘cause no one hears me anymore.”
My words went just as unheard as my self-harm behaviors. I brought my dad into therapy to tell him about my eating disorder and depression. Similarly, I told my mom over the phone about my struggles with my mental health. Neither of them seemed to think that anything was wrong. “But you’re still getting good grades? And you have friends?” my dad asked me. I broke down into tears. “Clearly everything is fine! I’m fine!” I shouted at him. I couldn’t believe that no one heard my words. My mom told me I was probably just “super-health conscious” and that I should see a different therapist because they might tell me that I didn’t really have an eating disorder.
“They always get it wrong.”
I sometimes ask myself what more I could have done for them to hear me? It’s hard to reach out when you’re struggling with your mental health, mostly because you don’t know how people will react. Instead, you turn to self-destructive ways to seek help. Others have told me that I shouldn’t self-harm because “Don’t you know that you were the only person who could have helped yourself? Why were you waiting for someone to come to your rescue and hurting yourself in the process?”
The truth is that I waited for someone to help me because I didn’t know how to help myself. When you’re struggling with mental illness, this is common. Some people are strong as hell and know exactly what to do to get better, but a lot of people don’t. I didn’t know how to take care of myself. I needed someone to reach out, take my hand and say, “It’s going to be alright. This is what we’re going to do.”
If you think someone you know may be struggling, reach out. Don’t stay silent just because you’re afraid of having an awkward conversation. Feeling uncomfortable for a bit is better than finding out about your friend’s suicide later.
I won’t lie, there were some people who did hear my cries for help.
My illness just blinded me too much for me to notice. I have some amazing friends who tried to help me see my worth during the depths of my illnesses. While they weren’t able to fully help me get to a place of wellness, they did help me pull myself out of a dark, dark place. And when my parents couldn’t help me, I helped myself. I got myself to therapy and into treatment. I did the hard work that was necessary to recover. And now I’m stronger than I’ve ever been before. My journey certainly isn’t over, but I’m grateful that I’m not where I used to be.
Demi Lovato’s song Anyone reminded me so much of my own journey with mental illness.
She got onstage in front of the world and let her pain pour out. In doing so, she’s empowered anyone struggling with mental illness to know that they’re not alone in their struggles. I know that I could have used a song like this back during the days when I would cry so loudly in my bed, hoping anyone would hear me, but I’m glad that others have Demi’s powerful song now.
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