Hayley Williams has come a long way since the series of challenging life events that prompted her to write a stunning essay in 2018. While Paramore fans saw her as the bad-ass frontwoman of a huge band, she saw herself as something else: conflicted and emotionally drained. It just took her a while to open up about it, and band turmoil and a heartbreaking relationship were the breaking points.
In an honest and emotional interview with RADIO.COM, Williams looked back on what led her to spill her guts about depression to the world and how she has grown since. The lead-up to Paramore’s fifth studio album in 2017 is a good place to start.
“I would come home from recording After Laughter and I wouldn’t even feel any joy and it was so strange because music is my passion and Paramore is my first love, my real love of my life,” she said. “I couldn’t understand why the things I always leaned on felt so empty and I didn’t think there was much else to live for.”
Williams’ marriage to New Found Glory guitarist Chad Gilbert had quickly ended around the same time and she was finding it hard to write songs that fit the mood of her band. Still, she considers songwriting to be her main form of therapy and she’s learned to use it to let her rawest of emotions out. The evidence is her therapeutic new solo EP, Petals for Armor I.
“I’ve been trying to learn how to be more vulnerable and how to share parts of myself that are not that attractive and that are not that fun to talk about,” Williams said. “I think I use that as a means to connecting to people because I so desperately don’t want to feel alone.”
Williams says it has been liberating to present her true self to the world. She still takes medication and sees a therapist to keep her mental health in a good place.
“I know what it’s like to be in the deepest part of your depression and I still have access to my depression today,” she said. “I still have access to all my feelings. I can be very down and sad and I also can be overjoyed and I can actually wake up and see the point of living.”
RADIO.COM’s I’m Listening initiative aims to encourage those who are dealing with mental health issues to understand they are not alone. If you or anyone you know is struggling with depression or anxiety, know that someone is always there. Additionally, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-273-8255.