Taylor Swift captures what it’s like to struggle with her mental health

It’s somewhere between 4 and 5 a.m. and I’m wide awake, headphones shoved into my ears, my eyes filled with tears.

I’m listening to Taylor Swift’s latest album, “Midnights”, which was released at midnight (of course) Friday. Once again, Swift puts into words emotions that many of us feel but cannot adequately or eloquently express. Except that this time, it’s more direct than hidden: she denounces depression and the sleepless nights it causes. It refers to an eating disorder. In many ways, this is his most vulnerable album to date; she speaks clearly about her sanity – and mine. Maybe yours too.

The clearest references to this are found in “Anti-Hero” and “You’re on Your Own, Kid”. In the former, she nails some of the shades of depression, saying, “Midnights become my afternoons, when my depression works the night shift, all the people I’ve ghosted are standing there in the room. “

In “You’re on Your Own, Kid,” Swift references an eating disorder — a struggle Swift alluded to in the 2020 Netflix documentary “Miss Americana.” “I gave my blood, my sweat and my tears for it, I threw parties and starved my body, like I had been saved by a perfect kiss”, she sings.

People on Twitter also noticed the references. Some shared how it made them feel validated in their own mental health experiences:

“When artists talk about their real challenges, it shows people who might be struggling that they’re not alone,” Dr. Jessica Gold, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Medicine School of Medicine, told me. Washington to St. Louis.

“That’s why people listen to song lyrics and say things like ‘I feel seen’ because they actually feel like their story is similar and not something to hide. And how they really admire Taylor Swift, it helps them feel like it’s okay, even normal, to struggle.

Although we still have a long way to go, the stigma surrounding mental health and mental health disorders has diminished significantly in recent years – and much of that is due to public figures speaking openly about their own experiences. Research shows that celebrity disclosures about their mental health issues can increase advocacy and education around specific conditions.

Swift has never directly shared any particular diagnosis (aside from the aforementioned eating disorder) in detail, but she always adds to the overall conversation in a meaningful way with her music. She offers fans a way to cut and paste her lyrics to suit their own lives and sanity.

“I think people often look at celebrities and the faces they put on publicly and think that means they’re amazing and happy all the time,” Gold explained. “But when you hear about what’s really going on behind the – sometimes fake – smile, it makes you feel even more connected to them, makes them feel even more real, and helps you connect much more to them and their music. .”

Many Fans joked that the new album felt like therapy, which Gold says makes sense in a way.

“We knew from his initial announcement of ‘Midnights’ that this album was going to feel like a therapy mission done without sleep, and there’s something so human about that experience,” she said. “Many of us don’t sleep and think about our past or our future and have negative thoughts about ourselves or others, and as she names these experiences, we feel much more understood and much less alone.”

Of course, an album can’t replace regular therapy ― but listening to these songs can feel damn close to the actualization you can feel during a session, and that in its own way is cathartic. There’s nothing like feeling understood by an artist you admire — and knowing that they might be there with you too.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, call National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.


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