Feeling Disconnected with Bedhead #IWD2021
March 8 is International Women's Day, a global day of recognition celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and girls, and raising awareness of the work left to be done. This #IWD2021, we remember we’re not alone. Between personal experience and public headlines it can feel like we’re not getting any closer to gender equality, or that it’s too overwhelming (and exhausting) to keep challenging social norms. This International Women’s Day, remind yourself that there are millions of women out there standing with us, and we’re all facing – and winning – the same battles.
As we commemorate International Women’s Month and Women’s Day tomorrow, we celebrate the women who inspire us to open up and share our stories and remind us that we’re not alone. This #SelfcareSunday, we sat down with Bedhead as she opened up about her own mental health journey, dealing with isolation and navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, the inspiration behind her songwriting and her brand new single Disconnected.
How does songwriting/music help you through your mental health journey?
I think they have always been coping mechanisms for me to deal with my mental health. And songwriting itself helps me to really process and make sense of certain aspects of it, like the intrapersonal relationship, past experiences, etc. Although I will write out my feelings as I’m going through them, the finished song usually comes after I have fully processed those moments and am on the other side, like “what did you learn from this? Now put it into music.”
Tell us about your mental health journey? Why was it important for you to share your experience with others through your music?
I think there were a lot of telling signs of anxious behaviour even as a child, but my mental health journey started as a teen when I started to become more anxious and slowly depressed Going to university. I hit my lowest there, and it has been a lot of therapy, CBT, meditation, thought journals, medication, hard work etc to get to where I am now. It will always be ongoing growing for me, and although I am comfortable talking about most of it now, at the time I wasn’t. At the time I felt alone, and alienated from my peers. Despite having a loving family and close friends to lean on, I still felt like it was wrong to talk about what I was going through. I didn’t see a lot of other people I knew talking about it either, even though I’m sure some of them were also fighting their own hidden battles. It’s important for me to share this because I don’t want anyone else to feel the shame or isolation that I did. If my music can help anyone feel less alone, that’s my ultimate goal.
What was the inspiration behind ‘Disconnected’? What do you hope listeners take away from the new single?
Sometimes when you’re depressed, you get stuck in these moments inside your head that seem to separate you from time itself. The world keeps moving forward and you’re stuck in your spiralling thoughts. Disconnected is about that side of depression, but I didn’t want the whole song to be sucked into this moment of despair. I hope that what listeners will get is that these moments are okay to have. Have them, let them go, keep moving forward, never give up, and when you’re ready, find support in whatever form that might be.
With everything being so uncertain right now, a lot of people might be stuck in isolation again soon. Based on your experience, do you have any advice for anyone dealing with feelings of disconnection?
Speaking from my experiences, and something that I’ve found helpful is to make safe plans with others ahead of time. If you have a friend or family member that you feel safe or close with talking about personal feelings, maybe schedule a weekly phone or video chat. Maybe pick a TV show or online activity with some friends online every week! I find having a routine for something fun gives you something to look forward to every week. But if you’re feeling really extreme forms of disconnection of feeling really isolated, it’s always best to speak to a professional, and there are so many resources out there (therapy isn’t cheap but there are still some free hotlines to call if you are in crisis).
How has music been a medicine for you in the pandemic?
Discovering and listening to new music is always a joy, but I have been going back and listening to just anything that feels nostalgic for me. Surprisingly a lot of musicals, Weird Al, Beatles, all the songs of my childhood. It’s funny how music has the ability to transport you to better times. Even just music I would listen to with friends when we hang out brings so much comfort.
Especially right now, with Coronavirus and self-isolation, what have you been doing to care for yourself and your mental health? For those who might be struggling mentally during this time, what advice would you give?
I started seeing a therapist again last year over Better Help, so I focus on what we talk about, remembering to be active (going for walks) and good food and sleep hygiene. I started a gratitude journal a while back, and although I don’t write in it as much, I have been recognizing at least one thing a day that is small but I am thankful for. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy has been an ongoing help for me, even before this time. For anyone struggling, it’s always best to speak to a professional if you are able to, there are lots of resources both free and paid for that can help if you feel lost. But also reminding yourself it’s okay to feel down, it’s okay to be sad, these are unprecedented times. Even BC (before Covid) you are allowed and should be allowed to sit with those feelings, just remember to be kind and patient with yourself, as you would for a friend or family member.
What inspires you to open up about your experience through songwriting/music?
Having people reach out to me and letting me know that what I said made a difference or helped them becoming more open about sharing their own experiences inspires me and lets me know that what I’m doing can make a small difference. Especially with this song, a lot of people have reached out to let me know what this song meant for them, and it inspires me to keep going.
Mental health has become more openly talked about in music, but how can artists be doing more to create that dialogue?
As artists, it’s our job to create meaning in our experiences and turn it into art. Talking about mental health in music is not something new, but I think extending that dialogue into more candid conversations, like through social media, could help in a lot of ways. It’s okay to be honest sometimes instead of feeling like we have to put on a face of “everything’s great”. However I do understand the feeling of having to always be “on”. I sometimes wonder if my openness about my mental health affects others' perception about my ability to do my job. That is messed up, but I don’t think I’m alone in this feeling, and the truth is there is still a lot of stigma. I would be remiss not to mention that although talking about anxiety and depression is starting to become a little easier, there is still a lot of stigma surrounding other mental illnesses. That makes it even harder for artists to open up, so ultimately we have to do what we’re comfortable with. But I think tackling why a lot of artists feel like they always have to be at their best is a much larger issue that the industry needs to address.