I've struggled with anxiety and depression for over a decade. I've been a creative person for my entire life. The depression ate away at the creative part of my brain until it completely disintegrated, and I was left with a clouded mind devoid of any ideas to pursue. My mental health began its most dramatic decline when I entered high school, and this was when I discovered Lana Del Rey. I listened to her first album Born to Die and immediately connected with it lyrically, sonically, and visually. The lyrics demonstrated her talent to channel her sadness into art, and I appreciated the honesty in her writing. She sang about her pain very bluntly, and showcased the truth about depression which is that there are long periods of time where you don't feel happy at all. The instrumentals brought to mind old films and hip hop that I listened to as a child, and the juxtaposition deeply resonated with me. The visuals present in her lyrics brought back memories of visiting places, watching films, and admiring icons. She references New York City and a variety of places in the state of California, both places that hold a lot of pleasant memories for me. The lyrics brought a variety of old films like Rebel Without a Cause and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes to mind. She references James Dean in her lyrics and portrays both Marilyn Monroe and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in the music video for "National Anthem." I purchased all of her albums from that moment on, and when her latest album Lust for Life came out last summer I purchased it immediately. Her albums have gotten progressively less bleak since Born to Die, and it was a happy coincidence that Lust for Life was released right as I was committing to making significant changes in my life.
When she references California in her songs I remember walking down Hollywood Boulevard, visiting the Griffith Observatory, watching palm trees sway in the wind, admiring the pastel houses in Santa Monica, and walking down Santa Monica Pier. I remember feeling the heat of the sun in a way that I have never felt in Massachusetts, even during the hottest summers. I remember how Los Angeles lit up at night, the excitement never fading like it does in my small town when night falls. I remember the blue sky that provided the backdrop for my cousin Merari's wedding, and how everything looked like a painting when you looked down from the mountain where everyone watched the ceremony take place. When she references New York City I remember the anticipation that I feel whenever my bus arrives at the terminal and I step onto the pavement, ready to explore the city. I remember styling models for a runway show, everything a blur of glitter and lace. I remember dancing on the couch of a nightclub because there was no room on the dance floor. I remember being thirteen and attending a conference for fashion bloggers where I met two famous designers. I remember making new friends and feeling my symptoms fade until everything seemed brighter even for a moment.
In the song "Get Free", written by Lana Del Rey, Rick Nowels, and Kieron Menzies, she uses metaphors to signify that her depression has lifted. It represents the mindset that I want to have someday, and it represents hope. Del Rey sings:
Finally, I'm crossing the threshold
From the ordinary world
To the reveal of my heart
Undoubtedly, that will for certain
Take the dead out of the sea
And the darkness from the arts
Del Rey sets the tone for the rest of the song by describing finding peace after years of depression. The opening lyrics "Finally, I'm crossing the threshold/From the ordinary world/To the reveal of my heart" demonstrate this. These lyrics really resonate with me because I want to experience this feeling, and recently I've felt that this goal is more attainable than ever. With the support of my family and friends, therapy, and medication I feel hopeful that I will be able to achieve my dreams and flourish. I'm still struggling, I have more bad days than good days, I haven't fully figured out which combinations of medications work for me, and accessing the creative part of my brain is still a struggle. However, I've started evolving as a person and as that development continues I hope to experience what she describes in the song. I want my social anxiety to lessen, I want to be able to access the creative part of my brain whenever I want, I don't want to feel tired all of the time, and above all I want my struggle with mental illness to end.
Later in the song Del Rey expands on her description of depression and describes finding the initiative to do what she wants to do in life rather than do what others tell her to do. Del Rey sings:
Sometimes it feels like I've got a war in my mind
I want to get off but I keep riding the ride
I never really noticed that I had to decide
To play someone's game or live my own life
And now I do
I want to move
Out of the black (out of the black)
Into the blue (into the blue)
When she sings "Sometimes it feels like I've got a war in my mind/I want to get off but I keep riding the ride/I never really noticed that I had to decide/To play someone's game/Or live my own life" she's describing making the decision to break free from the expectations of others and deciding to live life on her own terms. When she sings "And now I do/I want to move/Out of the black (out of the black)/Into the blue (into the blue)" she confirms that she's made the decision to live life on her own terms and she uses the colors black and blue to represent darkness (depression) and the light (happiness and independence). I can relate to these lyrics because this year I'm committed to living my life on my own terms and doing what is best for me as well as my mental health. I've realized that I can live my life at my own pace and that I should just do what I'm comfortable with. Prioritizing myself in order to preserve my mental health is the best decision I've ever made.