After finding mainstream success in the early aughts, Paramore's output began to slow toward the beginning of the 2010s. They took a four-year break between 2009's Brand New Eyes and their self-titled 2013 LP, and another four from then to 2017's After Laughter. In an April interview with The Guardian, Paramore admitted they'd seriously considered quitting several times, but somehow, they always found their way back. And during her new cover story for The Fader, Hayley Williams revealed she left Paramore in 2015 for a very crucial and personal reason: to treat depression. She said,
"For the first time in my life, there wasn’t a pinhole of light at the end of the tunnel. I thought, I just wish everything would stop. It wasn’t in the sense of, I’m going to take my life. It was just hopelessness. Like, What’s the point? I don’t think I understood how dangerous hopelessness is. Everything hurts.”
Her departure was brief, but no less necessary, and it led to an album that speaks powerfully to prevalent issues like exhaustion, depression, and anxiety — lyricism that helps further the ongoing effort to de-stigmatize mental health, as does Williams so vocally sharing her struggles.
Williams went on to tell The Fader that she stepped back to search for something better and more meaningful in life, but Taylor York — Paramore's guitarist and her principal songwriting partner — began sending her demos, and eventually, they pulled her back in.
“We both had doubts, and we had unity in that,” York, who also has a history with depression, told The Fader. “I told her she didn’t have to do stuff. But I just kept writing, and then there was this time that she got it again.”
Now, Williams joins a growing chorus of musicians working to stress the importance of self-care, from Selena Gomez speaking openly about her Lupus-induced depression to Kid Cudi posting publicly about checking himself into rehab for suicidal ideations.
Collectively, their courage and candor has helped shift perception about who mental health afflicts, and hopefully, Williams' story will do the same.