I stood there blankly squeezing the skin on my arms hoping I would feel something inside, hoping there was a little less skin to squeeze than the day before.
“You will never be as hot as the last girl, just show us your tits!” screamed bitter fans of my past band (Winds of Plague) after I had replaced their old keyboardist. “This is the pop world, everyone does it...even the biggest artists and producers that you look up to/this is how they make a connection and write a hit song” said pop producer, looking at me. frustrated, yet relentless because I was refusing to take my clothes off during a writing session. Being an aspiring artist trying to make a name for myself, I felt a whirlwind of emotions that questioned who I was and what I was doing.
I have seen a lot of people leave their passions behind because of the affects the industry has on their mental health. But for the record, I’m not that kind of girl. Now I am not a professional by any means and I am still figuring myself out, but what I do know is that I have endured a lot of traumatic experiences in this world and found ways to keep going, healthily.
Don’t surrender your mental and creative control
I had toxic industry people tell me I needed to lose weight, (keep in mind I was not overweight) mix that with the echoing of online bullying in my head, resulted in a pretty bad eating disorder that also led to me drinking…a lot. What if I looked fat in this music video? I was told that the labels would probably pass on me because I may look too thick in the first music video I had ever done. I had no self confidence but I wanted the acceptance of others and more than anything I wanted to be successful. As time went on, the beauty, weight, and age standards started to diminish and now it really does not matter what you look like, the more unique and different, the better, but the words of those people who I thought were in control of my career are still painted on the walls of my brain. It was a long hard road to stop allowing others to control how I viewed myself or how I created my art but I finally did it. It turns out, the only person in control of you is YOU.
Stop comparing yourself
Putting yourself in the eye of the public can be completely taxing to your mental health, especially in the industry, where comparison can dictate your career. Social media has made it really easy for us to wear a mask without even knowing it, which in turn, I think has contributed to a lot of Millennials mental health decline. We have no idea who we are when we are constantly trying to be like someone else. This follows the same outline when it comes to music. I have never been able to compare myself to other artists and that is one thing I pride myself on, authenticity. But I can’t say that there hasn’t been a time that my confidence had fallen and I was subliminally trying to make songs for the masses, trying to do something someone else was doing because I lost confidence in what I was doing.
This is not an equation for happiness, success or longevity.
Stop searching for success. Instead search for happiness
Happiness and success are both key components to a stable mental health, but sometimes we have to bite the bullet and sacrifice a little of each to keep that stable balance. The thought of working a full time job while trying to break my music career made me want to vomit. Days would go by and I would be more and more broke, more and more unhappy, and spinning in circles because my stress was ruining my creativity. I could barely fund myself let alone my career. I needed to take the leap and get a full time job if I wanted to keep pushing my music happily.
It takes A LOT of will power to push past the exhaustion but I am 100 times happier knowing I can slightly fund my project and eat at the same time. Good things come to those who work hard, and right when I think I am working the hardest I have ever worked, I keep discovering I can work even harder. On the other hand, sometimes we let our creativity suffer because we think we could make a quick dollar by creating art we don’t love but others do. Whatever your passion may be, you started it because it is what made you feel happy and complete right? So why stop? Somewhere a long the line, happiness and success gets blurred together and we start chasing money instead of happiness. Happiness will help you in your search to finding yourself. The universe will work in your favor little by little if you can keep your stability.
There is something strangely empowering about being completely bare, raw and honest. It took me years to even believe that who I was, wasn’t me. I finally decided and recognized that I needed to be honest in my music and lyrics if I want to connect with anyone on a level that is real. I have been able to open up more in interviews, I have felt more comfortable digging deep into my heart, talking about who I am, and what I have done in my life. I feel like a human. I am not afraid of what people think of me because I have finally accepted me.
Sounds easy when you read it, but finding yourself is one of the most difficult tasks when you are flooded with emotions, all of the time. I was laying on the ground hyperventilating in a panic attack, crying my eyes out but couldn’t stop the euphoric feeling that surrounded the thought of just being gone from this world.
I was seeing through the eyes of a monster, but deep down I was not a monster. I had hid behind this painted picture I made of myself, someone who is stronger than life and nothing goes wrong, but in reality we all have faults, we all are not perfect, and we all are allowed to be weak just as much as we are strong. No one said it would be easy but also no one warned me it would be an uphill battle filled with your worst nightmares staring you in the face. I had gone through maybe seven phases in my life since I was 14. I hated looking at myself in the mirror because I felt ugly; to thinking I was the coolest girl in school because I hung out with older kids and listened to metal music; to pretending I was someone else to be accepted into a community of fans; to hating my body but loving my mind; to loving my body but hating my mind; to finally breaking all the way down and the only direction left to go was up. Finding yourself as a a person and an artist goes hand in hand, if you don’t know who you are then your artistry will not shine like how you want it to. I had to make changes. I started doing things I loved, reached out for help, started being honest with myself and the people around me, and can now confidently say that I love myself and have a pretty good idea of who I am on this earth.
Recognizing when you fall and pick yourself back up
Whether you fall because of money, depression, anxiety, or distractions etc, try to work on recognizing them so you can get yourself together and get back up quicker than you fell. We don’t have superpowers, its normal to fall but what makes you a stronger person is being able to get back up on the horse and pick up where you left off. I wish I had done a lot of things differently in my life but I have told myself if we don’t make mistakes we will never learn nor grow. I will stand by that until the day that I die.
Up and coming LA-based grunge-pop artist Alaena is proud to debut her new dark, pop anthem "Paranoid”.
Different from the music she was previously playing during her time as keyboardist in death metal band Winds of Plague, ALAENA is entering a fresh, new sound in her solo work. "Paranoid" was a track created for fans to better understand and connect with the singer's mental health. ALAENA suffers from extremely dark and vivid “Intrusive Images” stemming from anxiety and PTSD. From unwelcome visions of self doubt, all the way to sitting at a loved ones funeral- the paranoia gets to be debilitating, but she wants fans (dubbed the ATEAM ) to know that they are not the only ones to feel this way.
“I was sitting in my car crying after an episode of Intrusive Images wishing I had someone else's brain", explains ALAENA. "Instead of letting my anxiety eat me alive, I took that moment and made it a positive, which led to this song, now I can let my story be known. I told myself that in 2019 I was going to be as honest as I could with my fans and my music, and "Paranoid" does just that.”
ALAENA is actively trying to release new content every month off of her upcoming EP Unguilty Pleasures . She is also a brand new member for the AWAL family.