Taylor Swift’s Anti-Hero tackles mental health issues

Taylor Swift’s music has always reflected my own life experiences and her 10th studio album ‘Midnights’ is no different. I was hooked within the first five seconds of track one, but the song that really hit me was “Anti-Hero”. As someone who has dealt with a handful of mental illnesses for most of his life, “Anti-Hero” (and his video counterpart) captures the complex feelings that often come along with deep self-loathing, body image issues and depression .

As the music video begins, we see Swift munching on her midnight snack as the lyric “Midnights become my afternoons” plays. That line brought back memories of depressive episodes where I’d been in for so long that the time of day didn’t matter to me. As depression would work its way through my body like the disease it is, time would lose all meaning. I would caffeinate too late and skip normal mealtimes and suddenly realize a week had gone by without seeing a single sunrise or sunset. The song continues and ghosts haunt Swift to the lyrics: “When my depression runs in the graveyard, all the people I’ve ghosted are standing there in the room.” One of the worst characteristics of depression, or most mental illnesses for that matter, is how good they are at it’s to convince you to isolate yourself so they can grow stronger while the guilt of abandoning the people you love piles up.

Of course, the “goals” that depression and an eating disorder would set for me were far beyond what I could have imagined, and no matter how long I pursued these tyrants in my head, I knew they would never come true. their golden promises.

When Swift greets her mental illness or “Deputy Taylor” at the door, we see how good she looks and how eager she is to have fun, a juxtaposition I’m all too familiar with. I know well how depression starts to take hold of you as soon as you invite it in and how fun it is torturing you. And whenever the disordered eating came up, it showed me this “better” version of myself that always seemed so out of reach. Of course, the “goals” that depression and an eating disorder would set for me were far beyond what I could have imagined, and no matter how long I pursued these tyrants in my head, I knew they would never come true. their golden promises.

Another side of mental illness that the “Anti-Hero” video portrays so well is how connected you are to it. This presence hides deep within, and as dark and twisted as it may seem, there are times when it’s hard to imagine living without it. After their initial greeting, you see Swift having fun with her mental illness, delighted by the promises she’s undoubtedly made to her. But as the video progresses, the fun wears off, Swift weakens, and the disease thrives.

At one point, Swift’s mental struggles begin to take up more space than she’d like—like in the dinner scene when the giant Swift makes her debut (which I associated with experiencing full body dysmorphia). Or when Swift steps on the scale and it reads “FAT” (representing body image issues and unhealthy eating) while the alternate version of herself shakes her head. Mental illness can be devastating in countless ways. The voice of an eating disorder, depression or anxiety can sign your worst thoughts and develop masking skills, eventually becoming indistinguishable from your own.

By the end of the video, however, Swift can be seen recognizing all three versions of herself as she sits on the roof, inviting them all over for a bottle of wine. This ending means acknowledging your struggles and illnesses that must happen before recovery can begin—a lesson that took me a while to grasp. Fortunately, Swift has always been able to put life’s toughest emotions into words.

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