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We’re chatting to some of our favourite people about their mental health experiences in conjunction with our friends at YoungMinds as part of a partnership that was only supposed to last a month, but has been such a success we’re going to keep it rolling for a while. Today Patrick Miranda from Movements opens up about his past struggles and how they’ve influenced his music and outlook.
Being so young and suffering with depression meant that Patrick Miranda’s childhood was a difficult one. The Movements frontman struggled to explain to his parents and those around him the uncomfortable feelings he was experiencing, and that meant his problems were only getting worse.
Now 22, just this year the California native was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and his struggles with mental health continue on a day to day basis. But that hasn’t stopped Patrick and his band tackling the subject of mental illness in their music and campaigning to raise awareness around anxiety and depression. Here, Patrick tells Jake Richardson about the importance of talking about your feelings, and how he hopes Movements’ music can help young people dealing with mental illness, just like his favourite bands did for him when he was a kid.
When did you first experience symptoms of mental illness?
I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression since I was really little. But when I was young, I didn’t know what those feelings were; I just knew that I felt ‘off’ and I didn’t want to hang out with friends or go anywhere. It was worrying my parents, because they didn’t know what was wrong, and neither did I. A lot of people assume that children can’t struggle with depression, but it’s way more common than you think. When I was growing up, that kind of thing wasn’t talked about, so I just had to deal with it myself. It wasn’t until I got older – around high school age – that I began to understand what mental illness was. Before then, I just assumed that ‘mental illness’ meant you were crazy and you had to go and stay in some institution somewhere because you were unfit to lead a normal life. Over time, that stigma started to disappear, and I started to understand that it’s a normal thing that some people have to deal with, and that it’s okay to feel that way.
Did you ever open up to your parents about your depression?
I wasn’t as open as I should’ve been, and I look back at it now and wish I’d talked to them more. It was hard for me, because I didn’t know how to explain these feelings; I was in 5th or 6th grade, and struggling to explain to my mum what was going on. I definitely could’ve been more open with my parents, because as I got older I started to have a lot of self-worth issues. There’s a lot of natural angst when you’re a teenager, and on top of that I’d been dealing with severe anxiety and depression for a while, and it fucked me up. I wish I’d have talked sooner, because I could’ve helped myself sooner… but that’s hindsight.
How long did it take you to realise you had a problem?
It took me a long time. I didn’t start seeing a therapist until I was 20, and I’m only 22 now. It’s crazy that I lived most of my life just dealing with it, instead of being proactive and trying to do something about it. As soon as I did reach out, things got so much better. Obviously I’m not ‘cured’ – I don’t think there is a cure – but just having somebody you can talk to about whatever you need to, who is professionally trained, is such an important thing. It’s about being able to be open and honest about what you’re feeling. If you can’t be open, it’s going to be a lot harder to mend those wounds. I’m really glad that I reached out to someone, and I wish I’d done it earlier.
Was your reluctance to speak out in any way associated with the stigma surrounding mental illness?
Yeah – that was a big reason why I didn’t speak out initially, because there was that stigma. I was afraid that people were going to think I was crazy. I also struggle with a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and a lot of people think that OCD is this thing where you are really organised and super clean, but there are multiple forms of it, and it’s all to do with obsessive thinking patterns. For me, when my mind gets stuck on one thing, I obsess on that one thought over and over. When it came to talking about mental illness, I’d obsess over certain things: I’d think, “I can’t talk about X, because they’ll think I’m schizophrenic,” and then that would lead to me thinking, “Oh my god – I’m schizophrenic.” If I think about anything for too long, I start to get really anxious, so when it came to talking about it, I was petrified about what I was going to find out. I wasn’t ready to be open about everything, because I was afraid of what they were going to say and prescribe to me. I was worried that I was going to end up like another one of those people in an asylum, which I now know is dumb, but at the time, it didn’t seem such an absurd thought.
Did diagnosis help?
Yeah, absolutely. It was really important for me to know that I wasn’t alone, and that this thing was diagnosable and other people feel this way. To find out there were things that could help me was great. For the longest time I just thought, “Oh well, this is how life is. I’m just going to have to deal with it, and I won’t ever feel anything other than anxious and fucked-up all the time.” So getting a formal diagnosis was super helpful. Just that solidarity you can have with another person normalises it, and you realise that loads of people go through this. That was really important for me, and that’s something I’ve always held on to. Before I got any sort of treatment, music was very therapeutic for me, and it still is. Being able to connect with certain songs based on their subject matter, hearing lyrics and going, “That’s me – they’re describing my life,” has been so important for me. It’s a reminder that I’m not alone, and that’s something I want to accomplish with Movements. I want the people who identify with our lyrics to know they’re being recognised, in the same way that bands did for me when I was younger.
That’s awesome. Speaking of your music, is there a song you can point to on your new record, Feel Something, where you talk about your mental health experiences?
80 per cent of the record deals with mental health issues, but for me, Full Circle is a strong descriptor of the cycle of my mental wellbeing. In that song, I describe the cycle of my depression, and how it’s like a circle: sometimes, you’re on the top and things are going great, but eventually, you start to come back down and there’s nothing you can do about it, until you end up at a really low point. But then, you eventually start to swing back up again – it’s like this constant Ferris wheel. No matter what, you’re going to end up back at the top, but you might have to go to the bottom before you get there. That’s how I picture my mental health: it’s not always going to be great, but once you come back around, you’ll feel better.
I spoke to Joel from The Amity Affliction about mental health recently, and he said that despite trying to move away from talking about mental illness in his lyrics, he was struggling to do so. Given it’s such a big part of Movements’ music, do you think mental health will always be a theme of your band’s songs?
Yeah, I definitely think so. My mental health and the things I go through are part of the reason why I’m capable of creating art. I use my music as an outlet and a means to talk about things I don’t necessarily like to talk about in day to day conversation. I definitely understand that feeling of wanting to break away and branch out from talking about mental illness, because it’s easy to get roped into the idea that it’s somehow ‘trendy’ to be depressed: a lot of people see bands who are genuinely talking about mental illness and just think they’re doing it to be part of a trend. But if you’re being open and honest, and writing from a real place, I don’t think it matters what your lyrical subject is. I’m always going to write honestly: if one day I just feel completely fucking stoked, and I’m not dealing with my depression anymore, then I’ll write happy songs all the time. But, honestly, I don’t think that’s ever going to happen – that’s not where my life is going to end up. And that’s not me trying to sound cynical or pessimistic, I just think that mental illness is always going to be a part of me and our music. Whether it’ll continue to make up that majority of our records, we’ll see, but I’s always going to be there, and that’s okay.
Have you got a message for anyone reading this interview who is struggling with their mental health?
Talk about it. Reach out to somebody, because there are so many people in this world who care about you, regardless of whether or not you believe it. For a long time, I didn’t believe that, but there are a lot of people that care. It’s a scary thing to talk about it, but talking is a huge step in healing. You can talk to anyone: a friend, a family member, a trained professional, a hotline – there are so many people out there ready and willing to help you. You just have to accept their help.
If you’re struggling with your own mental health, don’t suffer in silence. Talk to someone you can trust – it could be a friend, a family member, a teacher, a doctor, a counsellor or a helpline – or visit YoungMinds for more information about how to find support. If you’re passionate about improving young people’s mental health and wellbeing then take a look at all the ways you can get involved with YoungMinds’ good work here.
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