The singer’s first album in 10 years documents her journey with mental illness
Mental illness continues to be a subject of popular discussion, and for good reason. Research suggests that one in four of us will suffer with a mental or neurological disorder at some point in our lives. But still, many of us continue to feel isolated because of our mental health.
That is something Ashley Tisdale wants to change. 10 years after her last studio album, she’s back with Symptoms, a project dedicated to exploring her experiences with anxiety and depression.
Each song on the album is based on the symptoms she has suffered because of her mental health problems, but that doesn’t mean it’s all doom and gloom.
Speaking to Nylon, Tisdale revealed the meaning behind her new music.
“Each song is a symptom of what I experience, but we flipped it and made the songs also about something else.”
“It’s more about having fun and acknowledging that we have these symptoms – people with anxiety and depression – but also not taking it… kind of laughing about these situations sometimes,” she said.
At 21, Tisdale shot to fame with her role on the Disney Channel show The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, and later starred as Sharpay Evans in High School Musical, another Disney hit. Her last studio album Guilty Pleasure was released in 2009, and fans have been waiting for new material ever since.
After announcing that she was working on a new album, Tisdale spoke about her inspirations for the new music at the Chicago Create & Cultivate conference in 2018.
“I recently was super inspired and I have to say, out of everything I’ve done in my career, this is the most authentic thing I’ve ever done,” she told the crowd. “It’s very vulnerable and puts me in vulnerable place.”
“The inspiration behind it kind of was, I deal with anxiety and I’ve dealt with it probably my whole life but became super aware of it over the last two years,” she shared. “And so kind of through that and through kind of having some moments of depression, I was just like, you know what, we’re in a state of anxiety I feel, and so I really wanted to do an album that made someone at home not feel so alone.”
What makes Symptoms so powerful is the honesty in Tisdale’s lyrics. In ‘Voices in my Head’, the singer reveals the reality of living with anxiety, but leaves the listener with an optimistic message on overcoming worry.
“All the voices in my head, always try to break me, fuck me up and change me,” the chorus begins. “But talk is cheap, this is the last time I listen to the voices in my head, I know they never stop talking, always sabotaging, but talk is cheap – this is the last time I listen to the voices in my head.”
Tisdale told Nylon she hopes the album will resonate with those who are going through similar experiences.
“I lost somebody to depression two years prior,” she shared. “So I really just felt like we need to start speaking about these things.”
Following the album’s release, Tisdale shared a photo on her Twitter accompanied by a powerful statement - a testament to the album’s true meaning.
“Since #SYMPTOMS was released, I feel the chains breaking,” the star wrote. “I feel like I can breathe. I feel like for the first time I can finally be me. No more self-doubt, no more fear, no more shame of what I struggle with. I feel proud, I feel purpose and I feel empowered.”