Wednesday, December 06, 2006

It's Snowing In Here

Amy Lee and company stick with their goth roots in their new video "Lithium," but this time the dark setting is an integral part of the story rather than just a fashion statement...

VIDEO: "Lithium" directed by Paul Fedor

"don't wanna lock me up inside"

Lithium is a key ingredient used in the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals aimed at preventing and treating bipolar disorder and mania. And like most drugs used today to treat mental or psychological problems, the side effects of the chemical can be as painful as the disorder it seeks to help.

In this video lead singer Amy Lee plays a character who confronts her own psychological trauma head-on, struggling through an internal dialogue that attempts to "let go" of her alter ego as well as her drug addiction. Lee speaks of the comfort of learning to live without the hindrance of "lithium", while simultaneously feeling the fear of the lonely darkness. She walks through a winter wonderland in her mind, slipping in and out of two different personas before eventually deciding to "drown" one of them in her memory.

The conflict arises in that when one does actually suffer from bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, how is one to determine which part to "keep"? Which side of you is essentially more you? The drowning scene is not a triumphant defeat of some great evil within, it is rather a sad detachment from a valid internal voice. The drugs are lifting her out of a sort of depression, and yet they are at the same time deleting something that has been an integral part of her.

The tricky part about this video is that in Lee's words and the visuals themselves, there is also a hint of the same bipolarism. It's somewhat unclear what exactly Lee is drowning, is it her mental state or is it her reliance on the drugs that treat that state?

She sings "in the darkness I know myself," and seeks to remember what it is like to live without her addiction - which could very well mean she is willing to become her mania if it means she can release herself from the bonds of lithium. She references her own narcissism in loving her "soul" and not being able to let go, but then insists that she must let go. The camera shows her both drifting backwards into the darkness and forward into the light; the snow is both beautiful and haunting. But which side of Lee is the dark, and which is the light?

Lee claims "anything is better than to be alone," but this is a reference to the creation of companionship within her mind as much as it is to any outside person (others might say anything is better than to be alone with yourself). In many ways this video reaches past just a take on a certain specific mental state and speaks on our collective urge to create self-images and often become obsessed with what we portray more than whom we are.

Lee sees her reflection in the piano, and as a musician she is directly dealing with a character she has created and the crux that it can often become. But just as the two personas in a bipolar's mind could be equally valid, we cannot easily dismiss our outward image of ourselves as any less authentic than what we hold internally.

Often this can even be the root of a mental breakdown. The pressures of attempting to maintain different personas while the world insists that you have just one can leave one feeling completely empty and undefined. There is not some pure essence to your personality; instead it is a constantly changing and multi-faced thing. Any attempt to subdue certain aspects of your self because they are unappealing or are not socially acceptable can be devastating to your mental health.

That isn't to say that to suffer from split-personality mental illness isn't a horribly painful ordeal and one that can eventually lead to self-destruction, but rather that one should not fall too quickly into the arms of drug-based treatment or ignore the validity of all your varied personalities right away. The reliance upon drugs such as lithium (or just plain suppression of yourself) in fact can just create yet another self, one that may not be anywhere near any side that you actually want to express from inside, but rather a bland socially conforming self that makes things simply look nice.

Personally I'd take the snowstorm forest of Amy Lee's drowning sorrow over bland existence any day.


Cici said...

I guess you like to completely bark up the wrong tree. For one, Amy Lee is not a drug addict and has never been one. If you did your homework you would know what the song is really about. It's a beautiful song, about Amy Lee and her previous relationship. It has nothing to do with the actual drug 'Lithium' at all. Jumping to conclusions and then not doing the homework much? I think so. I wouldn't usually reply to blogs like this, but obsurd stories leads to horrible rumours.
You should be ashamed of yourself.

Imran said...

Thanks for your comment, but I wasn't actually assuming or saying that the actual Amy Lee does drugs or anything like that. I'm simply interpreting the video as a separate piece of art, so when I say "Lee" I mean to refer to the character she portrays in the video. Whether or not that has any similarity to her actual personal life is not really relevant here, I'm just giving an interpretation of what the video is saying to me.
Furthermore, in my opinion, the video is a separate thing from the song, and I found little evidence in the video to imagine that she was specifically or metaphorically talking about a lover.
But you do raise a good point about the nature of bipolarism in relationships, and how we may create a persona or lose part of ourself in a relationship.

Anonymous said...

Way to make people think everyone with bi polar has a split personality.. you've got the wrong disorder, dumbass.
Not to mention not everyone with bi polar is on Lithium, or meds for that matter.
"Come to bed, don't make me sleep alone"
Yeah that's definately about her head..
Thanks so much for implying being bi polar means you hear voices in your head that make you think you are two people. Wrong. Being bi polar means you have massive mood swings, uncontrollable moods and make irrational decisions, and often leads to high highs and low lows. Not split personalities, voices in the head (though admittedly, some people do have those) and needing to "drown one half of you out". FFS.

LegendaryBK said...

okay, maybe she is bipolar after all , breathe no more for example < lie to me convince me that i've been sick forever > well most of her songs have a bipolar thingy :) , she maybe not bipolar , but the way she says how it feels , wow , really WOW , it amazes me , i am bipolar and that is really how i feel , not all ppl are on lithium actually they stopped using it that wide , they use anti psychotics and anti convulsants , but the song really shows how bipolar people feel and it cant be described that well unless you are bipolar , and as the writer said yes sometimes treatment is harder than the disease , and i fully understand the song , i never did before i started treatment , you feel like you are losing yourself , you are not who you are anymore, and i dont want to forget how it feels without medications just like she cant forget how it feels without lithium , and yes i cant hold onto me wondering whats wrong with me because , sometimes you just dont know what the hell is wrong anymore , and i think the video is alittle about her relation ship too , but mostly about bipolar disorder , Drown my will to fly for example means she misses her high state ( mania / hypomania ) .. i've always thought evanescence shows the borderline / bipolar personality , if you keep tracking their songs , Exodus , Solitude , Lithium , you will understand what i mean , anyway it is just an opinion and people can have different opinions , i Could be wrong and i could be right ..

Anonymous said...

Amy was talking bout lover and how happy she is w\that person but also apologizing to her lover.

Anonymous said...

okay legendarybk. you so got it.
i'm bipolar one. and Drown my will to fly, i so get that. and it's amazing because i'm manic all the time. so yah i should get that. and the lithium.. it still gets used.. it's just a very very very strong mood stabilizer. and all of amy lees songs i just love because i can relate to it. and manda i think your a little stupid because imran never said anything about bipolar being a split personality disorder... but when imran put bipolar together with schizophrenia it's because they are similar... dude i'm 14 and i know more than you.

Anonymous said...

Umm o.k...Manda Are you Bi-polar?
Because I am, and the persona thing he is talking about is very understandable. I always feel like I have different personalities. From my "Normal Phase" my "Manic phase" and then to my "Depression Phase". It isn't like I give myself a different name when I am Manic, but honestly..before I was diagnosed I thought about it when I'd come down from my flight and felt ashamed. When I felt the mania coming. I would write poems and just write my feelings down and had referred to Mania as another person inside of me, because I didn't know what it was... I would pray to God to help me, that I felt I had no control over myself..that "she was coming back" so yeah IT is a different personality other than the one I normally have. Very different, but I still know who I am and what I am doing, I just feel and perceive everything differently. Everything I normally believe in..even down to my morals..totally does a 180. I don't talk the same. I am way funnier...ppl love being around me. I am the life of the party. I am not shy and very outspoken. I dress different. And seem to actually have a need for style....ect. ect. When normally I am way more cautious and I am not the partying type. I'd rather stay at home with my kids, and I don't like to dress up often, because I find it uncomfortable. There is a difference between having more than one persona, and having split personalities. when you have more than one persona..they are still connected and entwined. When you have split personalities....they are separate, unattached. There is no one thing about them that is anything like the other. And the person isn't aware of it....and I'll have to research your opinion that she was talking about a lover...because it may or may not be. And yeah when you are bi-polar you don't want to go to bed alone...meaning it is hard to go to sleep without meds, because of anxiety attacks. and constant images flashing in your mind..sometimes disturbing. And babbling voices from nowhere..that sound just the same as if they were really there..just talking, but making absolutely no sense. Those are some of my problems anyway. So I understand that completely.

LucindasAccount said...

Wow. You are some peice of shit 2 be saying that bullshit about Amy Lee. You should be shot. That's just pathetic.....You're pitiful....

Anonymous said...

I don't know if Amy Lee has bipolar disorder or not, but if she didn't want people to think so, she shouldn't have written this song. Her music and this song in particular lead me to believe that she does suffer from bipolar.

I, myself, suffer from bipolar II and take lithium, which by the way is a miracle drug for me. If she does have bipolar, I really wish she would come out about it. It would make it so much easier for the rest of us who have it.

Anonymous said...

Come on cant be so closed mind...

she is a great singer, and for all of you the song means something about her boyfriend, its true, but.. you have to analyse others lyrics...

If you see "Going Under" closely, you'll start to see that maybe, something wrong with her health, mental not saying that she is crasy...omg thinking that bipolar persons are crasy is just...wrong...its a condition like heart diseases..

I think everything we do has something about our lifes, especially people like her that live their lifes in a such a great intensity..

Anonymous said...

sorry for my bad english (i'm french) but i'm bipolar, i take some lithium and i'm less creative than i didn't take it but my mood is more stable... And the writing's song of Amy (lithium, going under, and bring me to life) make me cry 'cause it's so my life...

Anonymous said...

The author of this blog continually described the "Character" Amy was representing in the song. There are many times, as a poet, I create a character within my writing much as if it is a part of me...because when we write, the characters are as much a part of us as our own child. Thus she could be close to that figure. In her own interview, Amy stated that it is metaphorical. This doesn't mean the interpretation is wrong or slanderous. Many songs can be taken figuratively or literally. If you look at the song "One Headlight" you would not automatically assume the song is about the death of the U.S. nation. There is a figurative story and a literal story within the writing. However, the way she captured the idea of someone in a mental state to take lithium as a treatment and the loss of dimension that person struggles with as opposed to the fully dimensional, but oppositional personalities one struggles with, is described well. The listener can feel the struggle within.

Anonymous said...

Amy Lee describes the song as a song "which embraces feeling over numbness." During an interview with VH1, Lee said,
“ I wrote the chorus on the guitar when I was about 16. I always thought it was a cool chorus, but I never used it for anything. I started playing it on the piano and the verses came out. I have a pile of pieces stowed away in my mind that maybe I'll use some day. In a way it's an old song, but not really. It grew up.[1] ”

In another interview with MTV Italy, Lee said,
“ It's not literal, it's not literal about the drug for me, I've never taken lithium before. It's sort of a metaphor about numbness and happiness and sort of like, it's me looking at happiness in a negative way because I've always been, you know, kind of afraid to be happy. Like with the band and the art and everything else, it's always like I'm never letting myself break through into the happiness it seems like, because it's not cool or something. And describing happiness is lithium, it's like saying 'that's numbness, I won't be able to be an artist anymore if I'm happy', which is hilarious because that's just not true, I'm happy. So it's like this fight within the song of like 'do I do this and get out of here and get happy or do I wallow in it like I always do?' and it's cool because at the end of the song I say 'I'm going to let it go', like I am going to be happy.[2]

I see nothing in that interview attributing the song to a lover. The blogger is much closer to the heart of the song.

Depth of Focus Videographies: Radiohead / Bjork / Michael Jackson / Bowie