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.