Kesha Tackles Mental Health Struggles with ‘Praying’ Song & Video
“It's a song about learning to be proud of the person you are.”
Kesha is back, folks. And her newest release, “Praying,” is a powerful homage to those who struggle with mental health — seamlessly capturing feelings of anguish, anger, and, ultimately, self-acceptance.
The first single from the award-winning singer and songwriter — who has dealt with clinical depression, an eating disorder, and an ongoing sexual assault legal battle with her producer, Dr. Luke — in four years, “Praying” didn’t disappoint.
The psychedelic video begins with Kesha lying in a coffin, wearing a colorful robe and makeup, as two men in suits with pig heads stand on either side of her. A voiceover asks: “Am I dead? Or is this one of those dreams?”
Later, the singer lies on a makeshift raft, alone in the ocean, her face sullied by specks of blood. “Why have I been abandoned by everyone and everything I’ve ever known, I’ve ever loved?” she continues.
Her eyes open, slowly, as the music fades in.
After the initial monologue — rife with philosophical questions, self-doubt, confusion — the rest of the video shows the artist taking back her agency and, quite literally, fighting her demons.
“After everything you've done / I can thank you for how strong I have become,” she sings in the first verse. “I'm proud of who I am / No more monsters, I can breathe again,” she adds in the second.
Along with her emotional video, the artist also penned an open letter in Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner’s online site, Lenny, in which she detailed her struggles with mental health.
“This song is about coming to feel empathy for someone else even if they hurt you or scare you,” Kesha wrote. “It's a song about learning to be proud of the person you are even during low moments when you feel alone.”
Kesha is by no means alone when it comes to dealing with these issues.
According to Mental Health America (MHA), each year 12 million American women experience clinical depression — twice the rate of men. One in eight American women will experience depression in their lifetime.
Roughly three in five women who suffer from depression, MHA reported, said the biggest barrier to treatment was “denial,” while the remaining two in five cited “embarrassment or shame” as the biggest barriers, indicating ongoing social stigma surrounding the topic.
“I've battled intense anxiety and depression, a relentless eating disorder, and all the other basic bullshit that comes with being human,” Kesha said. “I know I'm not alone in that battle. Finding the strength to come forward about these things is not easy, but I want to help others who are going through tough times.”
The end of her video, perhaps better than anything, offers a ray of hope for these women. Wearing a technicolor dress and standing near the ocean that once stranded her, Kesha looks out toward the horizon, as the words, “the beginning” appear on screen.