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Mental Health Matters: Overcoming Your Ocean

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I believe every song has a story and every song is a story. Many of us have music playing throughout the entire day, but do we ever stop and listen to the lyrics, think about their meaning, or about what brought the artist or songwriter to share that story? As a songwriter and an artist, I am blessed to be able to use music as a way to touch people, and also use it as a way to heal myself. Back in January of 2017, I started writing for my self-titled EP. I wanted the songs to be raw, vulnerable and honest. I wanted to share a very personal story. That is what inspired the single of the EP, “Ocean.”

My battle with an eating disorder began in my senior year of high school. I know myself to be a very strong, confident and talented woman, but for many years that fire was inhibited by a more powerful force. One of my biggest weaknesses, admittedly, is my perfectionism. I’ve always strived to make every situation or aspect of my life end perfectly (as if that is realistic). I would strive for perfection in my daily tasks, my music, relationships and my body, so much so that it controlled my social life and mental stability. Some people see perfectionism as a wonderful quality, but in my case it turned to something that could have killed me. What started when I was 17 years old as “dieting” became a toxic relationship with myself, the scale, and the mirror.

For the longest time, there was no way for me to talk to others about what I was going through, let alone even accept that I had a problem. I talked to counselors, doctors, friends, the list goes on…but no one could convince me that I was destroying my body inflicting my own instability. It took me six years to find my bravery and discover a way to heal: with music.  I love being able to express my emotions through music and I thank God for the talents he has blessed me with. I believe music is the universal language, and I believe it can heal others too. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized music is a way for me to communicate some of my rawest emotions. Music has helped me learn that being vulnerable, and not being perfect, is OK. After the time it took for me to struggle to realize this, I was ready by last year to share the lowest point in my life through a song I wrote with Kirsti Manna and Bill DiLuigi called “Ocean.”

“Wore down, washed out, paper thin, Pressure underneath my skin, No crystal blue, just shades of grey. Always faithful, meet me there, Never coming up for air. If I had to pick my poison I’d drink in your ocean.”

Above is the chorus from the song which paints the picture of the emotional battle I went through every day. It is me facing that constant feeling of being worn down and lifeless, because I starved myself and felt such draining fear and pressure surrounding food. “No crystal blue, just shades of gray,” is my reflection on the people around me saying I was so skinny and lucky, but they didn’t realize that, on the inside, it wasn’t pretty or lucky at all. My disorder and ability to control was always faithful. I was able to not eat and punish myself if I ever did something that went out of my distorted “guidelines.” I never took a breath. Five years of suffocating myself, and I would keep picking the disorder over everything. I had people that loved me who knew I was torturing myself. They would try to intervene, but I was poisoned, and under a force as strong as the ocean.

When you are chasing after a dream, things can get overwhelming and seem out of your control, just like the ocean in a storm. The ocean can swallow you whole and drown you if you let it, just like a disorder. Every battle in life can be calm at times, like the ocean at dawn, and then quickly turn into a dangerous body of waves. For me, it was a long journey of back and forth, but realizing my talents and my worth helped me see that I needed to stop hurting myself. The disorder was only holding me back from meaningful relationships and accomplishing my dreams. What I thought was “accomplishment,” like a smaller waist-line, was an unhealthy goal and inevitably unfulfilling. Today, I am healthy, more accomplished and happier than ever, because I know now that you cannot control life, just as you can’t control the ocean.

Music became my motivation to share my story with others in order to help them face their battles head on. The hardest part of healing is admitting to yourself that you can’t always be in control and what you are doing is not healthy. It took me very long time to acknowledge that being the skinniest person in the room was not worth starving myself nor the mental turmoil that comes with that.. If you are reading this and you are battling with a disorder or know someone going through a personal struggle, whether it’s body image, emotional or with loss, please share “Ocean,” with them. I want my music to be an expression of my story but also solace for others. When people hear this song, I want them to know they are not alone, that they can fight to keep the ocean from swallowing them whole.

I decided not to let the ocean swallow me. By embracing my gifts and facing my pains and weaknesses, I became aware of my incredible strength. If you can find the courage to tell yourself that your imperfections are what make you unique, you can conquer any ocean.

Pagentri is Nashville-based rock spectacle that is taking over the country dominated city by storm, with her captivating performance and effortless vocal delivery. Representing a new Nashville, Pagentri shreds the image of Southern belle with punk-rock persona and Motown soul.

From an early age, everyone around her was attracted to her determination and knew she was born with the itch to perform. Over her artist career, she gained the tenacity and passion to hone her craft. She’s performed across the nation and world from Notre Dame in France to Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, and in 2013 was selected as a second round contestant for X-Factor. 

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Angela Mastrogiacomo

Founder of Infectious Magazine & Muddy Paw Public Relations. Lover of passion, ice cream, and books.

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