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Sammi Constantine on being your own hero

Sammi Constantine has been to hell and back, but that’s not enough to keep her down. The Aussie musician recognises that there is no light without dark, and is committed completely to embracing the life lessons that her hard times have taught her. With her self-directed clip for ‘Trigger Heavy’ out today, we spoke to Sammi about her mental health battles, the toxic relationship that inspired the song and moving on stronger than ever.

You’re releasing a series of songs, sort of as an autobiography, this year. Can you tell me more about that?

Like you said, I’m releasing one song a month, and the reason for that is, I mean, obviously, this whole COVID thing put a little bit of a strange twist on things, but in the beginning, the idea was just to get out as much of my story in the most honest and raw way that I could tell it as possible.

Anyone who’s been following me for a little while knows that I have gone through a few different things with mental health. I’ve overcome anorexia twice and been hospitalised. And I just think it’s important to talk about mental health, not just the success story, to talk about what it looks like from the brutal perspective as well, just to not glorify anything.

This song, ‘Trigger Heavy’, is focused on a particular relationship. To me it was like you were saying, “you made me who I am”. Is that what it’s about?

It was this very toxic relationship that I accidentally fell into… How do I explain it? I’m still trying to get my head around exactly how to talk about it. But basically, everyone’s kind of had a crappy relationship at one point, but you know, when you have those people that tell you, “Well, you wouldn’t be anything without me, and I made you.” When you’re in a vulnerable state, you start to believe all of that. And it’s not until you come out of it that you realise that your self-worth is up to you. And with the video, especially, I wanted to take on the humorous side to manipulation, I suppose, and kind of be my own bad-ass super villain in that story. I’m not the only person that’s gone through a breakup or a crappy relationship. I like to write about my battles, but it’s also nice to do something that I think is really relatable for so many people, taking that twist on, “Well, I’m going to come out of this as someone better than I was before.” And if I can help girls go, “Let’s be our own hero in this song or in this story.” That’s kind of fun. That’s the fun side of something that’s really toxic. You know what I mean?

I think it’s really important to realise, especially for younger girls, that you don’t actually have to take that shit. Just because someone compliments you, for example, or as this person kept telling me, “Oh, but we’re made for each other and I love you.” It doesn’t mean that you owe them anything. It doesn’t mean that you owe them any sort of affection, or a compliment back, even. I think it’s really important that you still listen to your gut, as hard as that can be because I’ve spent so many years not listening to my gut.

“I think it’s really important to realise, especially for younger girls, that you don’t actually have to take that shit.”

When you’re releasing something this personal and it’s about someone that’s been in your life, how did the people close to you react?

Well it’s funny because this particular person I was warned about many, many times. So everyone around me – my friends and family – they were telling me to get out. I think I was the only person that was blind to what was going on. So it was actually a relief for everyone. I think everyone close to me knows exactly who this person is. And it’s funny because they all really liked the song.

Sometimes you need to come to things on your own and figure it out for yourself. It sucks, but it’s life.

Exactly. At the end of the day, it’s the same thing with my mental health issues. I don’t like saying issues, my mental health battles, my hardships, whatever…But I think it’s important that you are the person that saves yourself. You know what I mean? It’s the same thing. You are the person that needs to open your eyes and see what’s going on. Everyone can tell you this is bad, or don’t eat that or don’t do that or be here or whatever. I think it’s important that when you decide to make that change and if you decide to see it differently or in a new light, that’s when it’s going to change. I just needed to see that myself.

Sometimes you have to experience things for yourself and get out to the other side on your own, but it’s nice to hear from someone else who has been through what you’ve been through. What advice would you give to someone in a similar situation?

Yeah, 100%. To be completely honest with you, I have my ups and downs and I’m not 100% sure whether I’ll ever be the person that I was before anorexia. And I don’t mean that as a pity party or anything negative. I think, it’s more about staying on top of the good things. And what I mean by that is, focusing more on the future rather than living in the past. The way that I get stuck and trapped in those anorexic tendencies, or that mind state is when I dwell on the past or when I don’t give myself goals or things to look forward to.

So I think if I was to give advice, obviously it’s really, really hard to come out of a mind state that feels so natural and normal. For me, I felt like I was no one, if I wasn’t anorexia, which is awful and makes absolutely no sense in my logical brain. Of course I’m many amazing things without a mental illness. In fact, I’m better, but you know, it’s really hard to let go of something that you’ve created to be such a massive part of your life. So the advice would just be to give yourself goals that are outside of those negative traits and really focus on those. And I think eventually it’ll transition you out of that dark cloud and put you into a better light.

Watch the video for ‘Trigger Heavy’ now.