Arizona Lindsey opens her song The Sinking Ship with an acoustic guitar and mezzo-soprano vocals that narrate an honest confessional about fighting suicidal ideation.
“Remember these feelings and thoughts, they’re not facts,” she sings. “Like stages of grief they come and they pass.”
Lindsey released the song earlier this year in anticipation of her upcoming second album, “The Process,” out April 9, which recounts Lindsey’s experience surviving trauma and her road to recovery.
Throughout her music, she draws on both her personal experience and her education as a graduate student studying clinical mental health counseling.
The 24-year old Lindenhurst native is a survivor of childhood abuse, faced homelessness, lost her mother in June 2018 and, shortly afterward, was diagnosed with complex post-traumatic stress disorder.
“I think it’s unrealistic to say it was just like a big change because it wasn’t,” she said. “There were hospitalizations involved and doctors and a lot of recovery and hard work to change cognitive distortions and self-defeating thoughts of like, ‘this is what my life is like because I somehow deserve to live like this,’ “ she said.
Nevertheless, in May 2019, she won the Gold Coast Arts Center’s Your Big Break Competition, and attracted the attention of one of the contest’s judges, the entertainment entrepreneur William Kucmierowski, of Levittown, who goes by the moniker Brimstone.
With her win, Lindsey earned a guest spot on Kucmierowski’s show, The Grindhouse Radio, which he hosts with Kim Adragna, of Merrick, and Stephen Zambito, of Stonybrook.
Following her performance on the show, Kucmierowski used his connections in the entertainment industry to find more opportunities for her, and eventually became her manager.
“He just helped me come out of my shell a lot,” Lindsey said. “He just really saw something in me.” Lindsey revealed that when she first asked him to be her manager, he said he didn’t have the time. However, he continued helping her and eventually took on the role anyway.
When the pandemic hit, she was on the heels of winding up a cross-country tour, performing songs from her album “The Castle You Built Me.” But her tour was cut short and her classes went remote, taking a toll on Lindsey’s mental health. She began spending a lot of time reflecting on her life and what she had accomplished as she made a name for herself in the music industry.
“I changed gears, though,” Lindsey said. “I was in the studio every day over the summer, and that was what led to me getting the album recorded.”
Two weeks after winning the Gold Coast Arts competition, Lindsey recalled, she was hospitalized. “I never even processed winning and when I got out, they asked if I was gonna pick up my awards,” she said.
Lindsey describes the experience in The Sinking Ship and said that people like Brimstone reminded her that she had a support system and people who wanted to see her succeed.
In addition to her platform as an artist, Lindsey is a mental health advocate who hosts a weekly dialogue called “Mental Health Tuesdays” on her Instagram and invites fans to submit topics for her to discuss as a “peer trauma survivor” and an “academic in the mental health community.”
“Not everyone can access treatment, because not everyone has health care and not everyone could get out of work,” Lindsey said, explaining that she answers fans’ questions by detailing the lessons she learned on her personal road to recovery and through her education. “Sharing that information on my stream is vulnerable for me, but it’s helping someone else.”
She showed the Herald a composition notebook, covered in tiny text scrawled in pen, which she uses to document cognitive distortions or obsessive thoughts and how to alleviate them. For example, if she has anxiety about an important meeting, she could write the following:
“I can’t control other people’s thoughts, feelings or behaviors. And I can’t control what might happen. What is inside of my control is taking one moment at a time and trying to enjoy my day.”
Simply repeating a mantra like that could physically calm the central nervous system and prevent it from obsessive thinking, she said.
Lindsey grew up surrounded by music and began performing when she was a kid, recalling how she would see live bands at Long Island bars and ask if she could join them on stage. “I had more confidence as a kid — I don’t know what happened,” she said with a laugh.
Lindsey was trained as a classical percussionist and wanted to be a band teacher, but changed her mind at her college orientation and began pursuing a career in psychology.
“I wanted be the person I needed growing up,” she said. “I could be at Taylor Swift’s level one day, and I’d still want to be studying and learning more and more and figuring out what we need to help people and why we’re still missing resources to help people.”