In May of 2017, Elizabeth Mencel, better known as her stage name, Rozes, accepted an award from Broadcast Music, Inc. for her songwriting work on the song “Roses” by The Chainsmokers (which she also sings on!). This was, in her opinion, her greatest professional achievement thus far.
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“I was never the kid at the ‘cool kids’ table and I always had the toughest time feeling like I belonged, but when I got that award, I think it was the first time I felt like, ‘Wow, I did this, this is where I belong,’” Rozes tells AwesomenessTV.
To say Rozes wasn’t at the ‘cool kids’ table is an understatement, considering the struggles she went through. From sixth to 12th grade, at the hand of a former best friend, the now 24-year-old found herself wildly bullied.
“She turned a whole group of girls against me. They would have birthday parties and hand out invitations in front of me, and not invite me. I remember getting an instant message from this girl saying ‘We’re all at so and so’s birthday party, how does it feel to know you’re such a loser and everyone hates you?’” Rozes explained.
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“They used to prank call me and say ‘Hi Liz, your pregnancy test came back, turns out you’re just fat.’ Meanwhile, I’m in sixth or seventh grade and didn’t know anything about sex.”
We should note, this former best friend now follows Rozes on Instagram and likes all her posts.
Over these formative six years, people would hit the singer-songwriter with books, inundate her with death treats, and criticize her body. Naturally, she says, she didn’t deal with this well.
“There were endless nights of crying in my parents’ arms because I couldn’t understand why people were so mean,” she recalled.
“What did I ever do to deserve such harassment? I remember it got so bad with the death threats that my dad had to call the school because I was afraid to attend classes. I would talk to a psychiatrist about it and how to cope, but being that young, nothing really seemed to rationalize what was happening.”
Throughout it all, Rozes had music, what she calls her “savior.” She found solace in an elite children’s choir that she “lived for” because no one there went to her school and knew how bullied she was. She became addicted to writing music in high school, her guitar and piano becoming her best friends and closest confidantes.
While Rozes, who says she suffers from depression and anxiety, was able to channel a lot of her experience being bullied into music, this is something that she still deals with every day, even all these years later.
“I have major trust issues that spike my anxiety horribly. My mind was trained, at such a young age, that everyone is against me and no one wants me around. That’s where the depression comes in,” she says.
“Most people suffering with their mental health have faced some sort of trauma. Of course, I’m no expert, but things such as bullying really impact a person’s self esteem, and rewire your thinking. While my depression is chemical, I believe my anxiety is situational.”
It’s important to note that Rozes experienced all of this with a family who understood the science behind the chemical imbalances, and knew that what she was suffering from was different — she was not just having a “bad day.” Today, Rozes is committed to opening up a conversation surrounding mental health.
“We need to desensitize mental health. We need to make it a priority,” Rozes urges.
“We need to make it a normal conversation. I crave for people to be unafraid to seek help, even when it seems like nothing could possibly help, or even if you feel like you can handle it all on your own. I want parents to be unafraid to take their child to a psychiatrist for mental health evaluations. You never know what someone is going through. It’s time we pay attention. It’s time we end the stigma.”
Rozes is doing that by sharing her story, her struggles, and trying to have an open dialogue with her fans. She also makes it a top priority to work on her own mental health, explaining that she meditates, practices yoga, and surrounds herself with people who support her in her toughest times.
She’s also using her platform to promote body positivity, something she struggles with herself, attributing that to the fact of being repeatedly called fat as a teen.
“I advocate by sharing my struggles and showing people that everyone has parts that aren’t their favorite, but it’s time we start loving them. I try to post things that share my struggle with my journey. Even I know that I have a long way to go, but I want to grow through it with my fans,” she says.
“My body is my temple and I should love it with all my might. But the truth is, I’m human, and there are parts I’m going to dislike.”
In the future, Rozes hopes to do something similar to Amber Rose’s “Slut Walk,” but to promote mental health awareness. In the meantime, she suggests people try talking to a therapist, be open to fixing diagnosed chemical imbalances, journaling and finding a community — whether it be in person or online — to talk to who may be able to relate to what you’re going through.
“I want my fans to get to see that no matter how perfect someone’s life may seem, we’re all fighting our own internal battles,” she explains. “I hope they can see that I’m there for them when they need me, and it’s okay to not be okay.”